Fri, May 25, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Viviani wins his fourth stage as Yates keeps lead

AFP, ISEO, Italy

Italy’s Elia Viviani on Wednesday won a sprint finish for his fourth stage win of this year’s Giro d’Italia as Britain’s Simon Yates held the leader’s pink jersey as the race heads for the Alps.

Quick-Step Floors rider Viviani crossed first after a bunch sprint finish made treacherous following a late downpour after the 155km 17th stage, which finished on the banks of Lake Iseo in northern Italy.

Yates of the Mitchelton team finished in 28th place in the same time as defending champion Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands and four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome.

It was enough to keep his lead of 56 seconds overall on Dumoulin, with Froome fourth 3 minutes, 50 seconds behind his fellow Briton with four days left before the race finishes in Rome.

“There’s no easy day at the Giro,” 25-year-old Yates said. “I was expecting a much easier day today. It’s been a very fast stage. Everybody was looking for a breakaway.”

“In the coming three days, I’ll watch Tom mostly and the other GC [general classification] guys,” he said. “As the days tick down, I feel that I’m getting closer to the overall victory, but I also feel that difficult days are coming, so I’ll be careful.”

Viviani’s dash for the line saw him snatch the stage victory from Ireland’s Sam Bennett, winner of the two other group sprints. Italy’s Niccolo Bonifazio was third.

The 29-year-old Olympic omnium gold medalist adds to his two stage wins in Israel and the 13th stage on Friday last week at Nervesa della Battaglia.

“We knew this could be a very hard stage and it was indeed,” said Viviani, the top sprinter in this year’s race.

“There were very strong breakaway riders, but Bora controlled. We played a little bit with them,” he said. “We did it right, because it was the second-last stage for sprinters and Bennett could have put my maglia ciclamino [sprinter’s jersey] in danger.”

“Once it came down to a bunch sprint, I asked my guys to lead me out. When [Danny] Van Poppel anticipated the sprint, I knew it was too early. It was actually perfect for me. I could pass him,” he added.

Teak Sky leader Froome, 33, also conceded that the day had been tougher than he expected.

“That was like junior racing out there — from the gun to the finish it was nonstop,” Froome said. “It was a really full-on day at the Giro, even though on paper it looked to be quite a straightforward day.”

“I’m still hoping to do the best I can do, whatever place that ends up being,” he added.

South Africa’s Louis Meintjes pulled out before the start of the race with a respiratory infection, with Belgian Victor Campenaerts also withdrawing.

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