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Giro d'Italia 2017: Omar Fraile wins scintillating Stage 11

Cyclist magazine
17 May 2017

An aggressive stage lights up the Giro d'Italia. Photo: Dimension Data

Omar Fraile (Dimension Data) has won Stage 11 of the Giro d'Italia with an outstanding performance, winning the final sprint to the line despite having spent much of the day in a two-man breakaway. 

Rui Costa (UAE-Fly Emirates) was second, while Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac) was third in the agonising final sprint, which was contested by the remnants of a large break that got away early in the stage. 

The win marks Fraile's first in a Grand Tour, and after such an exciting stage it can be considered a just reward for the Spaniard. 

Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) maintained the pink leader's jersey, while riders such as Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) and Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) lost time in the overall GC.

The stage - a tribute to Gino Bartali, who came from the region - had been billed as one for the breakaway before it had even begun, with a relentlessly hilly, saw-tooth profile on the agenda, with little in the way of flat road.

161km of Tuscan countryside separated the start in Firenze and finish in Bagno di Romagna, and it indeed provided the perfect grounds for an attacking, unpredictable race, with the peloton disintegrating immediately, and Bartali fittingly remembered as it progressed.

Two initial leaders (Laurens de Plus, Quickstep and Igor Anton, Dimension Data) broke clear on the first climb, while a large chase group formed behind, and the peloton - led by Team Sunweb - sat further back.

The duo were reeled back in by the breakaway on the descent, but the 23-man group was too big for Team Sky's Mikel Landa and Dimension Data's Omar Fraile, who broke clear again, and by the end of the second climb they had 1:45 on the break and 4:30 on the peloton.

The newly formed duo spent much of the day at the head of the race, while both the breakaway and depleted peloton behind began to spit out riders - including BMC's Tejay Van Garderen.

Despite being caught by the breakaway again, it was Omar Fraile who somehow managed to take maximum points at the summit of the final climb, and with Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac) form company this time, the third leading duo of the day began to forge ahead on the descent to the finish.

Meanwhile in the peloton and the race for GC, a half-attack by Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) came to nothing, while Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) and Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) were dropped, and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) spent some time ahead of the favourites group. Maglia Rosa Tom Dumoulin sat tight in the wheels for the entirety of the stage and his first day in pink, with his Sunweb team standing up strongly to what was a stern test.

With Fraile and Rolland racing away for the stage win, Rui Costa (UAE-Fly Emirates) gave chase on a slight rise, causing the breakaway began to splinter and leaving groups and riders everywhere on the road as the race entered the final 10km.

Costa joined the leaders to make a three-man leading group at 9km to go, with 18 seconds on the breakaway and 2:06 on the pink jersey group.

While they initially worked well together, the attacks came early and as the three started looking at eachother, Astana's Tanel Kangert made the junction across. 

With 500m to go the remnants of the breakaway came back up to within a couple of bikelengths of the leaders, but the resulting slow-motion group sprint was won, incredibly, by Fraile, with late breakaway companions Rolland, Costa and Kangert holding on behind.