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Giro d'Italia

Giro d’Italia stage 11: Ackermann wins nail-biter ahead of Cavendish, Geoghegan Hart crashes out

The German wins in a photo-finish ahead of Milan and Cavendish as the Giro's longest stage delivers more drama of the wrong kind.

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The longest stage of the 2023 Giro d’Italia served up another day of drama, perhaps too much for some of the riders in the peloton.

Pascal Ackermann (UAE Emirates) jabbed his bike to victory in Wednesday’s 11th stage in a photo-finish ahead of Jonathan Milan (Bahrain Victorious) and Mark Cavendish (Astana Qazaqstan).

“It’s a very special victory for me, my first this year after I broke my coccyx last year. Today for the first time I got my team-mates to bring me to the first positions,” Ackermann said after his first win in 2023. “I showed I can do it and I’m super happy today. All the sprinters are very strong and it was a very tense finish.

“I didn’t know how slippery it was so I decided to hit the front early,” he said “Cavendish was very strong. Now we’ll work for the climbers and I hope the second victory for our team will come soon.”

The big story for the GC was a crash that took down Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) about 70km to go in the 219km stage from Camaiore to Tortona.

Pink jersey Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) and Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) were also involved, but were able to continue without apparent difficulty.

Geoghegan Hart, who started just 5 seconds out of the lead in third place, crashed heavily and was transported away by ambulance. The team has yet to release more details.

Thomas rolled in with the main group, but expressed dismay at the team’s big loss.

“As usual we were jostling for position, a UAE guy crashed next to me. I don’t know exactly who was taken out after me. We were pretty much on the same spot,” Thomas said. “Unfortunately Tao [Geoghegan Hart] is badly injured. It’s obviously a big loss. He was going very well. He was in a really great position and it’s very unfortunate to lose him this way.”

Óscar Rodríguez (Movistar) also crashed out moments later on wet roads.

The crash put another pall on the Giro that’s already been marked by a string of high-profile departures due to COVID-19 and crashes.

Four of teammates of Remco Evenepoel, who pulled out Sunday while in pink with COVID, also did not start Wednesday after being diagnosed with coronavirus. In total, eight riders did not start Wednesday due to COVID and other illnesses.

If that wasn’t enough drama, there was another crash inside the bunch with less than 3km to go that split the bunch coming in for the sprint.

The sprinters surged to the front for what could be their last chance for a long time. Mads Pedersen (Trek Segafredo) opened up and it looked like Cavendish would have the win, but Ackermann powered to the line. Milan came from way back to finish second.

The 2023 Giro continues Thursday with a transition stage that should be well-suited for the sprinters, and then the Giro’s first big mountains arrive in Friday’s climbing stage across the Alps.

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