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Giro d’Italia Stage 11 Preview

The Super Tuscan stage, 162km with climbs and dirt roads on the way to the finish in Montalcino. This is the Strade Bianche stage but it’s a different race to the spring classic, a hard stage with relatively long climbs to sap energy.

The Route: flat for 45km before some gentle climbing starts, it’s all on big roads for 90km. The first gravel sector has a big wide approach road into the town of Torrenieri which funnels into something narrower before the ride through town. Then it’s onto the first sector, a full 9km serving of sterrato. These dirt tracks are ordinary roads, people live next to them and drive to the shops on them, kids go to school on them by bike, car or bus. But they still have their rough parts and holes and the first section is up over a hill and then down, a high speed section. A mistake here, a puncture there and things can be very expensive.

The second sector is longer and after a descent and flat section past a golf course comes a tough climb complete with hairpin bends. The hardest part is the way it climbs like a staircase, this isn’t a steady climb and all the more harder. Then comes the 3-2-1 second time bonus and the next section looks short but it’s the artisan one, rough and with some steep climbs and more of a backroad feel as it bucks up amid the vineyards.

The final section comes after a descent and starts with a right turn and then a hard haul up through the vineyards before emerging back on to the main tarmac road at Tavernelle but the work isn’t done, there’s almost 5km at 7% average, all on an exposed road.

The Finish: downhill into Montalcino and then a run through town across the old flagstones, passing the Eroica finish line and out onto tarmac. There’s a sharp left bend onto a 200m finishing straight that’s uphill at 10% to the line. It’s not Siena’s Strade Bianche finish but getting the final corner right and having something for the final rise to the line still counts.

  • Today’s stage is on the “strade bianche”, the poetic label used by RCS but it’s not the same as the Strade Bianche race held in March. That’s 20km longer and has above 700m more of vertical gain but on a course that looks more like a piece corrugated roofing with its wavy profile all day, today stacks longer climbs, later which makes it much less suitable to any flandriens who race in March as part of their classics campaign.

The Contenders: Egan Bernal thrived in the Strade Bianche in March and can do so again here, he’s the form rider and today has longer climbs to suit him even more and the uphill finish helps too compared to a sprint. Team mates Jhonathan Narvaez, Gianni Moscon and Dani Martinez are contenders too but the maglia rosa comes first.

Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quickstep) gets a big test but could do well here, the known unknown is still the high mountains of the third week, not today’s roads. He too has helpers who could win like Fausto Masnada but they’re being paid to aid the Belgian prodigy.

Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) is going well and punchy too for the finish but harder to pick, he could thrive here. Team mate Gianluca Brambilla is an outsider too. Bauke Mollema is still hunting his stage and is always hard to pull back if can get a gap.

Marc Soler (Movistar) is a longer range pick but has all the attributes for a day like today, he’s excellent on shorter climbs and hard stages. He’s 12th overall at the moment so won’t have much freedom to move but doesn’t have be closed down instantly if he attacks late.

Can a break stay away? Not easy with Ineos likely to try and control the race in the latter part and the relative climbing speeds among the GC riders compared to others. Still riders who know they can’t match the GC guys will be keen on a move and the earlier the better in order to establish a lead. So think Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-Nippo) and he’s on home roads too. Diego Ulissi (UAE Emirates) is from the region if not the roads, Davide Formolo’s . It’s hard to know when Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) will attack but he’s got the knack of winning big grand tour stages and today is one. Alessandro De Marchi (Israel) could have a go too.

Egan Bernal
Alberto Bettiol, Giulio Ciccone, Marc Soler
Moscon, Vlasov, Yates, Formolo, Narvaez, Ulissi, De Marchi, De Gendt

Weather: not much warmer than a March day, 19°C and a mix of sunshine and clouds. It should stay dry but a northerly breeze of 20km/h can play a part, a headwind for the final climb.

TV: the stage starts at 1.10pm CEST and the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST. Tune in for the gravel at 3.15pm onwards.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Abrakadabrak Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 6:49 am

    Gianni Vermeersch 😉

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 8:19 am

      He’s making noises about today, one to watch as he’s a specialist for these things.

  • StevhanTI Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 7:28 am

    No confidence in the cyclcocrossers?

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 8:55 am

      If Wout van Aert, Julian Alaphilippe or Mathieu van der Poel were here it’d be different. But it’s dry today and the off road sections are hard because of the hills, rather than a mud bath. A lot more climbing today, which is why Sagan got left out, maybe Kobe Goossens is one to watch?

