De Bondt was third with less than a kilometre to go but the Belgian timed his attack to perfection to win by less than half a wheel length for his first stage victory and Alpecin-Fenix’s third at the Giro. Other sprint favourites such as Mark Cavendish, Arnaud Demare and Alberto Dainese were left to rue the fact that they had not caught up with the breakaway group in time.
“It was a collaboration until the last kilometre,” De Bondt said. “I knew Affini was going to go from far in the sprint so I had to be on his wheel and the pressure would be on Magnus. “The collaboration between the four of us was magnificent. There was no moment of doubt, nobody skipped one turn... It was written in the stars.”
Richard Carapaz of Ineos Grenadiers finished with the peloton 14 seconds later to retain the pink jersey and maintained a three-second lead over second-placed Jai Hindley with Mikel Landa third, a minute and five seconds behind. “It was a relatively calm day, the pace was very high. Tomorrow and Saturday it will be different,” Carapaz said. “I checked Landa and Hindley all the time as I knew there could be some gaps. I want to keep the Maglia Rosa till the end, I trust in my legs.”