photo credits @ RCS
The longest day of the Giro d’Italia was won by the thinnest of margins as Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) pipped Jonathan Milan (Bahrain Victorious) in a photo finish in Tortona.
Ackermann sprang from the wheel of Mark Cavendish (Astana-Qazaqstan) to round Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) on the home straight to hold onto his first win of the season despite a late surge from Milan.
As Ackermann raised his arms aloft in celebration, Milan wagged a finger – the Italian rider clearly believing he had done enough to double up on the 219km stage.
But it was Ackermann who was awarded the win by a hair after the photo finish, with Cavendish showing a resurgence of sorts with a competitive third place that will fill the veteran Manxman with the belief that a 19th win on the Giro may still happen.
A late crash inside the final 2km split the peloton and ended the chances of many sprinters, including Fernando Gaviria (Movistar) and Michael Matthews (Jayco-AlUla). Although he was caught out on the wrong side of the split, Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) retained his slender two-second lead over Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) in the battle for the pink jersey.
Both riders, however, came down in a nasty fall inside the last 50km, which saw Thomas’s team-mate Teo Geoghegan Hart taken to hospital with a suspected broken leg.
The 2020 champion was among a number of Ineos riders who went down after Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates) lost control on a slippery corner right in front of Thomas. Thomas was quickly back on his way while Roglic swapped bikes with Dutch team-mate Koen Bouwman before pressing on.
But on a dark day for Ineos Grenadiers, Geoghegan Hart – third place going into the stage – was ruled out, while Pavel Sivakov never rejoined the peloton and plummeted out of the top 10.
Meanwhile, Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) rose to third place at 22 seconds, with Andreas Leknessund (Team DSM) and Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) completing the new-look top five.
Earlier in the stage, Laurenz Rex (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), Thomas Champion (Cofidis), Diego Pablo Sevilla (EOLO-Kometa), Alexander Konychev and Veljko Stojnić (both Corratec-Selle Italia) and Filippo Magli (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè) escaped the peloton during first few kilometers, remaining out front for 200 kilometers before being reined in.
Rex was the last man left out in front until he was caught with about 5 kilometers to go by the sprint teams, which tried to organize themselves in a chaotic finish. A crash within the last 3 kilometers saw the field split, and a reduced peloton contest the stage win.
Trek-Segafredo launched first for Mads Pedersen before Cavendish went, but was then overtaken by Ackermann. Seemingly coming from very far back in the field was Milan, who almost pipped the German to the line.
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