Egan Bernal and Ineos Grenadiers seize control at Giro d’Italia after Mauro Schmid wins gravel stage

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Egan Bernal and Ineos Grenadiers seize control at Giro d'Italia after Mauro Schmid wins gravel stage - GETTY IMAGES

Egan Bernal and Ineos Grenadiers seize control at Giro d’Italia after Mauro Schmid wins gravel stage – GETTY IMAGES

  • Live: Follow commentary of today’s stage from 1pm

  • Swiss rider Schmid lands first career win in Montalcino

  • Bernal tightens his grip on the leader’s pink jersey

  • Carthy moves up to fourth; Yates climbs to fifth

  • Evenepoel left floundering on the gravel roads

Egan Bernal took control of the Giro d’Italia in thrilling fashion on the white gravel roads of Tuscany on Wednesday, extending his overall lead of the race to 45 seconds. Britons Hugh Carthy and Simon Yates also had good days, moving up to fourth and fifth place respectively in the general classification. They are now well positioned should the Colombian falter in the second half of the race.

Stage 11 was a Strade Bianche special, a tribute to the spring race which passes through this area of Italy and takes in long sections of white gravel roads that kick up great clouds of dust around the peloton.

The terrain took some high profile prisoners, notably Belgian wunderkind Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep).

The 21 year-old is racing in his first grand tour and only returned from a long-term injury a couple of months ago. But such had been his start to the race, cycling-obsessed Belgium had started to get extremely excited about the youngster’s prospects.

Evenepoel began the day 14 seconds behind Bernal but never looked entirely comfortable on the gravel and was dropped from the pink jersey group with around 20 kilometres to go. He looked thoroughly fed up, ripping out his earpiece at one point as it took an age for team mate Joao Almeida to drop back and help him. He ended up losing over two minutes to Bernal, who attacked towards the top of the final climb and rode to the finish alongside Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe).

The 2019 Tour de France champion crossed the line three minutes behind stage winner Mauro Schmid (Qhubeka Assos), who was victorious from the breakaway, but nearly 30 seconds ahead Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana), who is now his nearest rival in the general classification at 45 seconds.

Carthy (EF Education-Nippo) and Yates (BikeExchange) were also in Vlasov’s chasing group, Carthy rising to fourth overall at 1min17 and Yates fifth at 1min22sec.

The latter said he was happy with his position. He knows how quickly things can turn around. In 2018 it was Yates taking bonus seconds and attacking his rivals in the first two weeks. He ended up imploding. “Onwards and upwards,” Yates said. “It wasn’t a day I was looking forward to, but I think I did a good ride. I had good legs, that’s the main thing.”

03:17 PM

Bernal extends his overall lead at the Giro

Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) attacks Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) before rolling over the line in 11th spot to extend his lead, while Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) is next to finish from the big general classification hopefuls ahead of Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) who managed to creep into third in the overall standings. Great day for Bernal, Vlasov and Caruso, not so good for Remco Evenepoel, Giulio Ciccone and Dan Martin who all lost time.

Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo) moved to fourth, while fellow Briton Simon Yates (BikeExchange) is now fifth overall. A great performance from EF Education-Nippo who worked hard to protect their leader today, while Yates must be pleased with that result having had to race over a terrain he has said he is not too keen on.

Egan Bernal - Egan Bernal and Ineos Grenadiers seize control at Giro d'Italia after Mauro Schmid wins gravel stage - REUTERSEgan Bernal - Egan Bernal and Ineos Grenadiers seize control at Giro d'Italia after Mauro Schmid wins gravel stage - REUTERS

Egan Bernal – Egan Bernal and Ineos Grenadiers seize control at Giro d’Italia after Mauro Schmid wins gravel stage – REUTERS

Speaking immediately afterwards, Bernal said: “Today we rode well and I increased my lead in the GC [general classification] but the Giro is still long, all the big climbs are still to be ridden. I’m confident but I have to keep my feet firmly on the ground.”

