CW Live: Remco Evenepoel concedes maglia rosa at Giro d'Italia; Tom Pidcock takes first mountain bike win of the season; Bradley Wiggins names coach who abused him
Morning, and welcome to the CW Live blog on what looks like it ought to be a thrilling day over some major climbs in the Giro d'Italia. We'll be bringing you all the action from the race, as well as stories from across the wider cycling world. Enjoy!
Kuss carries out high-speed rear mech tweak
You can almost feel a new UCI regulation coming on... Sepp Kuss performs a daredevil tweak of his SRAM eTap rear mech as he careers downhill at speed in the Giro d'Italia.
It's not wholly obvious what he's trying to achieve – he first fiddles around near the front mechanism before turning his attention to the rear – but we reckon he's switching his front derailleur eTap battery to the rear.
Squatting down behind the saddle, he somehow manages to reach all the way down to the derailleur to perform what he clearly hopes will be a fix of sorts.
The incident took place with 31km of yesterday's stage three to Melfi, won by Michael Matthews (Jayco-AlUla).
The bike, almost unweighted at the front, looks less than stable, and had race viewers at home covering their eyes and holding their breath.
Thankfully all ended well, even if the fix didn't appear to be total success, with Kuss ultimately having to stop at the side of the road anyway.
This is the first season the Dutch team has spent using SRAM, having switched from Shimano at the end of last year.
🚨 𝐃𝐨𝐧'𝐭 𝐭𝐫𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐚𝐭 𝐡𝐨𝐦𝐞 🚨Sepp Kuss risking life and limb (or at least a couple of fingers) 🙈@JumboVismaRoad | #giroditalia pic.twitter.com/eyfSma8TeSMay 8, 2023
Stage four of the Giro d'Italia is officially underway. It will take riders 175km from Venosa to Lago Laceno, and will see the riders take on three major climbs, including one to the finish. Attacks already underway.
167km to go: Today's triple treat of major climbs are all rated cat-two and include the Passo delle Crocelle at 65km ridden, Valico di Monte Carruozzo at 110km and the Colle Molella, which the riders crest with just three kilometres to ride. They all climb up to and above 1,000 metres.
The Molella is 9.6km long, with an average gradient of 6.2%. It climbs up to 1,084m and features ramps of 12% around two-thirds of the way up, which could well end up lighting the blue touch paper for the GC riders as they approach the finish.
The stage also features a single stage four ascent, the Montella, which comes at 157km and should soften the legs a little for the final showdown.
150km to go: The early breakaway is still fighting to establish itself as the peloton approach the top of the day's first climb – a long, unclassified ascent to Lagopesole. The weather is unseasonably unpleasant, with damp roads and umbrellas up at the roadside.
SIR BRADLEY WIGGINS NAMES THE COACH WHO ABUSED HIM
Sir Bradley Wiggins has named the coach who abused him when he was 12 as Stan Knight, reports the Mail Online. Wiggins was not the only victim of Archer Road Club coach Knight, who was 72 at the time – another victim has described similar experiences to the 2012 Tour de France winner.
Knight, who died in 2003, was also reported to British Cycling by the family of another boy, and allegations involving other children were also aired, the Mail reports.
In an interview with The Times, Wiggins described going on training camps to a Dorset youth hostel, where Knight would sleep in his bed and abuse him in the shower.
Wiggins said that Knight demonstrated in inappropriate detail 'how to clean your crotch in the shower', telling him it was important he knew for the sport so he did not get saddle sore or infections.
Another rider recounted being abused at the same hostel by Knight, who 'fondled' them during sports massages. A teenager at the time, the victim said that Knight 'took advantage of this slightly blurred line between what's required to be fit and for the sport and what's not acceptable'.
A British Cycling spokeswoman told the Times: 'Abuse of any kind has no place in sport. We urge anybody with concerns about non-recent or current abuse to report them... directly to the British Cycling safeguarding team.'
127km to go: As the race approaches the foot of the first major climb, the Passo delle Crocelle, an early break is still struggling to go clear and the peloton is strung out by continuous attacks off the front. The riders must be praying for the Crocelle to begin and, hopefully, establish the day's pecking order.
115km to go: Frenchman Paul Lapeira of the AG2R Citroën team has become the first rider to abandon the 2023 Giro d'Italia, after being dropped on the Passo delle Crocelle. It's one extreme to another for Lapeira, who wore the King of the Mountains jersey after stage two.
Thibaut Pinot claims top points atop first KOM point
Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) claimed the maximum points on the category two Passo delle Crocelle, meaning 18 points for the French mountain jersey leader. It is therefore reasonably likely that he will be in blue for another day.
Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain-Victorious) crossed the top in second, netting him eight points, moving him up to second in the competition.
105km to go: The peloton are on the descent from the Passo delle Crocelle, with many teams trying to move off the front, but a breakaway has still not gone clear. How long will this continue for...
100km to go: It is a seriously hard day out there. It looks like there might finally be a breakaway up the road, of seven riders. We will update you on who they all are in due course, but Andreas Leknessund (DSM), Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier and Toms Skuijnš (both Trek-Segafredo) and Warren Barguil (Arkéa Samsic) are definitely in there.
Meanwhile, Jumbo-Visma's Michel Hessmann crashed out on a slippery corner on the descent, with his teammate Sam Oomen suffering from a puncture. It's a tricky day out there. Hessmann appeared to get back on his bike.
