Rohan Dennis made it safely through stage four of the Giro d’Italia with the front group to successfully defend his race lead and retain the Maglia Rosa for the final stage in Sicily.
Four riders went clear as soon as the flag dropped at kilometer 0 and with none of the riders posing a threat on the General Classification, the BMC Racing Team-led peloton was happy to let the quartet gain a solid advantage.
With 100km to go, the breakaway’s advantage was hovering around 3’45” but the peloton was in no hurry to catch the quartet, instead waiting until the final 60km of racing before starting to chase and bringing them within two minutes as they approached the final 40km.
With the 153km stage providing a good opportunity for a stage win for many teams, a determined chase was forged however, the catch wasn’t made until 3km to go on the approach to the punchy uphill finish.
Dennis spent the day protected by his teammates at the front of the bunch and was positioned well in the final when the reduced bunch was strung out along the road.
After a final kick the road flattened for the last 200m and it was Enrico Battaglin (LottoNL-Jumbo) who had the fastest legs to take the stage win.
Dennis crossed the line in the first half of the 40-rider group to maintain his one-second lead on the General Classification, before the final stage in Sicily on Thursday featuring the Etna summit finish.
Quotes from the Finish Line
“It was a nice day on the bike and it was actually quite an easy day in comparison to yesterday. I didn’t expect that with the cross-headwind and headwind for most of the day. There was a little bit of stress now and then but we got to sit back a little bit because other teams wanted to fight for the stage so it was a good day in the end.”
“In the last 2km, everyone was stressing about that little climb just before the finish and they were fighting for position as if the top of that was the finish. I just rode my way through the peloton a bit and stayed calm and moved up after the climb. I was putting myself in the right position without wasting too much energy, especially in the last 500m. But, it wasn’t going to work and I wasn’t going to win the stage so I saved energy and sat on the wheels for the final. I felt pretty good and I saw a lot of faces being pulled in the peloton which is a good sign I think.”
“I am taking it day by day. I know it sounds a little bit monotonous and boring but that’s how I am taking this Grand Tour. Tomorrow is another day when I will fight for pink and the day after is out of my mind at the moment. Etna will be hard. It’s a long climb. I’ve been going alright on these smaller climbs but a long one that goes up to altitude is a completely different ball game. It’s not going to be easy but it’s going to be about working together as a team and trying to control what we can control rather than biting into everyone else’s games and not doing what is best for me.”
“I would love to keep the jersey tomorrow. That’s a big goal of mine. Etna will really show me where I’m at against some of these big GC guys and hopefully, it’s positive. That would give me some confidence going into the second and third week.”