UAE Team Emirates picked up their first win of the 2021 Giro d'Italia on Tuesday after American rider Joe Dombrowski claimed the maiden Grand Tour stage of his career in impressive style.
Dombrowski crossed the line 13 seconds before Italian Alessandro De Marchi on a soaking wet fourth stage between Piacenza and Sestola. The runner-up finish was enough for Israel Start-Up Nation rider De Marchi to take the overall leader's pink jersey.
Dombrowski dropped De Marchi, who was also a member of a breakaway group of 25 riders formed after 40 kilometres, on the hardest slopes of the last climb 5km from the finish.
"It wasn't enough for the pink jersey but I think the stage win is a nice way to finish the day," said Dombrowski, who moved up to second in the general classification standings, 22 seconds behind De Marchi.
"When you have a group of 25 riders, it's never everyone co-operating, so you need to be ready for attacks. I knew De Marchi was maybe the strongest rider in the breakaway, so if I always took his wheel, I would be in a good spot."
De Marchi, 34, wears the pink jersey for the first time in his career on his fifth Giro appearance after taking the overall lead from compatriot Filippo Ganna.
"The goal was the pink jersey, I started thinking about it maybe two days ago even if I didn't tell anyone," said De Marchi. "I'm lost for words really, it's the dream for any cyclist, especially if you are Italian."
A small group of riders tipped to perform well in this year's Giro, including 2019 Tour de France winner Egan Bernal, finished the stage more than a minute and a half behind Dombrowski.
Former Vuelta a Espana champion Simon Yates, Frenchman Romain Bardet and rising star Remco Evenepoel finished one minute, 48 seconds behind Dombrowski.
Belgian Evenepoel sits eighth in the general classification, 1.48 behind De Marchi. Yates is a further second back in 16th and Bardet 19th, 2.03 behind.
On Wednesday, the fifth stage traces an almost straight line from Modena to Cattolica over a 177-kilometre course without the slightest roughness, ideal for sprinters.
For UAE Team Emirates, their hopes of successive stage wins will likely rest with Fernando Gaviria. The Colombian sprinter won the points classification title at the 2017 Giro and has five stage victories at the Italian Grand Tour.