Australian Caleb Ewan out-gunned his rivals to take another stage win

Australian Caleb Ewan won a sprint finish to take the 11th stage of the Giro d'Italia on Wednesday, just ahead of Frenchman Arnaud Demare before the race heads for the mountains

Italian Valerio Conti, riding for UAE Emirates, kept the overall leader's pink jersey on the eve of the first day in the Alps on Thursday.

The 24-year-old Ewan of Lotto-Soudal claimed his second stage win of this year's race, four days after winning stage eight at Pesaro, "A longer stage today suited me a bit better than yesterday with the other sprinters having sore legs," said Ewan after over five hours racing in the final flat stage before the challenging hilly terrain. It came down to the team, who did a great job over the final kilometres. I knew that, riding into a headwind, you really need to time it perfectly." 

Three Italians who have been consistently active in breakaways -- Marco Frapporti, Mirco Maestri and Damiano Cima -- once again led a long escape in the 221km stage raced entirely in sunshine.

The trio were caught 25km from Novi Ligure, in northwestern Italy. 

In the sprint, Australian Ewan chased down German champion Pascal Ackermann, who had to settle for third, a day after crashing.

Demare of Groupama-FDJ, the winner of the crash-marred 10th stage at Modena, snatched second place for a boost to overtake Ackermann at the top of the points standings.

"I think Pascal Ackermann went too early. I waited and it worked for me," said Ewan, who also won a stage in the 2017 Giro, "He had a good lead out so it was a good wheel to sit on. I timed it right. I always considered myself one of the top sprinters. Two stage wins prove that I am really one of them."

Italian Elia Viviani, winner of four stages last year, once again fell short, finishing fourth in the sprint, and announced he was withdrawing from the race before the mountains.

"I'm disappointed. My Giro ends today, I have to pull the plug," said the Olympic omnium champion, "Something wasn't working. If I knew what was wrong I would have won today. I'm lacking explosiveness. I probably have to take a moment with my head and recover my mental energy. I will try to find the power I had before arriving here and I showed in the first stages."

Ewan is also expected to withdraw from the race before the mountains to prepare for the Tour de France.

Conti, meanwhile, holds a 1min 50sec advantage on Slovenian Team Jumbo rider Primoz Roglic  with France's Nans Peters of AG2R La Mondiale third at 2min 21sec, "Tomorrow it'll be harder to keep the jersey because the main climb is a hard one," said Conti, "But I want to keep the Maglia Rosa (pink jersey) tomorrow also.”

Thursday's 12th stage covers 156km between Cuneo and Pinerolo in the Italian Alps, the scene of Fausto Coppi's mythical long-range attack in 1949.

The route is not the same as 70 years ago with riders hitting the first top category climb of this year's race. 

The Montoso climb covers 8.8km with a 9.5percent gradient, with the summit 32km from the finish line, before another little "wall" awaits competitors just two kilometres from the finish.

VIDEO: 2019 Giro d'Italia Stage 11 Highlights

2019 Giro d'Italia Stage 11 Top 10

1 Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto Soudal 5:17:26
2 Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
3 Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
4 Elia Viviani (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep
5 Davide Cimolai (Ita) Israel Cycling Academy
6 Simone Consonni (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
7 Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension Data
8 Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Dimension Data
9 Jakub Mareczko (Ita) CCC Team
10 Sean Bennett (USA) EF Education First

2019 Giro d'Italia GC after Stage 11

1 Valerio Conti (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
2 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:01:50
3 Nans Peters (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:02:21
4 José Rojas (Spa) Movistar Team 0:02:33
5 Fausto Masnada (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec 0:02:36
6 Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team 0:02:39
7 Amaro Antunes (Por) CCC Team 0:03:05
8 Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:03:27
9 Giovanni Carboni (Ita) Bardiani CSF 0:03:30
10 Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:03:32

Tag: giro
Jan 10 2020 - NEWS: 5 Star Cycling Experience: Riding the Giro d’Italia with Garda Bike Hotel
Jan 10 2020 - NEWS: Remco Evenepoel handed first Grand Tour debut at the 2020 Giro d’Italia
Dec 07 2019 - NEWS: Egan Bernal will race both the Giro and Tour in 2020
Oct 29 2019 - NEWS: Peter Sagan: I wanted to ride Giro d'Italia before retiring
Oct 27 2019 - NEWS: Davide Rebellin could ride 2020 Giro at 48 years old
Oct 24 2019 - NEWS: 2020 Giro d'Italia Route Reveals a Succession of Brutal Alpine Stages in the Final Week
Oct 21 2019 - NEWS: Peter Sagan to attend 2020 Giro d'Italia Presentation
Jan 14 2020 - NEWS: Registration open for Austria’s challenging ARLBERG Giro
May 13 2019 - NEWS: Tour de France Livestream
Jun 27 2019 - NEWS: Three stages of the start of the 2010 Giro d'Italia in Hungary Revealed
Jun 02 2019 - NEWS: Carapaz wins the Giro d'Italia as American Chad Haga takes Final Time Trial Victory
Jun 01 2019 - NEWS: Carapaz still in pink on the eve of Giro d'Italia
Jun 01 2019 - NEWS: Carapaz still in pink as Chavas wins Giro Stage 19
May 30 2019 - NEWS: Italian Damiano Cima Delights the Tifosi with Stage 18 Victory
May 29 2019 - NEWS: Richard Carapaz tightens his grip on the leader's Pink Jersey
Sep 12 2016 - RESULTS: Hundreds Tackled the Gigantic Mt. Palomar in 5th Annual Giro Di San Diego
Sep 09 2014 - RESULTS: Giro di San Diego GranFondo
Nov 12 2013 - RESULTS: Giro d Italia Wraps Up an Amazing Season in Miami
Jun 04 2013 - RESULTS: Giro d'Italia Los Angeles Pasadena
Mar 19 2017 - EVENT: Giro d'Perth
May 26 2018 - EVENT: TOSH Giro Donna
Oct 06 2019 - EVENT: Pathfinder Giro
Oct 06 2019 - EVENT: Aixa Girona
Jan 26 2020 - EVENT: Gravel Ride Barcelona - Girona
Mar 14 2020 - EVENT: Giro del Lago
May 09 2020 - EVENT: 2020 Giro d'Italia
May 17 2020 - EVENT: The Midland Monster
May 29 2020 - EVENT: Göteborgsgirot
May 30 2020 - EVENT: Devil's Slide Ride
Jun 08 2020 - EVENT: Girona Gran Fondo
Jul 10 2020 - EVENT: Engadin Bike Giro
Jul 18 2020 - EVENT: Bodensee Gravel Giro
Aug 02 2020 - EVENT: ARLBERG Giro
Aug 02 2020 - EVENT: ARLBERG Giro