Giro Stage 11 Preview

A sprint stage along the coast.

Sagan delivers: once upon a time Peter Sagan would swap messages with friends over breakfast to discuss what victory salute to pull off later that day in the Tour de France. Things are more complicated these days but finally he got a win. It’s not the stuff of Lazarus, more the law of averages after three second places in the Giro already, but the relief was palpable. He’d attacked with Filippo Ganna, the pair were joined by others and soon after Groupama-FDJ tried to close things down but were outnumbered and outpowered. In the finale Sagan rode the remnants of the break off his wheel one by one and took a fine solo win. Behind the racing was lively but inconclusive, Domenico Pozzovivo overcame a crash and a mechanical to get back in contract while Jacob Fuglsang punctured and lost a bit of time.

What a difference five hours made, the cheer of Sagan’s win displaced, for now at least, the day’s gloom. Thing started overnight with the Italian government introducing tighter anti-Covid-19 measures, the Giro compounding the clouding skies with the results of the rest day Covid-19 tests: Steven Kruijswijk and Michael Matthews out of the race following rest day positive Covid tests. Mitchelton-Scott and then Jumbo-Visma decided to quit the race in the wake. It’s all a big concern for the race given the risks of contagion, the “bubble” isn’t so useful if the virus is propagating inside it or if it is porous, going by accounts it seems some hotel conditions are flouting the UCI guidelines which mandate “a reserved and independent dining room” for each team.

The Route: 182km north up the coast and the road from Pesaro to Monte San Bartolo is the hardest part, it’s the twisting coastal road used by the Giro before, you might remember it from 2013 when it was part of the time trial course when Alex Dowsett won the stage and Bradley Wiggins didn’t.

The Finish: flat and a parade through the sea-side resort of Rimini including several corners and two tight bends within the final kilometre before a 600m finishing straight.

The Contenders: Arnaud Démare is the obvious pick for all the obvious reasons: he’s the fastest and he’s got the strongest team in Groupama-FDJ, a whole team dedicated in his service although now sans Ramon Sinkeldam, the Dutchman has taken Démare and his lead out Guarnieri under the triangolo rosso and into the kilometre but left the race yesterday. Only sprints always have a random element so others still have a chance and they know they need to seize it as it’s today or Stage 19 to Asti otherwise it’s game over for Fernando Gaviria (UAE Emirates), Elia Viviani (Cofidis), Alvaro Hodeg (Deceuninck-Quickstep), Davide Cimolai (Israel) and more. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) doesn’t have to try anything spectacular now, he can queue on Démare’s wheel.

Arnaud Démare
Peter Sagan, Fernando Gaviria
Viviani, Hodeg, Ballerini

Weather: cool and cloudy, 18°C a light tailwind up the coast.

TV: the finish is forecast for 4.30pm CEST.

35 thoughts on “Giro Stage 11 Preview”

  1. You nailed it: after the bubble is pierced, especially a moving and obviously porous such as this one, there’s very little to be done apart from hoping for the best.

    It’s a shame, but the reports about teams staying in big hotels full of tourists tells the whole story. It also makes the complete Tour an even bigger achievement, even taking into account that cases were still more or less under control a month ago.

    It’s a shame, but if the Giro is suspended we should be thankful for the races that happened in this crazy year. This disease is all around us and we can’t pretend otherwise just because we miss watching a bunch of guys riding bikes on TV.

    (Also, I hope the riders that caught are doing well and have no long term health issues.)

  2. I wonder what the long term effects of COVID-19 are gonna be for ciclists who get sick, makes me wonder if the current form of Fernando Gaviria has to do with bad training or the virus, it’s weird to see him being dropped so easily.

    • It’s hard to know but pre-virus he was having a hard time of things, eg in 2018 he “only” had six wins, he rode the Vuelta without a stage win and got sent to the Guangxi Tour where he got two of the wins.

    • I think Gaviria’s lack of results is as a result of the same illness affecting Viviani and Terpstra and that ended Kittel’s career and arguably Cavendish’s. Leaving Quick Step.

      • The odd thing is when he does get it right i.e doesn’t botch positioning and opening his sprint at the right time he still seems to have his old blistering pace.

        I’m thinking perhaps a lack of motivation/hunger more than anything else.

  3. While I had absolutely no qualms about the Tour and trusted, that it would do things in a good, responsible way, I predicted, that the giro would not be able to put on a responsible, safe race. I am not surprised, that this happened, it is the logical outcome. It was clear to see, that infections would happen – ideology, bluster and empty, boring, helpless machismo and selfishness are no defense against a virus. Reality and responsibility can only be bent so much.

    What I donˋt understand is, that the riders still race and why they not strike. This is the one time they should actually put their foots down. They get worked up and stage silent strikes about stages in the tour, that are a few kilometers longer, but stay quiet, when they literally drive around italy with riders, who are infected with coronavirus! Tells you all you need to know about the power structure in cycling and how too much is driven by selfishness, childish behavior, jealousy and grievances.

    Their health is the one thing riders need for their sport! It is very well documented, that the long haul covid-19 often happens weeks after the initial infection is „over“. People get better, think they are over it and suddenly weeks later it hits them. It often happens to the ones, who initially had milder symptoms while being infected. It is totally unclear, if covid-19 leaves long term damage on the lungs, heart etc.. And STILL these people risk their health for a race and an organizer, that does not care enough to look after them properly and teams, who think doing a race, having a win is more important than their riders. After all, if one fails to give them what they want, they can always buy another one, right?

    That sunweb still rides is unforgivable. But I am not surprised by them acting this way. The two teams, that pulled out: you did the right thing, chapeau!

    • Maybe the riders want to ride rather than waste a year of their career hiding in their house? I think I can say without too much fear of contradiction that all those who have tested positive at the Giro will recover and be just as effective as they were before.

      • Maybe the odds of catching Covid aren’t very different in the race bubble, leaky as it is, from what they would be leading a “normal” life at home. There is a public health concern, of course, but if the race has to be restricted or cancelled, it would be first and foremost to minimize the risk of spread to the spectators and traveling fans, not to the riders.

        “selfishness, childish behavior, jealousy and grievances” – this is unduly harsh. Apart from the fact that team staff and riders are merely doing their job (“not essential”, granted, but no more frivolous as most people employed out there), many riders are out of contract for next year and they didn’t have that many chances to show that they deserve another one. Their livelihood is on the line and their career clock is ticking, Covid or no. And let’s not forget that they live in relative isolation from the rest of the population, and get tested all the time. Not sure if or when the plug will be pulled on the Giro – it might be, and if it does get pulled, it might well be justified, but blaming the riders is unfair.

        In the meanwhile, we can enjoy the Sagan show.

      • Richard S, you say ‘I think I can say without too much fear of contradiction that all those who have tested positive at the Giro will recover and be just as effective as they were before.’ – but you are entirely wrong. Many young, fit people – even those who have had no symptoms or mild symptoms – then go on to have long-term health issues, particularly cardiovascular issues.

        • “Long-term”? We don’t yet know.
          But certainly medium term – weeks or months, could turn out to be years – and studies in the UK suggest that 2% of those with a positive test have lasting symptoms. This includes young and previously healthy people.
          In a sport where small differences in health/fitness can be the difference not only between winning and not winning, but between getting a contract or not, the riders would do well to remember that catching Covid-19 could be career-ending.

    • Thanks anon. for your input.

      We can’t hide from the virus forever. The only thing a lockdown does is slow it’s progress. For some lockdown has done more harm than good.

      • You lock down; you lower the number of cases to as close to zero as you can get; you then continue to behave in a socially responsible manner.
        See: Japan and South Korea.
        You continue doing this until there’s a vaccine.
        Or you get the second wave that we have now. And if you continue with ‘the new normal’ you will end up with as many deaths as the first wave. Or worse.
        And then you’ll have to lock down anyway because your health service won’t cope.
        Learn from these Asian countries. Do what they do. Our politicians won’t do this because of their arrogance.

    • When your boss says you have to come to work, you go to work unless you have the option to quit and get another job or quit and live on savings. Not so easy for most people.

      I assume RCS knew they couldn’t actually pull off a reasonable bubble, meaning they knew they would mix tourists and athletes/staff in hotels. That means they have substantial culpability for the ensuing infections. The Giro should never have started.

      I have good friends in Taiwan, where life is pretty much normal, with only 7 deaths from covid. In countries run by covidiots and with a large enough population of same, the virus will cause lots of problems.

      I’m naturally skeptical and predict the bike races in first quarter 2021 won’t happen as scheduled.

  4. I agree that Sagan’s win was going to happen at some point after his three second places, but the manner of this win was very different to a sprint finish vs Demare. He was exceptional yesterday.

    • A fine win for sure, it’s just he’s been close all the time, a lot of riders would like a demise like his with such consistency and high places although given his status and pay etc a lot has been riding on him for a win and the pressure ratcheting up.

    • The Eurosport / GCN commentators were very generous in their praise of Sagan’s performance yesterday, indeed some felt that it stood with any win of his career.
      It was certainly good to see him back on top form and winning in good style anyway.
      Anyone that rides the man of the moment, Ganna, off his wheels can’t be doing too badly!

  5. Say the worst happens and the Giro gets called off, surely whoever is in the lead after for the sake of an example stage 14 won’t be declared the winner of the Giro? I’m not sure if it was me I’d want a half Giro on my palmares.
    If they get to the end today I fancy Sagan to win, you wait all day for a bus and all that.

    • This isn’t clear. The rulebook doesn’t provide for this directly, just that stages can be cancelled if necessary and results attributed or cancelled for the missed day but this is in the event of snow or, say, a road being washed away because of rain etc. We’ll see, we’re not there yet and far from it. The withdrawal of two teams as a whole has amplified the worry but the actual number of riders positive is still low and despite some questions things are pretty strict on hygiene, far more so than most workplaces or public places etc.

