Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) made a perfectly timed effort to take his second win of the Giro d’Italia 2019 on stage 11.
A headwind in the finish meant the sprinters would have wait until just the right moment to launch. It was Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) who went first in the final 150m with Ewan perfectly placed on his wheel. Stage 10 winner Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) and Italian champion Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) sat just behind, but neither could do anything to get around the Australian as he blasted past Ackermann on the right hand side towards the line.
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Ewan, who also won stage eight, is likely to leave the race with the Giro now heading into the mountains and two stage wins in hand, while Viviani now need to decide if he will go on having missed out on a victory so far and only one stage left that could suit the sprinters.
Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates) retains the overall lead after a straightforward day for those riders at the top of the overall.
How it happened
Stage 11 of the 2019 Giro d’Italia would be another long day for the riders with 221km to complete, however it would be another day of fairly sedate riding for most, with another pan flat course similar to stage 10.
Still, three men were crazy enough to head out front for the day, with Italians Marco Frapporti (Androni-Giacattoli-Sidermec), Mirco Maestri (Bardiani-CSF) and Damiano Cima (Nippo-Vini Fantini-Faizanè) going clear with 212km to go.
The trio of leaders established a maximum gap of around 5-30, with the peloton more than content to let them toil out front as the kilometres wiled away.
The main mid-stage action came in the change of leader in the points classification, with Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) taking the lead from Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) after the Frenchman took fourth in the intermediate sprint with 66km to go. Ackermann’s team-mate Rüdiger Selig took fifth, with the man in the ciclamino jersey following in behind him.
With the bunch then not contesting the second intermediate sprint, Démare led the points classification with just a single point, before a second place finish on the stage put him to 11 points ahead.
Out front, the three leaders continued to push on, but their gap was down to just 1-55 with 40km to go, with the peloton easily closing them down.
They were eventually forced to sit up with 25km to go, as Deceuninck-Quick-Step, Lotto-Soudal and Groupama-FDJ did the bulk of the work on the front of the peloton.
Things stayed together in the kilometres heading to the finish, until about 4km to go when Christian Knees (Team Ineos) briefly hit out alone with the pace quite slow.
He was quickly reeled in, but it increased the pace of the bunch heading to the final 3km.
Groupama-FDJ led into the final kilometre in service of Démare, with Ewan’s Lotto-Soudal team quite far down at this point.
Ewan was able to move up towards the front after jumping onto Ackermann’s wheel, with Viviani choosing to follow Ewan after his last lead out man Fabio Sabatini pulled off.
Ackermann then found himself right towards the front on the left of the group and was forced to jump first into the headwind.
Ewan then timed his move out of Ackermann’s wheel perfectly ahead of the Dérmare and Viviani, who were unable to match his acceleration. Viviani, boxed in, could only roll in for fourth and unable to even compete for the win.
The Giro d’Italia heads towards the mountains on stage 12, with a 158km stage from Cuneo to Pinerolo that featured a tough category one climb at 30km from the finish.
Giro d’Italia 2019, stage 11: Carpi to Novi Ligure (221km)
1. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto-Soudal, in 5-17-26
2. Arnaud Démare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
3. Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe all at same time
4. Elia Viviani (Ita) Deceuninck-Quick-Step
5. Davide Cimolai (Ita) Israel Cycling Academy
6. Simone Consonni (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
7. Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension Data
8. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Dimension Data
9. Jakub Mareczko (Ita) CCC Team
10. Sean Bennett (USA) EF Education First, all at same time
General classification after stage 11
1. Valerio Conti (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, in 45-02-05
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