Joe Dombrowski lands biggest race of his career on brutal day at Giro d'Italia

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·24 min read
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Joe Dombrowski - Joe Dombrowski lands biggest race of his career on brutal day at Giro d'Italia - GETTY IMAGES
Joe Dombrowski - Joe Dombrowski lands biggest race of his career on brutal day at Giro d'Italia - GETTY IMAGES
  • Dombrowski wins his first race outside of America

  • De Marchi takes overall lead after finishing second

  • Bernal, Carthy, Landa and Vlasov best of the rest

  • Evenepoel becomes Quick Step's leading rider

Joe Dombrowski won stage four of the Giro d'Italia as Alessandro De Marchi took the pink jersey, but Simon Yates lost ground in the battle of the main favourites behind.

Dombrowski took his first grand tour stage win as the UAE Team Emirates rider attacked out of the breakaway at the end of a 187km stage from Piacenza to the ski station in Sestola, raced in wet, cold and windy conditions.

But as the main peloton followed up the final climb, Yates was distanced by a small group including Egan Bernal, Hugh Carthy and Mikel Landa – conceding 11 seconds.

"I'm really happy with today," Dombrowski said. "I knew De Marchi was probably the strongest rider in the break so I knew if I stuck to his wheel I would be in a good spot."

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Dombrowski took victory by 13 seconds from Israel Start-up Nation's De Marchi, who now has a 22-second advantage over the American in pink.

"The goal was the maglia rosa," De Marchi said. "I started thinking about it two days ago but I didn't tell anybody.

"I knew this was a day when a good move could go... then it was about a bit of luck and here we are – I'm without words."

Bahrain Victorious' Landa sparked the late attacks in the group of main favourites, quickly joined by Bernal, Carthy and Aleksandr Vlasov as they built a small advantage over their rivals.

EF Education-Nippo's Carthy is now up to 10th, one minute 38 seconds off pink, one second ahead of the Ineos Grenadiers' Bernal.

BikeExchange's Yates sits 16th, one minute 49 seconds down on De Marchi's time.
PA

03:28 PM

Bernal looking strong

Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) looks strong and leads a small group of general classification contenders over the line. Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) is there with Bernal, as are Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) and Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo) while Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) is also tucked in with them.

Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick Step) led home the next group, but lost 11sec to Bernal, as did Simon Yates (BikeExchange), Dan Martin (Israel Start-up Nation) and Romain Bardet (DSM).

03:21 PM

De Marchi goes into pink

Alessandro De Marchi takes the pink jersey off compatriot Filippo Ganna which is a huge day for a rider ordinarily associated with riding in the breakaways and a massive day for Israel Start-up Nation who lost Krists Neilands on the first day of the three-week race.

Alessandro De Marchi - GETTY IMAGES
Alessandro De Marchi - GETTY IMAGES

Speaking afterwards, De Marchi said he had been quietly planning this at the weekend. “I started thinking about taking the maglia rosa two days ago but I didn't tell anybody,” he said. “Today it was about finding the right move. I knew it would be tricky at the start. A bit of luck helped and here we are. I'm lost for words. The maglia rosa is the childhood dream of every cyclist, especially for an Italian.”

03:20 PM

Dombrowski wins stage four at the Giro!

Joe Dombrowski (UAE Team Emirates) wins the biggest race of his career in the rain, the American is able to rise his arms in celebration after finishing ahead of Alessandro De Marchi (Israel Start-up Nation) and another Italian Filippo Fiorelli (Bardiani CSF-Faizane) who was third on the stage.

03:18 PM

General classification battle kicks off

Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) has caught Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), meanwhile Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) is the next to respond. Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) and Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo) are in pursuit, but there is no sign of Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Simon Yates (BikeExchange) or Dan Martin (Israel Start-up Nation).

03:16 PM

Landa attacks!

I guess it was inevitable given that his team were riding on the front so hard, but Mikel Landa is clearly feeling strong and the Basque has attacked out of the peloton, but can he make any serious time gains?

