Bora-Hansgrohe rider Jai Hindley became the first Australian winner of the Giro d'Italia on Sunday after safely coming through the final stage, a 17.1-kilometre time trial around Verona, to stay ahead of Ecuadorian challenger Richard Carapaz.
A powerful finish to Saturday's final mountainous Giro stage gave Hindley a commanding lead over Carapaz in the general classification, meaning he just had to avoid disaster in Verona to claim his first grand tour title, which he did with ease.
Hindley had reason to be cautious going into Sunday's finale. In 2020, the Australian lost a Giro title that was in his hands to Tao Geoghegan Hart in the Milan time trial -- the Briton pulling back 39 seconds in the final 15.7-km stage.
However, this time Hindley's efforts in the final kilometres on Saturday left Carapaz for dead, after he had gone into the 20th stage behind the Ecuadorian in the general classification, and he held a significant one minute and 25 second overall advantage ahead of the time trial.
Carapaz, who had looked primed to add to his 2019 title with another Giro crown before Hindley's Saturday turnaround, went all out to spring a surprise, and was faster in Verona, coming 10th on the day, but it was not enough, as Hindley cruised to the finish line, taking the acclaim from the crowd.
"It's a beautiful feeling," Hindley said. "A lot of emotions out there today. I had in the back of my mind what happened in 2020 and I wasn't going to let that happen again, to be honest. To take the win is really incredible.
"I was getting updates and I felt pretty good on the bike – I didn't feel like I was fighting it and I knew it was a decent ride.
"I wanted to take the descent pretty cautiously but then I just gave it everything to the end. I'm really proud to be Australian and happy to take this one home."
Spaniard Mikel Landa took the final spot on the overall podium behind Hindley and Carapaz, ahead of 37-year-old, two-time Giro champion Vincenzo Nibali in fourth, riding his final Giro.
Italian rider Matteo Sobrero of BikeExchange-Jayco earned a first Giro stage win of his career after posting an impressive early time of 22 minutes and 24.54 seconds, which could not be bettered.
Stage 20: Covi escapes to land his biggest win
Saturday May 28 – Belluno to Marmolada, 167km
Jai Hindley is on the verge of his first Giro d'Italia title after stealing the pink jersey on the 20th and final mountainous stage, a 167-kilometre ride from Belluno to Marmolada, on Saturday, as local rider Alessandro Covi took the stage win.
Richard Carapaz, looking for his second Giro title, held a slender three-second lead in the general classification over Hindley coming into the penultimate stage, with just Sunday's time trial left to decide the 2022 champion.
Mikel Landa, third in the general classification, stayed at the head of the peloton with his Bahrain Victorious team mates as they climbed the Passo Pordoi – the highest point of the Giro.
With Covi of UAE Team Emirates well clear out in front, Carapaz was looking comfortable going into the gruelling final Passo Fedaia climb, as Ineos Grenadiers gregario Pavel Sivakov led the peloton with four kilometres to go, dragging Carapaz with him.
Hindley, who finished second in the Giro in 2020, knew he had to make a move if he was to be in with a chance of becoming the first Australian Giro champion, pushing on with two kilometres to go, with Carapaz struggling to keep pace.
As Covi won his first grand tour stage, Hindley of Bora–Hansgrohe left Carapaz for dead, to finish well clear of the 2019 champion to give him a one minute and 25 second advantage going into Sunday's 17.1km time trial in Verona where, barring a disaster, Hindley can make history.
"I knew this would be the crucial stage of the race, with the brutal finish," Hindley said. "I knew if you had the legs you can make a difference.
"We stayed patient until today, and it is amazing. We could not have timed it better. When I heard Carapaz was dropping down, I just went all out. We will see how it goes tomorrow, it is always hard to say how a time trial will go."
Stage 19: Bouwman climbs to second victory
Friday May 27 – Marano Lagunare to Santuario di Castelmonte, 178km
Richard Carapaz held on to the pink jersey as Koen Bouwman won stage 19 of the Giro d'Italia, a mountainous 178-kilometre ride from Marano Lagunare to Santuario di Castelmonte, in bizarre fashion on Friday.
Carapaz held a 3sec lead over Jai Hindley in the general classification going into Friday's stage, and was joined by three Ineos Grenadiers team-mates in a packed peloton right up until the final few kilometres.
