Team Sky claim ninth place after a tough Team Time Trial in Stage 4

Team Sky claim ninth place after a tough Team Time Trial in Stage 4

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Team Sky endured a disappointing team time trial at the Giro d’Italia to claim ninth as the race returned to Italy.

The team crossed the line with six riders to set a time of 37 minutes and 34 seconds over the 33.2-kilometre course around Verona.

In an impressive show of strength it was Mark Cavendish who led the team into the final metres, returning to the race following a hard crash during the sprint finish to Monday’s stage three.

The result meant that Geraint Thomas - who crossed the line alongside team-mates Cavendish, Peter Kennaugh, Juan Antonio Flecha, Rigoberto Urán and Ian Stannard - slipped to seventh overall, 21 seconds behind new race leader Ramunas Navardauskas.

The Lithuanian and his Garmin-Barracuda team set the fastest time on the day, beating nearest rivals Katusha by five seconds while Saxo Bank rounded out the podium places 17 seconds further back.

New leader

Overnight leader Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) was in difficulty out on course following the same hard crash as Cavendish at the end of Tuesday’s stage three, the American carrying heavy strapping on his ankle and dropped to fifth overall.

The result meant that Garmin-Barracuda hold the top four places on the general classification with Navardauskas inheriting a 10-second advantage over team-mates Tyler Farrar and Robbie Hunter.

Earlier Katusha surprised a number of people to put in a superb time, laying down a strong benchmark of 37:09 with overall contender Joaquin Rodriguez in toe.

Five seconds ahead of Team Sky on the day were Orica-GreenEDGE, the Australian outfit recovering from a few dramas out on course including a lurid slide from Canadian Svein Tuft.

The action from the first Grand Tour of the season continues with stage five on Thursday which looks likely to end in a bunch sprint.

Tough Test

After the stage Sports Director Steven de Jongh admitted the result had not been one the team was after following the rest day.

The Dutchman said: "We were in the mix there for places five to 10. We just couldn’t go 30 seconds faster. On the climb the guys put out a steady pace but it wasn’t quite fast enough.

"Then in the end some of the guys began to struggle a bit and couldn’t deliver a high speed so that’s where we lost a few more seconds. We’re glad it’s over; it’s not the result we wanted to have but we will move on."