Wellens wins, Woods goes close, Froome slips back: Daily News Digest

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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:

Wellens critical of Valverde, then wins Giro stage; Dennis keeps pink, Woods goes close and Froome loses more time; Bouhanni in the bad books and more…

Dispatches from the Giro d’Italia

Wellens wins stage 4 with a strong uphill finish

He started the day as one of the tipped riders; he ended it with the second Giro d’Italia stage win of his career. Tim Wellens showed perfect positioning and a strong final surge to take victory at Caltagirone in Sicily.

Giro d’Italia stage 4 highlights

Wellens’ Lotto-Fix All team did strong work ensuring he was in just the right place as the final climb began, and he then kicked hard to pass Enrico Battaglin (LottoNL-Jumbo) close to the line. Liège-Bastogne-Liège runner-up Mike Woods (EF Education First-Drapac) tried to get by but had to be satisfied with second. Battaglin took third, while Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and Davide Formolo (Bora-hansgrohe) were the only others to finish on the same time as the winner.

“In the last 50 metres you are not sure to win. Then when you pass first over the finish line, it feels so good,” Wellens told Eurosport afterwards. “Our teammates were very strong today, but especially Adam [Hansen] and Tosh [Van der Sande]. First Adam did a really long pull so it was perfect, you could relax on the wheel. Then Tosh went full. We started with a small advantage on the climb. Then I could go a bit easier than the race.

“I was doubting a little bit about going too soon, but then I was happy I could relax a little bit. Then at 200 metres to go I went full, and I crossed the line first.” Wellens jumped from 14th to fourth as a result of his ride. He is just 19 seconds off the pink jersey.

Tuesday’s stage was the first in Italy after the Grande Partenza in Israel.

Dennis holds on to pink

Overnight leader Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing Team) finished 12th on the Giro’s fourth stage and retains his overall lead. He is one second ahead of last year’s race winner, Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb), and was smiling at the finish. “It was the hardest stage so far,” he told Eurosport. “It is never easy riding in Sicily, but the race here is a whole other level.

“Look, I’ve done very side of Etna possible. I spent two and a half weeks here in 2016 for a training camp. It is a long climb. It is not super-hard, but it is long. It is going to be hard to finish up there, but hopefully it is a headwind like last year. My team will do a great job of putting me in the right position again, for sure.

“The next few days are obviously going to be hard, like today. Tomorrow is probably a little bit more like today. Etna is going to be a bit of a test for the GC guys on the mountain, to see where everyone is at. It will be interesting to see where I am at with those guys.”

Woods takes second

A little over two weeks after he finished second in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Mike Woods underlined his superb form with another impressive runner-up slot. The EF Education First-Drapac rider was closest to Tim Wellens (Lotto-Fix All) at the end of stage four of the Giro d’Italia.

“I really wanted today,” he said afterwards. “But Wellens was just the stronger guy. I got split off at the bottom. I managed to catch back up. I felt great today. The guys [his teammates] were really great for me, but Wellens was just the better man.

“I wanted to win. It [second] was great, but I wanted to win.” Woods lost time in the stage one time trial. He has now jumped up 33 places to 18th overall, and is 53 seconds off the pink jersey.

Froome loses more time

Already on the back foot at the Giro d’Italia, starting stage four 38 seconds behind race leader Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing Team), Chris Froome’s race took a turn for the worse when he conceded more time on stage four. He finished 30th, 21 seconds behind stage winner Tim Wellens. His Sky team explained what happened, saying that he ‘was forced to a near-stop after a hold up with a kilometre to go.’

Froome is now 20th overall, 55 seconds back.

Tomorrow’s Giro stage

Agrigento to Santa Ninfa, 153km

Another lumpy route across Sicily, and another tricky finish. This one drops down until 2.2km to go, when it takes a sharp right and climbs for 1.2km, peaking at 12%. The final kilometre drops down slightly then rises to the line.

2018 Giro d'Italia stage 5 final kilometer profile

Story of the day: Tim Wellen’s Valverde questioning

Tim Wellens won Tuesday’s tough uphill kick at the Giro d’Italia (more on that below) and it hasn’t only been his legs doing the talking this week. The Lotto Fix All rider spoke out against unrepentant former dopers, including the likes of Alejandro Valverde.

Wellens told the website Humo.be, “I’m not a fan of riders who are faster than before their doping suspensions”

“Valverde never explained what happened. That bothers me. If you want to help your sport you have to create clarity and dare to talk about doping.”

Wellens withdrew from last year’s Tour de France when he became ill but refused to acquire a TUE. It would have enabled him to use medication to help his illness, but he said he wouldn’t use a TUE while racing. That refusal boosted his reputation as an ethical rider. See more about this, plus about Wellens’ character and potential, in this earlier CyclingTips feature.

Race Radio

Sarreau wins stage one of the Four Days of Dunkirk

French riders were prominent on home soil at the Four Days of Dunkirk on Tuesday, taking the first three places on the stage. Marc Sarreau (Groupama-FDJ) beat Bryan Coquard (Vital Concept Club) and Rudy Barbier (AG2R La Mondiale) to the line in La Bassée.


Bouhanni under the spotlight, for all the wrong reasons

Nacer Bouhanni’s year to forget continues with the following information. His team previously questioned how dedicated he was, and things appear to be getting worse.

Vuelta start for Yorkshire?

Yorkshire hosted the Tour de France start in 2014, will put on the 2019 world road championships and has its own annual events in the men’s and women’s Tour de Yorkshire races. Now, according to the BBC, it wants the Vuelta a Espana. Not all of it, mind – just the start.

“Javier [Guillen, the Vuelta director] was here for the presentation on Wednesday night and left on Friday,” said Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity. “We can offer stunning backdrops and fantastic crowds, he’s been able to see that for himself in the flesh.” Talks have reportedly been going on “for many months,” but no year has been revealed.

See more here at the BBC.

Picture of the day

Fan support from Tom Skujins’ special someone, Rally Cycling’s Abby Mickey…

Tech news

Rally Cycling collaborated with the UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation to produce six hand-painted frames to honour and benefit young UHCCF grant recipients. They interviewed the six kids and used their responses as inspiration for the art, and will race the bikes at the Tour of California.

This one is inspired by Tatiana, age 10, and has a hip-hop theme. It will be ridden by Robin Carpenter.

Moving pictures

A nice mash-up of memorable moments to motivate you to get out and ride your bike:

Happy birthday to…

Michele Dancelli, a 11 time Giro d’Italia stage winner, and past champion in Milan-San Remo and La Flèche Wallonne.

Today’s feature image shows Tim Wellens winning stage 4 of Giro d’Italia and is by Massimo Paolone from LaPresse

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