Belgian Tim Wellens claimed victory on stage four of the Giro d’Italia in Sicily as British rider Simon Yates closed up on race leader Rohan Dennis – but Tour de France champion Chris Froome lost more ground.
Following Monday’s travel day after the initial opening stages in Israel, the Grand Tour competition resumed in Catania over 202 kilometres to finish on a testing uphill sprint at Caltagirone.
Lotto Fix All rider Wellens was able to fend off the challenge of Canadian Michael Woods (EF Education First-Drapac) over the final 1km climb as the peleton had clawed back the breakaway with just under 500m left.
Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) placed fourth behind Italian Enrico Battaglin (LottoNL-Jumbo), with the British rider crossing some four seconds ahead of Dennis to move to third in the overall standings.
Australian Dennis (MBC) retains the leader’s maglia rosa jersey, with an overall time of 14 hours 23 minutes and eight seconds, which keeps him one second ahead of Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb), with Yates now 17 seconds off the pace.
Wellen’s impressive stage win, powering through after Battaglin’s sprint challenge faded, sees the Belgian climb to fourth in the overall classifications, at 19 seconds off the front.
Frome, though, continued his tough start to the Giro d’Italia, the Team Sky rider crossing the line 23 seconds behind stage winner Wellens, which leaves him almost a minute behind overall race leader Dennis.
Wednesday sees another hilly stage over 153km from Agrigento to Santa Ninfa.