03:15 PM

3km to go

Joe Dombrowski is the lone leader. The former Team Sky and EF Education rider has promised so much throughout his career, but has never won a race outside of America. This may be his big day.

03:12 PM

3.5km to go

Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) has attacked the peloton and is off in pursuit of the new stage leader, the American climber Joe Dombrowski. This stage has turned itself on its head and it is fascinating.

03:11 PM

4km to go: De Marchi is the virtual leader!

Alessandro De Marchi has bridged over to Rein Taaramae and Chris Juul-Jensen. The Italian has Joe Dombrowski for company and that is going to be a devastating blow to the pair that have led this stage for a long time today.

03:09 PM

4.5km to go

Joao Almeida is dropped. The Portuguese who arrived as co-leader of Deceuninck-Quick Step alongside Remco Evenepoel is off the back, but he's proven before he is a real fighter.

03:07 PM

5km to go

The chasing group, which is being powered along by Alessandro De Marchi, is closing in on Rein Taaramae and Chris Juul-Jensen whose advantage on that group is down to 25sec now.

03:05 PM

5.5km to go

The peloton is continuing to close that gap, now trailing 4min 20sec.

03:00 PM

7.5km to go

Very nervous time for anybody watching Rein Taaramae and Chris Juul-Jensen descending on these wet roads. Every corner, every white painted line, every spot of oil on the road could do for their hopes. Juul-Jensen has just three wins on his palmarès of which only one is at WorldTour level, while Taaramae has stage wins at the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España but may become the first Estonian to wear the leader's pink jersey in a little while. A huge day for both riders.

02:59 PM

9km to go

The leading pair are around 1km from the foot of the final categorised climb of the day, the category two Colle Passerino which is another short one at just 4.3km, but as you can see from the above profile, undulates between quite steep and very steep.

Rein Taaramae leads ahead of Chris Juul-Jensen, but can the Estonian rider take the leader's pink jersey? - GETTY IMAGES
Rein Taaramae leads ahead of Chris Juul-Jensen, but can the Estonian rider take the leader's pink jersey? - GETTY IMAGES

02:55 PM

13km to go

Filippo Gana has, finally, been dropped by the peloton. Rein Taaramae and Chris Juul-Jensen have gone over the uncategorised climbs and onto the descent that will kick up into the days' final categorised ascent that looks a little like this . . .

climb
climb

. . . and is followed by this finale to the line . . .

finale
finale

02:47 PM

17.5km to go

The Bahrain Victorious-powered peloton has reduced the gap on the stage leaders to below six minutes, but they have not managed to shell of any Mikel Landa's rivals which, presumably, their plan here.

02:44 PM

19km to go

Rafael Valls is putting in some shift on the front of the peloton. The advantage of the leading pair has dropped down to 6min 20sec and there are a few splits starting to form. It is still raining heavily and the faces of a number of riders do not look too happy – not a great surprise given the conditions

rain
rain

02:39 PM

20km to go

Matej Mohoric has team-mate Rafael Valls for company on the front of the peloton now and it looks like the injection of pace put in by Bahrian Vistorious has seen them reduce the advantage of Rein Taaramae and Chris Juul-Jensen by over 40secs. Impressive.

02:36 PM

21km to go

Rein Taaramae and Chris Juul-Jensen are onto one of the uncategorised climbs and the chasing group has made no inroad into their lead of just over a minute. The peloton has gained around 30sec, but in all reality they are not really chasing for the stage win but instead watching each other as all of the main general classification contenders are i n their group.

02:29 PM

25km to go

Matej Mohoric shunts himself to the front of the peloton, but has no immediate Bahrain Victorious team-mates for company.

02:26 PM

27km to go

Deceuninck-Quick Step to the fore. Must admit it is very strange watching the team whose bread and butter is usually the spring classics, but with Joao Almeida, Remco Evenepoel, James Knox and Fausto Masnada in this team they could do what they have never done before here at this year's Giro d'Italia: win a grand tour.