      • StevhanTI Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 9:10 am

        Makes sense, still the Alpecin guys have been dreaming out loud about this one and Quinten Hermans has a decent form, apperently good climbing skills, and the cyclo-cross technique. It’s definitely not a shoe-in for Vermeersch or Hermans to win but this is probably a bigger they for them than the Koppenberg-cross. So even if they end up to be beaten by the better climbers or stronger rouleurs they seem ready to throw the kitchen sink at it and enliven the race.

      • Mads Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 9:20 am

        I have my eye on Koen Bouwman. He seems to be Jumbo-Vismas strongest rider at the moment and in the form of his life. Bennet is out of the GC, sohe’s free to go up the road.

      • Anonymous Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 9:26 am

        Today’s sectors are way harder than anything found in Strande Biance.

        1st accent to Montalcino via Castillion Del Bosce is insanely steep and the surface on the platou before the final paved road to Passo de Lume Spento is very difficult with giant cobbles here and there. Huge splits can be made on this sector.

        Pro’s has only riden it twice: 1st edition of Strade Bianche & Giro 2010. It’s the key point in l’Erioca Gaiole where 60% have to get off and walk the steepest parts.

        • Morten Reippuert Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 9:31 am

          ‘Anonymous’ is me.

          Expect riders to clip out and walk on Castillion Del Bosce. If you pick a wrong line in the hairpins you will have to clip out and there is no way to get going again in these hairpins.

          There is a reason for why Strade Bianche skipped the del Bosco sector…

          • Anonymous Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 8:42 pm

            Called it.

        • Larry T Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 6:33 pm

          I wouldn’t use EROICA (as in bici d’epoca) riders as much of an example unless the pros today are going to show up with 42 X 21 as their low gear, though guys like Bernal could probably push that gear easily up anything short of the Zoncolan.

  • Brent Sword Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 7:49 am

    This is the stage i have been looking forward to. Surprised at the downhill section. I think the weather is supposed to be good which is a just as well. Long downhill on the dirt could have been a bit hit scary if it was wet.
    I am thinking a strong breakaway can make it unless someone too high on the GC gets in it. If i was ineous or any of the other big teams i would be saving my efforts for the dirt sections and setting as easy a pace as they can get away with for the first 60% of the race. You need max number of people with your leader in case of problems later like a fall or puncture. No point loosing the tour trying to win a stage.

    • CA Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 8:41 pm

      What a cool stage, but I too am surprised by the downhill section… if it was me, I’D BE TERRIFIED TO ride that at race pace… Imagine if conditions were dodgy in any way?!? Yikes.

      Oh well! Clearly Egan Bernal is showing to be the boss right now.

  • Tovarishch Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 8:03 am

    Surprised at Yates qualifying for one ring given his poor performance in March. Simon Carr, on the other hand, must fancy this.

  • Larry T Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 8:35 am

    Forget my birthday, Xmas, New Year’s, etc. TODAY is the day! Been dreaming about a return, though sadly the pandemic made it impossible for me to be there this time 🙁 ever since 2010.
    http://cycleitalia.blogspot.com/2010/05/saturday-in-hell-or-heaven.html
    But we’ll enjoy some ribollita and Chianti Riserva today here in Sicily for lunch while the TV coverage is going. W Il Giro!

  • Tom Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 8:51 am

    Potential for Sagan or Gaviria to get in the break for sprint points with one of their team mates go on with it for the win?

    • KevinK Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 12:30 pm

      I can’t see them getting into the break, though that would be fun. I do expect to see them staying with the peloton as long as possible to see how they fare in the late stages of the race. The tough thing about either of them going for intermediate sprint points is that I think the line for those points comes just after a sharp climb (if I’m reading the graphics in this post correctly, it looks like part of it is 8.6%). Could be a huge amount of work for a few points, but I can see Sagan giving it a go.

