Michael Rogers soloed to claim an emotional victory in this afternoon’s eleventh Giro d’Italia stage in Savona.
The 34-year-old held off the peloton by 10 seconds after an exciting finale to claim his first-ever Grand Tour stage.
It was also the Australian’s first win since he claimed the overall Bayern Rundfahrt title, two years ago next Tuesday, and the victory also completes Rogers’s comeback following a positive test for clenbuterol at the Japan Cup race in October, a charge which he was cleared of on April 23.
Rogers becomes the first Tinkoff rider aside from Alberto Contador to win a race for the Russian-owned team in 2014; meanwhile his former Mapei team-mate Cadel Evans finished within the peloton retain the maglia rosa.
The start of the stage was frantic, and it took approximately 65 kilometres for the day’s main break to form. Among its 14 riders were Irish duo Nicholas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Philip Deignan (Sky).
They gained a maximum lead narrowly over five minutes, before the work of the Italian Androni Giocattoli (who missed the break for the first time in this year’s Giro) reduced it.
Only a handful of riders – including Roche – were left upfront when Julian Arredondo (Trek) attacked out of the peloton with 35km remaining.
Colombian Arrendondo was quickly up the road solo, and had a 25-second lead over the top of the Naso di Gatto climb with 27 kilometres to race.
He was joined by Georg Preidler (Giant-Shimano), Edoardo Zardini (Bardiani-CSF), Alberto Losada (Katusha), Franco Pellizotti (Androni) and Pierre Rolland (Europcar) shortly after. The move was neutralised before the 20km to go banner.
It was then time for Rogers to stake him claim. The Australian broke clear on the descent into Savona, and had an advantage of 40 seconds with 15 kilometres remaining, and only lost five of those with as many kilometres remaining.
However, the gap was reduced to 12 seconds inside two kilometres, but he held on over a short but sharp incline in the final 500 metres to take the win.
Once again, crashes blighted this stage. Orica-GreenEdge’s Luke Durbridge abandoned with a suspected broken collarbone. With former maglia rosa Michael Matthews not starting the stage, the Australian team are down to five riders in the race.
Garmin-Sharp’s Fabian Wegmann also suffered a complete tear of his hamstrings in his left legs.
Giro d’Italia 2014, stage 11: Collecchio — Savona, 249km
1. Michael Rogers (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo in 5-48-07
2. Simon Geschke (Ger) Giant-Shimano at 0-10
3. Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
4. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin
5. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
6. Moreno Moser (Ita) Cannondale
7. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp
8. Matteo Rabottini (Ita) NeriNeri Sottoli – Yellow Fluo
9. Fabio Duarte (Col) Colombia
10. Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale all at st.
Overall classification after stage 11
1. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC 46-39-04
2. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 57 secs
3. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo at 1-10
4. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale at 1-20
5. Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC at 1-31
6. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 1-39
7. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin at 1-44
8. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar at 1-45
9. Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Trek at 1-49
10. Ivan Basso (Ita) Cannondale at 2-01