Third in the general classification before a stage that passed through parts of Slovenia and needing to close the gap, Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) made the first move as the top three riders were left alone as the leaders' group approached the stage end.
Carapaz led Bora-Hansgrohe rider Hindley and Landa in that order ahead of the final sprint, with the Ecuadorian coming home in front of his rivals at the crucial moment to keep the maglia rosa, with only one more mountainous stage to come on Saturday, before Sunday's time trial finale.
There had already been plenty of drama further ahead of the overall leaders, as a bizarre finale for the five riders vying to win the stage saw three of them overshoot the final corner, allowing Bouwman to come through with ease for his second stage victory of this year's Giro.
"I knew there was a corner to the left but I didn't know it was this sharp," Bouwman said. "I had to brake quite hard and I knew I had to take the inside [of the corner]. Now to win two stages in the Giro – I'm just so happy I don't have words."
There was some bad news for Carapaz on Friday, however, as team-mate Richie Porte dropped out of the Giro through illness, leaving the race leader missing a key helper for the final road stages on Saturday.
Stage 18: De Bondt and breakaway deny sprinters
Thursday May 26 – Borgo Valsugana to Treviso, 156km
Dries De Bondt won stage 18 of the Giro d'Italia as a four-man breakaway stole away the final opportunity for Mark Cavendish and the rest of the sprinters.
The predominantly flat 156km run from Borgo Valsugana to Treviso should have been one for the quick men, and the last bunch sprint of this Giro, but the sprint squads got their sums wrong as the break stayed clear, with De Bondt beating Edoardo Affini, Magnus Cort and Davide Gabburo to the line.
Alberto Dainese brought home the sprinters 14 seconds later, with Cavendish rolling home in eighth place, having been unable to add to his stage three win in this race.
The sprint finish meant no change at the top of the general classification, in which Richard Carapaz leads Jai Hindley by just three seconds with three stages remaining.
Hindley was distanced in the finale having suffered a mechanical, rolling in a minute down, but as the incident happened in the final three kilometres he did not lose time overall.
However, Joao Almeida, who had dropped from third to fourth on Wednesday's stage to Lavarone, did not start on Thursday having tested positive for Covid-19 overnight. The rest of the UAE Team Emirates squad and staff returned negative tests.
The peloton appeared to have the breakaway under control for the bulk of the stage, but after the front four upped the pace on the short but sharp climb of the Muro di Ca del Poggio around 50km from the finish, they built a gap the peloton failed to close.
Asked how they held off the peloton, De Bondt said "I think it's a 'we' question, not an 'I' question. It was a collaboration until the last kilometre. We bought some time to speculate but we didn't speculate.
"The collaboration from the four of us was magnificent. Nobody skipped a turn. It was full, full, full.
"Everyone thought it would be a sprint, that it was written in the stars, but we made a plan, the four of us, and we stuck to it."
Stage 17: Buitrago climbs to maiden grand tour win
Wednesday May 25 – Ponte di Legno to Lavarone, 165km
Simon Yates dropped out of the Giro d'Italia on Wednesday due to a knee problem, as Santiago Buitrago went on to win on stage 17, a 165-kilometre ride from Ponte di Legno to Lavarone.
After an almighty battle further back, Richard Carapaz of Ineos Grenadiers came home in fifth to retain the pink jersey, crossing the line at the same time as Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe), who stayed second in the general classification.
Yates, one of the pre-race favourites for the pink jersey and winner of two stages so far, abandoned the Giro altogether, lying 21st in the general classification more than half an hour behind Carapaz before Wednesday's rainy stage.
"Yates' fall on Mount Etna [last week] and subsequent knee problem weighed down on the rider for all following stages of the Giro d'Italia," said BikeExchange-Jayco doctor Matteo Beltemacchi.
"Despite daily therapy and Simon's tenacity, that resulted in a second stage win, the knee pain grew worse and worse, eventually leading to the decision for his retirement from the race."
As Yates dropped out of the running, Dutch pairing Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) and Gijs Leemreize (Jumbo-Visma) led the way by a comfortable margin in tough conditions going into the final ascent up Monterovere, before Leemreize pulled clear on the descent.
Colombian Buitrago, who had crashed earlier in the stage, then stormed ahead of the first group of chasers, in front of the peloton, and then breezed past Leemreize to take the first grand tour stage victory of his career by 35sec for his Bahrain Victorious team.
