Ineos Grenadiers leaders Egan Bernal and Geraint Thomas will head into Tirreno-Adriatico’s stage 4 summit finish of Prati di Tivo with respective handicaps of 18 and 19 seconds after being caught in a crash at the end of Friday’s stage 3.
The pair were among a large number of riders caught up behind a crash in the final kilometres of the stage which happened just outside the three-kilometre mark at which point they would’ve received the same finishing time as the main peloton.
As a result, Bernal and Thomas rolled across the line 48th and 49th in Gualdo Tadino, both losing time to stage winner Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), but – more importantly – also losing time to GC rivals Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic), and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep), among others.
The result sees Bernal fall to 28th in the GC after three days of racing, now 38 seconds down on leader Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), who could battle with the climbers on stage 4’s summit finish to Prati di Tivo. Thomas is a further place and second behind.
Bernal said ahead of stage 4 that he and his team want to put on a show on the final climb of the day.
“It’ll be a nice stage with a nice climb. I’ll try to do my best because it’ll be nice to watch, so we want to put on a show. These days my back has been OK. I felt it at Strade Bianche. These stages have been hard but with no long climb. Today will be different, and it will be a good test for my back.
“We spoke about the climb this morning. It’s be hard but also really fast, so, yeah, to make a big difference you need to be really strong, so we’ll do our best, but for sure it’ll be difficult to beat these guys who have a 20-second advantage. You need to have the legs, and I don’t know if I’ll have them or not.
“Today will be a good test, but it’s not the goal number one. I’m trying just to find my condition. I’ll do my best, but it will be good training for the coming race, although if I feel good, I’ll try.”
Bernal and Thomas now lie 19 and 20 seconds behind Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious), while Alaphilippe has a further nine seeconds.
Pogačar, Quintana, Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo), Romain Bardet (Team DSM), Sergio Higuita (EF Education-Nippo), Romain Bardet (Team DSM), Domenico Pozzovivo (Qhubeka Assos), and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana-Premier Tech) all enjoy an 18-second head start on the Colombian.
Meanwhile, Team BikeExchange’s Simon Yates lost further time on stage 3. The reigning champion shed 1:22 on the second stage to Chiusdino and was caught up behind the crash on the run to the line on stage 4. After finishing 29 seconds down he now lies in 48th place, 2:09 behind blue jersey Van Aert.
At the start of stage 4, Yates said that he hoped his time loss would mean he’d get more leeway from the peloton to attack on the summit finish.
“Today I’m just riding for the stage, and that’s what it is,” he said. “Hopefully the guys for GC will give me some freedom, because I mean I’m already over two minutes, and it’s too much.
“I don’t think it’s the moment to be in really good condition. We still have a long time until the Giro. I’m OK the feelings are good, but I think I’m just missing some racing.”
Other notable names out of the GC picture after three days of racing include Groupama-FDJ’s Thibaut Pinot (74th at 9:28), and Gazprom-RusVelo leader Ilnur Zakarin (47th at 2:05).