Giro d’Italia Stage 11 Preview

What’s Italian for déjà vu? Another contest between the breakaway and the sprinters’ teams on a 200km+ stage with over 2000m+ of vertical gain… and it’ll rain again too. But if the stages have similarities, the racing keeps changing. All change tomorrow though with the start of the Alpine racing.

Magnus Opus: the day started with a weather alert for the Apennines. A medicane, or Mediterranean hurricane, had hit the coast and before a pedal was turned nine riders were DNS with Evenepoel’s absence still the headline news. A majority of riders wanted the stage shortened but their concerns were met with the promise the weather would perk up. Soudal-Quickstep were among the early attackers, keen to show after losing their leader. A quartet finally formed with Magnus Cort, David Bais, Derek Gee and Alessandro De Marchi, although Cort missed it at first but surged across. Later Bais was dangling but he made it to the top of the climb to take the points for his blue jersey. Behind the hard climbing saw Aleksandr Vlasov in trouble and he’d soon quit, and a post-stage test revealed another Covid positive. Despite the slope and the pace many riders were frozen to the bone, unable to work the zippers on their clothing or to pull off soaked gloves. Things were worse on the way down and with the wet roads and numb fingers many crashed, including Jay Vine who despite help from UAE would lose molto time.

The breakaway trio gave the chasing peloton plenty of work, to the point that once the peloton was shrunk by the climbing, crashes and cold weather, there was almost nobody left to chase. Ineos pulled presumably to ensure Vine’s GC challenge wilted. But among the sprinters Trek-Segafredo, Astana and Bahrain willed a sprint but they lacked the means to bring back the breakaway. In the finish Cort was the fastest on paper and his rivals didn’t try much but the course with the flat roads wasn’t exactly ambush country. Cort showed ice cold finishing skills, first bridging across to Gee’s late attack, then biding his time before sprinting to the win and even though well ahead, not celebrating until he was crossing the line. You could show the finish to students of how to finish a stage. After Pedersen got his “Pederslam” of a stage in all three grand tours, now it’s another great Dane in the tredobbelt club.

On the overall classification let’s note how dominant Ineos are with five riders in the top-11, while Vlasov has now gone for Bora and Jay Vine lost over ten minutes on GC; even the non-GC days are turning to their advantage although it’s not passive, they’re putting the squeeze on as well.

The Route: at 219km, the longest stage of the race at least by distance as some mountain stages to come will take more time. There’s 2,100m of climbing and after scenic procession up the Tuscan coast the climbing starts with the 13km Passo del Bracco, “hound pass”, a long climb but it’s bark is no worse than its bite although there is 3.5km at 6-7%. On the way down there’s a small fountain of spring water that doubles as a tribute to Fausto Coppi and the Italian champion is celebrated throughout this stage, he was born near the finish in Tortona and died there; his brother Serse was born 100 years ago and there’s also Costante Girardengo, the first “campionissimo” who was born in nearby Novi.

The Passo della Castagnola, “chestnut pass”, is a gentle big ring kind of climb and so probably not the launchpad for a nutty late attack. It marks the crossing point into the Piemonte region and the race follows the Lemme valley to Gavi, home of the celebrated vineyards and then a largely flat finish all the way to Tortona.

The Finish: in town but via the outskirts on a main road that’s flat. A roundabout at 2km to go but the left exit is more a gentle, sweeping bend than a corner. There’s a right turn with 400m to go.

The Contenders: another sprinters vs the breakaway day. The profile doesn’t look spiky but there’s still plenty of climbing but most of it is gradual. It should be advantage to the sprinters and their teams especially as some breakaway specialists might save themselves for tomorrow’s incursion into the Alps.

Among the sprinters it’s hard to pick. Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) is fast but had a tough time yesterday off the back and as mentioned already his train his diminished which makes things harder. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) won the bunch sprint yesterday. Mark Cavendish (Astana) is ripening for want of a better metaphor at the moment. But take your pick from the rampaging Jonathan Milan (Bahrain), Pascal Ackermann (UAE) or Fernando Gaviria (Movistar).

