Enrico Battaglin led an Italian 1-2-3 to win the fourth stage of the Giro d'Italia today as Britain's Bradley Wiggins lost precious time in a testing finale.
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.
Other pre-race favourites Cadel Evans of Australia, Italian Vincenzo Nibali and defending champion Ryder Hesjedal of Canada came home safe after a 246-km undulating trek from Policastro Bussentino.
Paolini leads Colombian Rigoberto Uran of Team Sky by 17 seconds with Spain's Benat Inxausti in third 26 seconds off the pace for Movistar.
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 reined in in the final straight as Battaglin launched a perfectly-timed sprint.
Fabio Felline (Androni Giocattoli) and Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) finished second and third respectively.
"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.
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