Rohan Dennis (BMC) smiled as the question was translated for him in his press conference following stage 4 of the Giro d’Italia. After defending the maglia rosa for a third day on the punchy finale in Caltagirone, he was asked to outline his general classification ambitions for the remainder of this race.
“My personal goal is I would love to wear this to Rome,” Dennis said. “Realistically, I have to look to the long-term and try to learn from this Giro.”
This Giro is young, of course, and the high mountain tests are all ahead of him, but Dennis has dealt comfortably with the lessons doled out to date. Tuesday was the first stage on Italian soil, and there was to be no gentle re-introduction to racing in the bel paese. After a wearying, 200km trek inland from Catania, the peloton faced a fraught run-in to the stiff uphill finish in Caltagirone.
Dennis’ BMC team worked to help control the early break, and the maglia rosa was prominently placed throughout the rapid closing kilometres. On the climb proper, he even briefly contemplated the prospect of chasing stage victory, but eventually elected to mark Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), the man who lies closest to his pink jersey on general classification.
The 12th place on the stage, four seconds down on stage winner Tim Wellens (Lotto Fix All), was enough to keep Dennis atop the general classification ahead of the second – and perhaps most straightforward – of the Giro’s testing troika of Sicilian stages. The Australian maintains a lead of one second over Dumoulin, while Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) is third at 17 seconds.
“The team did a great job to put me into position, and then I had a couple of guys, Alessandro De Marchi and Nico Roche, for that final. There was a little bit of stress but not too much,” Dennis said. “We were hoping if I maybe felt good enough, I’d try to take the sprint in the final, but when I got to 250 metres to go, I knew it wasn’t possible, so I just held the wheel and made sure there were no gaps to Tom Dumoulin.
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