Arnaud Démare will swap his red, white and blue Groupama-FDJ kit for the arguably slightly less tasteful maglia ciclamino for Thursday's stage 12 from Cuneo to Pinerolo, having taken over the lead in the Giro d'Italia's points competition from Bora-Hansgrohe's Pascal Ackermann on Wednesday.
Démare had gone into stage 11 a single point behind the German road race champion, but took two points and the competition-lead at the stage's first intermediate sprint, while at the finish – although Démare couldn't overhaul stage winner Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) in the finishing sprint for the line – he took second place, one place ahead of Ackermann, to finish the day with an 11-point lead in the points competition.
"The turning point really came with my win on Tuesday," Démare told L'Equipe, "after I'd started to become… not more aggressive, but a bit more insistent about what I wanted to do. It's just a bit of a shame that it took me until stage 10 to raise my arms.
"But we're satisfied," the 27-year-old continued. "We've achieved our goal to win a stage, and have also taken the maglia ciclamino, which we'll do everything to defend as we head into the mountains. That's not going to be easy in terms of making the time limit each day, but hopefully there'll be another opportunity to go for a stage win next week [stage 18]."
Ackermann had been unable to challenge Démare for the win on Tuesday after crashing in the final kilometre of stage 10. Although he could finish the stage and came away with only cuts and bruises – and a torn purple jersey – Démare had hoovered up maximum points at the finish line, while the 25-year-old added none.
"First of all, respect for Pascal's performance," said Bora-Hansgrohe sports director Jens Zemke of Ackermann's third place on Wednesday's stage. "He was able to yet again sprint to a podium place, despite his heavy fall on Tuesday. That shows that our guys rode very valiantly on today's stage. We also had two riders that crashed, in Cesare Benedetti and Jay McCarthy, but they appear to be OK for now.
"Despite that, the guys were fully motivated to do their job and bring Pascal into a good position. The fact alone that he was willing to take the risk of mixing it up at the front for the stage victory deserves our full respect. It's a shame that we lost the jersey, but perhaps there will be other chances to get it back," he said.
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