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Giro d'Italia 2018: Wellens wins punchy finish in Sicily

Joe Robinson
8 May 2018

Tim Wellens takes Stage 4 of the Giro d'Italia while Dennis stays in pink

Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) produced a perfectly-timed attack on the final ramp to the finish to win a lumpy Stage 4 of the 2018 Giro d'Italia into Caltagirone. The Belgian bided his time racing around Enrico Battaglin (LottoNL-Jumbo) to take the stage.

Behind Wellens, Michael Woods (EF-Drapac) managed to guide himself to second on the stage while Battaglin held on for third place.

The hectic race to the line saw multiple splits in the bunch and also a few crashes which caused concern for many. Valerio Conti (UAE-Team Emirates) rolled the dice late in the day, going solo on the run into town but was eventually caught within the final 3.2 kilometres.

Lotto-Soudal through the work of Adam Hansen and Tosh Van Der Sande took control and eventually it was Wellens who prospered.

In the race for pink, Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) did enough to retain his lead while Tom Dumoulin also finished among the leading few. At the finish, Chris Froome (Team Sky) was not among those in the leading group.

How the day happened

The 2018 Giro d'Italia returned home, albeit to the island of Sicily, after its first three stages in Israel. The 191km course was a rolling affair for the punchuers from Catania to Caltagirone.

Eli Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) had won the previous two stages but was expected to be dropped on the lumpy and technical run to the line with the day likely to contested by those who climb well. 

A five man breakaway formed quite easily that included King of the Mountains jersey holder Enrico Barbin (Bardiani-CSF) and his closest competitor Marco Frapporti (Androni-Sidermec) who would no doubt jostle one another for the classified climbs en route.

It seemed as if the day was going to be pretty formulaic until Fabio Aru's UAE-Team Emirates decided to test the bunch, increasing the pace and splitting the peloton which caused some panic among those who found themselves caught out.

Thankfully for these riders, the UAE team reeled it back in and reduced the pace for the group to merge into one again.

Further ahead, the break's advantage hovered between two and two and a half minutes for most of the day. Barbin managed to solidify his lead in the KOM competition crossing both of the day's climbs first ahead of Frapporti.

With 42km to go, teams began getting in formation to bring back the leading five and set up their chosen riders for the days finish. Among those were Mitchelton-Scott who were open in their quest to tee up Simon Yates for a potential stage win and a grab for seconds ahead of his General Classification rivals.

The Australian team sent evergreen Svein Tuft, 41 tomorrow, to the head of affairs to help BMC Racing in their chase as the race entered the final 35km. The break's time gap was reduced to under two minutes and looked to be steadily declining.

Barbin, content with his spoils on the day's classified climbs, merged back into the peloton while Frapporti, Jacapo Mosca (Wilier-Triestina) and Maxim Belkov (Katusha-Alpecin) continued until the 14km mark in which they finally called it a day.

As the peloton approached the final stretch into Caltagirone the teams of the GC favourites assembled towards the front. Valerio Conti (UAE-Team Emirates) threw the dice with Eduardo Zardini (Wilier-Triestina) in the final kilometres of the stage.

Conti then, with the assistance of some lethargic camera bike, left Zardini behind and grew a gap of over 24 seconds as the bunch behind began to lean on one another to commit the chase.

Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal) was the first make a decision and began the concerted chase of Conti with Tim Wellens and Tosh Van Der Sande close on the wheel. A pinch point at 6.8km to go caused a small crash splitting the group.