UAE Team Emirates rider Valerio Conti retains pink jersey, Caleb Ewan wins Stage 11 of Giro d'Italia
The Lotto-Soudal rider edged Arnaud Demare and Pascal Ackermann to add to his victory on Stage 8
Australian Caleb Ewan won a sprint finish to take the 11th stage of the Giro d'Italia on Wednesday, just ahead of Frenchman Arnaud Demare.
Italian Valerio Conti, riding for UAE Team Emirates, kept the overall leader's pink jersey before the race heads for the first day in the Alps on Thursday.
The 24-year-old Ewan of Lotto-Soudal claimed his second stage win of this year's race, four days after winning stage eight at Pesaro.
"A longer stage today suited me a bit better than yesterday with the other sprinters having sore legs," said Ewan after over five hours racing in the final flat stage before the mountainous terrain.
"It came down to the team, who did a great job over the final kilometres. I knew that, riding into a headwind, you really need to time it perfecty."
Three Italians who have been consistently active in breakaways - Marco Frapporti, Mirco Maestri and Damiano Cima - once again led a long escape in the 221km stage raced entirely in sunshine.
The trio were caught 25km from Novi Ligure, in northwestern Italy.
In the sprint, Australian Ewan chased down German champion Pascal Ackermann, who had to settle for third, a day after crashing.
Demare of Groupama-FDJ, the winner of the crash-marred 10th stage at Modena, snatched second place for a boost to overtake Ackermann at the top of the points standings.
"I think Pascal [Ackermann] went too early. I waited and it worked for me," said Ewan, who also won a stage in the 2017 Giro.
"He [Ackermann] had a good lead out so it was a good wheel to sit on. I timed it right.
"I always considered myself one of the top sprinters. Two stage wins prove that I am really one of them."
Italian Elia Viviani, winner of four stages last year, once again fell short, finishing fourth in the sprint.
Conti, meanwhile, holds a 1 minute, 50 second advantage on Slovenian Team Jumbo rider Primoz Roglic with France's Nans Peters of AG2R La Mondiale third at 2mins 21secs.
"It was a long and sunny stage so I enjoyed it very much," said Conti. "Tomorrow it'll be harder to keep the jersey because the main climb is a hard one. But I want to keep the Maglia Rosa [pink jersey] tomorrow also."
Thursday's 12th stage covers 156km between Cuneo and Pinerolo in the Italian Alps, the scene of Fausto Coppi's mythical long-range attack in 1949.
Updated: May 22, 2019 09:07 PM