      • gabriele Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 1:00 pm

        Points come midway through the hellish section described by Morten above.
        Often hitting well above 12%. If you look closely at the profile, you’ll notice that it’s a bit tricky, because the necessary splitting into 500m sections eases the average. What precedes the Sprint would probably be best described by the idea of a 1,2 km-long, 11% gradient wall, after an increasingly difficult raising terrain, and followed by a very short flat section right where the sprint is placed. Can Sagan do that against rivals in a break? Of course. But can he stay with the climbers, in case the GC teams push a hard pace? (just until the Sprint, I mean, because you’ve got another 1,5 kms 9% section after that). I’m not sure, I don’t think so. It’s closer to a côte-like 5′ effort rather than a Paterberg.
        If they allow him to go, I think he’d better try the break, although aiming for a win is a long shot anyway. BUT, if the break goes to the line, he gets a shot to an iconic victory, however hard the terrain. Not easy, but doable. Think last edition. If they catch’em before, at least he’ll have a try for those few points, since they’ll be caught later on. Anyway, no doubt, he needs a good advantage to match the climbers in this finale in his current conditions.
        Let’s also say that tomorrow he might just go for the points after 76 undulating kms and forget the climbing which comes from then on, taking a gruppetto rest day.

        • KevinK Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 3:00 pm

          Looks like he might be going for your option 2 (go for the intermediate points tomorrow). I was watching him through the opening kms, and he seemed to be watching Gaviria and staying near the front, and then when the break was away I’d swear I saw Sagan fist bump with Gaviria (it was someone in a white jersey) and then drop back a bit into the peloton.

          I was kind of hoping he’d go for the epic win scenario, but I think unlike last year he’s winning more conventionally this year and may be less motivated to go for broke.

  • 150 Watts Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 9:09 am

    Why no love for Vlasov for the GC?

  • jc Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 9:12 am

    Inrng clearly knows Tuscan wines. Two minds about today, I can see why it is being hyped up, not least because of the previous similar stage. Yes we could see Egan Bernal or another main contender pulling the race apart in a trail of dust through the vineyards. But it might also suit the GC folk to simply mark each other and let a break take the time bonuses. We would still get lots of great images for tomorrows blogs and papers but maybe feel a bit cheated of the promised great stage.

    Hackneyed, but not less true for that, today is one where a rider can lose the race but not win it. I hope we dont see an ill timed puncture or mechanical ruining someone’s chances, though these things should very much remain part of bike racing. As to picking a winner, even more difficult than normal, agree that Ineos will try to get a win for Egan Bernal other than that there are so many possibilities and riders who might have picked this stage in their road book. I am not a fan but in days gone by Peter Sagan would have been an obvious pick here, not sure he has the legs these days though.

  • Morten Reippuert Knudsen Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 9:18 am

    Cant decide which rider, but it will a Trek rider.

    Brambilla was my selection before the Giro, on the other hand he has not looked impressive so far.
    Nibali looks better than expected and might be able to slip away on the insanely steep sections of Del Bosco.
    Ciccone is build for this route, but he needs to win from a sprint in a small group.

    • Anonymous Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 8:42 pm

      Called it again.

  • Lanterne_Verte Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 9:22 am

    Bardet? 2nd in Strade Bianche in 2018

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 10:29 am

      Exactly, he doesn’t win much so it’s difficult to tip him for a win. Very strong, regular podium pick and more, he’s Monsieur Consistent and should be interesting in the third week.

  • J Evans Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 9:53 am

    This could easily be the riskiest stage for GC contenders. I’m hoping that Bernal loses a minute or so – not because I have anything against him, but because then he’ll have to attack more in the mountains in order to put time into Evenepoel before the TT.
    For me, Bernal is still the overwhelming favourite; not because of the time he’s taken but because of the form he’s shown, and I think if he has to he could take minutes on the others in the mountains.
    Evenepoel has stayed with him reasonably well thus far, but if you ignore all the hype about him (I’ve no doubt that he’s a huge talent), he is not only untried over three weeks, his TT is untried after three weeks, so maybe he won’t gain as much time on Bernal as most are suggesting.
    One example of the hype is that people keep mentioning the four stage races he won last year, but look at the quality of those races. If anyone else won those four races in a season people wouldn’t be citing them as proof of anything other than ‘looks promising’.

    • Irungo txuletak Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 12:33 pm

      The thing about Evenepoel is that we don’t know. Not even he knows where his limits are I think. And beating this Bernal (a ex tour winner + in excellent shape) looks a big ask, mostly in his first gt and after 9months without racing. But with Remco you never know…

    • gabriele Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 12:33 pm

      Of course you’re right in general terms. Yet, it’s not just that he won those four races – it’s also the way he won them. And that they were *all* the races he did last season, barring Lombardia obviously. Besides, as you say, well: “look at the quality of those races”! Yes, let’s give a look.

      Tour de Pologne surely didn’t use to be a great race but since 2005 or so it started a progressive process of upping their level, at first becoming a serious stage competition for one-day riders (a bit like Eneco/BinckBank, or Tour of Belgium still are, or Tirreno was several years ago). In recent years it became even more selective and hence interesting, but last edition was actually a “special one”, because of the pandemic calendar.
      Evenepoel bested via a splendid ride in stage 4 the likes of Fuglsang, Yates, Majka, Ulissi, Kelderman, Schachmann, Hindley, Chaves, Carapaz (who was leading for Ineos until the day before). Fuglsang was the only one able to keep the difference below two *minutes*. Three riders under the 3′ mark, and less than twenty lost less than *six minutes*. All the riders named above were going for the race, as it could be seen in the previous stage 3.
      It wasn’t less than utterly impressive.

      Same goes for Vuelta a Burgos, which may not be World Tour but most keen observer know that it’s one of the most significant stage races when you need to check a rider’s GT potential. Pretty much most authentic GT talents podiumed or won here since the early 90s. Most recently, Carapaz, Superman López, Landa, Enric Mas, Contador, Scarponi, Quintana, Nibali, Chaves, Purito, Samu Sánchez, Menchov, Valverde… and further back Olano, Rominger, Jalabert, Indurain, Zülle, Bugno, Escartín. You might raise questions about those who’re winning GTs and never shine at Vuelta Burgos rather than dismissing the latter as not significant! (is a smiley needed? ^__^).
      And, again, it wasn’t only *what* – it was *how*. He smashed the competition on the uberselective Picón Blanco, sort of a Giau. Landa, Bennett or Chaves lost around half a minute, Carapaz, Yates or Nieve around one minute. Just a dozen of riders under the 2′ mark. More or less more of the same on the legendary Lagunas de Neila, fetiche climb for Landa where him and Sosa could eventually slip 10″ away from Remco – most of the rest was 40″ or more back, including Chaves, Yates or Carapaz but also excellent in-form climbers like Gaudu, Fabbro or Kuss.

      He could enjoy a great helping hand from Almeida, of course, and he looked like he was pushing himself very hard, not just strolling to an easy win. Yet, it was a very significant showing. Even without taking into account his age.

      Algarve wasn’t usually a relevant deal, but in recent years Sky included it in its “formation programme”, perhaps inspired by the couple of shots which Contador gave at it at the end of the 10s years; they tend to use it when they try to raise a one-day racer to a stage racer status. Thomas has been a regular, but Wiggins also podiumed in 2012 (and Kwiatkowski often featured, too). Anyway, it’s still no big deal. Competition may not be that hard – though, also note that both Roglic and Pogacar decided to grab a win recently. Less impressive than the above on Remco’s 2020 palmarés, but it still had a high-quality mixed field, with good GT racers like Superman López (who could only steal 4″ to Remco on the Malhao), specialists in one-week stage races like Schachmann or Rui Costa plus excellent athletes who usually shine in the very eary season like Wellens (and Schachmann himself). What impressed me here was the ease with which Evenepoel went alone on the Foià, but even more so the final 20 km ITT where the boy bested *Dennis and Küng*. Question marks about each one’s state of form, of course, but – hey.

      Lastly, and similarly in a sense, Vuelta a San Juan wouldn’t go as much into any history book, if it wasn’t for the 15 kms ITT where he left Ganna half a minute back and the rest lost one minute or more (including the likes of McNulty, Bodnar or Nelson Oliveira). In this case, it helped a lot that they had to ride it on traditional bikes, which gives a significant advantage to smaller riders who can keep aero without a chrono machine (or, better said, a lesser dis-advantage).

      I don’t know if you were watching those races or not, but to me the whole panorama was quite striking. Much more than, say, Thomas’ stage race GC results which supposedly showed in advance how he was going to be able to win a TdF – even if they came in prestigious races like Suisse, Dauphiné or Paris-Nice.

      PS Please note that I’m rooting for Bernal, ah ah ah! And that I’m quite sure that Evenepoel not suffering the third-week effect would be surprising, anyway. If it happened, it’d be a proof that he’s of a more than exceptional build.

