Santa Ninfa - Chris
Froome said he expects sparks to fly on the Giro d'Italia sixth stage
on the volcanic slopes of Mount Etna as the Sky Team leader bids to
reignite his bid for a third successive Grand Tour victory.
The four-time Tour de France champion finished in the leading group
in Wednesday's fifth stage, won by Italy's Enrico Battaglin, and remains
55 seconds behind Australian Rohan Dennis in the overall leader's pink
"Let's see what happens (on Etna). There are a few different dynamics
going on in the race at the moment," said the 32-year-old Briton.
"It's the first big mountain stage of the Giro and it could be very explosive and very active towards the final.
"Last year was a pure block headwind so it wasn’t so active - but I think this year will be quite different.
"For me I'm just hoping to get through the stage the best I can.
Obviously I've lost a bit of time already but I'd like to start
improving on that."
Froome, who suffered a crash in a training ride before the Giro start
in Jerusalem on Friday, added: "A lot of pure climbers who don’t really
fancy their chances in the time trial against (Tom) Dumoulin will be
wanting to take time."
In Wednesday's stage, Lotto NL team rider Battaglin dominated a
sprint finish after 4hr 06min 33sec in the saddle to finish ahead of
compatriot Giovanni Visconti, with Portugal's Jose Goncalves in third
after a 153km race from Agrigento to Santa Ninfa.
Froome crossed the line among the leading group in 33rd position, moving up one place to 19th overall.
"That was a lot more straightforward than yesterday's (Tuesday) stage but it was still quite tricky," said Froome.
Dennis retained the overall leader's pink jersey on the second of three days on the Mediterranean island.
The Australian holds a one-second advantage on Dumoulin with Britain's Simon Yates third overall at 17 seconds.
"I felt a bit of stress every now and then but I am glad to be in the
Maglia Rosa (pink jersey)," said Dennis. "It was a nice day on the
bike, on quite a slow pace because of the head wind.
"Tomorrow will be another story with the Etna. I'm looking forward to see how I'll go up there."
It was the third Giro stage win for 28-year-old Battaglin, a specialist on uphill finishes, after 2013 and 2014.
Thursday's sixth stage will cover 164km between Caltanissetta and
Etna, which includes a gruelling 15km climb with a 6.5 percent gradient
towards the Catania Astrophysical Observatory.
Results from the fifth stage of the Giro d'Italia, held over 153km race from Agrigento to Santa Ninfa in Sicily on Wednesday:
1. Enrico Battaglin (ITA/LNL) 4hr 06min 33sec, 2. Giovanni Visconti
(ITA/BAH) same time, 3. Jose Goncalves (POR/KAT) s.t., 4. Max Schachmann
(GER/QST) s.t., 5. Simon Yates (GBR/MIT) s.t., 6. Tim Wellens (BEL/LOT)
s.t., 7. Francesco Gavazzi (ITA/ANS) s.t., 8. Maurits Lammertink
(NED/KAT) s.t., 9. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/BAH) s.t., 10. Patrick Konrad
14. Rohan Dennis (AUS) s.t., 16. Tom Dumoulin (NED) s.t., 26. Thibaut
Pinot (FRA) s.t., 33. Christopher Froome (GBR) s.t., 53. Miguel Ángel
López (COL) 43sec.
1. Rohan Dennis (AUS/BMC) 18hr 29min 41sec, 2. Tom Dumoulin (NED/SUN)
at 1sec, 3. Simon Yates (GBR/MIT) 17, 4. Tim Wellens (BEL/LOT) 19, 5.
Peio Bilbao (ESP/AST) 25, 6. Maximilian Schachmann (GER/QST) 28, 7.
Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/BAH) s.t., 8. Jose Goncalves (POR/KAT) 32, 9.
Thibaut Pinot (FRA/FDJ) 34, 10. Patrick Konrad (AUT/BOR) 35
19. Chris Froome (GBR/SKY) 55, 28. Enrico Battaglin (ITA/LNL) 1:10, 39. Miguel Angel Lopez (COL/AST) 1:57