Slovenia’s Jan Polanc defied a late surge by Russia’s Ilnur Zakarin to win a thrilling stage four in the shadow of Mount Etna as Bob Jungels moved into the race lead.
Polanc, of UAE Team Emirates, was the last man standing from a four-man break and defied the maximum 12% gradient of the final climb to hold on for the second professional win of his career – two years after the 25-year-old triumphed at Abetone in the 2015 Giro d’Italia.
On the first uphill finish of the 100th edition of the race, Zakarin led the chase from the pursing group of race favourites, the Katusha-Alpecin rider crossing the line 19 seconds down on Polanc and 10 seconds clear of the chasing pack.
Welshman Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) pipped Frenchman Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) for the final bonus seconds as that pack came home – but it was not enough to see Thomas take the race lead. That privilege goes to Luxembourg national champion Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) who finished seventh and now leads Thomas by six seconds in the general classification.
Another Briton, Adam Yates of Orica-Scott, moved into third place on GC after finishing just behind Jungels. Yates is 10 seconds down on the race summit and level on time with the likes of Pinot, defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) and pre-race favourite Nairo Quintana (Movistar).