Cycling-Milan wins Giro stage 11 on the line, Merlier relegated from second place

  • Cycling
  • Wednesday, 15 May 2024

Cycling - Giro d'Italia - Stage 11 - Foiano di Val Fortore to Francavilla al Mare - Italy - May 15, 2024 Lidl - Trek's Jonathan Milan celebrates winning stage 11 REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini

(Reuters) -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 Sebastian Molano at the finish.

The 207-km ride from Foiano di Val Fortore to Francavilla al Mare had a flat final 100-km, meaning this was always likely to be a chance for the sprinters to claim a stage win, and Milan triumphed again, just as he did on stage four.

"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 overall leader Tadej Pogacar finished safely in the bunch, avoiding a crash near the end, to keep the maglia rosa, two minutes and 40 seconds ahead of Colombian Daniel Felipe Martinez of Bora-Hansgrohe.

Thomas Champion (Cofidis) was the first to attack after the start and he was soon joined by Team Visma-Lease a Bike pair Edoardo Affini and Tim van Dijke.

The trio were never allowed create too much of a gap by the peloton, which was controlled by Milan's Lidl-Trek team, and they were caught with 35 kilometres 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.

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

Australia's Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) was promoted to second place with Italy's Giovanni Lonardi taking 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."

(Reporting by Trevor StynesEditing by Christian Radnedge and Toby Davis)

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