Jolien D'Hoore (Mitchelton-Scott) took her second consecutive win of the 2018 Giro Rosa on stage four, sprinting to the line ahead of Marta Bastianelli (Alé Cippolini) and Lotta Lepistö (Cervelo Bigla).
The shortest day since the opening team time trial, the 109 kilometre route starting and finishing in Piacenza was shortened by 3km on the day.
The QOM climb featured around the halfway point, followed with just a few ramps towards the finish and though Olena Pavlukhina (BTC City Ljubljana) succeeded in gaining over a minute on the bunch she was swept up with just under 10km remaining.
The peloton remained largely intact, meaning that Leah Kirchmann (Sunweb) still holds the pink jersey ahead of the more mountainous stages over the second half of the race.
How it happened
The bunch rolled out in hot and humid conditions with temperatures soaring to 30°c during the race, but it didn't take long before the first breakaway attempt at around 15km.
Kseniia Dobrynina (Servetto-Stradalli Cycle-Alurecycling) attacked, gaining just over 10 seconds and leaving Christine Majerus (Boels Dolmans) and Dalia Muccioli (Valcar PBM) an opportunity to bridge.
The brief excitement was neutralised quickly, in time for Elena Franchi (Conceria Zabri-Fanini-Guerciotti) to test her legs with a dig at 75km to go, gaining 24s.
Franchi was still out front come the first intermediate sprint in Rivergaro, taking maximum points with Silvia Persico (Velcar PBM) winning from the bunch with Ellen van Dijk (Sunweb) third.
Coming into the QOM, Franchi was caught, and it was Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5) who reached the top of the climb - a 3.4km ascent at a 6.5 per cent gradient - first. Behind her was Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott), followed by Karol-Ann Canuel (Boels-Dolmans).
The pace on the climb led to splits in the peloton, with a brief spell where around 60 riders led on the 100 or so dropped - but the splintered pack came back together once the gradient flattened out.
With 29km remaining, Pavlukhina tried her luck out front, gaining a maximum of 1-10 before the sprinter's teams began to work to pull her back to 18s by the 15km mark.
The unavoidable catch came at 9km, followed soon after by a crash in the bunch, though most involved were able to make it back to the speeding peloton.
Multiple roundabouts appeared in the last 2k, eventually giving way to a long straight.
Once again, Jolien D'Hoore proved herself the strongest in the bunch gallop, flanked by Marta Bastianelli (Alé Cippolini) and Lotta Lepistö (Cervelo Bigla).
Whilst so far we've had a collection of sprint stages, the GC battle is likely to pick up from stage five with an ascent of the Monte Rosa.
The climb is followed by a flat finish, but stage six ends with a 15km uphill slog and a summit finish, before the 15km mountain time trial on stage seven followed by the looming figure of Monte Zoncolan on stage nine.
Giro Rosa stage four, Piacenza to Piacenza, 109km
1. Jolien D’Hoore (Bel) Mitchelton-Scott
3. Marta Bastianelli (Ita) Alé Cipollini
3. Lotta Lepistö (Fin) Cervelo Bigla
4. Leah Kirchmann (Can) Sunweb
5. Roxane Fournier (Fra) FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope
6. Kirsten Wild (Nld) Wiggle High5
7. Amy Pieters (Nld) Boels-Dolmans
8. Emilia Fahlin (Swe) Wiggle High5
9. Barbara Guarischi (Ita) Team Virtu Cycling Women
10. Alexis Ryan (Usa) Canyon-SRAM
1. Leah Kirchmann (Can) Subweb
2. Lucinda Brand (Nld) Sunweb
3. Ellen van Dijk (Nld) Sunweb, at 8s
4. Ruth Winder (USA) Sunweb, at 9s
5. Amanda Spratt (USA) Mitchelton-Scott, at 10s
6. Annemiek van Vleuten (USA) Mitchelton Scott
7. Gracie Elvin (Aus), Mitchelton-Scott, at same time
9. Chantal Blaak (Nld) Boels-Dolmans, at 21s
10. Kirsten Wild (Nld) Wiggle High5, at 25s
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