Giro d'Italia: Wellens wins stage 4

Tim Wellens (Lotto Fix All) channelled his Ardennes Classics skills to win stage 3's steep uphill finish in Caltagirone at the Giro d'Italia. The double-digit gradient and attacks caused Chris Froome (Team Sky) to lose precious seconds to his overall rivals in the final kilometre.

Wellens timed his final effort to the line perfectly to hold off Michael Woods (EF Education First-Drapac), with Enrico Battaglin (LottoNL-Jumbo) finishing third after opening up the sprint.

Everyone else fought to hold their wheels and avoid splits in the select front group. Maglia rosa Rohan Dennis (BMC) finished in the wheels and was timed at four seconds behind Wellens, in the same time as Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) and most of his other overall rivals.

Dennis kept the pink jersey for another day and leads Dumoulin by one second, with Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) moving up to third overall at 17 seconds. Wellens is now fourth overall at 19 seconds.

Froome finished much further back, and with a gap in the line of riders timed at greater than a second, he was classified as finishing 21 seconds down on Wellens. He tried to dismiss the time loss as 'racing' but after also losing 37 seconds in the opening Jerusalem time trial, which Dumoulin won; he now sits 55 seconds behind maglia rosa Dennis in the overall classification and 54 seconds behind Dumoulin.

The 202km stage from Catania included over 3,000 metres of climbing on twisting narrow country roads, making for a nervous five hours in the saddle but inspiring Wellens and his Lotto Fix All team, which lead him to the foot of the 13 per cent kick up to the finish.

"This feels much more special because until the last 150 metres I was not sure of winning, so then when you pass over the finish line, it feels so good," Wellens said immediately after his victory.

"It was turning and twisting all day; it was not so easy. In the end, my teammates took me perfectly to the front. Adam [Hansen] did a really long pull, and then Tosh [Van der Sande] 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."

Dennis admitted he had thought about trying to win the stage but then focused on defending the maglia rosa.

"It's great to keep the jersey for a bit longer. The guys did everything possible to put me in the right position. Then I had [Alessandro] De Marchi and Nico Roche for the finale if I got into trouble. There was a little bit of stress but not too much," Dennis said.

"I was hoping that I could maybe even take the sprint. But with 150 metres to go, I saw I wasn't good enough, and so I held the wheel and made sure there were no gaps to Dumoulin."

Would the constant hills and steep finish inspire attacks?

As the riders gathered in central Catania after the transfer from Israel and the partial rest day in the area, there was a general feeling that the Giro d'Italia was about to get a lot more serious with three hard days of racing in Sicily.

Would the 202km stage split the peloton and see the overall contenders try to test each other? Would BMC chase the break to defend Rohan Dennis' pink jersey or let it go? Riders were worried about the prospect of a hard day across central Sicily.

BMC quickly showed they wanted to keep the maglia rosa when the break of the day formed after 25km of attacks on the flat roads south of Catania. BMC put four riders on the front to set a steady tempo.

The break included Enrico Barbin (Bardiani-CSF), Marco Frapporti (Androni-Giocattoli), Jacopo Mosca (Wilier-Triestina), Maxim Belkov (Katusha-Alpecin) and Quentin Jauregui (AG2R La Mondiale). Barbin was chasing points to defend his lead in the mountains competition, while Frapporti again marked him close in the fight for the blue jersey.

The five opened a three-minute lead as the stage headed inland into the rolling Sicilian roads. Jaurégui was the youngest rider in the breakaway after turning 24 just last month. The Frenchman stepped into professional racing with AG2R La Mondiale in 2015, and this is his second time at the corsa rosa after making his debut last year.

Barbin made sure he took maximum points at the first categorised climb after 82km, sprinting through the huge crowds that gathered to welcome the riders to Pietre Calde. The village marked the true start of the rolling country roads, with a painful shark's tooth profile all the way to Caltagirone, with Jempy Drucker and Fran Ventoso doing the hard work for BMC and Dennis.