Deceuninck-Quick Step - GETTY IMAGES
Deceuninck-Quick Step - GETTY IMAGES

02:23 PM

30km to go

Andrea Vendrame is off in pursuit of the leading pair.

02:20 PM

31.5km to go

Alessandro De Marchi has been forced to stop with a mechanical issue. Luckily for the Italian breakaway specialist, the chasing group are not going too fast so hopefully he will be able to get back on.

02:16 PM

34km to go: As it stands . . .

Rein Taaramae (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) and Chris Juul-Jensen (BikeExchange) lead the stage with the former being the virtual overall leader of the Giro d'Italia.

11-man group comprising Marton Dina (Eolo-Kometa), Joe Dombrowski (UAE Team Emirates), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Francesco Gavazzi (Eolo-Kometa), Alessandro De Marchi (Israel Start-up Nation), Jacopo Mosca (Trek-Segafredo), Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), Pieter Serry (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious), Andrea Vendrame (Ag2R-Citroën) and Louis Vervaeke (Alpecin-Fenix) trail by 1min 7sec.

Remnants of breakaway around 40sec further back

Peloton with all of the pre-race favourites for the general classification all together, but trail by 7min 55sec.

02:07 PM

42.5km to go

A small group of three or four, including Alessandro De Marchi (Israel Start-up Nation), have caught Quinten Hermans and in fact closed the gap slightly on the leading pair to just over a minute now. The peloton, which has Ineos Grenadiers and Deceuninck-Quick Step on the front, is over eight minutes down but they will be having their own battle here today. Essentially there is a race for the stage win, a race to see who can take the pink jersey tonight and then the long-term general classification battle between the likes of Ineos Grenadiers, Deceuninck-Quick Step, Astana-Premier Tech, BikeExchange and so forth.

02:02 PM

44km to go: And then there were two . . .

Quinten Hermans has lost contact with the leading group as the road pitches up to its steepest part. For the first time today, the BikeExchange rider is working on the front which will come as a relief to Rein Taaramae who may be riding into the maglia rosa.

The peloton, by the way, is over eight minutes down on the pair.

01:55 PM

45km to go

The leading trio have increased their advantage over a 21-man chasing group, while the peloton is over eight minutes down on the Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux boys who are, as it stands, on course to take the pink jersey off the shoulders of Filippo Ganna.

Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick Step)  - GETTY IMAGES
Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick Step) - GETTY IMAGES

One rider who many, including yours truly, had tipped for today's stage and a possible new custodian of the maglia rosa, Remco Evenepoel, was just spotted riding in the main bunch sat on the wheel of Deceuninck-Quick Step team-mate James Knox.

01:44 PM

50km to go

The road is is inching up the lower slopes of the category two Montemolino. As you can see from its profile (below) despite only having an average gradient of 5.8%, the final 2km of the climb averages 11.6% and pitches up to an eye-watering 18%. That is going to hurt and in these conditions will be tricky.

 Montemolino
Montemolino

Some like to stand while climbing, but at gradients like this when it is wet or damp – and today it is very wet – then the most efficient and safest way to climb is to remain seated otherwise the rear wheel can slip. The transfer of power really needs to be pushed through the rear stays, down into the wheel, to stop the tyre from slipping.

01:38 PM

55km to go

Rein Taaramae and Quinten Hermans are riding hard on the front of the three-man group and, as it stands, the Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux pair are first and second in the virtual general classification. What a result that would be if they could take the leader's pink jersey just 24 hours after team-mate Taco van der Hoorn won stage three. As a result of their efforts, Chris Juul-Jensen is getting pretty much a free ride here today. The Dane with the Irish accent will be hoping to land the stage, but there's a long way to go yet.

01:24 PM

63km to go

Lots of looking around in the main group of riders that was the breakaway. Some are wanting to press on in pursuit of the leading trio, while others appear happy enough to miss their turn which ends up breaking up the any rhythm the group has.