Mauro Schmid, meanwhile, who become the second Swiss to win a stage at this year’s Giro following Gino Mäder’s victory in the opening week, said he even surprised himself. “Actually I cannot believe it. I was only selected for the Giro team about two weeks before the race,” he said. “My preparation was good but at the beginning of the season, I was not even thinking about riding a grand tour. In the last two stages I suffered a lot, but today I really wanted to go on the attack because I really like riding on gravel. In the breakaway, I felt I had good legs and I went for it.”

03:14 PM

Back in the race for pink . . .

Egan Bernal has caught Emanuel Buchmann, the pair riding towards the finish line with both gaining more time with each pedal stroke.

Emanuel Buchmann and Egan Bernal -  - GETTY IMAGESEmanuel Buchmann and Egan Bernal -  - GETTY IMAGES

Emanuel Buchmann and Egan Bernal – – GETTY IMAGES

03:13 PM

Schmid wins stage 11 at the Giro!

Mauro Schmid (Qhubeka-Assos), the Swiss who is making his grand tour debut at the Giro, wins the stage. Just 21 and he has won a memorable stage today. Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates) is runner-up, while Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto-Soudal) takes third.

03:12 PM

500 metres to go

Mauro Schmid and Alessandro Covi approach the finishing line.

03:11 PM

Bernal attacks!

Egan Bernal rises out of his saddle, putting in a huge dig to drop Aleksandr Vlasov and the rest of that group like a large sack of stones. The Ineos Grenadiers rider will, I’m almost certain, be extending his overall lead to tighten his grip on the maglia rosa.

03:09 PM

2km to go

Hugh Carthy moves to the front of the group, followed closely by Egan Bernal, Aleksandr Vlasov, Simon Yates and Tobias Foss.

03:08 PM

2.5km to go

Remco Evenepoel is almost two minutes down on Egan Bernal and Aleksandr Vlasov. Emanuel Buchmann, meanwhile, is ploughing on gaining around 20sec on that group of contenders.

03:06 PM

4.5km to go

Alessandro Covi and Mauro Schmid, by the way, lead the stage.

03:05 PM

Ciccone has a whitey!

Giulio Ciccone falls out of the back of the maglia rosa‘s group, just moments after Marc Soler also lost contact.

03:04 PM

5km to go

Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) rolls off the front, the German general classification contender off in pursuit of some vital seconds as he looks to break into the top 10. He has not been followed by anybody. Moments later Vincenzo Nibali cracks.

03:02 PM

6km to go

Giulio Ciccone is looking lively in the maglia rosa group, there’s lots of looking around in this reduced group as it inches up a steep climb.

03:00 PM

7km to go

Alberto Bettiol and Ruben Guerreiro are in the group with the maglia rosa, taking care of their team-mate and general classification contender Hugh Carthy who has done well today. Damiano Caruso, meanwhile, has Bahrain Victorious team-mate Pello Bilbao for company as they hit the asphalt coming off the final stretch of gravel.

02:57 PM

8km to go

Remco Evenepoel and Joao Almeida trail the maglia rosa by 1min 10sec, but the pair are working well together. Bearing in mind the speed of the group up ahead, these two youngsters are doing well to hold the gap around that mark as they fight to save their Giro.

02:55 PM

9km to go

Marc Soler is looking twitchy on the front of the maglia rosa‘s group, the Spaniard pressing hard in an effort to shell some of his rivals. Aleksandr Vlasov is the next to poke his nose into the wind.

02:53 PM

Final gravel section for the maglia rosa . . .

. . . and Movistar move up to the front as they hit the 9km sterrato . Back in the breakaway, Dries De Bondt and Alessandro Covi clip off the front before they are joined by Mauro Schmid of Qhubeka-Assos.

02:51 PM

11km to go

The maglia rosa, being towed along by Gianni Moscon, passes beneath the 15km to go banner a minute ahead of Remco Evenepoel who, remember, started the day just 14sec behind Egan Bernal.

02:49 PM

12km to go

Remco Evenepoel has his earpiece back in, but he is grimacing as he holds the wheel of team-mate Joao Almeida, the pair trailing Egan Bernal by around a minute. A small split appears in the breakaway.