      • J Evans Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 12:47 pm

        Very interesting thoughts. I didn’t see the races concerned, and I had largely dismissed them as ‘early season’ races, or races where riders are either not in full form or not all that interested in winning, but it seems I may well have been wrong.
        On the subject of Thomas, I never thought he was capable of winning a grand tour, which is on a par with my usual standard of prediction.
        As for riders who are borderline hopeless early in their career right up until the moment they start winning grand tours, I’m with you on that one (no smiley needed).

  • Reuben Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 10:03 am

    I would love to see an TT on these roads in a future tour. Obviously riders would have to use road bikes, rather than TT bikes… or perhaps sponsors would lean on them to use their gravel bikes. If its valid for a road stage, why not a TT? Interested in what others think about this!

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 10:26 am

      It’s more spectacular seeing riders in a road race on these roads, it’s bound to be the first choice.

      Today has a pit stop before the gravel sector, instead of the usual rule of only getting bikes from a team car in the race today it is permitted at this one point to get another bike from beside the road.

      • J Evans Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 11:18 am

        Wouldn’t it make more sense to offer a pit stop after the gravel sector when riders are much more likely to have punctures?
        Why would someone change their bike beforehand? Even if it’s a better bike for gravel, you’re going to lose at least 15 seconds, by which time the pack will be gone and very hard to close down.
        Am I missing something?

        • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 12:09 pm

          It’s so riders can swap from “road” to “gravel” in one go. Not sure many will, stopping could cost more than doing the early part of the course on 28mm tires etc but haven’t asked around.

          • J Evans Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 12:13 pm

            Thanks. It’ll be interesting if the peloton changes en masse.
            Is it before all gravel sectors or just the first one?

    • Larry T Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 10:29 am

      Great sales opportunity for the “aero gravel bike” segment of the industry! Would likely spice up chrono stages which IMHO are dull, dull, dull but I’d rather see ’em race on the white roads rather than “do the hop” on dirt while stretched out on aero bars.

      • Wipperman_15 Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 12:24 pm

        Yeah, we need to see this. Combines two skillsets in one stage; TT-ing, and bike handling/technical skills…..
        And can satisfy the manufacturers showing off their ‘gravel bikes’ – and gravel tyres….

  • Richard S Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 10:05 am

    Things are still pretty tight on GC, 2 minutes or so covering quite a lot of riders. I think this could be the stage where it gets whittled down to a handful at most. I think a big break will get away but like in Strade Bianche because of the sheer difficulty of the terrain it’ll be caught well before the end. Then 3/4/5 will get away through attrition rather than attacks. In with a good shout are definitely Bernal and Bardet based on previous in the one day race, possibly Ciccone, Evenepoel and Vlasov too. Alpecin Fenix, Mollema, Nibali and possibly Bettiol are wildcards.

    • Richard S Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 3:26 pm

      I think we can ignore most of this..!

  • oldDAVE Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 10:12 am

    Excited about today.
    One thing I’m curious about is yesterday the write up said INRNG wasn’t expecting much change till Zoncolan Saturday, but today looks like a deadly stage for quite a few of the GC contenders, especially should mechanicals happen, and with Bernal riding so well in SB I’m expecting him to test others legs?

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 10:25 am

      Today will mix things up but it’s a lottery risk too, a puncture can lose things. Tomorrow’s not easy either. But both stages won’t tell us much new after San Giacomo and Campo Felice. The Zoncolan is something else, the first long, Alpine climb.

      • oldDAVE Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 10:29 am

        Gotcha. Yes I’m expecting Yates to come good on Saturday and Remco to blow up, but whether Yates can drop Bernal I’m less sure – whether anyone will close the gap Bernal has already created and will likely grow I highly doubt. If he gets through without crashes or injury I fully expect him to be the winner now.

  • David Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 10:37 am

    I notice Remco missing from the chainrings – for me he is favourite. Hopefully better positioned today and we see some fireworks between him and Egan.

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 11:11 am

      He could win today, I should probably have given him a chainring. He got a tip above anyway, keen to see how his bike handling is as he’s a relative newcomer to the sport without the technical past of others; not only was Bernal an MTB rider but he grew up on an unpaved street etc

      • Wipperman_15 Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 12:21 pm

        An MTB rider, and a very good one! Twice a medalist at the Junior World Championships behind Andreassen.

      • oldDAVE Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 7:34 pm

        You got it spot on.

  • Ecky Thump Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 10:44 am

    Tuscany has very a interesting geology, limestones and sandstone giving way to the purer marble of northern Tuscany.
    Check out the marble quarries of Carrara, ancient source of the world’s best marble, used extensively by the Romans and later Michelangelo.

