Simon Yates extends Tour of the Alps lead on stage four

By Matt WarwickBBC Sport
Simon Yates
Yates won the 2018 Vuelta a Espana

Britain's Simon Yates extended his lead in the Tour of the Alps after finishing third on stage four.

The Team Bike Exchange rider and Aleksandr Vlasov of Astana Premier-Tech, who came second, led over the final climb of the 169km stage to Pieve di Bono in Italy.

A spectacular descent saw Pello Bilbao of Bahrain-Victorious join them and he won the sprint to take the stage.

Yates, 28, remains in the green jersey, with a 58-second lead over Bilbao.

"It was a hard start - the team controlled all day," said Yates. "I tried to win for those guys today but I found a faster guy."

Bilbao, 31, chased down Yates and Vlasov on the descent at a searing pace, taking several risks on the steep corners of the Alpine course near Trento in northern Italy, before catching them with about 3km remaining.

Britain's Hugh Carthy, 26, of EF Education-Nippo, finished sixth on Thursday's stage, one minute and six seconds down, and is two minutes and 37 seconds behind Yates overall.

Four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome spent much of the day in the early breakaway, showing signs of improved form before the Tour begins on 26 June.

Froome, 35, is more than 40 minutes down in the general classification, but is racing in support of team-mate Dan Martin, who crashed on Thursday's descent and is now four minutes adrift overall.

Bilbao dedicated his victory to former Astana team-mate Michele Scarponi, who was killed when he was hit by a lorry while training four years ago to the day.

Yates has one stage remaining to secure overall victory, Friday's 121km run to Riva del Garda.

Meanwhile, Tour de France organisers ASO have announced that the women's version of the race - the one-day La Course - will be held on 26 June, one day earlier than planned.

The race, won last year by Britain's Lizzie Deignan of Trek-Segafredo, has been moved forward because of regional elections in France, and will coincide with the opening stage of the men's race - both taking place in Brittany.

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