02:48 PM

13.5km to go

Gianni Moscon is riding hard on the front for the maglia rosa while Remco Evenepoel looks to be unhappy. The youngster, somewhat dramatically, tears his earpiece out. The breakaway is onto the fourth and final sector of gravel and lead the stage by six minutes.

02:45 PM

15km to go

Remco Evenepoel has been reunited with Joao Almeida, but the youngsters have their work cut out if they are to regain contact with the maglia rosa‘s group that will be in no mood to ease off the pace.

02:42 PM

17km to go

Gianni Moscon takes over on the front for Egan Bernal to give his team leader some respite, while Joao Almeida has, finally, dropped back to see if he can help out his team-mate Remco Evenepoel.

02:41 PM

Evenepoel is going backwards

The gap between Remco Evenepoel and the maglia rosa is growing with each pedal stroke that is pushed. The Belgian is isolated, he has no team-mates or allies to help his chase back on as Egan Bernal turns the screw and, dare I say it, but attempt to turn his hopes to dust. No idea why Joao Almeida has not dropped back to help?

02:39 PM

20km to go – Evenepoel is dropped!

The breakaway goes through the 20km to go banner. In the chasing group Egan Bernal is on the front, riding hard, while Remco Evenepoel has been dropped and appears to be on his lonesome.

02:37 PM

20.5km to go

Remco Evenepoel does not look comfortable on these gravel roads and is again on the back. On each corner or descent the youngster appears to feather his brakes, remember this is all new territory for him – both the terrain and racing for longer than 10 days.

02:35 PM

21.5km to go

Egan Bernal has three team-mates protecting him, the four Ineos Grenadiers riders in control on the front just ahead of Trek-Segafredo team-mates Vincenzo Nibali and Giulio Ciccone. Good news fro Remco Evenepoel fans, however. It appears the demise of his team-mates was prematurely reported and he has team-mate Joao Almeida for company. Reports are coming in that Dan Martin is over four minutes down on the maglia rosa.

02:30 PM

25km to go

The breakaway is onto the third of four gravel sectors in today’s stage, and the Jumbo-Visma pairing of George Bennett and Tobias Foss are caught by the maglia rosa‘s group.

02:27 PM

26km to go

The nine-man breakaway is all back as one and there are two more sectors of gravel to follow.

02:24 PM

29km to go

Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates) and Simon Guglielmi (Groupama-FDJ) attack off the front of the breakaway, the pair leading George Bennett and Tobias Foss by 7min 11sec, while the maglia rosa is another 20sec down the road. The pair put a few bike lengths between themselves and the rest of the breakaway, but don’t think they will be alone for much longer.

02:19 PM

34km to go

Remco Evenepoel is isolated, riding in that group with Egan Bernal with no team-mates for help – the grand tour debutant will not want a mechanical now!

Remco Evenepoel - GETTY IMAGESRemco Evenepoel - GETTY IMAGES

Remco Evenepoel – GETTY IMAGES

02:18 PM

35km to go

The breakaway is back onto the nice smooth asphalt, while back in the dust clouds George Bennett and Tobias Foss are pushing on, 30sec ahead of the maglia rosa.

02:16 PM

37km to go

Remco Evenepoel is spotted at the rear of Egan Bernal’s group, while George Bennett has clipped off the front alongside a Jumbo-Visma team-mate – possibly Tobias Foss – presumably in an effort to gain a few seconds on general classification, but it not really sure that’s a wise use of his energy.

02:13 PM

37.5km to go

All change at the front of the race, and there’s a nine-man group now leading the stage: Enrico Battaglin (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane), Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix), Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates), Francesco Gavazzi (Eolo-Kometa), Simon Guglielmi (Groupama-FDJ), Roger Kluge (Lotto-Soudal), Lawrence Naesen (Ag2r-Citroën), Mauro Schmid (Qhubeka-Assos) and Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto-Soudal) have an 8min 28sec advantage over Egan Bernal et al.

02:11 PM

38km to go

Of the main general classification contenders, Egan Bernal, Hugh Carthy, Damiano Caruso, Giulio Ciccone, Remco Evenepoel, Attila Valter, Aleksandr Vlasov and Simon Yates are all in the leading group – 8min 25sec behind the breakaway – but Dan Martin and Davide Formolo are nowhere to be seen and both may drop out of the top 10 today.

