After defending the pink jersey successfully on Wednesday’s stage, Team DSM set out from Naples this afternoon with two goals once again; retain the race lead with Andreas Leknessund and set up a sprint with finisher Marius Mayrhofer in the finale.
Snaking their way around Mount Vesuvius and along the beautiful Amalfi coast; it was set to be a fast day in the saddle and the opening few kilometres saw a big fight for the breakaway before eventually a six rider move went clear, with all Team DSM riders in the peloton. Over the first ascent of the day the pace was upped in the bunch and the gap to the break fell to three minutes but once they hit the coast road things slowed and it increased again towards five minutes; while the break at this point had reduced to five riders.
Onto the final climb of the day, De Marchi and Clarke pushed on after setting a strong pace. Working well together the duo made it an incredibly hard chase for the peloton on the twisting and narrow roads along the coast and then through the towns as the peloton charged back towards Naples. The bunch split under the pressure and an untimely puncture saw Alberto Dainese not able to return to the group, leaving the team without an important member of the lead-out for Mayrhofer.
Heading under the flamme rouge the breakaway dangled in front of the peloton and were ultimately caught at around 300 metres to go. Leknessund and the rest of the team attempted to position Mayrhofer for the sprint but the young German had to surf a lot of wheels in the finale. Pushing to the line he managed to end the stage in a solid eighth place, while Leknessund holds onto the race lead ahead of tomorrow’s trip to the mountains again.