Pedersen, Cavendish
Milan, Ackermann, Groves, Gaviria

Weather: sorry to be the bringer of bad news but another cold day, wet and 14°C. A headwind for much of the stage too. It’s not easy for the Giro but it’s harder on Italy too with flooding and disasters in the regions the race has just visited.

TV: KMO is at 11.45am the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST.

72 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia Stage 11 Preview”

    • Optimistically, I’d say Eddie Dunbar could aspire to climb to a similar standard as Simon Yates – but his performances have yet to achieve that.

    • In the last few weeks he has been climbing really good. Not on the level of simon yates or even that close where he might burst away from the GC group. But he has been finishing with the majority of the well regarded GC riders. I don’t think any of these climbs he has been good on however approach the size of the ones coming up so he would need to step up even more. He might need people like De marchi to stop going in breaks in order to protect him from wind, get bottles etc for as long as possible on some days if he wants to maximise his results. I think the team realistically will favour breakaway points instead of moving to eights instead of ninth.

      His TT does seem to need a lot of work if he wants to challenge on any 1 week or 3 week race with a TT component.

  1. I looked at the weather forecast for northern Italy yesterday. It looks like the wet weather is set to stick around. Its hard not to feel a bit sorry for the organisers and riders.
    After yesterdays breakaway and Messi- esque finish from Cort it would be nice to see a sprint today, ideally won by Cavendish.

    • I’ll feel sorry for the riders if they don’t get used to asking for shortened stages when it rains. By the way, what kind of gloves are they using that their hands get numb? Surely not ski gloves…

      • Have you tried pressing those Di2 or e-Tap buttons with ski gloves on? I´m not arguing that there couldn´t have been a better choice of handwear, but I can understand that the riders are loath to give up even a small amount of control and grip (that they are used to) for increased warmth.

        Besides, there is always the problem that your hands get wet inside your gloves. It need not be a problem as long as your hands stay warm, but if you do need a new, dry pair of gloves, it can be a pain to get them on (unless you can do it somewhere warm where you can dry your hands first).

        PS It is always far easier for hobby riders to dress properly and right for the conditions. We seldom have to ride as hard and therefore we can avoid overheating simply by riding less intensely when it gets sweaty.

        (The same is true in cross-country skiing when it´s really cold: the pros are not stupid, they too know how to avoid being underdressed, it´s just that they cannot afford it because even a small amount of overheating takes too heavy a toll at race intensity.

        • I typically wear a very old pair of Endura winter gloves (my wife bought me a fancy pair of Castellis once, even thicker and warmer, but I find them an overkill and inconvenient to put on), which keep my hands dry inside for the whole ride no matter how long I ride, and how much it pours, and I’ve no problem braking my even older Ultegra rim brakes. I’ve never found hand overheating worse than uncomfortable. I tell this only to say that weather management is basically about prudent choice of equipment, and I assume pro riders have a wealth of choice that weekend warriors don’t have. I would have thought yesterday everyone would wear their warmest, most insulating gloves from the very start. That’s why I’m curious about the gloves they were wearing.

        • “Have you tried pressing those Di2 or e-Tap buttons with ski gloves on?”
          Oh, the humanity!!! “Help, I can’t operate my whiz-bang electronic gizmos in these gloves! What’s next, my SRAM batteries die? My EPS stops working and I bang on the shifter in frustration or my Di2 chain keeps dropping? What kind of suffering am I gonna have to endure next?”
          Gimmee a f__king break!

          • You really seem to enjoy ranting for the sake of ranting 🙂

            The fact is that the riders have to ride the bikes they´re given and it would be quite stupid of them to pretend that their gears aren´t electronic.

            For what´s it worth I was merely trying to suggest there may well be a reason why the riders choose to wear gloves that, in wet and cold conditions, may leave them with numb hands (when we wanna-bes would wear our well-isolated and waterproof gloves).

          • Don’t worry Larry, the next step will be to implant a device in each rider’s brain, which will wirelessly communicate with a sensor in the derailleurs. All riders will have to do is think about shifting, and it’ll happen. They won’t even need shift levers, which, though lower weight, will save 1.3 watts when riding at 95 kph. Fact.

            Surely you’ll agree that this is an important and necessary improvement over mechanical, wire-based shifting? 😁

          • @Wednesday I get your point, but it can lead to the situation when riders say “I can’t ride this bike in this weather because the appropriate clothes for this weather won’t let me handle this bike, therefore, Mr. Organiser, you have to shorten the stage”. Which is ludicrous, and would only beg the answer: “getting the right combination of bike and clothing is your problem, not the organiser’s”.

          • Wednesday – I get tired of reading and hearing about “improvements” and “technology” in the sport whether it’s equipment or something else. Back-in-the-day I might have hated Fausto Coppi’s approach too, who knows? But when I read things about how hard it might be to push the buttons on electronic shifting gizmos, it’s too much.
            All these “improvements” come at a cost (and that’s not just money) that nobody much talks about – it’s all in the selling. A good example is carbon rims. Great, except carbon doesn’t lend itself well to the construction of a wheel rim..especially when it comes to a braking surface. So braking was awful and the answer was something way more complicated and expensive – hydraulic disc brakes, which didn’t play well with Tullio Campagnolo’s brilliant invention so Q/R’s were scrapped in favor of something (wait for it) way more complicated and expensive – thru axles. Bike racks had to be changed since the wheels were too time-consuming to remove and the guys at the roadside now need electric-powered drivers to change ’em. Few wheels are changed these days in favor of complete bikes.
            See where this goes? Think F1 for an example. A simple sport (after all, the things still have two wheels and a chain and fall down/go nowhere unless there’s a person pedaling them) moves ever closer to F1 or MOTOGP. You might like that, especially if you’re in the biz of selling the newest-latest stuff but I’m not anymore and I don’t.
            I want to check the tire pressure, drip a bit of oil on the chain and RIDE!
            So get off my lawn so I can get off the porch and go back inside and yell at the TV!
            Larry (Boomer) T

      • One issue with high haematocrit levels is that blood thickens resulting in poor circulation and very cold fingers (I know only too well). Not implying anything, though.

    • Feel sorry for all those whose homes and businesses are full of water and mud.. if they haven’t slid off the hillside! Meanwhile poor Piedmont gets nothing to relieve their drought. The western side of Sicily has been hammered too while we’ve gotten just showers in the east for the most part.
      Mankind has really f–ked up the climate, just as the scientists predicted.

      • Can’t humanity just stop whining about clamate worries and just out better clothes on?
        I start to miss the stringency in your boomer porch rants, Larry

  2. Perhaps Ineos are playing their cards to take a clean sweep of the podium if things go the right way. There was really no need to send Sivakov on a high risk mission to chase Caruso unless they do have some sort of plan. Can’t say they are racing conservatively, though. I’m surprised that neither Kamna nor Dunbar tried to go with Caruso. Either they think they’ll be a lot better in the Alps than their form would show or they are happy with where they are.

    • They should go for a clean sweep of the top 5. And maybe also being the only five finishers, sending OTL the few survivers of the third week.

      • The dream would be for Ineos to have at least three riders all tied in 1st on GC, on exactly the same time. I’d then like to see them wear one massive maglia rosa, covering all three riders, for the final stage. It would really capture the sophisticated Italian style

  3. Cav looked quite upset at the last Astana rider left in his sprint train yesterday at the line. I wonder why, they were only sprinting for fourth.

    • Maybe because this rider didn’t contribute to the chase? In the last 20k,it was 3vs 3 with the break against Pasqualon, Moscon and Gehbreigzabhier. I was surprised to see another Astana rider appear suddenly in the last 2k or so when it was too late.

    • And surely said Astana rider was cooked after having to lead to bunch chase with only a couple of others. My hopeful side says this is Cav winding up “ripening” as INRNG says. Let’s see today

    • That rider was Maestri of Eolo – similar jersey. No idea why – it seemed – having a rant at him.
      In a situation like yesterday, once they had no teammates left, the sprinters *could* all come together and decide to work together to chase it down themselves… but it would inevitably end up like the scorpion and the frog.

  4. It is pretty miserable for the riders no surprise to see so many abandons. Weather looks like it might be OK today but Friday to Sunday looks horrid (though maybe not so wet on the Swiss side), torrential rain & not so warm, could well be snowing on the passes. I wonder if we might see some of the stages neutralised which would be a great shame. Assuming he stays healthy I would suggest it helps G, lots of stories about riding in miserable Welsh / North West England conditions as a teenager.

    Given the length of the stage and how exhausted the riders clearly are this seems like another break today, who has the capacity to chase beyond Ineos and JV?

  5. Gsb deleted from Friday (they’re going through the tunnel Instead). I’m not surprised as friends in chamonix have been telling me it’s been a cold wet spring with plenty new snow falling above 2000m.

    • Friends from the Vallée have been telling me since last Summer (when well before presentation voices about the stage route were already around) that the Swiss wouldn’t put at risk the tunnel money from an especially intense long weekend …just opening the pass. Dietrologia and a long call, but my friends won their bet, while RCS lost it. Oh, look, Vegni had just said a few days ago they’d ride each and every mountain pass, surely he knew better.

  6. As I was so wrong about Mollema yesterday (really should have guessed Cort would have been in the break), how about Mollema today?!

    @jc I think there are a lot of (especially) northern European riders with plenty of experience growing up (& during their pro careers) of riding in terrible, grim weather. Doesn’t make it any nicer though!

    • When Mads Pederson came second in the (very wet) Tour of Flanders a few years ago, he was asked at the finish how it was to race in such awful weather. His reply, on live TV, was basically “At home I’m always training in this shit, shit weather. I don’t like it, but I don’t mind it”

  7. Ineos’ prime advantage in this race is having two riders in the top three.

    The worst thing they could do now is to ride conservatively because, as Thomas put it, they ‘have the jersey in the team’. The idea – also put forward by Robbie McEwen – that you should suddenly ride differently because you’re a couple of seconds ahead instead of a couple of seconds behind is nonsensical. If you ride in that way, you don’t put pressure on Roglic, and he might well turn out to be better than you in a straight-up race.

    The best thing for them to do is to attack Roglic one by one – maybe even using their other riders who are high up on GC. That way, Roglic (with teammates, presumably, for some of the time) has to respond to each attack – or attack himself, which Ineos can then use their team to counter.

    I can see that Thomas might well want the entire team behind him, as happened when Bernal won the TdF. But – and this is ignoring that TGH is probably the better rider, currently – the best thing for the team to do is to have a much better chance of winning by attacking Roglic with one rider, while the other follows Roglic’s every move.

    For Roglic, if he is attacked by multiple riders, the only thing to do is to attack yourself, rather than letting your rivals double-team you like that.

    (Maybe TGH’s wee attack on Stage 10 suggests he agrees with me. I hope so: I always think riders should compete to win, even against their teammates, as long as it’s not going to put the overall victory for the team at risk – think Froome actually challenging Wiggins in 2012.)

  8. The CPA are a joke now with their talk of a majority of riders being against riding, and then we watch them ride.
    And the riders and teams never dare pull this ‘we won’t ride in bad weather sh*t’ against ASO; it’s always saved for the Giro. 40 degrees at the Vuelta? No problem.
    At the top, it was 5 degrees; 23km/h winds, according to whoever provides the TV pictures.
    Commentators on the TV saying that ‘riders don’t want to get sick’.
    It’s never been a health issue to ride in rain and wind. It isn’t now. (And there wasn’t much wind. Commentator at the top of the mountain: her umbrella was barely moving.)
    And if riders/teams wanted to avoid viruses, they should have carried on with the covid protocol and worn masks, etc. We might have more covid cases in this grand tour than in any other – even the ones ridden in 2020.
    Jens Voight on the motorbike said he was a 7 out of 10 on the coldness scale. (He was fantastic entertainment.)
    Talk of riding but only racing the last 70km? How is it less of a health issue if you don’t race and ride slowly, thus getting colder and being out there longer?
    Time to leave it to the race organisers to decide if the conditions are not suitable – and for this to be based on reality, as it happens, not on forecasts.
    Some riders and teams are looking for excuses to not ride when it doesn’t suit them. They want it to be all about legs. They want to negate rider skill, toughness, tactics: the sort of thing we saw with Bahrain’s attack downhill (which didn’t work but was exciting to watch).
    Well done to the riders and teams who decided to ride. Those who wanted not to would have denied us that great day of racing.

    • Reads like a rant…though I couldn’t agree more! 🙂
      Heard a bit of the English-language Eurosport commentators and agree Voight is a huge improvement over Gilbert but that woman on the hilltops reminds of Wiggo when it comes to “maybe had too much to drink?” department. A bit too much drama there IMHO.
      W Il Giro!

    • As for ASO I remember this stage around Spa 10 ? 15 ? years ago where Cancellara decided with the Schlecks to unofficially neutralize the race… But it was not the case in Nice in 2020. Why ? The stage shortening in the Giro in 2020 was very surprising too. Why do you think riders whine more at RCS ? Do they fear more ASO ? It’s a genuine question, I don’t have the answer ; I guess it’s not as simple as this : my impression is that it very depends on the leaders of the peloton at the times. Cancellara was the boss and decided to stop racing to save the Schlecks, not the best bike-handlers in the world (all to the benefit of Chavanel, who never had a problem with bad weather) ; in 2020’s Giro things are more confused, I remember Démare saying he wanted to ride… Was it Adam Hansen ? Yesterday, I have no idea who wanted to stop. UAE ?
      There are traditionally more bad weather in the Giro given it’s in May (Benji Naesen propose to swap Giro and Vuelta). Do riders fear more cold than hot ?
      They is never so much polemics about Belgian classics too (even if I remember one Het Volk cancelled and one LBL shortened due to the cold), but there every rider is ready to fight against elements. Maybe it’s mainly a difference between what’s expected from the riders (Italia, dolce vita, caffè davanti al mare) and reality ? Maybe also there are more fragile climbers in Italy, more sensitive to bad weather than the classicmen who brag about their resistance (I remember a Belgian rider some years ago saying that Pozzato wouldn’t do well in a soaky Ronde because “it would make his overshoes dirty”… It was quite unfair though, Pozzato was quite good in bad condition if I remember well) ? Or do riders really are more confortable to make some polemiche with RCS ? What would be the reason ? I could understand comparing with ASO ; less comparing with a lot of smaller races which are also confronted to bad weather, like Romandie, for example, or Catalunya, or Iztulia, in which I don’t remember such behaviours (or maybe my memory is bad ?)

      • I don’t see where it’s “fragile climbers in Italy, more sensitive to bad weather…” complaining. Seems to be certain commentators and rider union mouthpieces along with the usual social-media keyboard lions who don’t know s–t. It was a long time ago but there were plenty of complaints about ASO chopping up the mountain stage that provided Mr. 60% a sort of armchair ride to yellow in Paris so it’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I’m on the DON’T side…pro cycling’s been about braving the elements to create legends with heroic exploits forever…why throw all that away now?

  9. Maybe, just maybe, it would have been wiser to test all riders for covid before and throughout this race, rather than let the virus spread through the peloton, while presumably pretending that it no longer exists? The previous protocols worked well and wearing a mask is no great hardship.
    But the TV presenters are continuing to blame the weather.
    That Soudal-QS helicopter flight seems like money well spent…

    • Yeah, worked-like-a-charm. How many Soudal riders are still in the race now? Seems to me plenty of teams tested prior to the race – surely you haven’t already forgotten how many J-V riders were replaced before they even went to Italy?

      • Some did, but how many didn’t? We’ve no way of knowing. And after Romandie, the warning signs were there.
        I can’t see why cycling doesn’t just continue with the covid protocols that worked before, at least for three-week races. Because of the nature of cycling – 170ish riders all in a bunch, all of them exposed to the public, etc. – cycling needs to take more precautions (in long races) than most other sports.
        The virus has not gone away. And it’s unlikely to do so.

        • Nobody STOPPED anyone from using their own protocols, did they? As I wrote before I’m continually amazed that virus and bacteria don’t raise hell on every peloton in every race, pandemic or not…so where do you draw the lines? A bunch of folks would no doubt be bitching a fit if they’d kept them on and no outbreaks seemed to pop up, no?

          • Make the protocols mandatory for all teams. Ignore the whiners.
            This virus is more contagious than most, therefore you treat it differently.
            The ‘It’s just a bad cold’ crew have been banging that drum since day one (just like the ‘climate change is natural’ crowd). Ignore them.

      • Roglic tested positive on Covid at the start of the Giro (or the next day). But without symptoms. Nevertheless, it could be reason that he underperformed during the opening TT. He was very lucky not to become ill or infect his teammates. Afterwards, the team denied what Roglic had announced twice. They feared a storm of negative publicity. but G. Thomas was affirmative. Roglic send him a message first concerning his positive testing. The next day Thomas asked Roglic again. He confirmed.
        Roglic himself, meanwhile, has still not denied that he was positive. And I don’t think Thomas is a liar.

        • An alternative scenario would be that Roglic´ test result turned out to be a false positive and his ccomments were what we might call gallows humour of sorts.

          PS I had no idea that some pro riders could have a habit of sending Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/whatever messages to other riders!

    • Not sure I agree that cycling is more exposed to risk than other sports. The main risk is being in enclosed spaces (like a helicopter or gondola lift) not cycling in the open air (even if spectators are nearby). Other team sports where the athletes share dressing rooms (football would seem to be just one example) would seem to have at least as high a risk but no reports of games being cancelled etc. The weather is an issue as water droplets in the air spread viruses especially when the riders are breathing so deeply.

  10. I think everyone who makes it Rome should be given a medal – this is turning into real battle of Man versus Nature.
    Shame for Pozzovivo and all the others who’ve gone home early. 142 left in the race (according to PCS).

    • I’m sure RCS are pulling their hair out as the best laid plans get annihilated by Mother Nature. The awful weather has made the illness seem almost inevitable, then the crashes on top of it. It’s like a Cohen Brothers movie.

    • Good call! Look, there are riders out there in short sleeves…casting shadows onto the road for a change! A break in the weather I’m sure everyone is happy about…how long will it last?

    • Very strange reaction of The Inner Ring. The Covidinfections, how teams and riders are reacting, and the impact on the race are very relevant. Close the eyes or censor will not help the Giro, cycling in general nor an open debate. It reminds me the dark coronaperiod in 2020 when
      not democratic political regimes withheld data, numbers and real covid deaths and censored the press.

    • I’m far more gutted by Geoghan Hart crashing out than if it were Thomas, because I’m always expecting Thomas to crash out anyway!

    • Nice way to put the news, you sure made me smile, but, Tao, uff… quite sad he’s so suddenly out. It’s shocking how many riders from Ineos I actually appreciate a lot, and Tao was clearly among them – not only for sporting reasons, intelligent and kind people are always needed everywhere but especially in cycling.

  11. 4 full bunch sprints (+1 break ahead of full bunch yesterday). 2 more quite probably to come. QED.
    As for “the Giro – as other races – isn’t providing many occasions for the sprinters.”, ahem…

    Among the best stages (although yesterday was very good, too), the only 2 hilly stages available.

    That’s the detail I’d have changed slightly to tilt the balance of this first week, as long as the route is concerned.
    Regarding the rest, given we’ve been naming Popes, maybe an exorcism would have been a good idea.

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