'I'm finally back' - Pascal Ackermann returns to winning ways on stage 11 of the Giro d'Italia
Pascal Ackermann declared that he was "finally back" after winning a dramatic Giro d'Italia stage 11 in a photo finish.
The UAE Team Emirates rider broke his coccyx in a crash in 2022, but returned to wining ways at the Italian Grand Tour on Wednesday. The German sprinted to victory narrowly in Tortona, however, as Jonathan Milan (Bahrain-Victorious) almost pipped him to the line in a late surge.
Mark Cavendish (Astana-Qazaqstan) finished third, in his joint-best result so far this year.
Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) remains in the overall race lead after a dramatic day which saw him caught up in the same crash which forced his teammate Tao Geoghegan Hart to abandon the race.
There were a few unhappy riders at the end of stage 11, but Ackermann was not one of them, taking his first Giro stage win since 2019.
"It’s a really, really special victory for me, especially after my broken coccyx last year," the German said. "I’m finally back. I felt super amazing in the last days, but I never could use how strong I was. Today I had a teammate bring me into a good position, and we showed off. I’m super super happy, my first victory of the season.
"Everyone is super strong, and in this one was a bit of a cross headwind, so if you’re at the back you can move really fast. I decided to go from the front, because in the last corner you can never know how slipper it is and I didn't want to crash again. I was happy that Cav [Mark Cavendish] was really strong, and he was the perfect leadout man for me.
"I hope in the next stages we can show off that we can still do it, and we have some mountain stages where we work for the climbers. I think the second victory will come soon."
Stage 11 always looked destined to be a sprint finish, as just six largely unthreatening riders were allowed up the road, and never given much time. Those six - Laurenz Rex (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), Thomas Champion (Cofidis), Diego Pablo Sevilla (EOLO-Kometa), Alexander Konychev and Veljko Stojnić (both Corratec-Selle Italia), and Filippo Magli (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè). - spent 200km up the road on the longest stage of the race.
Rex was the last man left out in front until he was caught with about 5km to go by the sprint teams, which tried to organise themselves in a chaotic finish. A crash within the last 3km saw the field split, and a reduced peloton contest the stage win.
Trek-Segafredo launched first for Mads Pedersen before Cavendish went, but was then overtaken by Ackermann. Seemingly coming from very far back in the field was Milan, who almost pipped the German to the line.
Giro d'Italia stage 11 results: Camaiore > Tortona (219km)
1. Pascal Ackermann (Deu) UAE Team Emirates, in 5-09-02
2. Jonathan Milan (Ita) Bahrain-Victorious
3. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Astana-Qazaqstan
4. Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
5. Stefano Oldani (Ita) Alpecin-Deceuninck
6. Vincenzo Albanese (EOLO-Kometa)
7. Marius Mayrhofer (Deu) DSM
8. Davide Ballerini (Ita) Soudal Quick-Step
9. Simone Consonni (Ita) Cofidis
10. Arne Marit (Bel) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty, all at same time
General classification after stage 11
1. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, in 44-35-35
2. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, at 2s
3. João Almeida (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 22s
4. Andreas Leknessund (Nor) DSM, at 35s
5. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious, at 1-28
6. Lennard Kämna (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 1-52
7. Eddie Dunbar (Ire) Jayco-AIUla, at 2-32
8. Thymen Arensman (Ned) Ineos Grenadiers, at same time
9. Laurens De Plus (Bel) Ineos Grenadiers, at 2-36
10. Aurélien Paret-Peintre (Fra) AG2R Citroën, at 2-48