Demare stuns rivals to win Stage 10 as big crash disrupts sprint finish
Frenchman Arnaud Demare ended his winless streak for 2019 with a surprise victory in stage 10 ahead of Italy’s Elia Viviani after a nasty crash inside the final kilometre thwarted any chances of a hat-trick for the in-form Pascal Ackermann.
When Groupama-FDJ’s Demare powered clear on the left-hand side of the road, the misfiring Italian champion Viviani (Deceunick-QuickStep) picked the wrong wheel to follow in stage 8 winner Caleb Ewan.
Demare relegated Viviani to yet another second place while Lotto-Soudal’s Ewan was pipped to third place by Germany's Rudiger Selig, who contested the sprint following a sickening high-speed crash involving his Bora-Hansgrohe teammate Ackermann just inside the flamme rouge.
A touch of wheels brought down the maglia ciclamino into the path of pint-sized Italian Jakub Mareczko (CCC Team) before a domino-effect tore through the peloton – with youngster Matteo Moschetti (Trek-Segafredo) slamming horrifically into the barriers and suffering suspected concussion.
Ackermann remounted and completed the stage but did so with his jersey and shorts torn to shreds and his entire right-hand side bloodied and bruised by chronic road rash.
A relatively short and pan-flat 145km stage over the plains of Emilia-Romagna between Ravenna and Modena, the capital of balsamic vinegar, was always destined for a sweet bunch sprint finale and, on paper, offered very little of interest to the viewer at home – save for repeated views of vineyards and the odd terracotta-tiled scenic town.
Two riders – Japan’s Sho Hatsuyama (Nippo-Vini Fantini) and Italy’s Luca Covili (Bardiani-CSF) – clearly picked the short straw in their respective team buses in the morning. Breaking clear at the outset, the duo built up a maximum lead of around four minutes in their bid to get some TV time for the sponsors of their pro-continental wildcard teams.
Hatsuyama and Covili traded spoils at the two intermediate sprints before being reeled in by the peloton with just under 30km remaining after regular tempo work by Demare's Australian teammate Miles Scotson.
Despite the lack of contours and next to no wind, the average speed for the stage was under 40km/h offering something of a second rest day for the big GC riders. But it wasn’t a walk in the park for everyone: Italy’s Enrico Battaglin (Katusha-Alpecin) hit the deck half way through the stage and looked to have hurt his shoulder – while the huge incident on the long home straight will be returning to haunt the nightmares of many riders in the nights to come.
Frenchman Demare had earlier pipped the in-form German Ackermann in the first intermediate sprint for third place – a little taster for the main event at the finish.
Although the crash ensured that Ackermann was taken off the menu by the time Demare led the pack across the line in Luciano Pavarotti’s home town. Seeking his first win of the season, not to mention a maiden Giro stage scalp, the 27-year-old proved the strongest of the three tenors at the finish as Ewan’s performance fell flat.
Viviani, who avoided a potential spill in the nervous pack with 10km to go, was left frustrated by a third second-place finish of the race, the 30-year-old Italian champion still looking to add to the four stage wins he secured last year.
A brave solo dig from Francisco Ventoso (CCC Team) looked like the stage could have gone off-script. But the Spanish veteran was reigned in with a kilometre to go – just as Ackermann touched the back wheel of his leadout man Selig to start the butterfly effect that caused havoc in the peloton.
Ackermann needed a new jersey after crossing the line with his skinsuit in tatters – and it would have been a small consolation for the 25-year-old German that he held onto the maglia ciclamino by one slender point, Demare’s win having put fresh impetus in the points classification battle.
Wednesday’s stage 11 should provide another occasion for that battle to resume – and for Viviani to get his elusive win – in another margherita-flat schlep from Carpi to Novi Ligure, the home town of the champion of champions Fausto Coppi and his elder statesman Costante Girardengo.