    I really can’t decide how this stage is going to go. We see small splinter groups go late on in the normal Strade Bianche, will the same happen here?
    The nightmare for one of the big GC contenders is getting isolated without teammates and being leaned upon by any group he may find himself in.
    Some unholy alliances are possible but I guess ultimately we’ll get an idea of the comparative strengths of Team Ineos and Quick Step; each of their relative make up looks slightly different to each other now and I wonder whether this stage will prise them apart?

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 11:10 am

      Carrara is much further north. There’s an U23 race there that passes the quarries… and then into one and past giant slabs of marble, it feels like the race has taken a wrong turn, only then it goes into the tunnels cut into the rock. It’s probably the most “WTF” road race in the world. I’ve wondered if the Giro will dare as it’s spectacular but maybe considered too dangerous.

      • Ecky Thump Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 12:26 pm

        It seems like RCS are finally waking up to what a cultural gem they have on their hands with the Giro?
        You’d think they’d be shouting, singing, dancing, eating, marching, quarrying etc etc from the rooftops about the history and culture of the various regions at their fingertips but I’m still finding their race promotion very limited, shall we say, although I don’t speak Italian unfortunately and haven’t listened to their podcast.
        But they need to get some ordinary punters involved, instead of research from an office laptop?
        Is that a fair criticism?
        The marble quarries race sounds unbelievable!

        • Andrew Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 1:07 pm

          I have been following some of the race on the official Giro live ticker, and they fill pretty much all of the dead time with historical and touristic information. It’s quite good, actually, if a bit dry. Needs a few pictures to go with the words.

        • gabriele Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 1:23 pm

          In Italy, it’s become again a big deal recently, the last ten years or so, with hours and hours of public TV in the morning just doing that, often – and with mixed result – at the hands of writers, poets and whatever. They just don’t sell it to the rest of the world, nor do they think much about that option.
          Why?

          The core of the question is that, as debated when discussing the Eurosport deal, apparently RCS gave up on international mass public they had already available. Not mere theory – in Spain or in France they were averaging 1 million viewers each stage (from scratch, not after years of promotion), and it could be probably be grown to bigger figures. But as soon as it was apparent that they had those figures to sell out, well, they sold ’em out. Fast, sure money instead of visibility and impact.

          Alas, things as they are, they apparently believe that the Giro should work as a mass show in Italy (2 M avg. viewers, 5 to 10 M reach) while it stays a niche event for cycling enthusiasts in the rest of the world. Sponsors which want to show up in the Italian market are food, wine, hotels, banks, energy (the Italian brand ENEL, although they themselves also own the main Spanish company! – but no ENEL offer will ever be proposed to Spanish homes, it will be branded ENDESA), watches, underwear… quite much commodities or services for a general public of consumers. On Eurosport Spain, it’s all about static cycling, cycling clothes, cycling food… or electric cars, at most.
          I guess that the marketing geniuses out there do believe that a sportman or sportwoman isn’t interested in culture by default. Even if a decent numbers of cycling trip companies are offering precisely the mix you (and I) are thinking about: roads, food, wine, history, culture.
          Whatever.
          I believe they’re losing a huge occasion.

          • Lukyluk Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 1:52 pm

            I share that view, Gabriele, and I share your regrets at what could be.
            The problem is, even if there is an international appetite for it (not a given) there really isn’t much backing for the “tourism/culture” aspect of cycling, outside of host broadcasts. Maybe it’s a by-product of being shown on sports channels, or as parts of the sports programming, rather than a full-on editorial board of an all-purpose public channel like on RAI or France TV.

            When I started watching the Tour de France on TV on English-language channels, after having seen so many iterations in France, I was gobsmacked by the complete lack of coverage of anything that wasn’t sport, in the narrowest sense of the term. Sometimes, the pair of commentators would comment on a “beautiful” landscape… but that was it, they just called it beautiful, and moved on – no history, no context, the most you could hope for was a cheeky cutoff for a “traditional” food recipe (which would have Bocuse roll over in his grave) or a couple of holiday anecdotes by Carlton Kirby (and the poor man seems to miss the context about half the time). Eurosport has segments for the tweets of cyclists on the previous day, but nothing beyond the sport.

