Giro Stage 11 Preview

A sprint by the sea.

A Fond La Forme: it felt like no move was ever going to get away and UAE would just have to do a few turns on the front and voila, they’d reach the foot of the Bocca della Selva with only a small deficit on the riders away and could launch Pogačar.

Only a bigger group fought harder to get away. Behind a decision was taken. Pogačar and others, both his team mates and rivals, stopped to urinate and that was it, the breakaway was going to be allowed to stay away. Name another sport where stopping for a leak is a tactical component.

Up ahead Jan Tratnik attacked after the Intergiro sprint with 37km to go, using the descent to build up a lead. He’s not the ideal climber with a 20km summit finish coming up but all the more reason to use the roads before to construct an advantage. The final climb suited too, especially if he had the same climbing form on the slopes of Mount Fuji in in the Tokyo Olympics. Five riders chasing were Filipo Fiorelli, Marco Frigo, Andrea Bagioli, Romain Bardet and Valentin Paret-Peintre but Fiorelli vanished to leave four.

UAE returned to the front to ride tempo but soon Bahrain took up the chase. This was an important moment because it shows they are out to defend Antonio Tiberi’s sixth place and his shot at the white jersey. The San Marino Sharpshooter is 12 seconds behind white jersey Cian Uijtdebroeks and he can hope to put him Uit de trui in this Saturday’s time trial. Beyond Bahrain and Tiberi’s plans it shows a whole extra team is ready to take on the race.

Onto the Bocca della Selva and Frigo couldn’t sustain the pace. With 13km to go with Tratnik’s lead at one minute Bardet and Paret-Peintre exchanged words and seconds later “VPP” attacked with Bardet following. This distanced Bagioli but only just but probably had a psychological effect with the French tandem taking turns and slowly eating into Tratnik’s lead. With 3km to go VPP attacked Bardet to ride down Tratnik and go solo for the win, his first.

The best stage so far? Certainly no quiet moments with attacks from the start but for a great day we would have had the “two races for the price of one” with some GC action. Not with Pogačar here though, just the subplot of Tiberi vs Uijtdebroeks.

If Decathlon-Ag2r team boss Vincent Lavenu pinched himself while checking the weekly UCI rankings out yesterday morning to see his squad sitting second behind UAE, having even increased their lead on the rest, you wonder what he thought by the end of the day?

The Route: a stage of two parts, there’s a hilly section inland which contributes to the 1850m of vertical gain before a long run along the Adriatic coast past endless beaches, campsites and seaside resort towns.

The Finish: flat. After riding north-west along the coast and reaching Francavilla there’s a U-turn in town or rather two right hand bends that take the race onto a 3.5km long finishing straight.

The Contenders: with a stage win and two second places Jonathan Milan (Lidl-Trek) is the deductive pick, these results helped by both his raw speed and a strong leadout which further boosts his chances today. Tim Merlier (Soudal-Quickstep) should be close but has been less consistent, a stage win but his best other result so far is fifth and he’s smarting from a crash in the time trial, even if he’s had time to recover these things can accumulate too during a stage race with lost sleep and inflammation.

With the sprinters each having one stage so far, including the now-absent Olav Kooij who finally jumped the waterfall last Sunday in Naples but fell ill and is out. It could be Kaden Groves’ turn, especially if his Alpecin-Deceuninck team can concentrate their work in the final kilometres of the stage instead of the early part. Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain) is often close but has yet to win a grand tour stage.

There are more chances but time is running out for Fabio Jakobsen (DSM) and Caleb Ewan (Jayco), star names but in the difficult position where repeat defeats create more doubt. However they have a chance and this supplies more teams to chase today.

Merlier, Groves
Bauhaus, Jakobsen

Weather: sunshine and 23°C. Once by the coast there’ll be an onshore wind but cooling breeze rather than angry crosswind.

TV: KM0 is at 12.15pm CEST and the finish is forecast for 5.10pm CEST. Tune in around 5.00pm to catch the sprint… but check in case they’re ahead of schedule.

Postcard from Termoli
The Giro goes past Termoli on the coast. Caleb Ewan won here in 2021. The race also visited in 1987 and the story of that year’s Giro was Stephen Roche’s win, beating his own team mate Roberto Visentini after a bitter internal team battle that makes Cane-Abel sound mild and Simoni-Cunego in 2004 look courteous.

After the Giro Roche would win the Tour de France and then Worlds in the same year… something Tadej Pogačar wants to try too although arguably the Irishman had it a little easier the Worlds were held in August back then.

That year the stage victory in Termoli went to Paolo Rosola, a solid sprinter who took 11 Giro stage wins during a road career between 1978 and 1990.

But that wasn’t the end of his cycling career as he switched to mountain biking. Today plenty of riders retire from the World Tour and turn to the gravel scene but Rosola did this decades ago, even moving into mountain biking at time when the name itself wasn’t even settled. As you can see from the card above he joined the “ATB Bianchi Team”, ATB… as in All Terrain Bike. He might be the first top-level road cyclist to have made the switch… but informed readers might know better.

