The Spin: Giro Stage 11

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

A stage for the sprinters, yes. But somehow this is still a unique stage. First it is literally the halfway stage of the three weeks and the mezzogiro or half-Giro point is reached. Next this is the longest stage in the race. It’s also a trip past the homes of many Italian riders, past and present. And there’s also some climbing right at the end to frustrate the sprinters.

The finish town of Montecatini is a genteel place where well-heeled Italians go for spa treatments and secretly experience the life of a pro cyclist. They get to drink various mineral waters, go on special diets, they can be covered in mud and may sit in hot water one minute and then be dunked in icy water the next.

Explosive finish?
Getting closer to the racing and Montecatini is where the relics of Christianity’s Saint Barbara are kept. The patron saint of those who handle explosives, perhaps she will smile on Greenedge’s Matthew Goss in celebration of the team’s new sponsorship by Orica, the Australian firm that supplies explosives for the mining industry.

History repeating?
Away from superstition, perhaps we can look back to history for other clues. The last time the Giro arrived the stage was won by Mario Cipollini in his rainbow jersey, perhaps an omen for Mark Cavendish who could repeat the feat if he took can survive the climb around Vico and Nievole.

Home advantage?
On more practical terms this stage is also in Mark Cavendish’s second home region. He spent several years living in nearby town and so should know these roads perfectly. But Cavendish isn’t alone in knowing the roads, the race sweeps into Toscana or Tuscany in English and this area is a rich homeland of Italian cycling. From past greats like Gino Bartali to more recent names like Cipollini, the region has produced many champions and a substantial share of Italy’s professional riders hail from the area.

Note the final climb, 5.2% steep and with ramps at 8%. It’s a short sharp shock albeit with a regular slope but there’s time to get back on over the top even the descent will be hectic at high speed. This is just enough to make the result uncertain.

InTheGC May 16, 2012 at 9:05 am

Hmm, I’m tipping the world champ, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Goss took this one. Last chance of a Sprint untill stage 18? (if any sprinters are still here by then)

bikecellar May 16, 2012 at 9:36 am

Cavendish for the win (providing he stays upright) :). Then only Friday’s stage left for the sprinters before the purgatory of the high mountains, I expect to see Cavendish pulled from the race at that point. Really great scramble into Assisi yesterday, but I will miss the live finish today 🙁 . Grandad duty beckons (childminding) 🙂

Patrick May 16, 2012 at 9:52 am

As Cav has been going for intermediate sprint points, I wonder if he fancies staying until the end?

Ankush May 16, 2012 at 9:58 am

Exactly the point I made to Inrng on Twitter. But as our man said, he could still be off as the big mountains kick in

Ablindeye May 16, 2012 at 10:28 am

I too am surprised at Cavendish going for the intermediate sprint points. I fully expected him, and many other sprinters, to quit the race before the weekend. Perhaps he just fancies a day or 2 in red before then rather than going the distance?

Bundle May 16, 2012 at 11:22 am

Perhaps he’s becoming aware that not finishing the stage races diminishes the value of his stage wins. He should be winning today, and Sky should be having no problem at all in ensuring the sprint.

Brett May 16, 2012 at 2:32 pm

I reckon he wants to get all 4 jerseys on his wall. He has 3 of them now (WC, Tour, Vuelta). I think he may stay for Stage 18

Ablindeye May 17, 2012 at 2:32 am

If memory serves poitns jersey has gone to GC riders the last few years due to the lack of flat stages in the race. imagine this year will be much the same though I’ve not checked it out in depth.

MaxHeartRateGuy May 16, 2012 at 9:55 am

Goss for this one, he was extremely unlucky with Pozzo’s antics two days ago. GreenEdge train seems to be working well. But should be a battle royale at the finish irrespective of who gets up. Can’t wait!

Ankush May 16, 2012 at 9:57 am

there’s no Pippo this time to take Cav down. I think Cav will try his best to take this one.

Salzack May 16, 2012 at 10:17 am

“a genteel place where well-heeled Italians go for spa treatments and secretly experience the life of a pro cyclist. They get to drink various mineral waters, go on special diets, they can be covered in mud and may sit in hot water one minute and then be dunked in icy water the next”
That’s why I read these previews. Where do you get all the local knowledge about this and patron saints?

The Inner Ring May 16, 2012 at 10:30 am

This a famous area for cycling, so more well known than many other parts of Italy.

Alex May 16, 2012 at 10:19 am

It’s going to be a very long day for the teams that want to control this one. Sky, Greenedge and Katusha. Garmin will be glad of the rest 🙂

That bump is interesting – coming at 240km in 11km from finish. Hard to see anyone but cav/goss, but at least we might be treated to a nice attack on that, to take it to the wire. I noticed that Rubiano has dropped back to 3mins – the way he time-trialled last week, I wouldn’t put it past him to try again.

The Inner Ring May 16, 2012 at 10:31 am

We’ll see with the climb. It’s not too hard but after 240km or more it will hurt. The descent has some tricky high speed corners too.

Bundle May 16, 2012 at 12:06 pm

It seems there are 3 nasty corners too, in the last 1.500m. Let’s hope we have a crash-free sprint for a change.

Rooie May 16, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Clement might be your guy for today. He tried it already three times and this finish is perfect for time-triallists

Requiem May 16, 2012 at 12:42 pm

JJ Haedo for the win today!

Paul I. May 16, 2012 at 2:30 pm

This looks very much like MSR-lite. Both Cav and Goss have the pedigree for this one …

Rider Council May 16, 2012 at 2:32 pm

I’m wondering if 3 Frenchmen missing 3 whereaboutzies is the start of a new trend?

Beautiful stage today!

Dan J May 16, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Re: Cavendish going hunting for points. Sky (& Brailsford in particular) are famed for the preparation. Cav may just be practising for the TdF where they have changed the format last year with the intermediate sprints – meaning all the sprinters will need to chase points halfway through the stage.

Ablindeye May 17, 2012 at 2:35 am

Yes good point, very possibly, time will tell. As I said above, even if he stays in the race, I think the points jersey is likely to end up with a GC rider as per the last few years.

SD Shift May 16, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Very nice Gilbert & Sullivan inclusion at the end!

Kjetil May 16, 2012 at 6:25 pm

That was a beautiful sprint by Ferrari.

MT Dave May 16, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Does this mean Ferrari has been forgiven?

bikecellar May 16, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Eh, no! but yes a really great sprint by Ferrari as the Sky train derailed Cav seemed to still be in with a chance but hesitated? as Ferrari went. Next exciting instalment Friday.

Ablindeye May 17, 2012 at 2:42 am

On that subject great interview staright after the finish with Cavendish – wish I spoke Italian! Just got the English bit from Cavendish saying “he [Ferrari] did a good sprint today but is lucky to be in the race” while Ferrari listened and reacted back stage!

To be fair Cav also went on to say that Ferrari’s NOT to blame as he obviously doesn’t make the decision. Then he had an extended face off with his greatest fan Cippo (!) during which he said he expected to carry more speed through the last corner and maybe should have been in a smaller gear given the tightness and possible slow down and was then overgeared in the finale after slowing.

Kind of a shame they softened up Cav beforehand with some footage of his daughter or he might have been a bit more spikey in the interview 😀

Rider Council May 17, 2012 at 12:31 pm

oh, it looks like Cav just didn’t have the legs on those tough little drags to the finish. Ferrari won a hard sprint fair and square.

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