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If you've been suffering from cycling withdrawals, worry not the Giro d'Italia is back after the first of three rest days. Following the first non-European start to a Grand Tour, the peloton is back in Italy.
The riders are signing on in Catania, Sicily this morning as the sun bathes them in warmth. Rohan Dennis is in pink as the fight for this trophy continues.
The short stint in Sicily will be a key few days for the peloton. The ride to Mount Etna on Thursday is the main talking point for many, but as our own Barry Ryan points out, there is more to these few days than the Volcano. Read his preview here.
As I mentioned a few moments ago, Rohan Dennis is in the pink jersey. He nabbed some bonus seconds during stage 2 after just missing out on victory in the opening time trial. This is how things stand ahead of today's stage.
1 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team 9:05:30
2 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:00:01
3 José Gonçalves (Por) Katusha-Alpecin 0:00:13
4 Alex Dowsett (GBr) Katusha-Alpecin 0:00:17
5 Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:00:19
6 Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 0:00:21
7 Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:22
8 Tony Martin (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin 0:00:28
9 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
10 Carlos Betancur (Col) Movistar Team 0:00:29
Speak of the devil, here is Rohan Dennis signing on with the stunning backdrop of today's start town. The riders will be setting off for the neutral start in 10 minutes.
So far during this year's Giro d'Italia we've had a stage for the time triallists and two for the sprinters. Today is one for the puncheurs. It is a very rolling stage with hardly a flat section of road in sight. The last kilometre is steep with a maximum gradient of 13 per cent. Smaller climbers such as Miguel Angel Lopez or Esteban Chaves could do a little bit of damage here. There is certainly a chance to make some gaps in the general classification.
A few words from our race leader, Rohan Dennis, as we approach the stage start.
""It’s going to be a difficult stage today a little more technical then Israel. It is a different stage, obviously, not so straight. The final is going to be technical and it’s a short steep climb so maybe a punchy rider will be someone that we’ll look for but we’ve got a great team that can put me up there in the final."
The flag has dropped and the riders have rolled out of Catania for a 5.8km neutral start. Racing is expected to begin at 12:25 local time.
Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) is another rider that could be in contention of the stage win today. The Belgian had a solid Ardennes campaign and has the punchy finish to do something in today's finale. While there is likely to be gaps at the finish, he says that nabbing the maglia rosa from Dennis might be a challenge too far.
"I’m thinking of the stage win but it’ll be difficult for me to take the pink jersey because I’m 33 seconds back on Dennis. But I really like the stage. It’s going to be hectic, technical and even a little dangerous. It’ll be a hard final 800 metres," he said before the start.
We'll have regular podcasts throughout the Giro d'Italia. Why not whet your whistle with our first offering here.
Meanwhile, the peloton has passed through kilometre zero and the racing proper is underway!
@stephenfarrand Tue, 8th May 2018 10:28:22
With that in mind, we can expect a hefty battle to make it into the breakaway. It is a hard start for the riders, however, with a slight uphill run to start the day.
Adam Hansen is riding his 20th consecutive Grand Tour at this year's Giro d'Italia. He told Cyclingnews, however, that he would not continue his run into the Tour de France this July. Read the full story here.
The attacking has been relentless since the start of the day but nothing has managed to stick just yet. After 12 kilometres of racing it is gruppo compatto.
Another not so subtle plug here, but Cyclingnews has got into film making. Don't forget that you can still buy or rent our first offering: The Holy Week. The film takes a look behind the scenes of the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and the week in between with a plethora of interviews. You can find the film here and stay tuned to Cyclingnews over the coming weeks and months for more from Cyclingnews Films.
UAE Team Emirates, Bora-Hansgrohe and Bardiani have been highly active, though the latter is short a rider in the bunch after Andrea Guardini suffered a puncture. He is making his way back to the bunch.
Today's stage is a little longer than originally planned after organisers added a few kilometres to navigate some damaged roads near the start. There were reports that hot tarmac was being poured into potholes just half an hour before the riders set off.
A four-man group has formed off the front of the peloton, which includes Enrico Barbin and Marco Frapporti. Not a surprise to see these two trying to get away.
Make that five riders. The full list of the riders up front is: Enrico Barbin (Bardiani-CSF), Marco Frapporti (Androni-Giocattoli), Jacopo Mosca (Wilier-Triestina), Maxim Belkov (Katusha-Alpecin) and Quentin Jauregui (AG2R La Mondiale).
