On stage four to Caltagirone, he finished 21 seconds behind stage winner Tim Wellens (Lotto-Fix All) and 17 seconds behind his top rival Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb).
Team Sky‘s captain warmed down at the team bus where the Sicilian fans gathered and watched curiously, screaming for bottles when Froome looked up toward the crowd.
“It wasn’t a super finish for me because I wasn’t positioned well in the decisive moment,” Froome explained after climbing off his turbo trainer.
“Today was a very nervous stage, the roads were a little bit dangerous, I’m happy that I’ve passed this day without any problems.”
He lost 37 of those seconds to Dumoulin on stage one. Ahead of the Jerusalem time trial, he crashed in training and his right side still shows the dried blood.
“Day after day, I’m feeling better. I’m very confident for the next stages,” Froome added. “The day after tomorrow with Mount Etna stage, the classification will truly start to change. I’m not worried.
“The crash is just a memory and I’m not letting it get to my head. It’s part of racing to have some days worse or better than the others.”
Watch: Giro d’Italia stage four highlights
In the general classification, Australian Dennis leads, with Froome rating Dennis as a “serious rival”.
Dumoulin sits at one second back from Dennis, Yates at 17, Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) 34, Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) 47, Michael Woods (EF Education First-Drapac) 53, Froome 57, and Miguel Angel López (Astana) at 1-14.
“I’ve seen him [Froome] lose time on finishes like this before. And on big mountains, he can take back a minute,” pink jersey Dennis said.
“I am not reading too much into it right now. Every second is helpful, but I do not worry too much about what happens in the past too much.”
The riders face a similar finish tomorrow to Santa Ninfa, another sharp kick into a hilltop town.
Dumoulin said today that he planned to win and take time on his rivals. “And I succeeded in one of those goals,” the 2017 Giro winner added.
Tomorrow, Dumoulin will have the same goal to pile time on Froome before the high mountains.
The Giro climbs its first of eight summit finishes on Thursday with the 15-kilometre ride up Mount Etna. Froome will start to think about moving up the general classification towards the pink jersey. if he hopes to win the Giro d’Italia in three weeks time in Rome.