Remco Evenepoel is in the peloton in pink, but doesn't look like he has much help from his Soudal Quick-Step team.
93km to go: The other three riders we didn't name in the front group are Aurélien Paret-Peintre (AG2R Citroën), Nicola Conci (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Vincenzo Albanese (EOLO-Kometa). They have over 10 seconds on what's left of the peloton. It only took about 80km for this to happen.
93km to go: Painful looking crash at the back of the peloton, with three riders involved. Stefan De Bod (EF Education-EasyPost) and Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) were definitely involved, with an unidentified Israel Premier-Tech rider sliding out on the slippery corner and staying down after falling on his shoulder. On GCN, they speculated it was Stephen Williams, but no confirmation yet.
Here is your seven man break!
86km to go: Well, the day's break has finally been allowed to go. Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step), the race leader, stopped for a comfort break at the bottom of the descent from the Passo delle Crocelle, and the gap blossomed.
3-17 is the gap to the seven men up the road from the break, but that is growing still, as the peloton has its lunch.
Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ) is hanging in the gap in between the two groups, 30 seconds behind the break.
82km to go: Can confirm that it was Stevie Williams of Israel-Premier Tech who fell on the last descent, but according to his team he is OK and back on the bike. Good news.
65km to go: The breakaway remains serene, with almost four minutes over the peloton.
They are the first to cross the Valico di Monte Carruozzo, a second category climb, with the 18 points being taken by Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier of Trek-Segafredo. That means the Eritrean is just six points behind Thibaut Pinot, who currently leads the competition.
There is one more second category climb to come, so Ghebreigzabhier could steal the blue jersey off Pinot's shoulders should he finish third or above there.
PIDCOCK AND RICHARDS TAKE MOUNTAIN BIKE VICTORIES AT CHUR
Tom Pidcock has registered his first mountain bike win of the season, beating Mathias Flückinger and Nino Schurter at Chur, Switzerland, ahead of next weekend's first World Cup race at Nové Mesto. Fellow Brit Evie Richards (Trek Factory Racing) took victory in the women's race.
The Ineos Grenadiers rider went clear after six of nine laps and held on for victory, despite a late comeback by Flückinger. Pidcock ultimately won by nine seconds over Flückinger, with Schurter 47 seconds back.
Following a successful early road season which saw him win Strade Bianche and take podium places in Amstel Gold and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Yorkshireman Pidcock began his MTB campaign at Guéret, where a mechanical forced him to withdraw.
"I was maybe overconfident at the start pushing on," said Pidcock on the Ineos Grenadiers website, "and then I was blowing for maybe half an hour afterwards. Then I came back into it a bit.
"The race was quite cagey as the climb was so hard and also a headwind. In the group we would go slow and then really fast. I think it was playing on people’s legs in the end."
Evie Richards took an emphatic win in the women's race, beating Pidcock's Ineos Grenadiers team-mate Pauline Ferrand-Prevot into second place by more than a minute-and-a-half. Swiss rider Sina Frei of Specialized Factory Racing completed the podium, sprinting in at the same time as Ferrand-Prevot.
27km to go: As the race starts to approach the final climb, the break is at 5.34, and Soudal-Quick Step are perking up, putting men on the front in an effort to reduce that gap. They're clearly not keen to take risks, even if Remco Evenepoel does want to offload that jersey.
15km to go: Andreas Leknessund goes through the sprint at Montella in first place, barely contested. He picks up three seconds towards the GC ahead of Vincenzo Albanese (2 secs) and Toms Skujinš (1 sec).
11km to go: There's still a gap of four and a half minutes between the peloton and the breakaway, which could mean a change in the maglia rosa at the end of the day.
Andreas Leknessund started the day at just 1-40 behind Remco Evenepoel, so is currently the favourite to claim the pink jersey, but all but Warren Barguil and Armanuel Ghebreigzabhier could take the race lead if the gap stayed as it is at the end of the day.
Onto the final climb, the Colle Molella.
7km to go: First attack from the breakaway! Nicola Conci eases off the front, while Warren Barguil is dropped off the back. Toms Skuijnš is chasing onto Conci's back wheel.
6km to go: Toms Skujinš makes what looks like a fairly concerted bid to go solo off the front of the break, which still has more than three minutes on the bunch. 6km is a long way on a climb like this though.
5.5km to go: Leknessund drags the break back up to, and past Skujinš. Albanese is dropped though.
5km to go: Things are moving fast on this mountain. It's now Leknessund, Ghebriegzhabier and Paret-Peintre off the front, with a significant gap.
4.3km to go: Ineos Grenadiers pulling hard back in the peloton; the gap to the front runners now down to 2.37.
3.8km to go: Leknessund goes! Paret-Peintre grits his teeth and tries to hang on, but the Norwegian has forged ahead solo.
1km to go: Paret-Peintre takes the KoM points at the top of this final climb, the Colle Molella, just ahead of Leknessund. It looks to be between these two now, though it's getting a bit cat-and-mouse, which could backfire.
0km to go: Paret-Peintre takes the win! In the end Leknessund couldn't put up much of a fight.
He may have lost out in the sprint for the stage but Leknessund has taken the maglia rosa. He's not going to be too unhappy with that. It makes him the first Norwegian to lead the race since Knut Knudsen in 1975.
Thibaut Pinot has retained the blue King of the Mountains jersey, despite a concerted attempt on the classification from Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier.