Giro d'Italia stage 11: Jonathan Milan powers to victory, Tim Merlier relegated

Lidl-Trek sprinter simply too powerful for Soudal Quick-Step's Merlier on stage 11, with the Belgian later being demoted due to a deviation in his sprint

Clock14:56, Wednesday 15th May 2024
Jonathan Milan is looking very assured in the maglia ciclamino

© Getty Images

Jonathan Milan is looking very assured in the maglia ciclamino

Jonathan Milan became the first sprinter to win two stages of this year's Giro d'Italia, with the maglia ciclamino ostensibly pipping Tim Merlier (Soudal Quick-Step) to the win on stage 11.

Led out by his Lidl-Trek teammate Edward Theuns - not to mention Merlier's valuable slipstream - Milan was able to unleash his powerful sprint and overtake Merlier in the final hundred metres of the sprint.

Merlier had been the first to burst towards the line after a strong lead-out from teammate Bert Van Lerberghe, but Milan was too quick in the end and the Soudal Quick-Step sprinter was subdued by a strong headwind on the finishing straight.

Merlier was originally forced to settle for second place, with Alpecin-Deceuninck's Kaden Groves rounding out the top three on the day and no major changes in the general classification. However, Merlier was later demoted to 89th as a result of a deviation in his sprint. As Van Lerberghe finished his lead-out, Merlier moved right and inadvertently blocked off the acceleration made by Sebastián Molano (UAE Team Emirates).

With Merlier's demotion, Polti Kometa were to be left delighted with their sprinter Giovanni Lonardi, who moved up to third place behind second-placed Groves.

Licking their wounds from the exit of Cian Uijtdebroeks on the morning of the stage, Visma-Lease a Bike placed Edoardo Affini and Tim van Dijke in the day's breakaway, with the pair joined by Thomas Champion (Cofidis) in the futile move.

After allowing a gap nearing three minutes to form, the peloton quashed any hopes for the breakaway, reeling them in and eventually catching them 35km before the finish in Francavilla al Mare. That left the sprint teams able to contest the day's honours.

“You know it’s not just this 20-second of sprint or the victory in the end that makes me happy. It’s all the work we did, my guys did today, supporting me, bringing me to the crucial position for the sprint, pushing, it’s this that makes me happy," Milan said after the finish, before offering a word on his rival Merlier.

"He’s always tricky in the final, how to predict him and how to move. We tried to manage it as much as possible. It was a tricky final with some corners and also this straight finish, it was more difficult I think to manage this than a normal finish with some corners. In the end, I found myself on his wheel, I think it was a perfect wheel. He started his sprint really strong but then I tried to make mine and it was good."

Visma-Lease a Bike take out their frustration on the road

Wednesday began with the unfortunate news of Cian Uijtdebroeks' withdrawal from the Giro d'Italia, with the fifth-placed rider succumbing to illness and becoming the fourth member of Visma-Lease a Bike to have left the race early.

With the Belgian gone, Antonio Tiberi began the day in the white young rider's jersey and Visma-Lease a Bike began with a point to prove. Right from the gun, the team in yellow and black were on the attack, with Tim van Dijke and Edoardo Affini keen to get in the day's breakaway.

Their wishes would come true when Cofidis' Thomas Champion joined the pair and the peloton appeared satisfied with the three-man group. They were quickly able to build an advantage as the bunch settled into their rhythm under the steam of Lidl-Trek and Soudal Quick-Step.

Those teams, working for sprinters Milan and Merlier respectively, were keen not to let Cofidis pioneer another surprise upset, as they had through Benjamin Thomas on stage 5. With only one categorised climb on the day's menu, stage 11 was always going to suit a sprint finish above anything else.

As for that categorised climb, it was Van Dijke who took the full nine points atop the category 3 Pietracatella, followed closely by Champion (four points) and Affini (two points). Two and a half minutes behind, Cofidis' Simon Geschke claimed the final point on offer for the peloton.

Lidl-Trek and Soudal Quick-Step were joined on the front of the peloton by Jayco AlUla, working for Caleb Ewan, and Alpecin-Deceuninck, acting on behalf of fellow Aussie sprinter Kaden Groves. The gap to the breakaway, which neared three minutes at its maximum, soon fell under a minute and would stay there for most of the afternoon.

With their hopes extinguished by the peloton, the three riders out front cut a bemused look as they called time on their attack. They were swallowed up by the pack, to little fuss, with 35km to ride.

Sprint finish to decide the day

There was a flurry of activity as the peloton entered the final 20km, with the sprint teams all fighting for position and EF Education-EasyPost looking for their own opportunity. In typically aggressive fashion, Andrea Piccolo burst free of the peloton but he was soon brought under control by the likes of Lidl-Trek.

