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Paret-Peintre wins Giro d’Italia Stage 4, Leknessund takes lead

106th Giro d'Italia 2023 - Stage 4

LAGO LACENO-BAGNOLI IRPINO, ITALY - MAY 09: Aurélien Paret-Peintre of France and AG2R Citroën Team celebrates at finish line as stage winner during the 106th Giro d’Italia 2023, Stage 4 a 175km stage from Venosa to Lago Laceno 1059m - Bagnoli Irpino / #UCIWT / on May 09, 2023 in Bagnoli Irpino, Italy. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images,)

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LAGO LACENO, Italy -- Aurélien Paret-Peintre won Stage 4 of the Giro d’Italia for his first Grand Tour stage victory, while Andreas Leknessund took the leader’s pink jersey from pre-race favorite Remco Evenepoel.

Leknessund, who rides for Team DSM, became only the second Norwegian cyclist to hold the pink jersey and the first in 42 years.

“It’s super special,” Leknessund said. “Obviously I went for the stage and also knew that pink was possible. I had one attack where I went all-in to drop him and I made it but he came back. And my legs were hurting so much, but it’s super special to be in the pink.

“That was the goal before the stage but as everyone knows it’s hard, cycling is not so easy and to actually make it is unbelievable.”

The 23-year-old Leknessund attacked from a breakaway at the end of the 109-mile route from Venosa to Lago Laceno, as the Giro hit the mountains in a stage with hardly any flat sections.

Paret-Peintre was the only one who could follow the Norwegian on the second-category climb up Colle Moella and, after catching him, the Frenchman crossed the summit slightly ahead of Leknessund.

They rode together toward the finish but Paret-Peintre launched his sprint with 150 meters remaining and had time to sit up and raise his arms over his head as he crossed the line two seconds ahead of Leknessund.

“My main objective this year was the Giro,” said Paret-Peintre, who rides for AG2R Citroën Team. “So I just trained a lot for today, for these three weeks. We knew today was a day for the breakaway so it was an important day for the team because we came here to take some stage victories and GC (general classification).”

Toms Skujins was third, 57 seconds behind Paret-Peintre.

Evenepoel finished safely in the peloton, 2 minutes, 1 second behind Paret-Peintre. He now trails Leknessund by 28 seconds in the overall standings, with Paret-Peintre two seconds further back.

Evenepoel had worn the pink jersey since storming to victory in the opening time trial.

Stage 5 also has two categorized climbs in a 106-mile route from Atripalda before a flat finale to Salerno.

The Giro ends in Rome on May 28.