Carapaz leads the way in the general classification after his impressive effort to lead the peloton home, three seconds ahead of Hindley, with the top two gaining seconds on Mikel Landa in third.
"It's been a really hard stage," Colombian Carapaz said. "I think we're happy – every day everything is being defined more, everything is clearing up in the rankings and I'm happy to have the jersey another day."
Stage 16: Hirt escapes to biggest win of his career
Tuesday May 24 – Salo to Aprica, 202km
Czech cyclist Jan Hirt of Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux overcame problems with his bike and fought cramps to win the 16th stage of the Giro d'Italia on Tuesday as the race headed into the mountains in its final week.
Hirt's maiden stage win came on a 202km ride from Salo to Aprica where the riders gained an altitude of more than 5,000 metres on the climb.
He was well behind the leaders but caught up before the summit of the Mortirolo in the Italian Alps.
By the time Hirt crested the final climb on Valico di Santa Cristina, he was in the lead with Dutchman Thymen Arensman – who attacked earlier – 16sec behind, eventually crossing the line on his own seven seconds ahead of the DSM rider.
"I wanted to try to do something nice today. Every time I hear Mortirolo I want to anticipate. I wanted to go in the breakaway today," Hirt said. "There were difficult moments when the group split, so then we had to come back on the Mortirolo. Then in the end on the last climb I had a problem with my bike, it was not shifting properly and the chain was jumping.
"Then I had cramps on the downhill. I had all these problems but I just wanted to fight all the way to the finish."
Overall leader Richard Carapaz of Ineos Grenadiers, Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) and Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) were in the group that sprinted for third – 1min 24sec behind.
Australian Hindley eventually clinched third and received the time bonus that allowed him to cut Carapaz's lead to three seconds ahead of Wednesday's stage 17.
"It's been a hard stage and at the end I'm happy. I thought I was going to win the sprint for third place," maglia rosa holder Carapaz said.
"I eventually didn't but it's still a good day for me. I've lost a few seconds on Hindley but I gained more on [UAE Team Emirates third-placed Joao] Almeida so the balance is positive," he added after moving 44 seconds clear of the Portuguese.
Stage 15: Carapaz takes pink into final rest day
Sunday May 22 – Rivarolo Canavese to Cogne, 177km
Giulio Ciccone went solo in the finale to win the 16th stage of the Giro d'Italia, a 177-km mountain trek between Rivarolo Canavese and Cogne on Sunday, as Richard Carapaz retained the overall lead.
Italian Ciccone attacked from a group of breakaway riders four kilometres into the final climb, a 22.4-km effort at an average gradient of 4.3%, and never looked back.
Ciccone, who wore the Tour de France yellow jersey for two days in 2019, had plenty of time to celebrate his career third Giro stage win before crossing the line one minute 31 seconds ahead of Santiago Buitrago of Colombia, according to provisional timings.
Spain's Antonio Pedrero took third place, 2:19 off the pace.
Ecuador's Carapaz survived an early scare when he was involved in a pile-up but he escaped unscathed and was pulled back into the peloton by his Ineos-Grenadiers team mates.
It was then a comfortable ride for the 2019 champion, who retained a nine-second overall lead over Australian Jai Hindley as the top contenders kept their powder dry.
Portugal's Joao Almeida sits in third place, 32 seconds behind Carapaz.
Stage 14: Carapaz wrestles pink off López
Saturday May 21 – Santena to Turin, 147km
Simon Yates went solo in the finale to win the 14th stage of the Giro d'Italia as Richard Carapaz took over as overall race leader on Saturday.
Briton Yates, whose title ambitions had already been dashed, attacked from a group of four with four kilometres left to prevail in Turin after a 147-kilometre ride from Santena.
Ecuador's Carapaz, who was third on the day behind Australia's Jai Hindley, snatched the leader's maglia rosa jersey from Juan Pedro López after the Spaniard cracked on the penultimate ascent of the day.
Former champion Vincenzo Nibali was fourth, 15 seconds down on Yates and beaten in the sprint by Hindley and Carapaz.
Ineos-Grenadiers rider Carapaz, who won the 2019 Giro when riding for Movistar, attacked on the Superga climb, a 5-km ascent at 8.6%, and López lost touch to finish four minutes and 25 seconds off the pace.
Carapaz was however caught by Hindley, Nibali and Yates on the ascent to the Colle della Maddalena and he lacked a bit of juice for the final sprint.
Overall, he now leads Hindley, whose Bora-Hansgrohe team blew up the race with 80km to go, by seven seconds, and Portugal's Joao Almeida, who took sixth place 39 seconds behind Yates, by 30 seconds.
Stage 13: Démare tightens grip on points jersey
Friday May 20 – Sanremo to Cuneo, 150km
Arnaud Démare took his third victory of this year's Giro d'Italia on stage 13 after the peloton thwarted a spirited breakaway within sight of the finishing line in Cuneo.
Démare once again proved the class of the sprinting field in this race as he held off Phil Bauhaus and Mark Cavendish after his Groupama-FDJ team delivered him to the front, securing his 10th career grand tour stage win, eight of them in the Giro.
Cavendish fought his way past Fernando Gaviria in the finale, while Bauhaus finished the fastest having launched too late, but there was no catching Démare as he extended his advantage in the points classification.
That all came after a four-man breakaway was finally reeled in inside the final kilometre.
"At some point I started to doubt that we'd be able to catch the breakaway because some elements of my team had given everything they had," Démare said. "They were very committed actually. I've also had the feeling that I was cooked myself.
"Only with 10km to go, I've started to believe it would be a sprint finish. I was at the limit for sprinting. It's exceptional to get one more win. Three is a lot."
The sprint finish saw Juan Pedro López pull on the pink jersey for a 10th day, still 12 seconds clear of Richard Carapaz and Joao Almeida, but there was a major blow for the general classification battle as Romain Bardet, who had been fourth at 14 seconds down, pulled out of the race through illness.
This 150km stage from Sanremo was seen as one of only two remaining sprint opportunities in the Giro – and several mountains must be negotiated before the next on stage 18 into Treviso – but the sprint teams almost blew it as a four-man breakaway came within a few hundred metres of glory.
Nicolas Prodhomme, Mirco Maestri, Pascal Eenkhoorn and Julius Van Den Berg had a lead of around three minutes early in the day but saw that more than double on the Colle di Nava as sprint teams nursed their quick men up the 10km-long climb.
That set up a fascinating battle over the remaining 95km as a tailwind helped the front group maintain their advantage, and with two-and-a-half minutes in hand heading into the last 20km, victory looked to be theirs for the taking.
But the peloton upped the pace again as the sprint teams burned their lead-out men in the cause, and when the escapees began to look each other on the short rise to the finish line, their fate was sealed.
Stage 12: Oldani makes it two in a row for Italy
Thursday May 19 – Parma to Genoa, 204km
Stefano Oldani grabbed his maiden professional career victory after winning stage 12 of the Giro d'Italia, a 204-kilometre ride from Parma to Genoa, the longest stage of the race, on Thursday.
Italian duo Oldani and Lorenzo Rota, alongside Dutchman Gijs Leemreize, all of whom had never won a WorldTour race before, pulled clear of the chasing pack on the third and final categorised climb of the stage.
Unchallenged, the trio sized each other up as the stage reached the streets of Genoa, with Leemreize making his move first, before Oldani had too much power, taking the win for his team Alpecin–Fenix ahead of Rota in second.
"It wasn't so easy to manage the race, but it looks like I managed it," Oldani told Eurosport. "I know Lorenzo well and knew he would be fast, but I had just enough to do it.
"I worked really, really hard for this. It seems like magic that I've done it."
Juan Pedro López of Trek Segafredo, who spent his eighth day in the pink jersey, struggled early on, but fought back to lead the peloton home, ensuring he stayed top of the general classification.
Stage 11: Dainese pounces to land Italy's first win
Wednesday May 18 – Santarcangelo di Romagna to Reggio Emilia, 203km
Alberto Dainese delivered the first home victory of this year's Giro d'Italia as he won stage 11 in Reggio Emilia.
The 24-year-old upset the bigger name sprinters as he powered his way past Fernando Gaviria, Simone Consonni and Arnaud Demare to win on the line and take his first victory in two years - and his first in a grand tour.
Mark Cavendish and Caleb Ewan were both too far back - Cavendish perhaps paying for the loss of key lead-out man Michael Morkov to illness - but Dainese had been alongside Cavendish when he launched his attack, finding space on the left to come from well back in the pack.
Dainese had expected to be riding in support of DSM team-mate Cees Bol, but made the most of a late change of plan.
