Giro d’Italia stage 11: Alberto Dainese delivers Italy’s first stage in tight bunch sprint

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Alberto Dainese (Team DSM) won a hotly contested bunch sprint for stage 11 Wednesday at the Giro d’Italia.

Groupama-FDJ took control with one kilometer to go, and it came down to another tight sprint. Dainese won his first grand tour stage and Italy, and Team DSM won its first stage so far in this Giro.

Dainese fended off Fernando Gaviria (UAE-Team Emirates), while Simon Consonni (Cofidis) crossed the line third. Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) was fifth after struggling Tuesday, and Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) was sixth.

Juanpe López (Trek-Segafredo) finished in the main bunch to defend the pink jersey, while Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) jumped into second place at 12 seconds back after snatching a mid-race time bonus.

The pancake-flat 203km 11th stage didn’t feature a rated climb, and the bunch was determined to bring it home for a sprint.

With a breakaway profile on tap Thursday, the peloton’s sprinters didn’t want to miss one of their last chances. Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix) was the day’s lone dangler, but he was duly reeled in during the closing 1.3km to set up the mass gallop.

Biniam Girmay was the day’s only non-starter after the Eritrean sprinter made history in Tuesday’s stage. An exploding cork struck his eye, and doctors confirmed he suffered a hemorrhage in a freak, post-stage incident.

An early breakaway went nowhere as the sprinters didn’t want this chance to slip away. The risk of crosswinds kept the tension high despite not having one rated climb on the course profile.

Early break goes nowhere

Big crowds cheered the Giro as it paced across Italy’s heartland. (Photo: Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

The big news Wednesday was the non-start by Tuesday’s big winner Girmay. The Eritrean made history by becoming the first Black African rider to win a grand tour stage but was struck in the eye by an exploding cork during the post-stage ceremony, and had to be taken to a nearby hospital.

Also read: Doctors confirm Girmay suffered hemorrhage in left eye

Wednesday’s long, flat 203km stage featured no rated climbs, but the risk of crosswinds assured a nervous stage.

Two riders — Filippo Tagliani (Drone Hopper) and Luca Rastelli (Bardiani-CSF) — pulled away early when no one else wanted to move.

Somewhat surprisingly, the bunch kept a pretty tight leash on the two non-threatening riders. With opportunities dwindling for the sprinters, no team wanted to take a chance, and the bunch didn’t gain more than 5 minutes.

The inertia of the main bunch reeled them in earlier than expected, with about 90km to go.

The threat of crosswinds kept the pace high, with Ineos Grenadiers often massing at the front to keep Richard Carapaz in the best position.

Carapaz slotted into second place at 12 seconds back after snatching a mid-race time bonus.

With about 60km to go, Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix) jumped out of the bunch, and hovered alone about one minute off the front with 40km to go.

De Bondt dangled off the front, and the peloton rode eight across the road as the gap came down to 30 seconds. The closing kilometers on narrow farm roads only upped the tension, allowing De Bondt to stay out there longer than expected.

Tomorrow’s stage 12: Another chance for the breakaways

Juanpe López has enjoyed a magic Giro so far. (Photo: UCA BETTINI/AFP via Getty Images)

The 2022 Giro hit the midway mark in terms of kilometers raced early in Wednesday’s stage and from there, it’s all downhill to Verona, with a few gigantic climbs along the way.

The race continues Thursday with the Parma to Genoa with the 204km 12th stage. It’s a lumpy profile that could deliver another chance for the Giro’s stage-hunters.

The stage gradually climbs to the Cat. 3 Passo del Bocco as the course crosses the spine of the Apennines.

Two more sharp, third-category climbs spice up the final half of the stage, with a few unrated lumps in the closing 20km.

There’s no guarantee a break will stay clear because any sprinters who still haven’t won are quickly running out of chances.

Giro d’Italia Stage 11 Results

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