            SBS coverage in Australia is even more of a chuckle in that regard. When you get air shots or pre-recorded footage of landmarks, while the French TV broadcast has a consultant talking over, the SBS broadcast just had their usual commentator pair fill the void, preferably with cycling team news, because they didn’t get much in the way of notes – not much more than what’s written in the road book anyway. After a few stages of awkward “Oh, that’s – er – another nice castle. Look how nice. Yes, very nice. Can we go back to racing?”, they just straight up cut to commercial now, whenever a landmark shows up.

          • Vitus Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 2:51 pm

            Total ignorance of cultural things is one thing that occurs to me always if I have to watch the English-speaking Eurosport.
            Not so on their German channel. In Grand Tours they always have a third commentator, who studies the cultural roadbook and chimes in whenever there is a castle, church or something else to see. Points at which Carlton Kürbis only have one of his lame jokes about broken walls and he’s the only one who laughs about it.

        • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 3:04 pm

          As Gabriele says, in Italian coverage you have a writer as part of the TV commentary crew – earlier the discussion was about food, “man is programmed to live to 120 but because he eats badly doesn’t live as long” – and he ends the days stage with some reading or even a poem. It works. France TV has the same with a main commentator, two consultants, plus a historian. You need it in a grand tour to pass the time.

          But as the Giro is sold abroad to Eurosport/GCN subscribers I suspect there’s going to be more about watts and tire widths than food, poetry or wine today. If people want more on the culture and geography in English, the Cycling Podcast’s episodes are doing plenty thanks to Daniel Friebe.

          • Andrew C Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 6:04 pm

            Back in the days of David Duffield, Eurosport UK’s Tour coverage did have much greater input on non-cycling matters – history, culture and cuisine of the areas the race passed through – from someone who if I remember correctly was stuck in a basement in Paris with a stack of books, rather than out on the road. It may even have been Carlton Kirby before he “quite frankly” was let loose on commentary duties.
            I miss those digressions, particularly on long stages when not much is happening. One of the reasons for watching these races in their entirety is to see the landscape, and a side helping of education is always welcome. As an italophile I’d love to learn more about the country as the race passes through.

          • cp Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 6:14 pm

            I appreciate the commentary of people like Dan Lloyd, who is well (and soft) spoken and seems to share knowledge of what is probably going on on the road, but when he turns to “watts and tire widths” as you say, the eyes glaze over.

            Though I know nothing of cricket, the old cricket writing of CLR James was amazing–you can find it in collections–and if cycling had someone like him, it’d be fantastic. But that’s about as likely as team radios and power meters being banned. He had am amazing way of bringing his political insights as a Marxist, anti-colonialist intellectual, as well as his insane general erudition, into his writing, without it ever being obvious, overt, or ham-fisted. I never understood a thing he said about the actual sport, but the other stuff was great.

            Sometimes I also wish there were a cycling equivalent of Mystery Science Theater 3000, a classic, bizarre old comedy show where a guy and his robot friends stranded on a space ship are tortured by some evil force (I can’t recall the setup) who constantly delivers the worst films in history to their screens. They just take the piss all through the film, and we get to just listen in to their bizaroo banter. That would pass the long flat stages quite nicely.

            Perhaps there is a niche market out there? Youtube channel anyone?

            WTH happened to DQS and Remco E today? Wow.

          • Larry T Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 9:03 pm

            Ol’ Duffers…brings back (bad) memories of Eurosport in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s when he’d be going on about “My wife and I enjoyed a great bottle of wine last night….” while Chiappucci or someone was attacking. It was one thing to try to liven up a dull period but he seemed too often oblivious to what was happening on the video screen in front of him.
            cp-back-in-the-day some guys in the USA, former Velonews employees used to do a LUG (Live Update Guy) online running commentary for LeTour and sometimes Il Giro. Anyone could join in and add their own snarky comments while throwing a few bucks into LUG’s online tip jar. Eventually the boyz got too busy with the rest of their lives and pulled-the-plug. 🙁

          • Martin Cox Wednesday, 26 May 2021, 2:31 pm

            When I started watching cycling there seemed to be a lot more Gary Imlach style cultural segments on the specialties of the local region, be it churches, industry or food. Perhaps the budgets are that much leaner these days that there are no presenters that can be sent one day ahead to record these interesting pieces?
            Perhaps then the channels could employ someone akin to the legend that was David Duffield to talk about cheese, wine, and other interesting tidbits that add colour to the stage?
            For those unsure about the brilliance of Duffield, this may shed some light – https://bikesy.co.uk/features/david-duffield/the-original-duffieldisms/

        • Larry T Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 6:38 pm

          “It seems like RCS are finally waking up to what a cultural gem they have on their hands with the Giro?”
          Did you just drop in from another planet? 🙂

  • Tomski Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 10:44 am

    Gorka Izaguirre to slip away unmarked. There, I’ve said it.

