With three days behind them, the Giro d’Italia peloton were set to head to the first mountainous stage of the race with a 175 kilometres and some 3500 metres of altitude metres lying in wait as they rolled out from the start line in Venosa. There was a nervous air amongst the peloton as the rain began to fall, and there was a sense amongst the group that it could be the first potential day for the breakaway.
As expected, a huge fight to make the move ensued with Team DSM active in almost every potential attack. Strong work by the rest of the team saw Harm Vanhoucke and Andreas Leknessund represent the team in several strong moves that were brought back, before eventually the elastic snapped on a descent after 80 infernal kilometres of action, with Leknessund going clear in a group of seven.
Leknessund and his breakaway companions worked well together and with the tempo going out of the peloton behind, their gap quickly extended to four and a half minutes with 75 kilometres remaining. Despite the bunch then picking up the pace once again on the next ascent, the long valley road ahead of the final ascent saw them knock-off the pace and it was clear that Leknessund’s breakaway group would fight for the stage win, as they held onto a five minute advantage going into the last 20 kilometres.
On the last climb, the tempo slowly increased and the group dwindled down as riders dropped one-by-one. Riding a measured effort, Leknessund attacked and was able to further reduce the group to three before almost immediately putting the hammer down again. Although initially gapping Paret-Peintre, the Frenchman was able to return to Leknessund’s wheel just before the summit. Pushing it over the top and on the flat three kilometres to the line, Leknessund gave everything but would end with a valiant second place on the stage. However, that all-in effort was enough to see him and Team DSM take the Maglia Rosa; a brilliant reward for him and the whole team after the stage.