Bora Hansgrohe rider Nico Denz won his second stage in three days in the Giro d’Italia on Saturday, edging a dramatic sprint in Cassano Magnago after a long breakaway in the rain.
In a photo finish, the German crossed the line barely half a wheel ahead of Canadian Derek Gee (Israel Premier Tech) in the 14th stage.
French rider Bruno Armirail, meanwhile, took the leader’s pink jersey from Geraint Thomas who crossed the line in the company of his team-mates, 21 minutes 16 seconds behind the stage winner.
All three riders were part of a breakaway of 27 that got away from the peloton almost from the beginning of the 194km stage at Sierre, before splitting into several small groups.
Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-EasyPost) was third while French national time-trial champion Armirail (Groupama-FDJ) rolled in 50 seconds after the winner to become the first Frenchman since Laurent Jalabert in 1999 to lead the Giro.
“That wasn’t really the plan,” said Armirail, 29, more normally a domestique for the likes of Thibaut Pinot.
“The goal was to get into the breakaway and aim for the stage win. I can’t believe I’m taking the pink jersey.”
Armirail holds a lead of just under two minutes from Thomas as they head into Sunday’s stage 15.
Denz admitted on Thursday that he had planned to win that day’s stage but this second win leant itself more to opportunism as the breakaway built an impregnable lead over the peloton in difficult conditions.
“I had the opportunity to go for the break again today, which I used,” he said.
“When Bettiol launched I jumped on his wheel and went through to the line. Again, crazy!
“It was so tough today. Down from the pass I had three jackets on, I was so cold. It was really disgusting.
“In the end it’s just a question of mindset. I knew I was going well and I wanted to give it a try. Super happy!”
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