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Team DSM hit back at their critics with Giro d'Italia win

Team DSM celebrate with Alberto Dainese after his stage 11 win in the 2022 Giro d'Italia
Team DSM celebrate with Alberto Dainese after his stage 11 win in the 2022 Giro d'Italia (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The Team DSM riders hugged Alberto Dainese and each other beyond the finish line in Reggio Emilia, happy for their young teammate to have won a stage in his home Grand Tour, and happy to show they can take on and beat the biggest sprint teams in the peloton.

As each rider rode through the chaotic finish area of stage 11 of the Giro d'Italia, they searched out the 24-year-old Italian and happily celebrated together in a show of team unity.

Team DSM rode to protect Romain Bardet's overall hopes on the flat ride up the Via Emilia road, vigilant for any attacks in echelons when the strong tailwind became a crosswind near Bologna. When Cees Bol revealed he was struggling, Dainese stepped up and the rest of the team worked to set him up in the sprint. Even Bardet played his part in the final kilometres.

"We share the same suffering and so when a teammate wins, we're all happy," Dainese explained.

"Romain has always believed in me, even when I didn't. It's special to see him happy for me. Celebrating together was a fantastic moment. We might not have a big party tonight but for sure we'll drink the prosecco we won today."

Nico Denz finished slightly off the back of the peloton after protecting his teammates for much of the 203km stage under a hot Italian summer sun. The 28-year-old German was as happy as if he had won himself.

"We always believed in him and it's well deserved for us and for him," Denz said. "It's pure joy, so, so nice. 

"We have a really good team spirit here at the Giro. We've got Romain Bardet with GC ambitions but he's there doing a lead out for our sprinters. Everyone works for everyone, there's such a good ambience in the team."

Team DSM are often criticised, even by former riders, for their ways of working, their strict protocols and internal rules. A long list of riders, including Marcel Kittel, Tom Dumoulin, Warren Barguil, Michael Matthews and Marc Hirschi, have split with the team mid-contract.

The Dutch team is managed by Iwan Spekenbrink, who has kept the faith in their way of working. British Directeur Sportif Matt Winston is fully committed and is leading the team at the Giro d'Italia. They have always shrugged off the criticism and questioning.

"This is how we shut up our critics," Denz said with pride, before heading to the Team DSM bus to continue their celebrations, as Dainese was close to tears on the podium after becoming the first Italian rider to win a stage at the 2022 Corsa Rosa.

"Every day we make a plan and it's such a good feeling to nail it," Australian Chris Hamilton said after also doing his bit in the sprint lead out. "We all had the same ambition in the team. We know how quick Alberto is and so have no issue.

"We were hard run by at the Vuelta [a España 2021 where he got eight top-10 finishes -ed] not to get a win on the board. It can be tough to keep committing to it and I can imagine for Alberto that it's been tough. But this big win has been coming and now he's got it in his head he can do it, he'll be pretty unstoppable."

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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.