UAE Team Emirates try an attack

The feed zone came at the halfway point of the stage, but Fabio Aru's UAE Team Emirates showed little respect for peloton etiquette. Three riders suddenly upped the pace, taking over from BMC in a clear attempt to break up the peloton and test their rivals.

Their surged worked for a while, splitting the peloton into three groups and causing panic and concern, considering there as still 105km to the finish. The gap to the break fell from 1:40 to just 25 seconds and suddenly the race was on.

However, UAE Team Emirates were not fully convinced about their attack and the call came via radio from the team car to knock off the high pace. The chasers, including unlucky puncture victim, soon got back and so the move ran out of speed and enthusiasm.

The five took the chance to push out their lead again, while some of the sprinters suffered at the back of the pack. Andrea Guardini (Bardiani-CSF) has been struggling with illness since travelling to Israel for the Grand Partenza, and he finally cracked and quit mid-way through the stage.

Frapporti won the first intermediate sprint in Palazzolo Acreide, and then Mosca made sure he won the second in Monterosso Almo after 133km. The peloton rode through the stunning Baroque architecture of the hilltop villages, but the riders had little time to enjoy the views. A split-second distraction was enough to risk a crash as the country roads snaked left and right, up and down.

Barbin kicked again in Vizzini to win the second and final mountain sprint. He was the strongest climber in the move despite being on the attack on each of the three road stages so far in this year's Giro d'Italia.

Wisely he sat soon after the climb, dropping back to the peloton with Jauregui. Mosca, Frapporti and Belkov pushed on. Mitchelton-Scott decided to help with the chase, sending veteran Svein Tuft up to the front to give BMC a welcome hand.

The peloton stayed together despite the testing stage profile, with the domestiques having to do the hard work of collecting fresh bidons and then taking up to their team leaders in the fast-moving group. It was vital to hold a position near the front of the peloton to save energy for the hilly finale and kick up to Caltagirone.

Gianluca Brambilla (Trek-Segafredo) was unlucky to flat with 30km to go. He quickly got a wheel but had to chase for 10km before returning to the safety of the peloton.

Jose Goncalves was the next needing help with 20km to go. He takes a teammates bike but had a problem with his bars, sending his Katusha-Alpecin team car into a panic. Both eventually stopped to resolve a bar problem. Fortunately the peloton had eased as they were about to catch the break.

Gruppo compatto occurred with 13km to go just as Team Sky appeared on the front to protect Chris Froome. The riders caught their breath for a second but then Enrico Zardini (Wilier Triestina) and Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates) were the first to jump away.

Zardini soon struggled, but Conti pushed on alone, forcing Lotto Fix All to pick-up the chase. Behind the sprinters, including double winner Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) were spat out of the back by the high pace. A narrowing of the road sparked a crash and split the peloton, leaving Zdenek Stybar (Quick-Step Floors) behind. Best young rider Maximilian Schachmann crashed on a corner as the huge crowds narrowed the roads but it occurred in the final three kilometres, and so he did not lose time and kept the white jersey.

When Battaglin kicked early, Wellens got on his wheel and then passed him as the finish line approached. It was his second stage victory at the Giro d'Italia after winning in Roccaraso in 2016.

Watch stage 4 highlights of the Giro d'Italia in the InCycle video below.


Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Fix All5:17:34
2Michael Woods (Can) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 1 - Cell 2
3Enrico Battaglin (Ita) LottoNL-JumboRow 2 - Cell 2
4Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-ScottRow 3 - Cell 2
5Davide Formolo (Ita) Bora-HansgroheRow 4 - Cell 2
6Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Mitchelton-Scott0:00:04
7Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-HansgroheRow 6 - Cell 2
8Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro TeamRow 7 - Cell 2
9Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 8 - Cell 2
10Esteban Chaves (Col) Mitchelton-ScottRow 9 - Cell 2
11Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team SunwebRow 10 - Cell 2
12Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing TeamRow 11 - Cell 2
13Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJRow 12 - Cell 2
14George Bennett (NZl) LottoNL-Jumbo0:00:10
15Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro TeamRow 14 - Cell 2
16Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar TeamRow 15 - Cell 2
17Louis Meintjes (RSA) Dimension DataRow 16 - Cell 2
18Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 17 - Cell 2
19Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 18 - Cell 2
20Carlos Betancur (Col) Movistar TeamRow 19 - Cell 2
21Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step FloorsRow 20 - Cell 2
22Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro TeamRow 21 - Cell 2
23Wout Poels (Ned) Team SkyRow 22 - Cell 2
24Georg Preidler (Aut) Groupama-FDJ0:00:21
25Sam Oomen (Ned) Team SunwebRow 24 - Cell 2
26Sergio Henao (Col) Team SkyRow 25 - Cell 2
27Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-SidermecRow 26 - Cell 2
28Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team EmiratesRow 27 - Cell 2
29Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro TeamRow 28 - Cell 2
30Chris Froome (GBr) Team SkyRow 29 - Cell 2
31Ben O'Connor (Aus) Dimension DataRow 30 - Cell 2
32Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 31 - Cell 2
33Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing TeamRow 32 - Cell 2
34Alexandre Geniez (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:00:27
35Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) Groupama-FDJRow 34 - Cell 2
36Valerio Conti (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 35 - Cell 2
37Krists Neilands (Lat) Israel Cycling AcademyRow 36 - Cell 2
38Fausto Masnada (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-SidermecRow 37 - Cell 2
39José Gonçalves (Por) Katusha-AlpecinRow 38 - Cell 2
40Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-SidermecRow 39 - Cell 2
41Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 40 - Cell 2
42Mikel Nieve (Spa) Mitchelton-ScottRow 41 - Cell 2
43Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale0:00:36
44Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-HansgroheRow 43 - Cell 2
45Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-ScottRow 44 - Cell 2
46Maurits Lammertink (Ned) Katusha-AlpecinRow 45 - Cell 2
47Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Trek-SegafredoRow 46 - Cell 2
48Manuele Boaro (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 47 - Cell 2
49Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Trek-SegafredoRow 48 - Cell 2
50François Bidard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:00:41
51Nathan Brown (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale0:00:43
52Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe0:00:49
53Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Team Sunweb0:00:52
54Mads Würtz Schmidt (Den) Katusha-Alpecin0:01:08
55Kenny Elissonde (Fra) Team Sky0:01:14
56Alex Dowsett (GBr) Katusha-Alpecin0:01:17
57Darwin Atapuma (Col) UAE Team EmiratesRow 56 - Cell 2
58Rodolfo Torres (Col) Androni Giocattoli-SidermecRow 57 - Cell 2
59Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Fix All0:01:23
60Victor De La Parte (Spa) Movistar Team0:01:28
61Ben Hermans (Bel) Israel Cycling AcademyRow 60 - Cell 2
62Jan Hirt (Cze) Astana Pro TeamRow 61 - Cell 2
63Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Bardiani CSFRow 62 - Cell 2
64Sander Armee (Bel) Lotto Fix AllRow 63 - Cell 2
65Koen Bouwmam (Ned) LottoNL-JumboRow 64 - Cell 2
66Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 65 - Cell 2
67Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 66 - Cell 2
68Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Bora-HansgroheRow 67 - Cell 2
69Eros Capecchi (Ita) Quick-Step Floors0:01:41
70Michael Mørkøv (Den) Quick-Step FloorsRow 69 - Cell 2
71Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 70 - Cell 2
72Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quick-Step Floors0:02:03
73Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Fix AllRow 72 - Cell 2
74Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-MeridaRow 73 - Cell 2
75Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension DataRow 74 - Cell 2
76Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension DataRow 75 - Cell 2
77Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 76 - Cell 2
78Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky0:02:13
79Andrea Vendrame (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec0:02:28
80Ruben Plaza (Spa) Israel Cycling Academy0:02:41
81Robert Gesink (Ned) LottoNL-JumboRow 80 - Cell 2
82Steve Morabito (Swi) Groupama-FDJRow 81 - Cell 2
83Guillaume Boivin (Can) Israel Cycling AcademyRow 82 - Cell 2
84Natnael Berhane (Eri) Dimension DataRow 83 - Cell 2
85Clement Venturini (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 84 - Cell 2
86Nico Denz (Ger) AG2R La Mondiale0:03:07
87Benjamin King (USA) Dimension Data0:03:18
88Simone Andreetta (Ita) Bardiani CSFRow 87 - Cell 2
89Lars Bak (Den) Lotto Fix AllRow 88 - Cell 2
90Alessandro Tonelli (Ita) Bardiani CSFRow 89 - Cell 2
91Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-SidermecRow 90 - Cell 2
92Joe Dombrowski (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 91 - Cell 2
93Louis Vervaeke (Bel) Team SunwebRow 92 - Cell 2
94Manuele Mori (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 93 - Cell 2
95Manuel Senni (Ita) Bardiani CSFRow 94 - Cell 2
96Dayer Quintana (Col) Movistar Team0:03:25
97Eduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Movistar TeamRow 96 - Cell 2
98Jérémy Roy (Fra) Groupama-FDJRow 97 - Cell 2
99Chad Haga (USA) Team SunwebRow 98 - Cell 2
100Edoardo Zardini (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle ItaliaRow 99 - Cell 2
101Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing Team0:03:41
102Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) Groupama-FDJRow 101 - Cell 2
103Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates0:05:33
104Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida0:05:42
105Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Israel Cycling AcademyRow 104 - Cell 2
106Anthony Roux (Fra) Groupama-FDJ0:06:04
107Mitchell Docker (Aus) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale0:06:07
108Laurent Didier (Lux) Trek-Segafredo0:06:10
109Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Quick-Step FloorsRow 108 - Cell 2
110Florian Senechal (Fra) Quick-Step FloorsRow 109 - Cell 2
111Sam Bewley (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott0:06:25
112Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Mitchelton-ScottRow 111 - Cell 2
113Sacha Modolo (Ita) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale0:06:34
114Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team EmiratesRow 113 - Cell 2
115David De La Cruz (Spa) Team Sky0:06:44
116Tony Martin (Ger) Katusha-AlpecinRow 115 - Cell 2
117Davide Ballerini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-SidermecRow 116 - Cell 2
118Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Astana Pro Team0:06:50
119Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Quick-Step Floors0:07:33
120Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step FloorsRow 119 - Cell 2
121Loïc Vliegen (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 120 - Cell 2
122Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-AlpecinRow 121 - Cell 2
123Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) LottoNL-JumboRow 122 - Cell 2
124Mirco Maestri (Ita) Bardiani CSFRow 123 - Cell 2
125Jos van Emden (Ned) LottoNL-JumboRow 124 - Cell 2
126Igor Anton (Spa) Dimension DataRow 125 - Cell 2
127Bert-Jan Lindeman (Ned) LottoNL-JumboRow 126 - Cell 2
128William Bonnet (Fra) Groupama-FDJRow 127 - Cell 2
129Danny van Poppel (Ned) LottoNL-JumboRow 128 - Cell 2
130Guy Niv (Isr) Israel Cycling AcademyRow 129 - Cell 2
131Guy Sagiv (Isr) Israel Cycling AcademyRow 130 - Cell 2
132Boy van Poppel (Ned) Trek-SegafredoRow 131 - Cell 2
133Domen Novak (Slo) Bahrain-MeridaRow 132 - Cell 2
134Zakkari Dempster (Aus) Israel Cycling AcademyRow 133 - Cell 2
135Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 134 - Cell 2
136Antonio Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 135 - Cell 2
137Frederik Frison (Bel) Lotto Fix AllRow 136 - Cell 2
138Svein Tuft (Can) Mitchelton-ScottRow 137 - Cell 2
139Tom Scully (NZl) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale0:07:58