177km remaining from 202km
After 25km of racing, the three leaders have just 20 seconds on the bunch.
The gap is growing out and it now stands at 45 seconds. Interesting to see that three of the four wild card teams have made it out front. However, Israel Cycling Academy are missing from this move. They were on the attack on both road stages during the Grande Partenza, courtesy of Guillaume Boivin.
167km remaining from 202km
It seems that the peloton is happy with this move for now and the gap is growing out. They have 2:45 on the bunch behind at the moment. Many think that the break will stick today, these five will certainly hope so.
Enrico Barbin has been very active in the opening stages of the Giro d'Italia and he is currently in the blue jersey of the king of the mountains competition. There are more points on offer for him today with two classified climbs along the route. Marco Frapporti is sitting just behind him in the king of the mountains standings and we can expect a battle between them today for the few points on offer.
1 Enrico Barbin (Ita) Bardiani CSF 5 pts
2 Marco Frapporti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec 3
3 Guillaume Boivin (Can) Israel Cycling Academy 3
4 Davide Ballerini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec 1
BMC are very much in control of things at the moment with Team Sunweb sitting just behind them in the team train. They've allowed this to go out to 3:40 with just under 160 kilometres to go. With this size of gap, it appears that BMC might not want the breakaway to stick. We shall see as the day progresses.
Due to his two stage victories, Elia Viviani leads the points competition by some margin. The breakaway will mop up the points at the intermediate sprints and with none of the climbers, and puncheurs up there in the classification at the moment, Viviani should keep the jersey for at least another day.
1 Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors 62 pts
2 Sacha Modolo (Ita) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 41
3 Guillaume Boivin (Can) Israel Cycling Academy 40
4 Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe 25
5 Marco Frapporti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec 24
6 Jakub Mareczko (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia 18
7 Enrico Barbin (Ita) Bardiani CSF 16
8 Danny van Poppel (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 14
9 Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Fix All 12
10 Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec 10
There are huge crowds out in Sicily today but they are unable to cheer on their biggest star Vincenzo Nibali. The Italian made a deal with his team last year that if he could ride the 2017 Giro d'Italia, which also visited Sicily, then he would take on the 2018 Tour de France. He has chosen not to visit the race at all as he prepares for the Tour in just two months' time. Read what he had to say here.
It has been four years since the Passo di Gavia has featured at the Giro d'Italia and 30 years since perhaps it's most famous ascent at the 1988 edition of the Italian Grand Tour. Despite the race spilling into June, the top o the climb was ensconced in a snow blizzard. Erik Breukink won the stage, while Andy Hampsten finished second and moved into the race lead. Clothing company Rapha have made a special edition kit to honour that brutal day. Read the full story here.
148km remaining from 202km
Some movement on the front of the bunch with Lotto-FixAll (Lotto-Soudal) putting a rider on the front. They have Wellens as a potential contender today and they're interested in keeping the break at close quarters. The gap has dropped a tad to 3 minutes.
It was a rather short stint on the front for Lotto-FixAll and BMC are back to the pace setting. Lotto would be wise to lean on BMC for the heavily lifting today and save their legs for later in the day.
A mechanical issue for one of the Wilier riders. It is Giuseppe Fonzi. He gets a new wheel and he's back on his way.
We've run down three of the four official classifications so far today. The one we are missing is the youth classification. Max Schachmann leads that competition by eight seconds over Valerio Conti. Given Schachmann's performance at Fleche Wallonne last month, he should be able to hold his own on this finish. He will have some tough competition to keep hold of the white jersey, though.
1 Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors 9:05:52
2 Valerio Conti (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:08
3 Mads Würtz Schmidt (Den) Katusha-Alpecin 0:00:09
4 Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:10
5 Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:00:21
6 Ben O'Connor (Aus) Dimension Data 0:00:28
7 Nico Denz (Ger) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:31
8 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 0:00:35
9 Ryan Mullen (Irl) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:36
The gap to the five escapees is growing out once again, albeit quite slowly. The breakaway has 3:18 as they make their way towards the first classified climb of the day.
Both climbs have both been rated fourth category ascents. That means that the leader over the top will get three points, second will take two and the third rider will get just one point.