02:08 PM

40km to go

Two or three EF Education-Nippo riders are in this maglia rosa group looking after Hugh Carthy. The veteran Spaniard Luis León Sánchez has been doing a big turn on the front for Astana-Premier Tech. There will be plenty of losers in the race for pink today, but will Aleksandr Vlasov, the young Russian, be one of the big winners?

Luis León Sánchez rides on the front - APLuis León Sánchez rides on the front - AP

Luis León Sánchez rides on the front – AP

02:04 PM

42km to go

Not quite sure how this happened, but Roger Kluge (Lotto-Soudal) is now leading the stage alongside Mauro Schmid (Qhubeka-Assos). Their advantage over Egan Bernal is a smidge below nine-minutes.

02:00 PM

44.5km to go

Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Roger Kluge (Lotto-Soudal) and Bert-Jan Lindeman (Qhubeka-Assos) have been dropped by the breakaway. Just hearing that Dan Martin, the Irishman who looked strong earlier in the race, has lost contact with the maglia rosa et al. As mentioned earlier, Davide Formolo had either a crash or a mechanical as so the Italian, too, is not in that group.

01:58 PM

45km to go

Romain Bardet, Jai Hindley, Aleksandr Vlasov, Giulio Ciccone, Marc Soler, Luis León Sánchez, Simon Yates and Hugh Carthy are all in the vastly reduced peloton, along with Egan Baernal and Remco Evenepoel. The breakaway is a shade over nine minutes up the road as the general classification favourites tackle a steep section of gravel – the road ramps up to 16% at one point which is just cruel.

01:50 PM

47km to go

Filippo Ganna is done for the day, which will come as a huge relief to all of those who were made to suffer by the Italian on the first sector of gravel. Remco Evenepoel has bridged over to Egan Bernal’s group, but has no team-mates alongside him. That could be crucial if he has a mechanical issue and needs a wheel or bike change. The gap on the breakaway, by the way, has dropped to 9min 30sec.

Speaking on Eurosport, Alberto Contador said: ’I expected Evenepoel to be much further ahead in the peloton today. I’m surprised he’s so far back at this point on the course today. Ganna for example is really pushing hard today and he’s setting a very hard pace for everyone.”

01:48 PM

48.5km to go

Movistar, who have Marc Soler in the leading general classification group, are riding on the front now. Simon Yates, by the way, is spotted in the Remco Evenepoel group and they are closing in on the maglia rosa, but at what cost?

01:45 PM

50km to go

The breakaway is onto the next section of gravel, leading the stage by a shade over 10 minutes.

01:41 PM

53km to go

Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirtaes) has a little wobble. Remco Evenepoel trails Egan Bernal by a handful of seconds as the two groups hit an asphalt section of road, but the Belgian has some EF Education-Nippo and DSM riders for company. By contrast, Giulio Ciccone and Vincenzo Nibali are in the group with Ineos Grenadiers and Egan Bernal who are, as it stands, taking control of the race for pink here today.

01:39 PM

53.5km to go

Already, the peloton is in pieces and Remco Evenepoel has lost contact with Egan Bernal who is benefiting from a huge shift being put in by Filippo Ganna. Evenepoel, by the way, has two Deceuninck-Quick Step team-mates alongside him, including Mikkel Honore.

01:37 PM

54km to go

Jonathan Caicedo (EF Education-Nippo) has been caught up in an incident. Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick Step) is having to work hard to stay in touch with the lead group. Oh crikey, Filippo Ganna almost comes a cropper on a right-hand bend, losing control of his front wheel, but somehow he stays upright. The gap on the break is down to 10 minutes.

01:33 PM

57km to go

A pair of Cofidis riders are down. Splits are forming on the peloton, and Filippo Ganna is back on the front and pushing 700 watts through those cranks of his, Egan Bernal is tucked in behind the world time trial champion. Simon Yates is, apparently, in the main group.

Gann - GETTY IMAGESGann - GETTY IMAGES

Gann – GETTY IMAGES

01:30 PM

59km to go

The Shark is on the front! Vincenzo Nibali is baring his teeth on the front of the peloton, presumably doing his best to take care of team-mate Giulio Ciccone. The wily old master taking his young comatriot under his wing, or fin.

01:28 PM

61km to go

The peloton is tanking it on the approach to sector one, Flippo Ganna gunning it on the front for Egan Bernal, while Alberto Bettiol is looking after (EF Education-Nippo) team-mate Hugh Carthy. Giulio Ciccone is spotted up near the front, but no sight of Simon Yates, though admittedly they are riding through a big cloud of dust so it is quite difficult to identifying riders.

01:26 PM

63km to go

The breakaway is onto the descent of the white chalky road which is, as mentioned earlier, very narrow, roughly wide enough for one car to comfortably drive down. Once the peloton arrives it will be stretched out in a very long line, there’s not too much space for riders to attack – ordinarily the best place to ride is down the wheel tracks where vehicles have packed down the loose gravel. Riding anywhere else is almost impossible, especially when going uphill where traction in the rear wheel is almost impossible, unless you remain seated which requires both power and good bike handling.

01:20 PM

65.8km to go

The peloton is approaching the first section of gravel and despite teams clearly moving to position their leaders, those eyeing the general classification, the pace being set by them has not had an impact on the advantage held by the breakaway: 14min 2sec.

01:18 PM

68km to go

Huge black clouds in the distance, looking menacing. That said, there are also perfect blue skies up ahead so it is 50/50 we will be getting rain later on this afternoon. Roger Kluge is near the back of the breakaway as the dust kicks up on these loose gravel roads.

01:15 PM

69km to go

Here we go. The breakaway is onto the first section of gravel road, the peloton which is where we are really expecting the fireworks and big fight for position, is over 14 minutes down the road.

01:12 PM

72km to go

Hugh Carthy (EF Education) and Dan Martin (ISN) are spotted moving towards the front of the peloton, while Peter Sagan (Bora Hansgrohe) chats away, the Slovakian looks impossibly relaxed.

01:06 PM

A race of two halves . . .

With the breakaway having grown to 14 minutes now, think it is safe to assume we will be treated to two races this afternoon once the riders reach the gravel: one for the stage win, the other a huge battle for the general classification. Romain Bardet (DSM), who was runner-up at Strade Bianche in 2019, gave a pre-race interview earlier which was just shown on Eurosport, the Frenchman was saying he was hoping for ‘chaos’ today. He may be getting his wish!

The breakaway - GETTY IMAGESThe breakaway - GETTY IMAGES

The breakaway – GETTY IMAGES

01:01 PM

78.8km to go

The breakaway’s lead grows out again, that 11-man group leads by 13min 35sec exactly nine kilometres out from the gravel.

12:58 PM

80 km to go

Just over 10 kilometres from the first sector of the day’s gravel which begins in Torrenieri and features a technical downhill stretch. While one assumes the breakaway will approach it relatively calmly, there will be one almighty battle in the peloton for position.

12:53 PM

85km to go

The breakaway’s lead drops slightly to 11min 30sec, but one suspects they will be holding on to take the stage win today. There are hints of rain on the horizon, but it would need to be some downfall to recreate the absolute scenes we saw during this stage back in 2010.

12:50 PM

‘White line highway’

12:43 PM

95km to go

Astana-Premier Tech are still tucked in behind Ineos Grenadiers, all of the main general classification riders doing their best to stay up near the front before they hit the first of for gravel sections. Dries De Bondt, by the way, is still in that breakaway group having navigated a couple of uncategorised climbs. He will be hoping his legs have woken up before the gravel climbs later in the stage which are steep.

12:33 PM

100km to go

The break has increased its lead to 13 minutes and they are 30km out from the first gravel section which is a shade over 9km long.

12:31 PM

Give ’em enough rope

Worrying moment as the breakaway hits a tight right-hander where the road splits in two, though one half of it has a rope across it – at roughly neck height. Half of the group go one side of the road, the other duck beneath the worryingly placed cordon. Fortunately everybody avoids the rope / police tape.

