(Reuters) - Italy’s Elia Viviani claimed his fourth win of the Giro d’Italia on Friday after edging a bunch sprint on the 17th stage at Iseo as the rained poured down, with Britain’s Simon Yates retaining the overall lead.
Quick-Step Floors rider Viviani held off a strong late surge from Irishman Sam Bennett in a frenzied finish, with another Italian, Niccolo Bonifazio, coming third.
Yates, who began the day 56 seconds ahead of defending champion Tom Dumoulin, finished the 155km course from Riva da Garda in the main bunch to keep his lead intact.
Viviani, who opened his Giro campaign with back-to-back stage wins and also won stage 13, is the first Italian to win four stages at a Giro since Ivan Basso in 2006, and extended his points classification lead over Bennett to 58 points.
Yates is in a strong position to become the first Briton to win the Giro, with the race heading back into the mountains on Thursday where the 25-year-old Bury native will look to take more time away from time trial specialist Dumoulin.
Italy’s Domenico Pozzovivo is in third place in the general classification, three minutes and 11 seconds behind Yates, while four-times Tour de France champion Chris Froome is fourth overall, three minutes 50 seconds behind the leader.
Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis