After Tuesday’s exciting stage where Andreas Leknessund claimed second on the stage and moved into the race leader’s jersey, Team DSM set out for Wednesday’s stage with two goals – holding onto the jersey and setting up a sprint finish with Alberto Dainese as finisher.
Rolling out of Atripalda, Leknessund looked resplendent in the Maglia Rosa, despite the dark clouds and rain that was looming over the peloton. Due to the conditions, a possibly challenging start and big fight for the break turned into a more simple affair with a small group going clear almost immediately after the flag drop. Honouring the jersey, Martijn Tusveld helped to set the early pace in the bunch but the gap to those ahead was only ever allowed to grow to roughly three minutes.
As the kilometres ticked by it became a more and more nervous affair with some crashes in the bunch, but everything was back together heading into the final ten kilometres. Approaching the finale the team were moving up well but a fall near the head of the peloton saw things split with Dainese, Niklas Märkl and Marius Mayrhofer making the reduced front split while race leader Leknessund was caught behind. Some strong work by the rest of the team saw Leknessund return entering the closing three kilometres, where once again another crash split things. All Team DSM riders managed to avoid the split as Mayrhofer hit the front, drilling the pace to lead out Dainese. Once Mayrhofer was done, last-man Märkl took over and led under the flamme rouge with a big effort, stretching out the bunch. Dainese looked to bide his time and launch the sprint, coming out from against the barriers. Unfortunately a crash occurred, and whilst initially crossing the line in fourth place, a review from the race jury saw Dainese relegated. The team and Dainese accept the decision and send their well wishes to those impacted.
After being helped to navigate the finale well by the team, Leknessund finished in the front group and didn’t lose any time – thus extending his and the team’s stint in the race leader’s jersey for another day.