Mountains classification leader Barbin has been a professional rider since 2013, spending his entire career so far with the Bardiani-CSF set-up. This is the fourth time that he has been selected to ride the Giro d'Italia after missing it in 2016. He has just one professional win to his name with a stage victory at last year's Tour de Langkawi.
The rider that Barbin is battling with for the mountains classification jersey is Marco Frapporti. Now a veteran in the peloton, the 33-year-old has been a professional since 2008. He hasn't ridden the Giro d'Italia for two seasons and this is his fifth appearance at his home Grand Tour. His last big win came in 2013 with a stage victory at the 2013 Route du Sud. A spell in the mountains jersey would be huge for him.
135km remaining from 202km
The road surfaces aren't entirely fantastic today and Frapporti indicates to his breakaway companions that there is a rather large pothole ahead. Nobody wants to end up hitting one of them.
The riders are climbing though they have not yet reached the first classified climb of the day. The gap has been pegged a 3:08 for now.
Chris Froome is focused on his bid for the maglia rosa at the moment but his salbutamol case continues to rumble on regardless. Another twist to the tale came last week with a study calling into question WADA's tests for salbutamol, which Froome's legal team is expected to do. WADA have stood firm, however, saying that they still have confidence in their procedures. Read the full story here.
This is where the riders signed on earlier this afternoon. There were plenty of people and there have been huge crowds throughout the route.
It is Jempy Drucker doing the bulk of the work on the front at the moment. He is the team's sprinter so is pulling the early shift with little chance of him contesting the stage victory at the finish. This is Drucker's first Giro d'Italia and third Grand Tour, having ridden the Vuelta a Espana twice before.
Quentin Jaurégui is the youngest rider in today's breakaway after turning 24 just last month. The Frenchman stepped into professional racing with AG2R La Mondiale in 2015. This is his second time at the corsa rosa after making his debut last year.
121km remaining from 202km
Sitting in the middle of the BMC Racing train is Lott-FixAll's Sander Armee. He is sitting behind Kilian Frankiny, who is currently leading the way in the bunch. The pace has gone up and the gap to the leaders has dropped to 2:59.
Mitchelton-Scott are keeping their noses out of the wind further back in the bunch at the moment. They have picked Simon Yates as their contender for victory in today's finale. This is what Yates had to say at the start of the day.
"My Giro started well and now we’ve arrived in Italy in a good position overall. Today is the first hard day. It looks very difficult on paper.
"The finish looks good for me but I’ve got a feeling the break will stay away and so we might not go for the stage win. We’ll see what happens out on the road."
Enrico Barbin on the radio again. He's been very chatty on the radio since the start of the day. He will need to have full concentration on the road now with the first climb of the day only a few kilometres up the road.
A mechanical problem for David de la Cruz. He's got a new wheel to carry on with and shouldn't have too many problems getting back onto the bunch at this moment in time.
The pace in the breakaway has really ramped up as they near this KOM. This is going to be a battle.
Barbin springs an attack from the group and none of the others has a response to him in the end. He easily takes the points to extend his lead in the competition. Frapporti was on the front of the group and made no reaction when Barbin went up the road. He still takes second place on the line.
Barbin now leads the king of the mountains competition by three points over Frapporti, which all but seals the blue jersey for another day for the Bardiani rider.
We now have a short but fast descent through the town of Ferla before the road heads upwards again for the first of two intermediate sprints. Several of the GC teams have moved to the front of the bunch as it strings out until the current pace.
108km remaining from 202km
Closing in on the intermediate sprint, UAE Team Emirates pick up the pace and start hammering out a high pace.
Fabio Aru is well up there and sits in fourth wheel. Bahrain-Merida have also moved up towards the front and FDJ have a rider up there too.
103km remaining from 202km
The change in pace has done some serious damage in the peloton as several splits have formed down the group. The gap to the escapees has plummeted to 1:25 too.
It looks like we've got several punctures. One for Tony Martin and another for one of the Movistar riders. This is a really bad time to stop for a new wheel or bike with the pace so rapid now.
It seems that most of the big contenders are in this front group but it is very hard to tell with riders all over the place. The gap between the two pelotons is only around 5-10 seconds.
Jauregui attacks as the advantage of the leaders drops to just 22 seconds with over 100 kilometres to go.
We've got a red flag in front of the peloton as it looks like a camera bike has crashed. We hope that everyone is ok.
