Rohan Dennis arrived in Sicily with the Maglia Rosa on his back and a determined team effort saw the Australian retain the race lead after a chaotic stage 4 of the Giro d’Italia.
The 202km stage from Catania to Caltagirone featured barely a single section of flat road, instead the peloton tackled the bumpy terrain including two categorized climbs and a technical uphill finish.
A fast start prevented any riders from going clear until five riders eventually formed the day’s breakaway after 25km and established a four-minute advantage.
Dennis’ BMC Racing Team teammates immediately took control of the race and kept the breakaway close while protecting Dennis from any trouble.
Jempy Drucker and Kilian Frankiny maintained a steady tempo at the front of the BMC Racing Team train until UAE Team Emirates came to the front of the peloton approaching the 100km mark and put the hammer down which caused serious damage in the bunch and formed splits.
The pace eventually eased which allowed the groups come back together and BMC Racing Team resumed their position at the front, while up ahead the breakaway’s advantage increased again to two minutes after dropping to 25 seconds.
Inside the final 50km, multiple teams eying the stage win sent riders to the front to assist with the chase and with 25km remaining, just 45 seconds separated the bunch and the breakaway.
The catch was made with 13km to go and Dennis remained at the front of the bunch in preparation for the punchy, technical finale.
Despite attacks going into the last 10km of the day, the reduced bunch came back together, and battled through the narrow streets towards Caltagirone which saw multiple riders crash.
Dennis gave it everything he had to remain with the front group and held on to finish in 12th place, four seconds behind stage winner Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal), which was enough to keep the Maglia Rosa for a third day as racing continues in Sicily on stage 5.
Quotes from the Finish Line
Rohan Dennis:
“It is great to keep the Maglia Rosa for another day. The team did everything possible to put me in the best position and then I had a couple of guys around me until the final bit. It was a bit stressful but I managed to stay up there. We were hoping that if I was feeling good, I could try and take the sprint but with 250m to go, I knew it wasn’t possible, so I just made sure there were no big gaps.”
“It was a hectic day. There were a lot of corners, and a lot of people on the roads, so it was just about trying to stay out of trouble in the last 10km until the bottom of the climb. It’s a big achievement to keep the Maglia Rosa for another day. Everyone knows that it is pretty common for me to lose a jersey after one day at a Grand Tour and now I have kept it for two days. It’s all thanks to my teammates, I can’t thank them enough.”