"In the morning the plan was to go for Cees in the sprint but in the last kilometres we swapped because he didn't feel so good. I tried to stay relaxed and following the guys.
"To have Romain (Bardet), third in the GC, giving me a lead out to the last corner showed how we work as a team.
"I was a bit boxed in but found a gap on the left and in the last 20 metres I came past (Gaviria) and that felt super."
With the threat of crosswinds not materialising, the sprint finish at the end of the 203km stage from Santarcangelo di Romagna allowed Juan Pedro Lopez to retain the leader's pink jersey for another day.
However, there was one notable change at the top of the general classification with Richard Carapaz using the bonus sprint to pick up three seconds which moved him up to second, 12 seconds off pink.
That bumps Joao Almeida and Bardet to third and fourth, with Jai Hindley, Guillaume Martin and Mikel Landa the other riders still within 30 seconds of Lopez as the race passes the halfway mark.
Stage 10: Lopez keeps pink on historic day
Tuesday May 17 – Pescara to Jesi, 196km
Juan Pedro López will wear the leader's jersey at the Giro d'Italia for a seventh day on Wednesday after the Trek-Segafredo rider finished Tuesday's 196-kilometre 10th stage from Pescara to Jesi on the same time as the main protagonists in the race for the maglia rosa.
Biniam Girmay became the first rider from Eritrea to win a grand tour stage after coming through a packed group with an impressive sprint to claim stage 10 of the Giro d'Italia on Tuesday.
The Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux rider recovered from nearly missing a left turn with just over 6km to go, fending off Mathieu van der Poel of Alpecin-Fenix and finishing top in the 196-km ride from the coastal town of Pescara to Jesi.
The Giro continues on Wednesday with the 203km 11th stage from Santarcangelo di Romagna to Reggio Emilia and concludes on May 29.
Stage nine: Hindley rises to the top on Blockhaus
Sunday May 15 – Isernia to Blockhaus, 191km
Juan Pedro López will take the leader's pink jersey into the second rest day of the Giro d'Italia after the Trek-Segafredo rider produced a brave ride to limit his losses on the brutal ascent of Blockhaus.
Jai Hindley of Bora-Hansgrohe came through a packed group of riders to win stage nine of the Giro, a 191-kilometre ride from Isernia to Blockhaus, ahead of 2019 champion Richard Carapaz.
Having negotiated a series of challenging climbs, Eritrean Natnael Tesfatsion and home favourite Diego Rosa pulled clear of the peloton with 50 kilometres to go, but a spectacular fall by Tesfatsion descending Passo Lanciano ended his race.
The peloton quickly closed the gap and a large group assembled, led by Ineos Grenadiers, with 15 kilometres to go, as they got their man, Ecuador's Carapaz, into position.
Carapaz was joined by five others in a sprint finish, before Romain Bardet, Carapaz and Hindley crossed the line together, with Hindley punching the air having taken his second Giro stage win ahead of Bardet in second and Carapaz third.
A gutsy ride from Spaniard Juan Pedro Lopez, the first rider from his country to hold the pink jersey since Alberto Contador in 2015, enabled him to stay ahead on the general classification.
Frenchman Bardet moved up to third in the overall standings, 14 seconds behind Lopez, with Carapaz fourth at 15 seconds. Hindley is fifth, 20 seconds off the pace.
Stage eight: De Gendt claims long overdue stage
Saturday May 14 – Napoli to Napoli, 153km
Thomas De Gendt won stage eight of the Giro d'Italia as Guillaume Martin used a breakaway to vault his way up to fourth in the overall standings.
De Gendt accelerated past Davide Gabburo and Jorge Arcas with 200 metres to go on the seafront in Napoli to get his reward for splitting up the break and carrying clear a four-man group which also included his Lotto-Soudal team-mate Harm Vanhoucke.
Cofidis' Martin followed the pre-stage favourites Mathieu van der Poel and Biniam Girmay 33 seconds down, three minutes ahead of the chasing peloton to move up from 14th in the general classification to fourth, now 66 seconds behind Trek-Segafredo's Juan Pedro Lopez who held on to pink going into Sunday's stage on Blockhaus.
This short, punchy 153km stage on a circuit around Napoli was always expected to produce attacking racing, and Van der Poel and Girmay were quick to get themselves in the early breakaway.