01:21 PM

65km to go

Rein Taaramae (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Chris Juul-Jensen (BikeExchange) and Quinten Hermans (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) have gained a lead of 35sec on the rest of the breakaway, the peloton over six minutes down on the trio.

Rein Taaramae (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Chris Juul-Jensen (BikeExchange) and Quinten Hermans (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) 
Rein Taaramae (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Chris Juul-Jensen (BikeExchange) and Quinten Hermans (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux)

01:18 PM

70km to go

Race leader Filippo Ganna, who presumably is expecting to lose his pink jersey today, is pulling hard on the front on behalf of his team leaders – Egan Bernal and Pavel Sivakov – and ditched his jacket sometime back. One suspects he is wanting to show that maglia rosa off for as long as possible, and who can blame the proud Italian?!

Filippo Ganna - GETTY IMAGES
Filippo Ganna - GETTY IMAGES

01:12 PM

74km to go

Television pictures are back! Just in time to see Francesco Gavazzi (Eolo-Kometa) go over the summit of the Castello di Carpineti., the first of three categorised climbs. Rein Taaramae (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Chris Juul-Jensen (BikeExchange) and Quinten Hermans (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) followed to add a few points to their respective accounts in the mountains classification. The road is still very, very wet and there is still rain falling, but it appears a little bit brighter – ever the optimist!

01:08 PM

74km to go

News has just come thorough that Filippo Tagliani (Androni-Giocattoli-Sidermec) and Samuele Zoccarato (Bardiani CSF-Faizane) have been dropped by the breakaway who lead by 5min 15sec.

01:04 PM

The current situation out on the road . . .

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12:55 PM

Great Britons . . .

At the start of today's blog I mentioned that this stage may suit young British rider Simon Carr (EF Education-Nippo).

Britain's got talent: Meet the next wave of British cyclists set to rule the roads 
Britain's got talent: Meet the next wave of British cyclists set to rule the roads

Carr is one of four talented first-year neo-pros that we wrote about in a recent feature on the next wave of Britons set to rule the roads.

12:45 PM

Welcome to the The Bunnyhop

While we are waiting for the engineers out in Italy to get the pictures back on our screens, why don't you have a look at The Bunnyhop, a brilliant new show that places women's cycling firmly in the spotlight. In the latest episode presenter Rebecca Charlton is joined by Jo Roswell, a two-time Olympic champion on the track, and journalist Sophie Hurcom, to discuss the Ardennes classics and Canyon-Sram rider Kasia Niewiadoma before throwing things forward a little as the riders prepare for a heavy block of stage racing.

There is also a feature with Sophie Wright, the talented young Ale-BTC Ljubljana rider, while Teniel Campbell, BikeExchange’s Trinidadian newcomer, is the focus of the And Something About Me segment of the thoroughly entertaining show.

12:41 PM

No show at the Giro

Television pictures are now officially down 😞.

12:30 PM

97km to go

The weather is playing havoc with not only the televison pictures, but also the transponders on the riders' bikes. As a result, the details from the intermediate sprint results have not come through, but I think Filippo Tagliani (Androni-Giocattoli-Sidermec) took the lion's share – he was last spotted clipping off the front. Incidentally, in addition to the four main classifications – general, points, mountains and youth – there are a number of other minor competitions at the Giro d'Italia, including the Traguardo Volanti and Premio della Combattivita, or the TV prize and combativity prize. Points for these were also up for grabs at the intermediate sprint hence riders from the smaller teams being keen on taking them.

12:10 PM

105km to go

As mentioned, it is a horrible day at the Giro d'Italia where the entire peloton are covered in, mainly, dark rain jackets. The television broadcasters are struggling with pictures and it feels very much like watching a race from the early 2000s or 1990s. Quite difficult to spot who's who right now, but thankfully the riders are some way out from where the key action is expected to take place.

riders
riders

The breakaway is edging towards the first intermediate sprint where there will be points on offer in the frace for the maglia ciclamino. I wonder what the odds are for Louis Vervaeke to challenge for maximum points? Vervaeke 's Alpecin-Fenix team-mate Tim Merlier currently leads that competition and so the more points Louis can take, the safer the jersey will be. I'm assuming a sprinter won't be winning today so Merlier should keep that jersey for another day.