      • On the point of the Giro being cancelled early I think it would stand given that the Vuelta has already been shortened to 18 stages. If the Giro can get to the rest day this week I could imagine a situation where the race doesn’t start again and the winner declared. If the Vuelta manages to start or not is another question…

  6. I really feel for RCS, its commercial partners that fund the whole thing, the media a n d the riders.
    Small scale, but I put on an event over the weekend and was delighted to be able, plus the weather played nice. When you take part in, or just watch events, not noticing all the preparatory work is a sign of how much time and thought went into the organising. We are then free to discuss all kinds of stuff about those taking part, which is normally all we do, (apart from the odd comment about the parcours – usually the same for all – or the amount of ad breaks: What was going on with that yesterday on RAI?!). The organisers are powerless in the face of a public health emergency but their money on-the-line is real enough. They can’t make the riders race and yesterday’s brilliant spectacle showed RCS are doing a good job to let the athletes do their thing so well.
    The Giro has nearly foundered in past years and we have to hope this year won’t finish it off. Riders and organisers are going to find things very difficult, so let’s enjoy the end of this era while we can.
    And who can fail to love Sagan in his pomp?

  7. Awesome, awesome ride by Sagan. One of the best even of his career. I’d really like to see him focus on winning more monuments now – and by riding like this. His sprint isn’t what it was, and neither is his positioning, but that performance shows he’s still immensely strong.
    Classic-style GT stages always yield good racing.
    For me, Kelderman has looked stronger on the climbs than Nibali and the unfortunate Fuglsang. But I doubt it’s going to matter. Far too many crowds, far too many without facemasks, and RCS seemingly have done a poor job overall.
    I’m just enjoying it as individual races.

  8. Does anyone know why RAI consistently start their coverage a few km after the start of the race?
    If they choose not to feature the first two hours I can see the point of that, but if they’re filming anyway, why do they do this?
    The coverage is frustrating in a few ways, principally the number of unnecessary repeats. A rider attacks, we see that, the attack continues, but we miss the ongoing action while they show a repeat of the attack that we *just* saw.

  9. I’d like to address some of the comments made regarding the COVID positive riders and staff at the Giro. I write as someone who is exposed on a daily basis and has had the disease. I am not blaming anyone associated with the race or the riders. This is an insidious disease which is transmitted via aerosol against which masks are of dubious benefit and everyone is at risk.

    First, it is possible that Simon Yates was asymptomatically positive for COVID prior to starting the race. MIT has published the following: “A study that examined false-negative rates post-exposure, found that during the four days of infection prior to symptom onset, the probability of a false negative on the PCR test went from 100 percent on Day 1 to 67 percent on Day 4. And even on the day individuals began showing symptoms, the false negative rate was still 38 percent, dropping to 20 percent three days after symptom onset.” “On average, symptoms of the virus develop five to six days post exposure, but the incubation period can be as long as 14 days. And, of course some people never develop noticeable or debilitating symptoms — hence the recommendation to self-quarantine and self-monitor for a full two weeks after any likely exposure.” Yates tested positive on Friday 10/9 via PCR. I’m guessing that he was feeling poorly prior to that, based on his stage results, an observation not an insult. Therefore it’s not unlikely/possible he showed up at the race already infected and he unwittingly transmitted the disease to his team staff members. That is why they, MS, had the most positives. The rules state that a rider is to be tested 7 and 3 days prior to entering the team bubble, but they can be exposed between or after the testing. Realize the team staff tested positive on the rest day, day nine, and false negatives are frequent early on in the process, but they were positive already.

    Second, the positives due to racing the Giro drop significantly, to two Steven Kruijswijk and Michael Matthews when MS are removed,unless there are more that arent widely reported. We do not know how these two riders became exposed, but they did. The rules, as I understand them are that the race was to provide the following: “2. Ensure that the accommodation where teams are staying has the capacity to maintain a “life bubble” around each team. Each team will be grouped on a single floor (or a wing of the hotel), with a reserved and independent dining room. The staff of each hotel must be informed of individual preventive measures (room cleaning, physical distancing, hand washing, wearing a mask during service, etc.). The LOC will ensure that hotel staff abide by the rules in force for cleaning and disinfecting furniture and objects in the context of the pandemic.” It doesn’t say they are to be alone on the floor or wing and the level of concern is also dependent on the level of COVID in a given area. There is also the possibility that they spent enough time near SY that they become infected if they were in the same hotel or in the peloton.

    Third, at some point, if the riders are potentially being exposed to dangerous conditions, it is the responsibility/obligation of the team and their management to complain and force the issue. I find it hard to believe that teams were eating from public buffets or in public dining areas, as has been described by Jos van Emden, when everything they consume is managed by a chef or nutritionist, from what I read. Also, if they were in large hotels with the general public, why were the team not fed in conference rooms and hallways cleared prior to the team moving through. If teams were concerned, why not rent a truck where the riders could eat without the possibility of mingling with the public. It seems that Ineos, UAE and others did so, why not one of the best funded teams in the peloton, Jumbo Visma.

    Fourth, during the Tour, three team staff tested positive and at least one reporter, all during the nadir of COVID positives in Europe at the time. Even the race director tested positive and he was back in the car in less than a week. See the article on VN for more details regarding the similarities of both races regarding hotels and guests.

    Finally, thanks to Inrng for the great writing and analysis of the sport we all love.

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