Just like today’s gravel scene, in 1990 mountain biking was booming. You probably know the sport started out with a few riders adapting cruiser bikes, sometimes with motorbike parts, to race downhill in California at the end of the 1970s. By the end of the 1980s this had become big business. To open a road cycling magazine from 1989 or 1990 is to see plenty of road cycling in the reports but it’s all juxtaposed by adverts for mountain bikes and off-road equipment, not dissimilar from today where a road magazine has a lot of gravel bikes. These companies presumably started to need proven athletes to compete on their behalf and Rosola was ready-made.

He rode for Bianchi and even competed in the Downhill Worlds in 1991 where his sprint might have been handy. Once he stopped pinning a number he stayed in the sport, lately as a manager on the Gazprom team. Despite plenty of wins on the road and beyond, he’s arguably the underachiever in his household as he’s married to Paola Pezzo, the mountain biker who won gold in the Olympics and Worlds many times.

41 thoughts on “Giro Stage 11 Preview”

  1. This comparison between MTB from the early 90s and gravel today amuses me – the terrain tackled, the technical “innovations” in gravel, and type of racing seem directly comparable. I even saw a gravel magazine, of all things, with suggested routes that could have come straight from an early issue Mountain Biking UK.

    But if you’re around cycling long enough you see the trends come and go, so whilst I’m poking fun I don’t mind really. And it’s been great for the consumer. In the early 90s my dad built up a bike with 700c tandem rims, ‘hybrid’ tyres (which were also new at the time), flat bars etc to ride on local disused railway paths. No need for that sort of build now with a great range of equipment available directly from the manufacturers.

    • Still got and ride my mid-90s MTB, and yes, nowadays it would be a gravel bike but the trails and bridleways we rode on back then would definitely make a 2024 gravel rider nervous.

      • Well that’s true enough. I sometimes think about this as my full suspension bike and I carefully pick our way down a bridleway that I would have torn down on a fully rigid bike without a second thought. But then something about age, the roots are surely more exposed now etc, etc…

  2. As well as a sport where taking a leak is part pf the tactics, can anyone name a sport where if everyone wants something to happen it makes it less likely to happen?! There has been at least a couple of stages now where because everyone wants to be in the break nobody lets the break go. The break then takes ages to form, if it does at all, and doesn’t have time to build up a lead, unless Pogacar needs the lav. It’s genuinely bizarre. Why don’t they all just agree on which riders are going in the break before the start of the stage and let them ride off at the start?!
    Also, has there been a stage yet where Fiorelli hasn’t been in the break?!

  3. Paola Pezzo single-handedly made MTB mainstream in Italy in the summer of ‘96. Why? First-ever Olympic champion, and the second reason you can easily google yourself.

  4. The meaning of “Uit de trui” is apparent in context, but I had to look it up – and it is indeed “out of the jersey” in Dutch.

    PS Yesterday´s win was the 15th this season for Decathlon AG2R: Cosnefroy 6, Lapeira 3, Godon and O´Connor 2, frères Paret-Paintre 1. (Bennett, Gall and Vendrame are, for varying reasons, without a win.)

    • Alas Cian is “Uit de Giro” as he is ill. There seems to be something doing the rounds at the race but “respiratory illness” is the feedback for now rather than anything more specific.

      For the translation his name Uijtdebroeks can mean “out of the trousers/pants”. Napoleon forced the population to have the first name and family name system and so people had to choose surnames all of a sudden. Some rebelled or joked and so to this day you have people with surnames like “The Fat One” or “Drunkard”… but broek can also mean a marsh too, a bit less memorable.

  5. @richard s – good interview with Visma DS on Cycling Pod today – just noting his personality and why there was a form dip at Catalunya.

    Also nice to hear from Tiberi (cat murder and all…)

    As I’m on a podcast update on the other pod ‘which can’t be named’ (as I don’t want to be accused of plugging again) interesting stuff on their wrap up week as to their thinking Vingegaard will be at the Tour in good form. I was pretty persuaded tbh.

  6. The Belgium’s do indeed have some odd surnames. Uijtdebroeks translates as ‘out of your trousers’. Some other surnames are best left to Flemish speakers themselves!

  7. Portable toilet facilities are the norm in Marathons. In the larger events they can be found just two miles apart! Please don’t bring these facilities/ideas to bike racing!

    • There’s nothing tactical about stopping for a toilet break in a Marathon, you either need to go or not and make the choice!
      A bold (and you could say tactically erroneous) decision made by the person finishing a place after me at the 2018 Manchester marathon, who had an attack of the ‘Gingerbread man.’ I never did ask him if it was worth it for dipping under 2:43 – he didn’t appear to be in the mood for chatting!

      Snooker players probably can use toilet breaks as tactics, much like tennis players. Darts players have been known to tactically fart. But darts and snooker are games not sport…

  8. Interesting segment about Paolo Rosola, thanks INRNG.

    Standout rider I can think of from the time mixing the two is John Tomac – he won a lot of MTB races, then joined 7-Eleven team followed by Motorola so was competing in road/XC/DH events back when it wasn’t all so specialist. Sadly he didn’t really set the road world alight.

  9. If I click on the header image for this post on the homepage I get a broken link notification – navigates to […]-rancavilla-[…] instead of […]-francavilla-[…]

  10. Love the early 90s MTB angle today. Like @Ewen (and many others here I’m sure), I too still ride my early 90s mountain bike – a then state-of-the-art Rockhopper. Absolutely bulletproof.

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