Rohan Dennis sitting pretty in pink.
Rohan Dennis sitting pretty in pink.

Dennis hangs tough to stay in pink at Giro

AUSSIE star Rohan Dennis has retained the overall lead in the Giro d'Italia after Italy's Enrico Battaglin surged ahead in a thrilling finale to win stage five in Sicily.

Local boy Giovanni Visconti, looking to impress before his home fans, led coming around the final turn with 200m to go before Team LottoNL-Jumbo rider Battaglin accelerated to take his third career Giro victory in a reduced bunch sprint.

But Dennis managed to weather the storm and finish safely in the peloton to keep the pink jersey, a second ahead of defending champion Tom Dumoulin going into the mountain stage up Mount Etna.

Visconti crossed second and Portugal's Jose Goncalves third, both with the same time as Battaglin on the Agrigento to Santa Ninfa leg.

Britain's Simon Yates, who won the young rider classification at last year's Tour de France, sits third overall - 17 seconds behind Dennis, who claimed the lead after the second stage.

"It was a nice day on the bike, on quite a slow pace because of the head wind," said BMC rider Dennis.

"I felt a bit of stress every now and then but I am glad to be in the Maglia Rosa. We're only on day five, that means sixteen days to go. Tomorrow will be another story with the Etna. I'm looking forward to see how I'll go up there."

Astana rider Miguel Angel Lopez, who misjudged a turn with 6km to go, rode straight off the road and fell into a patch of high grass and finished 42 seconds behind.

"The finish was a bit different to yesterday. Yesterday was really a powerful sprint on a really steep climb," said Battaglin, who also won Giro stages in 2013 and 2014.

"Today was a steep climb but at two kilometres to go I had a little bit of time to rest and recover and do a really good sprint."