12:24 PM

105km to go

Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix) appears to be struggling in the breakaway. The Belgian national champion had been tipped by many to win today’s stage, but he was just spotted labouring off the back on a slight incline. The 29-year-old is making his grand tour debut and so he will have not experienced a midweek rest day previously. Some riders come out flying following a rest day, others find it a struggle to get going for a day or two.

12:15 PM

110km to go

All fairly calm out on the road for now. The breakaway has increased its lead to 12min 26sec – the largest lead we have seen in this year’s Giro d’Italia – as the 11-man group rides through-and-off as they share the heavy lifting between each other. You would have to say, as it stands we could be getting a surprise stage winner here today.

12:00 PM

As it stands . . .

The 171-rider peloton passed through KM0 at 12.10pm (BST) and almost immediately a breakaway started to form before Ineos Grenadiers shifted to the front to block the road.

However, 11 riders did manage to get off up the road – Enrico Battaglin (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane), Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix), Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates), Francesco Gavazzi (Eolo-Kometa), Simon Guglielmi (Groupama-FDJ), Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Roger Kluge (Lotto-Soudal), Bert-Jan Lindeman (Qhubeka-Assos), Lawrence Naesen (Ag2r-Citroën), Mauro Schmid (Qhubeka-Assos) and Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto-Soudal) – and they have already gained a decent advantage on the peloton. With 120km of the stage to go, the breakaway has over 10 minutes on the bunch which has the whole Ineos Grenadiers team – or the remaining seven after the withdrawal of Pavel Sivakov last week – are on the front protecting Egan Bernal.

Egan Bernal - Giro d'Italia 2021, stage 11 – live updates - GETTY IMAGESEgan Bernal - Giro d'Italia 2021, stage 11 – live updates - GETTY IMAGES

Egan Bernal – Giro d’Italia 2021, stage 11 – live updates – GETTY IMAGES

11:45 AM

It’s all up for grabs

Keen followers of the sport will know race leader Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) made his debut appearance at Strade Bianche in March and very impressive he was too. The former mountain bike rider finished a highly creditable third behind Mathieu van der Poel and Julian Alaphilippe, beating defending champion Wout van Aert (fourth) and team-mate Tom Pidcock (fifth) in the process.

Egan Bernal, Julian Alaphilippe and Mathieu van der Poel - Giro d'Italia 2021, stage 11 – live updates - GETTY IMAGESEgan Bernal, Julian Alaphilippe and Mathieu van der Poel - Giro d'Italia 2021, stage 11 – live updates - GETTY IMAGES

Egan Bernal, Julian Alaphilippe and Mathieu van der Poel – Giro d’Italia 2021, stage 11 – live updates – GETTY IMAGES

As holder of the maglia rosa, Bernal may benefit today from having his team car at the front of the cavalcade of support vehicles that follow the peloton. These cars that have sporting directors and mechanics crammed into them are organised in the general classification order, and so Ineos Grenadiers will be the first car, then Deceuninck-Quick Step due to Remco Evenepoel being second in the standings, Astana-Premier Tech third (Aleksandr Vlasov​) and so on. Although this is not unusual – every convoy of vehicles in every stage race in the world is organised this way – on days like today this could play a crucial role in the outcome of the stage, or the general classification ambitions of the leading protagonists.

One the race reaches the sterrato which are very narrow and, in places, twisty with steep climbs and descents, a rider can lose an age of time if their support vehicle cannot get to them. Positioning today will, as ever, be absolutely key. There will be crashes, there will be riders having mechanical issues and nobody wants to be caught up behind any incidents. Equipment choice will also be important, as will be how a rider copes on the gravel. Imagine Paris-Roubaix meets Liège-Bastogne-Liège raced over a cyclo-cross course and you are somewhere close to understanding the route of today’s stage.

So, who does the stage suit? The aforementioned Bernal is one of the favourites given that he finished third in Siena in March and then excelled on the gravel on Sunday – though the hard-packed gravel of Campo Felice was very different to what they will be riding today.