12:00 PM

As it stands . . .

As forecast, it is another grim day out in northern Italy this afternoon. The 183-man peloton passed KM0 at 11.21am (BST) and, like yesterday, all of the riders are wrapped up in their rain capes, while an awful lot of them have also opted for leg warmers and mitts. It was 16°C at the start in Piacenza and, according to race organisers RCS is forecast to be 9°C at the finish in Sestola. Depending upon whose forecast you want to believe, the wind is either moderate (around 21km/h) or worryingly strong (50-70km/h) so that may feel an awful lot cooler in the medium mountains, while the wind could also play a huge role in how the stage plays out later this afternoon.

It was a hectic start to the stage with Victor Campenaerts (Qhubeka-Assos) and Quinten Hermans (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) clipping off the front while numerous attacks followed behind the pair. It took some time, but eventually four groups became one forming a very large 25-man breakaway.

Just five teams – Ineos Grenadiers, Astana-Premier Tech, Bora-Hansgrohe, EF Education-Nippo, Lotto-Soudal and Jumbo-Visma – are not represented in the breakaway. Movistar's Oliveira is the highest placed rider on general classification, starting today's stage 32sec behind Filippo Ganna, while Italian riders Alessandro De Marchi and Valerio Conti are only one and two seconds respectively further back.Although there are no riders in this group that are being spoken of as potential winners of this year's Giro, there are some very strong riders and if they all work well together have enough to horsepower to deny the peloton while, potentially, taking the maglia rosa off the shoulders of Ganna. Of course, some riders may have been instructed to get into the break in order to act as a satellite rider for their team-mates later on today – basically positioning themselves up the road where they can, possibly, disrupt the cohesion of the group while also putting himself in the ideal place to help a team-mate or leader once they catch up.

Giro d'Italia 2021, stage four – live race updates
Giro d'Italia 2021, stage four – live race updates

Ineos Grenadiers and Astana-Premier Tech have both been working on the front of the peloton keeping a close eye on the breakaway's advantage, which is currently holding steady at 5min 44sec.

Samuele Battistella - Giro d'Italia 2021, stage four – live race updates - GETTY IMAGES
Samuele Battistella - Giro d'Italia 2021, stage four – live race updates - GETTY IMAGES

08:05 AM

Ciao!

Hello and welcome to our live rolling blog from stage four at the Giro d'Italia, the 187-kilometre run from Piacenza to Sestola.

Although yesterday's stage win for Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) was one of the feelgood stories of the season so far, there was very little to discuss regarding the overall race for the pink jersey, although it was interesting to hear race leader Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) say that Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick Step) was impressive on the climbs.

“I hope the maglia rosa will stay with us but if it goes to another team tomorrow we’ll race in a more passive way," Ganna said on Monday. “Remco Evenepoel has impressed me climbing on a big gear today, I don’t know where he found the energy to do that, hats off to him.” Today could be the day the Belgian tyro takes the lead off Ganna, but before we look at what lies in store for the riders, now is probably an opportune time to have a brief glance at the main classifications . . .

Ganna remains the overall leader and will wear the maglia rosa, the pink jersey, for a third successive day and the fourth of his career.

Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) holds the maglia ciclamino, the cyclamen jersey, as leader in the points classification. Vincenzo Albanese (Eolo-Kometa) will be in blue – the maglia azzurra – as leader in the mountains classification while Tobias Foss wears the maglia bianca, or the white jersey, even though he is second to Ganna in the youth classification. Ganna, of course, cannot wear two jerseys at the same time and so the next person down in the standings takes care of it (well, makes sure the sponsors that pay the prize money get to see it photographed or broadcast on the telly).

