How long can Juan Pedro López stay in pink at the Giro d'Italia?

Trek-Segafredo's Spaniard has 39 seconds over Lennard Kämna

Juan Pedro López
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Almost 24 hours on from climbing into the pink jersey after stage four of the Giro d'Italia, one hopes Juan Pedro López has settled into the idea. 

"If it's a dream, don't wake me up, please", is what the Trek-Segafredo rider tweeted after claiming the maglia rosa on Mount Etna. What will be interesting to see now is how long that very real dream can keep going for.

Immediately post stage the young Spaniard looked deflated at not winning the day's race, as he was beaten in the final hundred metres by Lennard Kämna, but the race lead should be some consolation.

López should settle into the idea of being in pink, as he is currently 39 seconds ahead of Kämna, and 1:42 ahead of Simon Yates, the first realistic contender for the general classification.

“I have no idea how long I can lead this race for,” López said on Tuesday evening. ’ll just have to take it day by day and see how it goes.”

It might be some time. The next serious mountain test comes on stage seven, with a 4730 metres of climbing in the day, and that is followed by Sunday's stage to Blockhaus with 5080 vertical metres. 

However, López has proved his climbing abilities already this race. He distanced his breakaway colleagues on stage four, and was then able to hang around with Kämna when caught - the German is currently one of the most in form riders in the world.

He finished 11th at this year's Itzulia Basque Country, a race known for its vertiginous nature, just 5:24 behind the overall winner Dani Martínez. The Spaniard also finished 13th at last year's Vuelta a España, although that was over half an hour behind Primož Roglič, for context.

How long López stays in pink, then, depends on what the general classification teams want to do. If they make it hard on the Blockhaus stage, then that might be the end of Trek's pink Giro. If not, then it could continue.

This corsa rosa is very back-loaded, like so many editions. Stages 15-20 are all seriously hilly, mountainous really, and so if López is still in pink by then, it is likely that he will lose it on one of these days. His Trek team isn't set up to support a push for general classification, more to hunt stages, so it might be in their interests to lose the jersey sooner rather than later.

However, the 24-year-old can climb, and it is useful for the general classification teams to have a stalking horse in pink, so they don't have to control the race too early on. For the likes of Yates, Richard Carapaz and Romain Bardet, a lengthy stay at the top for López might prove incredibly helpful for their own hopes.

Let's hope that the Trek rider can start to believe that he does lead the Giro by the time he has finished making his repetitive trips to the podium.

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