Stage one winner Van der Poel tried to go solo with 46km still to go, but De Gendt led a counter which successfully got clear, and would stay away despite a furious attempt from Van der Poel and Girmay to get back inside the last 10km.
"Mathieu attacked on the steep part on the second to last lap and went really hard but we made it back and made an attack," De Gendt said. "We knew everyone would look to Van der Poel and Girmay to close the gap so we took the advantage and they stayed at 30 seconds back.
"I was working for Harm to attack on the last climb but he said he did not have good legs so I said to him, 'Ride to the last 3km and I'm sure I will win the sprint' and he did it perfectly. I'm happy we could pull this off as a team."
Lopez's Trek-Segafredo did their best to control the gap to the peloton given Martin's presence, and just did enough to keep him in pink before Sunday's stage, when a major shake-up to the general classification is expected. Britain's Simon Yates is the best placed of the main favourites, fifth, one minute and 42 seconds off pink.
This was De Gendt's second career Giro stage, 10 years after he took his first on very different terrain on the Stelvio.
"If you had asked me two weeks ago if I would be able to win a stage in the Giro I would say no, I was in such terrible shape," he said. "But now the good legs are coming." PA
Stage seven: Juan Pedro Lopez keeps lead
Friday May 13 – Diamante to Potenza, 196km
Juan Pedro López kept hold of the pink jersey after the Trek-Segafredo rider survived his first mountain test as overall leader at the Giro d'Italia on Friday.
Having finished safely in the bunch on the same time as the rest of the riders at the top of the general classification, the Spaniard takes a 39sec lead into the second weekend of the three-week race.
Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) won the stage after the Dutchman got into the day's breakaway alongside team-mate and compatriot Tom Dumoulin, who played a pivotal role in the 28-year-old's first grand tour stage victory.
Benefiting from having a team-mate in the reduced four-man breakaway during the finale of what was a tough stage in the southern Apennines, Bouwman jumped away from Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and David Formolo (UAE Team Emirates) on what was a brutal uphill drag to the line.
Having scooped up maximum points atop three of the day's four classified climbs on a stage that featured over 4,500 metres in vertical elevation, Bouwman moved to top of the standing in the mountains classification, while Frenchman Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) finished within the time limit to keep hold of his points jersey.
The Giro d'Italia continues on Saturday with the 153km eighth stage around Naples and concludes in Verona on May 29.
Stage six: Démare makes it back-to-back wins
Thursday May 12 – Palmi to Scalea, 192km
Arnaud Démare completed back-to-back wins at the Giro d'Italia on Thursday when the Groupama-FDJ sprinter pipped Caleb Ewan to the line at the end of the 192km stage from Palmi to Scalea.
Following what was a largely uneventful stage in which Diego Rosa (Eolo-Kometa) rode solo for 140km, the pace in the bunch finally wound up on the approach to the finishing line, setting up a mouth-watering three-way battle between in-form sprinters Démare, Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) and Mark Cavendish (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl).
Cavendish opened up his sprint first, having been delivered to the flat finale by lead-out man Michael Morkov. The Manxman, however, provided Ewan and Démare the perfect launchpad allowing the diminutive Australian to pounce, before the Groupama-FDJ followed with the pair battling almost shoulder-to-shoulder for the stage win. Having lunged towards the line, a few nervous minutes followed before a photo-finish declared Démare stage winner.
"It was very tight. I had the feeling that I had won but it was hot so I waited for the photo-finish," Démare said. "A win is sometimes decided by very little. It's on my favour today. The team has done a tremendous job today. My positioning was excellent at every roundabout. It's another great team victory. I only had 100 metres to overhaul Cavendish. I threw my bike on the line and it made the difference. Many people underestimate me but it's my 86th victory today, my 7th at the Giro d'Italia. It counts. It's wonderful."
Juan Pedro López will wear the leader's pink jersey for a third time on Friday after the Trek-Segafredo rider finished safely in the bunch on the same time as Démare to hold on to his 39sec lead.
Stage five: López keeps hold of leader's jersey
Wednesday May 11 – Catania to Messina, 174km
Arnaud Démare of Groupama–FDJ came through a packed field to win stage five of the Giro d'Italia, a 172-kilometre ride from Catania to Messina, on Wednesday.
Mark Cavendish (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl), looking to win his second stage of this year's Giro, and Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) were heavily fancied to be front-runners in Sicily, but dropped out of contention on the only climb of the day, the 20km Portella Mandrazi which topped out just under 100km from the finishing line in Messina.
