Wiggins loses ground as Italians lead them home in Giro
Enrico Battaglin takes stage four as Tour de France winner slips from second to sixth
Bradley Wiggins of Sky lost 17 seconds on the leaders during stage four of the Giro d’Italia. Photograph: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
The Tour de France champion lost 17 seconds as the peloton split in the final kilometres that included a quick descent followed by a flat section, which riders tackled in heavy rain with a cobbled section in the home straight.
Wiggins dropped from second to sixth overall, 34 seconds adrift of Italian Luca Paolini who retained the pink jersey after finishing safe in the bunch.
Nibali and Hesjedal leapfrogged Wiggins and are now fourth and fifth, 31 and 34 seconds off the pace respectively.
Nibali, however, survived a scare with 35 kilometres remaining when he suffered a mechanical problem but managed to get back into the bunch after team mate Valerio Agnoli gave him his wheel. With the second-category Croce Ferrata climb looming, several riders, among them Frenchman Sylvain Georges, tried their luck, jumping away from the main pack.
Team Sky moved to the front of the peloton, set a decent pace and toyed with the Frenchman. Danilo Di Luca, the 2007 Giro winner, and Robinson Chalapud of Colombia also attacked and whizzed past Georges but the Italian was caught in the final straight as Battaglin launched a perfectly-timed sprint.
“I knew that this finale was tailor-made for me,” Battaglin told TV channel BeIn Sport. “I knew it was now or never for me to win a stage.”
Wednesday’s fifth stage takes the peloton over 203 kilometres from Cosenza to Matera