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Former junior and under 23 World Champion Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Merida) took his first Giro d'Italia stage victory on a drama filled and dynamic day of racing.
Cycling Central

16 May 2018 - 5:02 AM  UPDATED 16 May 2018 - 6:38 AM

The longest stage this year was an eventful one with runner-up Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) losing contact with the main peloton on the first climb and finishing with a deficit of 25 minutes.

"It hurts. That's my general classification at this year's Giro gone, so it's always going to hurt," Chaves said.

"I have to thank the team for everything they did to try to bridge the gap, but with all the other teams working against us, we had to call it and save our legs for the bigger picture."

"I’ve got a difficult relationship with Italy; it’s love and hate. Just a few days ago, I enjoyed one of the best days of my career and now it’s hard for my morale. But that’s life, we can only do our best. The important thing is that we’ve still got the leader’s jersey. Our plans won’t change.”

His team-mate, Simon Yates, increased his overall lead after winning the intermediate sprint to claim a time bonus ahead of Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ).

Yates picked up three more seconds on defending champion Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) by taking bonuses from the intermediate sprint but saw team-mate Esteban Chaves lose second place overall and drop out of the top 10 in a blow for his team.

Yates now leads by 41 seconds from Dumoulin, with Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) in third at 46 seconds.

Australia's former pink Jersey holder Rohan Dennis (BMC) is in seventh place, two minutes and 28 seconds behind Yates and still inside the top-ten.

Chris Froome (Sky) finished safely in the pack and now sits two-and-a-half minutes off pink, though he moves up to 10th after Chaves's struggles.

What was expected to be a quiet transition stage - over the longest stage of the entire Giro - turned into a frantic day of racing after Chaves was dropped on the category two climb which opened the day's racing.

Quick-Step Floor's star sprinter Elia Viviani, in the points jersey, was also with Chaves and the race split into two as general classification and sprint teams in the peloton worked together to distance them.

With 90km left the second group gave up the chase and attention turned to the front, where Yates nipped ahead of Pinot to take the three bonus seconds from the intermediate sprint.

A series of attacks began late in the day with stage honours on the line, and as the tension increased Dumoulin was caught in a small crash and needing a bike change before chasing back on.

As the attacks petered out, Mohoric stayed clear alongside AG2R La Mondiale's Nico Denz and had enough to hold him off at the line, winning some 34 seconds ahead of the main bunch, led by sprinter Sam Bennett (BORA-hansgrohe).

“Today’s goal was to make the breakaway. I did at the beginning with 12 other riders but, unfortunately, because of what happened to Chaves, the peloton came across," Mahoric said.

"After that, I remained close to [team-mate] Domenico Pozzovivo until I asked him if I could ride behind Villela since I felt very good. He gave me the green light.

"I’m delighted that I have taken this opportunity. I wasn’t convinced I'd win the sprint against Nico Denz. That’s why I tried to drop him a few times before.

"Maybe I pulled a bit more than him. It was a hard stage and subsequently a different sprint than if we had arrived fresh. I’m not very good in a sprint from a slow speed so I launched and I increased my speed as much as I could."

Wednesday's Stage 11 is another lumpy one, covering 156km from Assisi to Osimo.