REGGIO EMILIA, Italy — Alberto Dainese became the first Italian rider to win a stage in this year’s Giro d’Italia by sprinting to victory in Stage 11, as Juan Pedro Lopez kept hold of the pink jersey.
Dainese, who rides for Team DSM, was a long way behind his rivals at the start of the sprint but powered his way through to beat Fernando Gaviria and Simone Consonni for his first stage win at a grand tour.
There was a slight change in the overall standings as favorite Richard Carapaz moved into second after picking up bonus seconds during the entirely flat 203-kilometer (126-mile) leg from Santarcangelo Di Romagna to Reggio Emilia. Lopez has a 12-second lead over Carapaz and Joao Almeida as the three-week race passed the halfway stage.
Eritrean cyclist Biniam Girmay pulled out of the Giro before the start of Stage 11 after getting injured when he popped a prosecco cork into his eye during the podium celebration following his victory the previous day.
There is a wine and food stage every year in the Giro and Stage 11 was linked to the production of parmesan cheese in the area.
Filippo Tagliani and Luca Rastelli escaped at the start and had an advantage of nearly six minutes at one point. But with the prospect of crosswinds coming out of Bologna, the peloton upped the pace and the breakaway riders were caught with 90 kilometers remaining.
Dries De Bondt, who has never won a stage in a grand tour, launched an impressive solo attack with about 60 kilometers remaining but was caught with the final kilometer in sight.
Stage 12 is the longest in this year’s race – albeit only by one kilometer. There are also three third-category climbs on the 204-kilometer (127-mile) route from Parma to Genoa.
The Giro finishes on May 29 in Verona.
Dainese claims 1st grand tour stage, López keeps Giro d’Italia lead originally appeared on NBCSports.com