You could see the disbelief in Fernando Gaviria’s face as – after he’d held off the maglia ciclamino Arnaud Démare – he turned to his left and saw the wheel of DSM’s Alberto Dainese just ahead of his own, rather rudely touching the finish line of stage 11 before his had been given the chance. Once again, he’d been beaten.
“The form is where I want it to be and I’m really gunning to get a first victory here at this Giro,” UAE Team Emirates’ Gaviria said after the finish, still hungry to end his Grand Tour victory drought that’s been in place since the 2019 edition of this race. “Second wasn’t the result we wanted but we have to accept it.”
It must be getting harder and harder for the Colombian to accept podium finishes below the top step. Third on stage three, second on stage five and now second again on stage 11. The win looks like it’s coming but the pressing issue is the quickly dwindling number of opportunities for the fast men at this Giro d’Italia.
The forthcoming stages 12 and 13 are enticing prospects, primed for either a breakaway or a bunch sprint depending on how things shake out. From the weekend onwards, however, only stage 18 to Treviso remains as a carrot for the sprinters to chase over the multitude of mountains that plague the last week of the race.
Stage 18 will likely prove a step too far for Lotto-Soudal’s Caleb Ewan, the Australian who has suffered time and again this Italian Grand Tour. The crash on stage one has bled into the rest of his campaign. Missteps and mishaps, a second place on stage six the best of his misfiring Giro.
On the tricky stage 10 to Jesi he finished dead last, having been dropped and left to time trial his way alone through the last 80 km of what he has described as his “Giro from hell”. In that context, his fifth place on stage 11 is a more impressive result.
Yet even for the victors of this Italian Grand Tour there is little peace. While Cavendish has his stage win with which to mark another successful Grand Tour campaign, news from Dutch outfit Wielerflits that Quick-Step AlphaVinyl boss Patrick Lefevere has landed Tim Merlier for next year to compete with Fabio Jakobsen likely makes the Manxman surplus to requirement at the Belgian squad.