  • Piwakawaka Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 10:46 am

    Thomas De Gendt , haven’t seen him so far, this will be his stage

  • plurien Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 10:59 am

    Support logistics will be at full stretch today. Teams with GC hopes may be reluctant to get a rider in any break, unless they have supporters roadside. Even in the main group of favourites things will get so strung out that it could take a long time for a team car or even a team mate to give a wheel or swap a bike.
    I was thinking Bettiol, especially now I learn he’s local, but I do wonder/hope this could be the rare day that Bardet does a number.

  • Anonymous Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 11:08 am

    Moscon seems in good shape, might be the MVP of the day.

    • jc Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 12:20 pm

      I have been surprised at how good he has been. After his somewhat chequered history I thought it was an odd pick, maybe picking Italians in Italy etc. Clearly not he seems back to his top form he always seemed to have great potential. I do hope he has learnt learnt from his previous unpleasant behaviour.

  • J Evans Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 12:22 pm

    I think a breakaway might well take it because it would make sense for the GC contenders to ride relatively slowly in order to keep their team mates around them should they require bike changes, etc. – at least in the early gravel parts.
    However, I’m hopeful that today’s riders are adventurous enough to at some point attempt to take time on their rivals rather than simply trying to avoid losing time.

    • gabriele Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 1:41 pm

      Yeah. Ineos doing an old-style Sky. Irrelevant break out with five minutes after 10 kms or so. Bernal needing a nature break after ten minutes riding, black shirts blocking the road, strolling through the countryside and eating great. Now let’s have one hour and a half of pure nothing, then we’ll see.
      Taco takes two? 🙂

      However, to keep a touch of hope alight, maybe allowing a soft break might actually mean they want to go for the stage, making sure they’ll catch’em later… or maybe they just want to give away the stage, to avoid things getting too much mixed up… as I said, we’ll see.

      I’d have liked best a serious fight for the early break.

  • jc Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 2:14 pm

    There is a nasty little thunderstorm slowly moving south through Tuscany, currently just east of Pisa, assuming it doesnt fade away it would get to the Montalcino area around 16:00….

  • Anonymous Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 5:16 pm

    Wow, what as plendid tv viewers treat that was and a Maglia Rosa wearer who puts the boot in to boot.

  • Steppings Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 6:02 pm

    Wonderful stage from start to finish, terrific enjoyment.

    • gabriele Thursday, 20 May 2021, 1:04 am

      Now now, the very spectacular part in racing terms was ONLY the last 75 kms, don’t let yourself be carried away… you get treated to that in any *modern-style* GT. Errrr, or not.

  • RQS Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 9:41 pm

    Yates is the new Heimar Zubeldia

    • osbk67 Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 10:45 pm

      Which Grand Tour did Zubeldia win? Stage races are judged at the finish…

      • gabriele Thursday, 20 May 2021, 12:58 am

        Perhaps he should be considered the bona fide winner of one of the best Tour de France of the last 20 years, i.e. the 2003 edition!
        By the way, he got a top ten at the TdF 5 times out of 16 participations, whereas at the Vuelta it’s only 1/12 (just once at the Giro, which he ended in 49th place).
        That says a lot about the riding style which the TdF’s GC usually rewards 😛

        Ps RQS’s commentary was quite obviously tongue in cheek, but managed to be unfair both to S. Yates, who’s losing less time than you’d expect from that sort of approach (and might find fresh energies later) *and* to Zubeldia… let’s see if Simon is ever able to finish 26 GTs as legendary Haimar! 😉

      • RQS Thursday, 20 May 2021, 9:58 am

        As Gabriele notes I was joking. He’s not riding his usual race though. He’s normally a bit more visible, and so far he’s been anonymous, but has also improved his GC position (hence the Zubeldia comment).
        I wonder if we’ll see a move later on in the Giro. It’s not like him to not attack at some point. The Zoncolon could be a big target. It maybe that this a new strategy to ensure he finishes strongly this time. It’ll be interesting to see how he plays it, though not if he is the new Zubeldia.