Sprint king Demare wins fourth Giro d'Italia stage, Almeida keeps race lead

Rimini (Italy) (AFP) –


Frenchman Arnaud Demare powered to his fourth victory in this year's Giro d'Italia, winning a frenetic stage 11 finish in the seaside town of Rimini on Wednesday.

The Groupama-FDJ rider crossed the line in a bunched sprint just ahead of Tuesday's stage winner, Slovak Peter Sagan, with Colombian Alvaro Hodeg third after the 182km run north along the Adriatic coastline from Porto Sant'Elpidio.

"Coming to the Giro I didn't think I'd get four stage wins. Hats off to my team mates!" said Demare, who now has 75 career wins, including 14 this season.

Demare has won all four bunched sprints in this year's Giro, to move ahead of Sagan in the fight for the cyclamen points jersey.

"It was the first perfect sprint of this Giro for me, even though it's the fourth win and we weren't in the right position at the entrance of the finishing town," said the 29-year-old.

"But the sport directors and coaches of the team had prepared the finale very well so we knew where we'd go.

"When I launched my sprint, it was at very high speed again.

"Since I got my second stage win, everything is just a bonus, and the pleasure we take from winning together as a team is extraordinary."

Demare becomes the first French rider since 1982 winner Bernard Hinault to claim four stages in the same Giro. The victory gives Demare five in total on the Giro, after one last year.

Demare trails 122nd in the overall standings, nearly two hours behind leader Joao Almeida of Portugal, in the race which finishes in Milan on October 25.

On Wednesday, Deceuninck's Almeida finished in the leading group, to keep the overall leader's pink jersey with a 34-second advantage on Team Sunweb's Dutch rider Wilco Kelderman.

"The first part of the stage was fairly quiet, then a frenetic finish with many teams who wanted to race in the front," said Almeida.

A five-rider breakaway formed after leaving Porto Sant'Elpidio with the last man, Belgian Sander Armee, not caught until the final 6km.

"The youngsters of the team have done enormous work to bring Sander Armee back," said Demare.

"My three lead-out men delivered me in a perfect position and I felt a lot of strength in my legs to launch my sprint."

Thursday's 12th stage covers 204km around Cesenatico, through the home region of Italian cycling great Marco Pantani, who died in 2004, with five climbs in the Romagna hinterland.

"Tomorrow is a very undulating stage, there will be some attacks, but we will be prepared," said Almeida.