Arnaud Démare took victory on stage 10 of the Giro d’Italia after a high-speed crash split the peloton to pieces in the final kilometre.
The Frenchman from Groupama-FDJ was in front of the split caused by the collision and launched his sprint early in a straight drag race for the line.
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Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) looked like he had taken a second stage win but faded right at the line as Démare went wide to take the win and Elia Viviani (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) overtook the Australian to nick second.
Bora-Hansgrohe’s Rüdiger Selig was also able to pass Ewan to take the final podium spot.
A quiet day overall saw race leader finish Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates) finish on the same time as the leaders to hold the jersey, with no other movement in the general classification.
How it happened
The return to racing after the first rest day was likely to be a serene affair for the peloton, as it took on 145km of unusually flat roads from Ravenna to Modena near the race’s start city, Bologna.
Stage 10 of the 2019 Giro d’Italia was expected to be a day purely for the sprinters, with a long straight run into the final 2km, where a final 90-degree right-hander took the trains to the line.
The only other feature in the relatively straightforward run to the finish was a 450 metre pavé sector, which ended with a kilometre left to race.
A breakaway formed immediately as the flag dropped, with two riders attacking at the first opportunity.
Sho Hatsuyama (Nippo-Vini Fantini-Faizanè), the protagonist in a doomed solo escape from stage three, and Luca Covili (Bardiani-CSF) were the duo who went away to set the pace for the day.
The peloton was determined to keep the break within touching distance, as Deceuninck – Quick-Step, Groupama-FDJ and Bora-Hansgrohe worked for much of the stage to keep Hatsuyama and Covili to around a two minute advantage.
With 40km left to ride the gap tumbled to within one minute, and the frontrunners were caught as the race hit the 30km banner.
The peloton then spread across the road and cruised through the Italian countryside, with Bahrain-Merida, Jumbo-Visma, Mitchelton-Scott, and Katusha-Alpecin blocking the road to prevent any opportunistic escapes.
At 7km the pace finally started to wind up as the race passed through a brief technical section, before the road straightened out once again.
Mitchelton-Scott and Jumbo-Visma were present at the front in the final 4km, trying to get their GC leaders Simon Yates and Primož Roglič to the 3km safety mark.
The sprint teams took over the front at 3km, as CCC Team’s Fran Ventoso gave a last-ditch effort into the final corner of the day.
The Spaniard pulled out a gap but Lotto-Soudal chased him down as he faded at the 1km banner.
Breakthrough sprinter Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) was involved in the rapid collision that split the peloton inside 1km as the rest of the sprinters went to the line.
Lotto-Soudal and Groupama-FDJ led the charge at 500m, when Démare opened early on the left of the road at 200m with Ewan also going early on the right, Viviani tied to his wheel.
Ewan looked as though he might break clear to follow up on his stage eight victory but faded rapidly 25m from the line, as Démare maintained his power to overtake him.
Viviani then opted to switch to Démare’s wheel but it was too late as Démare was at full speed and hit the line first.
Italian national champion Viviani followed in second and Selig slipped past Ewan to take third.
A bruised and bloodied Ackermann was able to mount his bike after the crash, with a huge tear in his shorts and jersey, and finished the stage.
As expected there was no movement in the GC battle on such a flat day.
The race continues with a longer pan-flat day from Carpi to Novi Ligure on stage 11, over 221km and culminating in a gentle rise to the line in the final 20km.
Giro d’Italia 2019, stage 10: Ravenna to Modena (145km)
1. Arnaud Démare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, 3-36-07
2. Elia Viviani (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
3. Rüdiger Selig (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
4. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto-Soudal
5. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Dimension Data
6. Davide Cimolai (Ita) Israel Cycling Academy
7. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
8. Giovanni Lonardi (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Faizanè
9. Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto-Soudal
10. Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Groupama-FDJ, all at same time
General classification after stage 10
1. Valerio Conti (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, in 38-44-39
2. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, at 1-50
3. Nans Peters (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 2-21
4. José Joaquín Rojas (Esp) Movistar, at 2-33
5. Fausto Masnada (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, at 2-36
6. Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar, at 2-39
7. Amaro Antunes (Por) CCC Team, at 3-05
8. Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 3-27
9. Giovanni Carboni (Ita) Bardiani-CSF, at 3-30
10. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Astana, at 3-32