The pace has rolled back a little but UAE Team Emirates continues to set the pace. The five leaders have 1:15 on the bunch and it is going out once again. And breathe....
The reduction in pace has allowed the second main group on the road to rejoin the first. There will be a lot of relieved riders after that brief moment of chaos. The rest of the GC teams will be well and truly awake now and will be cautious of sitting too far back in the bunch.
95km remaining from 202km
It will be interesting to see what exactly the tactic from UAE is here. Are they looking to burn off rivals for Diego Ulissi for the stage win, or are they trying to help Fabio Aru gain back some seconds after he lost so much in the opening time trial? Maybe it is a bit of both. Whatever it is they have allowed BMC to come up and retake control of the pace setting.
A replay shows that the team got an order from the team car and they all of a sudden sat up. The gap to the escapees has gone all the way back out to two minutes.
Marco Frapporti gives us a good look at his cleats as he stretches out his legs. It's a long day out there and they'll need to be limber for this finale.
Rohan Dennis and Adam Hansen enjoy a chit chat in the bunch. They look pretty relaxed now after that massive increase in pace.
@TeamUAEAbuDhabi Tue, 8th May 2018 13:24:35
Lots of riders back with the cars picking up drinks. Tim Wellens must be feeling the heat as he empties a bidon over his head.
We saw UAE Team Emirates put in a big push about 15 kilometres ago. They have Fabio Aru as their overall contender but they've also got Ulissi as a potential stage winner. This is what he had to say to Italian television at the start of the day.
"It’s going to be a very nervous stage, there are two possible outcomes: a big fight to get into the break because it’ll be interesting to see if BMC controls the race to defend Dennis’ pink jersey. Then the final 800m is all uphill.
"We’ll be protecting Fabio Aru’s GC hopes but maybe it’s also a chance for me. I hope to give it a go. If it doesn’t work out today there are several other chances in this year’s Giro."
We are through the first intermediate sprint of the day and Frapporti jumps the rest to take the points, followed by Mosca and the Belkov.
Jempy Drucker looks like he's out the back of the bunch as he suffers on an uncategorised climb. He's been doing a lot of work in the bunch. Meanwhile, there's a bit of a stoppage in the bunch as a few riders touch wheels and come to a stop.
Jakub Mareczko is also in trouble and he's got several teammates around him trying to keep him in touch with the bunch. If he's struggling on a stage like today then he will really suffer when the proper mountains arrive.
Drucker gives it beans on a short descent and makes it back to the peloton but he doesn't look like he's in a good place at the moment as Francisco Ventoso sets the pace for BMC at the head of the peloton.
News coming from Bardiani-CSF that Andrea Guardini has pulled out of the Giro d'Italia due to a fever. He was one of their major chances for taking a stage win at the corsa rosa.
Michael Woods is another potential contender for today's finale and he had a few words for Cyclingnews at the start in Catania earlier this afternoon.
"It’s certainly a technical finish and a very good finish for me on paper. I’ve never won a WorldTour before, so I obviously can’t be considered the favourite until I do something like that, but it’s one that I certainly had marked on the calendar."
Thibaut Pinot being brought back to the peloton. It doesn't seem that it was a mechanical issue, probably just a comfort break. You need to time those well or you can be caught out by an attack.
70km remaining from 202km
The gap is hovering at just over two minutes for the five escapees. They're looking a lot more comfortable than they were about 30 kilometres ago.
Defending champion Tom Dumoulin is sitting neatly in second place overall after winning the opening stage before handing the maglia rosa to Dennis on stage two. He's expecting plenty of action while the peloton races through Sicily.
"All three stages are really hard today and tomorrow are going to be like an Ardennes sort of stage. It’s going to be really tricky," he told Eurosport at the start of today's stage.
"Today, it’s a very tricky stage and it’s important to stay safe and an opportunity to take some time. I expect a lot to happen in the next three days."
The leaders are fast approaching the second intermediate sprint of the day. They will tackle that before they take on the second climb in Vizzini.
As we say in the Isle of Man, it is blowing a hoolie out there with a pretty decent crosswind licking across the peloton. A few riders dropping back after paying visits to the car but no sign of echelons just yet.
Maxim Belkov and Marco Frapporti enjoy a friendly chat in the bunch. Frapporti is now sitting in Belkov's wheel as we near the sprint. Maybe they were making a deal.
