Sir Bradley Wiggins will begin today’s fifth stage at the Giro d’Italia in sixth place in the overall standings after a gruelling stage yesterday.
Starting in second place, 17 seconds behind Italian Luca Paolini, Wiggins fell a further 17 seconds behind the leader in a stage won by another Italian, Enrico Battaglin.
Battaglin overhauled long-time stage leader Danilo Di Luca in a dramatic finish after Di Luca and Colombian Robinson Eduardo Chapalud Gomez had earlier burst clear in the hunt for victory.
Riders had to cope with driving rain and poor visibility for the majority of the 246 kilometre stage from Policastro Bussentino to Serra San Bruno.
Although Wiggins is now 34 seconds adrift of the pink jersey he shares the same time with last year’s race winner, Canadian Ryder Hesjedal, who is in fifth place. Wiggins’ Team Sky team-mate Rigoberto Uran moved up to second place overall after finishing 10th in Tuesday’s stage.
Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford was unconcerned at Wiggins’ lost time at this early stage of proceedings.
“It’s one of those races where you just have to pay attention all the time,” he said. “You can gain hard-earned seconds here and there and then you can lose time very quickly.
“Bradley’s in great shape mentally and physically. Ultimately this first week is all about staying in contention and then this race will be won and lost in the time trials and the high mountains.”
Sheffield’s Adam Blythe, who rides for American-based BMC Racing, and is a sprinter rather than a climber, finished with the main group 16 minutes behind Battaglin.
Today’s stage is 199km from Cosenza to Matera. Although officially classified as ‘flat’ by race organisers the stage has a couple of short climbs towards the end which should separate out the pure sprinters from those, such as Blythe, who can deal with rolling terrain.
BMC Assistant Director Fabio Baldato said: “There’s a hard climb about 25 km from the finish so it’s not going to be easy.”
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