Just a few moments later, Kevin Vermaercke (dsm-firmenich PostNL) and Felix Großschartner (UAE Team Emirates) both hit the deck, but the pair were soon back to their feet and the race waited for no man as it stormed towards the stage finish.

Into the final couple of kilometres, Jayco AlUla were the team to take the bull by the horns and flank the front of the peloton, with Alpecin-Deceuninck following suit as the flamme rouge beckoned. Both, though, were forced out as Lidl-Trek and Soudal Quick-Step looked to set up Milan and Merlier for the much-anticipated showdown.

A clip of wheels in the pack caused misfortune for some, with Jenthe Biermans (Arkéa-B&B Hotels) hitting the deck alongside the dsm-firmenich PostNL sprinting duo of Tobias Lund Andresen and Fabio Jakobsen, as Soudal Quick-Step hit the front with aplomb through Bert Van Lerberghe.

The Belgian produced a near-perfect lead-out for his teammate Merlier, but the pair's ambitions on the stage were trounced by the presence of Milan on Merlier's wheel. With a strong headwind buffeting the riders on the run to the line, as Merlier accelerated, Milan was able to use his draft to his advantage and came around his rival's left-hand shoulder with a little over 100m to ride.

From that point, the all-purple Milan looked nigh-on unstoppable as the rest of the sprinters could only look to place as high as possible behind the Lidl-Trek man. Kaden Groves of Alpecin-Deceuninck sat behind Milan's slipstream to finish second, whilst UAE Team Emirates' Juan Sebastián Molano was left frustrated after Merlier had cut him off in the final few hundred metres.

For everything you need to know about the 2024 Giro d'Italia, from the history of the race to this year's route and start list, be sure to check out our dedicated race hub.

Race Results

1

it flag

MILAN Jonathan

Lidl-Trek

4H 23' 18"

2

au flag

GROVES Kaden

Alpecin-Deceuninck

"

3

it flag

LONARDI Giovanni

Team Polti Kometa

"

4

nz flag

PITHIE Laurence

Groupama-FDJ

"

5

co flag

MOLANO Sebastian

UAE Team Emirates

"

6

nl flag

VAN POPPEL Danny

BORA-hansgrohe

"

7

co flag

GAVIRIA Fernando

Movistar Team

"

8

de flag

BAUHAUS Phil

Bahrain Victorious

"

9

pl flag

ANIOLKOWSKI Stanislaw

Cofidis

"

10

it flag

ZANONCELLO Enrico

VF Group-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè

"

Provided by FirstCycling

Major Races

See All

29 Jun - 21 Jul

fr flag

Tour de France

2.UWT

12 Aug - 18 Aug

fr flag

Tour de France Femmes

2.WWT

4 May - 26 May

it flag

Giro d'Italia

2.UWT

2 Jun - 9 Jun

fr flag

Critérium du Dauphiné

2.UWT

Provided by FirstCycling

Related Content

Link to Giro d’Italia: Jan Tratnik keeps Visma-Lease a Bike’s fighting spirit alive
Jan Tratnik was caught by Valentin Paret-Peintre just 2.3km from the line, before being dropped and forced to settle for third

Giro d’Italia: Jan Tratnik keeps Visma-Lease a Bike’s fighting spirit alive

Visma-Lease a Bike have now lost four riders from the Giro, with Cian Uijtdebroeks the latest departee, but breakaway ambitions continue

Clock
Link to White jersey holder Cian Uijtdebroeks forced out of Giro d'Italia through illness
Cian Uijtdebroeks struggled in the final kilometres of stage 10, losing ground on his rivals before ultimately leaving the race

White jersey holder Cian Uijtdebroeks forced out of Giro d'Italia through illness

'It is a huge setback for us,' says Visma-Lease a Bike sports director Marc Reef, as the fifth-placed Uijtdebroeks leaves the race ahead of stage 11

Clock
Link to Giro d'Italia stage 19 results: Andrea Vendrame wins from elite breakaway in Sappada
Andrea Vendrame celebrates victory on stage 19 of the Giro d'Italia

Giro d'Italia stage 19 results: Andrea Vendrame wins from elite breakaway in Sappada

Italian steals a march on early descent before soloing to victory over the Cima Sappada

Clock
Link to RideLondon Classique stage 1: Lorena Wiebes sprints to victory in Essex
Lorena Wiebes takes victory in Colchester

RideLondon Classique stage 1: Lorena Wiebes sprints to victory in Essex

SD Worx-Protime dominate the sprint on the opening day. Behind Wiebes, Letizia Paternoster takes second and Clara Copponi third

Clock
Subscribe to the GCN Newsletter

Get the latest, most entertaining and best informed news, reviews, challenges, insights, analysis, competitions and offers - straight to your inbox