63km remaining from 202km
Belkov and Frapporti go for it with Mosca close behind. And, Mosca takes the intermediate sprint ahead of Frapporti.
Astana moving towards the front en-mass, led by Lutsenko, as a few riders misjudge a bit of road furniture and have to go the long way around.
The riders are on a sweeping descent, which contains a few changes in the road surface. Next up is the second climb of the day, where we can expect Barbin to try to mop up the maximum points.
As they head into the valley, the wind has died down. They are protected by the hills around them for the moment.
The peloton is snaked out on this descent as BMC continue to lead the way. All calm in the bunch at the moment but we can expect fireworks in the not too distant future.
Have you watched our first offering from Cyclingnews Films, the Holy Week? No? Well then, you can watch it right here. Or maybe you rented it before and you fancy watching it again. Either way, go watch it!
Also, remember to have a listen to the latest edition of our Cyclingnews Podcast, here. We'll have more of them coming from the Giro d'Italia over the next three weeks.
The five leaders are still all together having gotten away after 25 kilometres of racing. They had a lead of over 3 minutes at one point but it now sits at 2:25 heading into the final 50 kilometres of the day.
Barbin sits firmly on the back of the leading group and he has been there for some time. When will he make his move?
With 200 metres to go, the riders round a corner to see huge crowds lining the street. Barbin gives them plenty to cheer about as he launches his move just inside the final 200 metres to beat Frapporti easily and cement his place in the KOM jersey for a few more days.
I must say that the crowds have been brilliant today. So many people out on the side of the road. We saw that during the Grande Partenza but they have certainly turned out in Sicily. I can only imagine what it will be like on Mount Etna on Thursday.
A mechanical issue for Sacha Modolo on the KOM. It seems that there was a touch of wheels and that moved his rear brake caliper. He adjusts it himself and he's on his way but he's lost some ground on the bunch.
42km remaining from 202km
Svein Tuft moves up towards the front for Mitchelton-Scott. He politely asks if he can slot into the BMC Racing train and they oblige.
After that KOM, we've got a few short rises but the road will predominantly head downhill until about 17 kilometres to go, at which point the riders will begin the climb towards the final, punchy ascent to the finish line.
The opening stage of the 4 Jours de Dunkerque has finished. I won't spoil it for you but you can find the results here.
37km remaining from 202km
After moving into the BMC Racing train a few kilometres ago, Tuft now takes up the front of the bunch and increases the pace. The gap to the leaders is now coming down and sits at 2:11.
Rohan Dennis has remained as close to the front as he can while still conserving energy. He's sitting fifth in the bunch at the moment and still looks comfortable. It is going to be tough for him to hold onto the pink jersey today. It's possible but there are some much punchier riders in the peloton. Dumoulin i the rider he will need to watch closest.
The breakaway has split up on this descent with Barbin and Jauregui being distanced. We now have three riders, Belkov, Frapporti and Mosca at the head of proceedings.
This was the breakaway before things broke up a few kilometres ago.
29km remaining from 202km
Once again, Marezcko is out the back with most of his team. He also has Bora's Rudiger Selig for company. The pace is increasing with less than 30 kilometres to go.
Sam Bewley has moved up to give Tuft a hand with the drive in the peloton. The gap is coming down very quickly now with just 1:41 for the three remaining escapees.
A problem for Gianluca Brambilla and he is chasing frantically to get back onto the peloton. He's got one teammate for company at the moment and Astana's Davide Villella.
The rider helping Brambilla is Mads Pedersen. It's going to be a hard job to get back on but they are going all out. This would be a huge blow for Brambilla if he lost time so early on.
25km remaining from 202km
Pedersen peels off, he's cooked. It's up to Brambilla to make the juncture on his own. He can almost see the peloton up the road but the gap is still around 40 seconds for the Italian.
Luis Leon Sanchez moves to the front for Astana. Is he working for a teammate, maybe Bilbao, or is he planning something himself?
UAE Team Emirates are on the front again and pushing a really hard pace, the gap has dropped under a minute and the fight is well and truly on now.
20km remaining from 202km
An attack off the front from one of the Bora-Hansgrohe riders on this descent.
Sergio Henao tags onto the back of the bunch after suffering a mechanical issue.
