Paret-Peintre wins chilly Giro stage, Vine well-placed
After the glory of the Giro d'Italia's third stage it was a long hard slog in the fourth for Australia's riders as southern Italy was soaked in unseasonal chill.
Frenchman Aurelien Paret-Peintre won Tuesday's stage, pipping Andreas Leknessund in a sprint finish. The Team DSM rider had the significant consolation of becoming only the second Norwegian to wear the pink jersey, and the first in 42 years.
The pair had got away in the closing stages from a small breakaway. That came in more than two minutes ahead of the peloton in which overnight leader Remco Evenepoel sat. He is now second, 28 seconds down.
The 24-strong group also included Australia's Jay Vine (UAE Team Emirates) who came 16th and now sits tenth in the general classification, 1:36 down, and Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious).
Monday's stage winner Michael Matthews was 104th, alongside Jayco AlUla teammate Callum Scotson, 15 minutes down.
The 175-km ride from Venosa to Lago Laceno proved a brutal day that took the sprinters, including Matthews, out of the equation long before the category two final climb.
That last grind followed two earlier category two ascents, a series of failed breakaways early in the race, and a stiff initial pace, all on a miserably cold, damp and foggy afternoon.
A seven-man group finally broke away for good with 90km to go. That was reduced to Paret-Peintre (AG2R Citroen) and Leknessund, and the former knew the latter had to keep pushing to wear the maglia rosa. So he let him lead, before darting past in the last few hundred metres.
"I just trained a lot for today, for these three weeks," said Paret-Peintre. "We knew today was a day for the breakaway."
"It's super special," Leknessund said. "Obviously I went for the stage and also knew that pink was possible. I had one attack where I went all-in to drop him and I made it but he came back. And my legs were hurting so much, but it's super special to be in the pink."
Wednesday's stage five is a 171-km ride from Atripalda to Salerno, featuring numerous climbs before a flat finish.