The peloton then eased off with Cavendish and Ewan out of contention, with a huge group forming at the front with 10 kilometres to go.
The victory was anyone's for the taking, with Groupama-FDJ getting Démare into position before a tight final corner, with the Frenchman taking his sixth career Giro stage win ahead of Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) in second and Giacomo Nizzolo (Israel-Premier Tech) in third.
Youngster Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo) came of age on the volcanic slopes of Mount Etna on Tuesday, becoming the first Spaniard since Alberto Contador in 2015 to take the pink jersey, and retains his place at the top of the general classification after crossing the line in 58th.
Stage four: Lopez takes pink after missing out on win
Tuesday May 10 – Avola to Etna, 172km
Juan Pedro López missed out on taking the first win of his career atop Mount Etna, but the Trek-Segafredo was able to take comfort in becoming the new race leader ahead of stage winner Lennard Kämna.
The fourth stage was a 172-kilometre ride from Avola to Etna-Nicolosi after a rest day and the two riders were out in front with a kilometre to go before López made a mistake on the final turn to hand Kämna the stage win.
"It was a super hard day, especially the last climb. It was really long and hard. I almost thought I lost it when Lopez had more than 30 seconds and I could just make it to bridge," Kämna said.
"I just made it. Then I tried to recover a little bit for the sprint and it worked out really well. Let me say it like this – maybe we had a silent agreement [for the win and pink jersey]."
Trek-Segafredo rider López, however, became the first Spaniard in seven years to wear the leader's pink jersey since Alberto Contador and he holds a 39sec lead over Kämna.
"I've worked so hard today to take the jersey. I attacked in the steepest part of the climb. Kämna brought me back with two or three kilometres to go," an emotional López said.
Stage three: Van der Poel retains pink
Sunday May 8 – Kaposvar to Balatonfured, 201km
Mark Cavendish ensured a winning return to the Giro d'Italia as he sprinted to victory on stage three in Hungary.
In the 36-year-old's first appearance at the grand tour since 2013, he powered to the front with around 300 metres remaining and held off Arnaud Demare and Fernando Gaviria to take victory in Balatonfured.
It was the Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl rider's 16th victory at the Giro d'Italia and 160th of his professional career, and he was ecstatic to finish off his team's hard work on the 201km race from Kaposvar.
He said in his post-race TV interview: "I'm very happy. It's nice to win. I wanted to do good in the first sprint.
"We have half of the team for climbing and half of the team for the sprints here. My team-mates rode incredibly well.
"We had a set up and they delivered. I had to go long at 300m to go. I'm happy it worked well."
There was no change at the top of the grand classification, with Dutch rider Mathieu van der Poel maintaining his 11-second lead over Britain's Simon Yates, who won stage two.
The riders will fly to Sicily for Tuesday's fourth stage after the 2022 edition started with three days in Hungary.
Stage two: Van der Poel retains pink jersey following time trial
Saturday May 7 – Budapest to Budapest, 9.2km
Simon Yates of Team BikeExchange-Jayco won the second stage of the Giro d'Italia, a 9.2-kilometre individual time trial around Budapest on Saturday, as Mathieu van der Poel of Alpecin-Fenix held onto the leader's pink jersey.
British rider Yates finished with a time of 11 minutes 50 seconds, three seconds ahead of Van der Poel, who took the Maglia Rosa on Friday after winning the first stage.
Team Jumbo-Visma rider Tom Dumoulin came third, finishing five seconds behind Yates.
Yates now trails Van der Poel by 11 seconds as the race heads into its third stage on Sunday, a 201km ride from Kaposvar to Balatonfured.
Stage one: Van der Poel takes his first pink jersey
Friday May 6 – Budapest to Visegrad, 195km
Mathieu van der Poel of Alpecin-Fenix won the first stage of the Giro d'Italia on Friday, beating Biniam Girmay on the final sprint to claim victory on the a 195-km flat ride from Budapest to Visegrad.
In a stage marred by crashes, Dutchman Van der Poel was neck-and-neck with Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux's Girmay but timed his attack to perfection to cross the line first with a time of 4hr 35min 28sec to take hold of the maglia rosa, the leader's pink jersey.
Pello Bilbao of Bahrain Victorious was third while Lotto-Soudal's Caleb Ewan crashed at the final turn when he made contact with Girmay.