Brambilla also finally makes contact. He will be much relieved to get there. Meanwhile, it was not really an attack from Bora but a rider very quickly moving up to the front of the peloton. They have Davide Formolo as a potential contender today.
Goncalves has a puncture but one of his teammates is waiting for him and he jumps off his bike and onto his teammates. That is bad timing for the Portuguese.
16km remaining from 202km
Just 30 seconds for the three leaders. They're holding it out there at the moment but that will disappear very quickly and it is highly unlikely that the move will stick.
This is what the riders will face in today's finale.
The Katusha team car has got up to Goncalves now and he's given a replacement bike suited to his dimensions.
14km remaining from 202km
Still 23 seconds for the breakaway but they know that it is all over and they exchange handshakes.
It seems that Goncalves is having more problems with the bars on his new bike. The mechanic tries to fix it on the move but it isn't happening and they have to stop. This is not what Goncalves needs at this time of the race.
The breakaway has been brought back and with 13km to go it is gruppo compatto. The road will gradually climb from here to the finish with the final kilometre a much steeper gradient.
11km remaining from 202km
Representatives from multiple teams at the front as hte peloton spreads across the road. Team Sky, Bahrain-Merida, BMC Racing and UAE Team Emirates all up there.
Krists Neilands is looming near the front. He could be a dark horse for today. Remember his attack in Milan-San Remo?
Neilands is just behind Thibaut Pinot and the FDJ train.
And we have attacks from the bunch with Zardini going and Conti following him.
No further reaction from the peloton at the moment but there are plenty of teams who have invested a lot into trying to get a stage win today and this pair is unlikely to be given much rope.
We're into the final 10km and riders are also been shown the back door from the peloton. Though, there is no impetus from the peloton just yet, they're not overly concerned by this break.
9km remaining from 202km
Conti gives a little dig and Zardini can't hang on. Conti is now alone as Zardini drifts back. The UAE Team Emirates rider has 17 seconds on the peloton.
The gap is increasing for Conti as the peloton sit back for now. UAE are, for obvious reasons, not helping any more. Finally, Lotto-FixAll move to the front with Adam Hansen to help bring back Conti.
24km remaining from 202km
Zardini has been brought back after initially sparking that attack. A bit more action in the bunch and Wellens is now sitting in second wheel. He really wants the stage win today. 25 seconds for Conti at the moment.
Should Conti falter, UAE has Diego Ulissi in the bunch. This is a dream situation for them really. Bahrain-Merida are now lending a hand to the chase, the gap comes down to 22 seconds.
A crash in the bunch as the riders pass through a pinch-point. A couple of riders touch wheels and Zeits is sent over the barriers. He's ok and he can carry on, thankfully.
Lots of riders, including Visconti caught behind that incident. It just shows why positioning is so important.
5km remaining from 202km
Under 10 seconds for Conti with five kilometres to go, the peloton has been cut down by that incident.
The peloton has Conti in their sights. He is digging deep but it doesn't look like he will last much longer.
Zdenek Stybar gets back to the peloton. He was another rider caught in that bottleneck.
3km remaining from 202km
Mitchelton-Scott putting the hammer down on the front of the peloton and Conti is finally caught.
Lotto-FixAll are also up near the front and drumming a hard pace. I can see Aru near the front with Michael Woods. Schachmann is very near Aru in the peloton too.
2km remaining from 202km
I spoke too soon. It looks like Schachmann just crashed on a corner. A massive shame.
The riders take a tight hairpin turn into a downward run. The final climb is coming.
Van der Sande is going great guns and he breaks up the peloton. He looks over his shoulder and then moves back into the main peloton. Five riders lead the group.
It looks like Sam Bennett is in that group.
Wellens is also there but the peloton is coming back to them.
Sam Bennett is on the front. He's doing a great job but it's too much for him.
Tim Wellens digs deep and takes the win
Michael Woods crosses the line in second place with George Bennett in third place.
Wellens was one of five riders to ping off the front in that final kilometre. He then sat up, waited for the bunch to get up to him, saved some energy before going again. When he made his final move, there was nobody that could hang onto him.
My apologies, it was Enrico Battaglin that took third not George Bennett.
