Katusha’s Ilnur Zakarin sprung clear from the 10-man breakaway with 20km to go to take victory in stage 11 of the Giro d’Italia on a wet Imola race circuit.
The Russian, who won the overall title at the Tour of Romandie before the Giro, forged a lead of over a minute over his breakaway compatriots in those final kilometres, with the peloton unable to reel any of them in.
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In the slippery conditions it was hard to launch an attack or up the pace in the peloton, meaning a possible bunch sprint was not an option, allowing Zakarin to ride alone to the finish.
The breakaway went early in the stage, with Cannondale-Garmin’s Ryder Hesjedal the best placed among them in the General Classification.
LottoNL-Jumbo’s Steven Kruijswijk and Ag2r-La Mondiale’s Carlos Betancur found themselves up the road for the third time in recent stages as the break gained just shy of four minutes on the peloton.
As the riders hit the Imola racing circuit, for three laps of the course and the surrounding roads, the wet conditions evidently made cornering difficult.
Zakarin took advantage of indecision in the front group by going it alone, pushing his advantage to over a minute at one stage.
As the reduced peloton started their final lap of the finishing circuit, Etixx-Quick-Step‘s Rigoberto Uran clipped wheels with another rider and was sent sprawling to the ground.
With 6.5km to go, pink jersey holder Alberto Contador launched a speculative attack of his own – nothing that threatened his GC rivals, but nevertheless one that showed he is strong.
The jostling in the pack didn’t lead to the gap to Zakarin falling and they didn’t even manage to overhaul the remnants of the initial breakaway, with Betancur sprinting for second place.
Giro d’Italia 2015 stage 11: Forli – Imola, 153km
1. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha, 3-55-08
2. Carlos Betancur (Col) Ag2r-La Mondiale, at 53s
3. Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Androni-Giacattoli, st
4. Benat Intxausti (Esp) Movistar, st
5. Diego Rosa (Ita) Astana, st
6. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo, st
7. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Cannondale-Garmin, st
8. Maciej Paterski (Pol) CCC Sprandi, at 58s
9. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing, st
10. JJ Lobato (Esp) Movistar, at 1m02
Overall classification after stage 11
1. Alberto Contador (Esp) Tinkoff-Saxo, 46-54-19
2. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana, at 3 seconds
3. Mikel Landa (Esp) Astana, at 46 seconds
4. Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky, at 1-09
5. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana, at 1-16
6. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo, at 1-46
7. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx – Quick-Step, at 2-10
8. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar, at 2-10
9. Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC, at 2-20
10. Andrey Amador (CRC) Movistar, at 2-24