After two wins in a row in the bunch sprints of the Giro d’Italia, Arnaud Démare was unable to make it three in Reggio Emilia on Wednesday. After a 200-kilometre-long stage, without a slightest climb, the anticipated sprint did occur. The Groupama-FDJ lead-out train was perfectly on track in the final kilometres, but the French sprinter opened his sprint a bit too early to be able to take victory. He eventually secured fourth place, which enabled him to increase his lead in the points classification.
For just one kilometre, stage 11 of the Giro was not the longest one of this year’s race. On the other hand, it surely had the flattest profile of this 2022 edition. Across Emilia-Romagna, the bunch was spared from any hilly terrain in a day made for the sprinters. Two men, namely Filippo Tagliani (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli) and Luca Rastelli (Bardiani-CSF), attacked from the first hundred metres and established the day’s breakaway. The peloton remained quite calm for some time before Clément Davy took control to set the pace. A little further on, Arnaud Démare picked up a few points in the intermediate sprint. Then, suddenly, the tension and the speed really increased as the riders approached Bologna, halfway through the race. The change of direction, an open area and the wind were enough for the GC teams to get in command, and the “morning” breakaway was quickly caught. “It was still a stressful stage”, said Arnaud Démare. “Many GC teams were in front and maintained a fairly high pace when approaching roundabouts and open areas. It was quite exhausting”. “All the teams knew the situation very well, and that’s what caused a bit of tension,” added Sébastien Joly. “There was a real acceleration as we got out of Bologna, but everything came back to normal afterwards. We felt that no one really wanted to get into the fight until the finish. It settled down more or less, even if it remained nervous”.
“I wasn’t just patient enough”, Arnaud Démare
The peloton remained all together for an hour or so, until Dries De Bondt decided to try a solo about fifty kilometres from the finish. The Belgian was given a lead of one minute and thirty seconds, then Clément Davy got back to the front of the bunch to lead the chase. The young Frenchman stayed there until the last ten kilometres and handed it over to Tobias Ludvigsson. “In the final, we had to change Ignatas’ bike,” explained Sébastien. “We got disorganized a bit, but he fought well and managed to get back to the top positions with the help of Attila and Clément”. The Lithuanian champion was then able to lead the train to the last two kilometres. Miles Scotson closed the gap to Dries De Bondt shortly before the flamme rouge and then dropped Ramon Sinkeldam, Jacopo Guarnieri and Arnaud Démare in the lead with 800 metres left to go. “We had a clean approach to the sprint, the guys managed to wait for the right moment, and in the end, I actually wasn’t patient enough”, said the former French champion. “With 250 metres to go, I saw an opening and started my sprint. I saw Jacopo getting a bit blocked to the right, so I decided to go for it. I thought the line was closer than that, however. I also felt like I had more speed than the riders to my right, and I wanted to take advantage of that to gain ground. Eventually, I wasn’t just patient enough. Gaviria overtook me, and two others also did with the slipstream”.
On the line, Alberto Dainese (DSM) took the victory while the cyclamen jersey wearer took fourth place. “Jacopo told me that he still had the leg to launch me, I am disappointed that I wasn’t clear-minded enough to wait”, added Arnaud. “You can’t win every time. The cyclamen jersey is nice, but I was really aiming for the stage win. We still have things to achieve on this Giro”. “That’s also how sprints work, but we’re in the mix”, concluded Sébastien Joly. “We will still have two great opportunities over the next few days, although the terrain will be a bit more undulating”. In the points classification, the French sprinter now has a 77-point lead over his closest competitor, as Biniam Girmay was forced to retire this Wednesday morning.