Russia’s Ilnur Zakarin was victorious on stage 11 of the Giro d’Italia between Forlì to Imola as the breakaway eluded the peloton for the second day in a row.
The Team Katusha rider formed part of a ten-man move early in the 153 kilometes stage, with the group also including Canada’s Ryder Hesjedal, winner of the Giro d’Italia in 2012.
Having claimed the general classification at the six-stage Tour de Romandie at the start of May, Zakarin displayed his excellent form once more by attacking him breakaway companions on their third ascent of the Tre Monti climb.
Despite his best efforts Colombia’s Carlos Betancur, who rides for Ag2r-La Mondiale, was unable to bridge the gap to the Russian, leaving Zakarin to ride solo in the rain for the remaining 20km.
Zakarin crossed the finishing line at the Imola motor racing circuit, of which the peloton completed three circuits, in 3 hours 55min 08sec to claim the stage victory in his debut appearance at the Giro d’Italia.
“I started the stage in good heart, and the breakaway riders worked well together,” Zakarin stated.
“I made one attempt to get away, and at the second try, I made it.
“I learned a lesson in the stage that [Beñat] Intxausti won because that day I made the mistake of attacking too early.
“This time, I waited until the last moment.”
Betancur was able to finish second on the stage, finishing 53 seconds adrift of the winner, with Italian Franco Pellizotti taking third on the same time as the Colombian.
Spain’s Alberto Contador retained the leaders pink jersey for the sixth consecutive day, as there was no change among the favourites for the general classification, despite a brief but unsuccessful attack by the Saxo Tinkoff rider.
With the main contenders finishing safely in the bunch Contador maintained his narrow two second advantage over Astana’s Italian cyclist Fabio Aru, while Aru’s teammates Mikel Landa of Spain and Dario Cataldo of Italy remain third and fourth, 46 seconds and 1:36 off the lead respectively.
Having now past the halfway mark of the three-week stage race, the battle for the pink jersey is set to intensify, but with tomorrow’s 190km stage from Imola to Vicenza being largely flat the sprinters will be hopeful of earning a stage victory.
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