Italy’s Alberto Dainese has won his maiden Giro d’Italia stage but there was more disappointment for Australian star Caleb Ewan who was beaten in another sprint finish.
The DSM rider Dainese clinched victory with a perfectly timed sprint to the finish in Wednesday’s stage 11, a 203-kilometre ride from Santarcangelo di Romagna to Reggio Emilia.
The 24-year-old surged past the most fancied trio of French points leader Arnaud Demare, Briton Mark Cavendish and Ewan, before sprinting off his compatriot Simone Consonni for victory.
Colombian Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) finished second and Consonni (Cofidis) was third, while Ewan ended up fifth, just behind Demare and just ahead of Cavendish.
The stages are now running out rapidly for Ewan to break his duck at this year’s race and add to his five previous Giro wins, as he’s already said he won’t be completing the three-week race.
Dainese was led out by teammate Romain Bardet, who started the race third in the general classification, but later dropped to fourth.
That was because of the slight change in the overall standings, with race favourite Richard Carapaz moving into second after picking up bonus seconds during the entirely flat stage.
“To win so close to home at the Giro d’Italia is unbelievable,” Dainese told reporters, as the three-week race passed the halfway stage.
“It’s insane that Bardet, who is third on GC, led me out. It’s a fantastic feeling to win a stage of the Giro d’Italia.”
Italian riders Luca Rastelli and Filippo Tagliani were the early pace-setters, leading the flat stage 11 for the first half of the race, before being caught up by the main group with 91 km to go.
Dutchman Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix) powered ahead with 50 km left, remaining in the lead until he was chased down just over one kilometre from the finish.
Spaniard Juan Pedro Lopez retained his 12-second lead to hold on to the overall leader’s pink jersey, while Carapaz leapfrogged Portugal’s Joao Almeida.
Jai Hindley came home safely in the bunch in 25th to remain just 20 seconds down on Lopez, still in fifth place.
Thursday’s stage 12 is a challenging 204km ride from Parma to Genoa, which features numerous climbs and a long and technical descent.