To while away the time aboard the team bus ahead of stage 4 of the Giro d’Italia, Lotto Fix All riders perused some of the stage previews and pre-race odds on the internet to find that their own Tim Wellens was the consensus favourite for the honours in Caltagirone.
The Belgian squad were hardly taking a punt, mind, when they put their shoulders to the wheel to help ensure the stage would be decided in a reduced group finish atop the one-kilometre haul to the line. Buoyed by his fine spring form, Wellens arrived at this Giro targeting stage victories, and he achieved his goal at the first realistic opportunity in Sicily.
“Today it was planned to go for the stage win from the start. We saw before the stage on the internet that I was the biggest favourite, so we went all in, and it couldn’t have gone any better,” Wellens said afterwards.
Wellens was well positioned throughout the final kilometre and moved swiftly across to the rear wheel of Enrico Battaglin (LottoNL-Jumbo) when the Italian opened his sprint with 250 metres to go. Shortly afterwards, Wellens produced a ferocious acceleration of his own, and he held off Michael Woods (EF-Drapac) to take the stage honours.
“I wasn’t sure until the end. I felt I wasn’t slowing down, but you never know if somebody is coming up faster from behind,” Wellens said. “Battaglin went with 250 metres to go, and I followed him, and then went past him in the final 200 metres.”
The victory was Wellens’ second on the Giro following his triumph at Roccaraso in the opening week of the 2016 edition of the corsa rosa. On that occasion, Wellens triumphed alone, but this victory, ahead of all of the GC favourites on the Giro, is one that he feels carries more weight.
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