Arnaud Demare doubled up as he edged out Caleb Ewan and Mark Cavendish to take victory on stage six of the Giro d’Italia in Scalea. The Frenchman had taken his first Grand Tour stage victory in two years on Wednesday, but had to wait barely 24 hours more for a second as he followed up the win in Messina by beating Ewan in a photo finish as Cavendish faded to third, hitting his handlebars in frustration as they crossed the line.
The Manxman — who went long with his sprint to win stage three — had been the first to light it up, but had Ewan attached to his wheel. Then, as the Australian powered past him, Demare emerged and took the victory with a bike throw on the line.
“It was very tight,” Demare said. “I had the feeling that I had won but it was hot so I waited for the photo-finish. A win is sometimes decided by very little. It’s in my favour today. The team has done a tremendous job. 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 seventh at the Giro d’Italia. It counts. It’s wonderful.”
Ewan had seen his Lotto-Soudal sprint train get broken up on a roundabout around 3km from the line, but immediately latched on to Cavendish’s wheel and did not let go until the finish as QuickStep-AlphaVinyl fought to make up ground. All the while Demare was being guided to the line by his Groupama-FDJ team-mates, given an easier ride to the line.
The sprint finish meant there were no major changes at the top of the general classification, in which Juan Pedro Lopez holds the leader’s pink jersey. Britain’s Simon Yates is the best placed of the main favourites in fourth, one minute and 42 seconds down ahead of three tough days to come which should shake up the standings.
The sprint came at the end of a largely pedestrian 192km stage from Palmi, the first day on the Italian mainland after three stages in Hungary and two on Sicily. There was no interest in a breakaway until Diego Rosa went with 168km still remaining, perhaps eyeing the only mountain points of the day but soon finding himself more than four minutes clear and in for a long, lonely day out front.
A peloton that was taking it easy ahead with the mountains to come over the weekend put him out of his misery with 28km to go as the battle for position began at the front.
Friday’s 197km stage from Diamante to Potenza includes four categorised climbs, highlighted by the category one Monte Sirino, with a total of 4,450m of elevation on the menu.