Tim Wellens abandons Giro d'Italia
Illness forces the stage winner to leave the race
Before today’s stage 4 of the Giro d’Italia, many people predicted Tim Wellens as one of the main favourites for the stage win. It seemed fully righteous to say so because after winning his first stage in the Giro in 2016, he now won his second one in Caltagirone!
The stage offered a perfect chance for breakaway riders, causing many attacks in the opening phase of the race. Finally, five riders managed to escape from the peloton. Frapporti, Jauregui, Barbin, Belkov and Mosca were not granted more than four minutes advantage. It was BMC together with Sander Armée who took the responsibility and kept the advantage to a minimum. With 100 kilometres to go, it was UAE taking control over the race and trying to reduce the size of the pack. Soon, they realised that it was too early and handed the initiative back over to BMC. The breakaway was caught at less than 15 kilometres to go. When Conti attacked in the final ten kilometres, it was Adam Hansen who kept the advantage of the Italian below half a minute. Tosh Van der Sande eventually caught Conti and persisted in his effort. This caused the peloton to split. Tim Wellens accelerated at 200 metres from the finish, passed Enrico Battaglin and won! Michael Woods and Enrico Battaglin completed the podium.
Tim Wellens: “I saw that Battaglin accelerated with 250 metres to go. I took his wheel and passed him 200 metres from the finish. Then it was just the case of pedalling as hard as I could to make it to the finish. I wasn’t sure though until I crossed the line.”
“The victory of today is very different to my previous Giro stage victory in Roccaraso. Two years ago, I had a lot more time to celebrate. Today, I was the best of a group including all the big favourites. Actually, this victory gives me a better feeling than two years ago.”
“The whole team did a great job today. We took the initiative together with BMC to control the breakaway. We stayed in the front during the whole day, but there was some panic when UAE accelerated and tried to drop some riders. Adam Hansen and Tosh Van der Sande delivered an incredible effort today. The pace was so high that it caused a split in the peloton when we began the final ascent. The team was a great part of the victory today.”
“We came to the Giro to win a stage. That sounds obvious but it is not easy to fulfil those expectations. We can continue the Giro now with a lot less stress, having already won a stage. I am sure other opportunities will follow, not only for me, but also for other guys in the team. But for now, it is nice to have that first stage win secured.”