140Antonio Pedrero (Spa) Movistar Team0:08:05
141Christian Knees (Ger) Team Sky0:08:43
142Marco Frapporti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec0:08:45
143Jacopo Mosca (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle ItaliaRow 142 - Cell 2
144Andreas Schillinger (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe0:08:50
145Maxim Belkov (Rus) Katusha-AlpecinRow 144 - Cell 2
146Jaco Venter (RSA) Dimension DataRow 145 - Cell 2
147Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 146 - Cell 2
148Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team0:09:06
149Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Fix AllRow 148 - Cell 2
150Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 149 - Cell 2
151Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Team Sky0:09:16
152Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Lotto Fix All0:09:23
153Francisco Ventoso (Spa) BMC Racing Team0:09:34
154Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin0:10:52
155Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro TeamRow 154 - Cell 2
156Ryan Mullen (Irl) Trek-SegafredoRow 155 - Cell 2
157Markel Irizar (Spa) Trek-SegafredoRow 156 - Cell 2
158Kilian Frankiny (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 157 - Cell 2
159Lennard Hofstede (Ned) Team SunwebRow 158 - Cell 2
160Davide Villella (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:13:25
161Enrico Barbin (Ita) Bardiani CSF0:13:42
162Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Sunweb0:14:48
163Christopher Hamilton (Aus) Team SunwebRow 162 - Cell 2
164Quentin Jauregui (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:15:32
165Eugert Zhupa (Alb) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia0:16:11
166Giuseppe Fonzi (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle ItaliaRow 165 - Cell 2
167Alex Turrin (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle ItaliaRow 166 - Cell 2
168Marco Coledan (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle ItaliaRow 167 - Cell 2
169Liam Bertazzo (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle ItaliaRow 168 - Cell 2
170Jakub Mareczko (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle ItaliaRow 169 - Cell 2
171Niklas Eg (Den) Trek-SegafredoRow 170 - Cell 2
172Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-SegafredoRow 171 - Cell 2
173Paolo Simion (Ita) Bardiani CSFRow 172 - Cell 2
174Rüdiger Selig (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 173 - Cell 2
DNFAndrea Guardini (Ita) Bardiani CSFRow 174 - Cell 2
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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Fix All25pts
2Michael Woods (Can) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale18Row 1 - Cell 3
3Marco Frapporti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec16Row 2 - Cell 3
4Jacopo Mosca (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia16Row 3 - Cell 3
5Enrico Battaglin (Ita) LottoNL-Jumbo12Row 4 - Cell 3
6Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott8Row 5 - Cell 3
7Davide Formolo (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe6Row 6 - Cell 3
8Maxim Belkov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin6Row 7 - Cell 3
9Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Mitchelton-Scott5Row 8 - Cell 3
10Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe4Row 9 - Cell 3
11Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team3Row 10 - Cell 3
12Enrico Barbin (Ita) Bardiani CSF3Row 11 - Cell 3
13Quentin Jauregui (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale3Row 12 - Cell 3
14Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida2Row 13 - Cell 3
15Esteban Chaves (Col) Mitchelton-Scott1Row 14 - Cell 3
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Mountain 1 (Cat. 4) Pietre Calde, km. 86
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Enrico Barbin (Ita) Bardiani CSF3pts
2Marco Frapporti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec2Row 1 - Cell 3
3Jacopo Mosca (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia1Row 2 - Cell 3
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Mountain 2 (Cat. 4) Vizzini, km. 154
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Enrico Barbin (Ita) Bardiani CSF3pts
2Marco Frapporti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec2Row 1 - Cell 3
3Jacopo Mosca (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia1Row 2 - Cell 3
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Intermediate sprint 1 - Palazzolo Acreide, km. 116
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3