And so, to today's stage. After setting off from Piacenza at 11.20am (BST), the peloton heads towards the city of Parma on a fairly straight and flat road, before moving south in the direction of Sestola and, of more intrigue, into the Apennines – the mountain range that forms the spine of Italy – where almost every vertical metre of the 3,078m gained will be climbed on yet another backloaded stage.

Stage four map - Giro d'Italia 2021, stage four – live race updates
Stage four map - Giro d'Italia 2021, stage four – live race updates

As you can see from the below profile, almost every key point of interest in the stage comes in the second half. There are two intermediate sprints – the first for points in the race for the maglia ciclamino, the second for time bonuses (three, two and one one second) – in the towns of Rossena (87.1km into the stage) and Fanano (180.6km). There are numerous climbs, but what with this being the Giro only three of them have been deemed worthy of classification.

Stage four profile - Giro d'Italia 2021, stage four – live race updates
Stage four profile - Giro d'Italia 2021, stage four – live race updates

The first classified climb of the day, the Castello di Carpineti, is third category and is just 3.5km in length with an average gradient of 7.4km, though it follows two or three smaller and less steep climbs. Following a steep descent and a brief bit of respite from climbing, the road starts to rise again towards the category two Montemolino which also happens to be the longest of the day at 8.6km.

Montemolino - Giro d'Italia 2021, stage four – live race updates
Montemolino - Giro d'Italia 2021, stage four – live race updates

As you can see from its profile (above) despite only having an average gradient of 5.8%, the final 2km of the Montemolino averages 11.6% and pitches up to an eye-watering 18%. That is going to hurt and may provide any early attackers the perfect launchpad, but if not there are plenty more opportunities today on these roads that are as hard and gritty as a piece of vintage Parmigiano Reggiano from the locale.

Colle Passerino - Giro d'Italia 2021, stage four – live race updates
Colle Passerino - Giro d'Italia 2021, stage four – live race updates

The final categorised climb of the day, the category two Colle Passerino is another short one at just 4.3km, but as you can see from the above profile, undulates between quite steep and very steep. The first stretch of dark pink road where it reaches 16% could be the perfect place for those with the legs to launch themselves. With a slightly shallower stretch of road following a second attack could follow around 1km from the summit. I am assuming, of course, that whoever feels like attacking is fearless in the descent because once over the top, here's the finale to the stage . . .

Stage four finale - Giro d'Italia 2021, stage four – live race updates
Stage four finale - Giro d'Italia 2021, stage four – live race updates

So, who's going to win today's stage? Well, given that I am currently standing at the bottom of the Velogames league I set up – should I admit that? – I may not be the best person to predict the future. However, I am thinking that today will see the first shake-up in the general classification and would not be surprised if the aforementioned Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick Step) were to test both himself and his rivals. Sure you will know, but the 21-year-old Belgian is racing his first grand tour here at the Giro and this is his first race since a terrible crash at last year's Il Lombardia. I think the fact that Evenepoel chased down bonus second in the second intermediate sprint during stage two would suggest he is the main man for Deceuninck-Quick Step and is feeling confident.

Of the other general classification contenders, Simon Yates (Bike Exchange), Dan Martin (Israel Start-up Nation) or Marc Soler (Movistar) may also fancy a crack and all go well in the bad weather which is forecast today. Of course, like yesterday there's always the chance of the winner coming from a breakaway and so you know what's coming next, don't you? Yes, the first mention this year of Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) who, cunningly, managed to lose 10min 30sec yesterday to ensure he is nowhere near the general classification contenders which would allow him the freedom to roam. I am also wondering if this would be a stage suited to Simon Carr (EF Education-Nippo), the young Briton we mentioned in a recent feature on the rising British stars of cycling. Interesting to note that yesterday, too, that ​Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) put in a little attack towards the end of the stage. The Italian climber who topped the mountains classification here two years ago after also winning the Mortirolo stage in rotten conditions, arrived in unknown form, but I am thinking he may just be thinking of doing something today. Anyway, that's enough idle speculation.

Live coverage starts at 1pm. Ciao, for now.