Here is the top 10 from today's stage
1 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto-Fix All 5:17:34
2 Michael Woods (Can) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
3 Enrico Battaglin (Ita) LottoNL-Jumbo
4 Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott
5 Davide Formolo (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
6 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Mitchelton-Scott 0:00:04
7 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
8 Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team
9 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
10 Esteban Chaves (Col) Mitchelton-Scott
Rohan Dennis remains in the pink jersey, one second ahead of Tom Dumoulin with Simon Yates in third and Wellens moves into fourth.
Meanwhile, Team Sky reports that Chris Froome lost 23 seconds on the peloton in that finish. He has had a testing start to the Giro d'Italia.
Here is confirmation of the GC standings after that stage.
1 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team 14:23:08
2 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:00:01
3 Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 0:00:17
4 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Fix All 0:00:19
5 Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:00:25
6 Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:28
7 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:00:28
8 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:00:34
9 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:35
10 Carlos Betancur (Col) Movistar Team 0:00:35
A few short words from the stage winner, Tim Wellens: "Of course I’m very happy. It relieves us from any stress, no we can go easy for the rest of the Giro. Often when you don’t have any stress, everything comes a little bit easier."
A bit more from Wellens on that finale: "It was turning and twisting all day, it was not so easy. In the end my teammates took me perfectly to the front. Adam did a really long pull and then Tosh was pulling and it was splitting behind us. I had to be careful not to go too soon because I knew it as still far out. I had a little advantage and so could start the climb easy, then I went full gas at 200 metres."
Michael Woods came so close to claiming his first ever Grand Tour stage win. This is what he had to say att he finish line.
“I really wanted it today but Wellens was just the stronger guy. I got split off at bottom but managed to catch back up. I felt great today, I had everyone helping me on this team - Tom Van Asbroeck was amazing - but Wellens was just the better man.
[Confidence boost?] “I wanted to win. Yeah it was great, but I wanted to win.”
Woods has been on really good form since the Ardennes Classics. He lost quite a bit of time in the opening time trial but he is crawling his way back towards the top and today will be a boost for his overall bid.
Rohan Dennis kept hold of his maglia rosa for another day in what was a very dramatic finale.
"The hardest stage so far. It’s never easy riding in Sicily but to race here is a whole other level," said Dennis.
"The next days are going to be hard, like today. Tomorrow is a bit more like today, then Etna will be a bit of a test for the GC guys on a mountain to see where everyone’s at, so it’ll be interesting to see where I’m at compared to the other guys."
Looking back to Chris Froome, we haven't got the full results but he has lost about 17-18 seconds on Dumoulin and Dennis. After giving away 38 seconds in the opening time trial, he is closing in on a minute deficit to the top of the GC. Just four days into the race, that has to be a disappointment for him. We must wait for Etna in two days' time to see how he is really going, but he's given himself a big metaphorical mountain to climb.
Chris Froome spoke to the press following the stage. He said that he's feeling better but found himself out of position in the finale.
"I lost position in the in final kilometre and so wasn’t well placed coming into the final kick.
"But I’m feeling better and better after the crash. It was a hard, nervous stage, it was up and down all day. But I’m just happy to get through the day without any major problems.
"I lost some seconds but that’s racing. I crashed on the first day and I’m feeling better every day. We’re going to take it day by day and do as well as we can."
@rusty_woods Tue, 8th May 2018 16:27:00
@rusty_woods Tue, 8th May 2018 16:27:00
Tosh van der Sande put in a mighty effort today to help out Tim Wellens. He had this to say to Eurosport at the end of the day.
"“This means a lot. He was already focused on this stage before we came here, and the way we did it is just unbelievable. He’s one of the best in the world for such a finish, and I’m glad I could be a part of it.
“It was clear from the beginning, he said he had good legs, so we put riders to pull. Then in the end we said if we could take the lead we’d take the lead. Then there was a little gap and when they have to close it already it’s a big advantage.”
Another day and another wolf for Rohan Dennis, and the pink jersey of course.
Click here for our finish line quotes and a selection of reactions from today's chaotic stage.
We also have a full recap of today's stage with photos and result to come. You can fins that all here.
Tomorrow's route is another rolling stage that could once again cause problems for the GC riders.
@Sammmy_Be Tue, 8th May 2018 17:00:33
That is it from me today and stage 4 of the Giro d'Italia. Come back tomorrow where we will have full live coverage of stage 5 and we will have much more reaction from today's stage later on this evening.
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