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Giro d’Italia 2024: Milan delights home crowd to take stage 11 in sprint finish
Cycling Sport

Giro d’Italia 2024: Milan delights home crowd to take stage 11 in sprint finish

Jonathan Milan of Lidl-Trek claimed his second stage victory of this year’s Giro d’Italia as he won stage 11 after outsprinting Tim Merlier, who was later relegated to 89th for moving across Juan Sebastián Molano during a thunderous finish. Australia’s Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) crossed the line third but was promoted to second.

Milan extended his advantage over the Australian, who was also denied by the Italian on the line at the end of stage four, in his defence of the maglia ciclamino – the mauve jersey for the winner of the Giro’s points classification.

The 207km ride from Foiano di Val Fortore to Francavilla al Mare had a flat final 100km, meaning this was always likely to be a chance for the sprinters to claim a stage win.

“Last year after I won I was always up there in the sprints but I couldn’t win another one. It’s important to learn from the mistakes I’ve made in the past,” Milan said.

Merlier of Soudal Quick-Step had won stage three and, as the peloton bore down on the finish line, it was between the Belgian and Milan. Yet the Italian, who had been pipped by Olav Kooij on stage nine, proved the strongest.

Milan strengthened his grip on the points jersey, while Tadej Pogacar, the overall leader, finished safely in the bunch, avoiding a crash near the end, to keep the maglia rosa, two minutes and 40 seconds ahead of Daniel Felipe Martínez of Bora-Hansgrohe with Geraint Thomas of Ineos Grenadiers 16 seconds further back.

Thomas Champion of Cofidis was the first to attack after the start and he was soon joined by the Team Visma-Lease a Bike pair Edoardo Affini and Tim van Dijke. The trio were never allowed to create too much of a gap by the peloton, which was controlled by Milan’s Lidl-Trek team, and they were caught with 35km to race to set up the expected sprint finish.

“Winning is not just about the 20 seconds of the sprint that make the victory in the end. It was all the work the guys did today to support me and bring me to the crucial position for the sprint,” Milan said.

Jonathan Milan celebrates his stage victory after the finish lineView image in fullscreen

Coming to the line, Merlier led the way, with Molano of UAE Team Emirates forced out wide, hampering his chances in the dash for the finish. But Milan powered home and took the win, while Merlier was punished for his manoeuvre.

Behind Groves in the revised stage result, Italy’s Giovanni Lonardi (Team Polti Kometa) took third.

“Merlier is always tricky to predict in the final and how to move,” Milan said. “In the end, I found myself on his wheel. I think it was the perfect wheel. He started his sprint really, really, really strong but then I tried to make mine and it went good.”

Source: theguardian.com