Someone like Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-Nippo) who was fourth at Strade Bianche in 2020 and is a local lad, may fancy his chances. The Italian appears to be in decent form, but will he be given the freedom to roam or will be be on bodyguard duty for team-mate Hugh Carthy? Incidentally, team-mates could be crucial today, especially for the general classification riders who don’t have much, or any, experience of riding the strade bianche.

Another Italian that is going well and coped fairly well on the gravel on Sunday, finishing second to Bernal, is Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), while Gianni Moson (Ineos Grenadiers) also looked strong and, again, if he is allowed to pursue personal glory would be a decent shout for the stage win. Sticking with the theme of only selecting Italian riders here – and why not? – Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates) was runner-up at Strade Bianche in 2020 and is having a decent race, starting the day 10th on general classification.

Who wins today’s stage, however, is really only part of the story. It will be just as fascinating to see who goes poorly and see how much time is lost in the general classification. A number of riders and their teams, notably Simon Yates (BikeExchange), have been complaining that stages like today have no place in grand tours.

08:11 AM

Today’s menu . . .

So here we are, one of the most widely anticipated stages from this year’s Giro d’Italia through the Tuscan hills just south of Siena.

Stage 11 mapStage 11 map

Stage 11 map

After setting off from Perugia, the road heads west towards Montalcino, a town that entered Giro folklore 11 years ago on that day when, racing on similar roads as the peloton will do so today, Cadel Evans won a famous stage ahead of Damiano Cunego and Alexandro Vinokourov. On that occasion, of course, the white roads – strade bianche – so common to the region had turned to a sea of brown sludge making racing conditions, put simply, just awful. For those of us watching from the safety and warmth of our homes, however, it was compelling viewing. The forecast today is much more favourable than it was in 2010 and so we will, most likely, not be seeing pictures like we saw in the below YouTube clip again.

Enough reminiscing, back to today. Featuring almost 2,500 metres in vertical elevation and with four gravel sections – or sterrato – totalling 35 kilometres in length over the final 70km of the 162km stage, I think it is safe to say we can describe today as like a mini-Strade Bianche. Unlike the popular one-day race, though, the finale is not quite as testing and there are fewer gravel sections raced over the strade bianche, or white roads, that lend the classic its name.

Stage 11 profileStage 11 profile

Stage 11 profile

Here’s what the official roadbook says about the day ahead: “The first 90km are raced on wide and sometimes rough roads. The first unpaved sector, which also includes a technical downhill stretch, begins in Torrenieri. The second dirt road sector, which also includes a level crossing, begins after Buonconvento and Bibbiano.

“The route passes over river Ombrone, and then the road starts to rise for approx. 6km, with gradients nearing 16% midway. The route weaves through a brace of bends across the forest, on dirt roads, and then comes back on tarmac to negotiate a categorised climb up to Passo del Lume Spento (below, first ascent).

SpentoSpento

Spento

“After descending into Montalcino, the route heads towards Castelnuovo dell’Abate and takes in the two final dirt road sectors, one after the other. Past Tavernelle, the road rises markedly, merges back onto the route (before the categorised climb) and then heads all the way to the finish.

ClimbClimb

Climb

“Descending into Montalcino, a little after the red triangle, the race enters the urban area on narrow, stone-paved roads. Taking into the final left-hand bend, the route merges onto the home straight (200 m), on tarmac road.”

MontalcinoMontalcino

Montalcino

07:25 AM

Catch up: Highlights from Monday’s stage

07:20 AM

Ciao!

Hello and welcome to our live rolling blog from stage 11 at the Giro d’Italia, the 162-kilometre run from Perugia to Montalcino.

Following Monday’s stage that was won by Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), there was just one change in the main classifications, in other words the ones that are deemed worthy of a leader’s jersey, going into yesterday’s rest day. Here’s a quick look at those standings.

Race leader Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers), the 24-year-old Colombian, completed Monday’s stage safely in the peloton to keep hold of his leads in both the general and youth classification and will for the second time today wear the maglia rosa, or the pink jersey.

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) took control of the maglia ciclamino, the cyclamen jersey, thanks to that stage win on Monday.

Geoffrey Bouchard (Ag2r-Citroën), who took control of the maglia azzurra during Sunday’s mountainous stage, will again wear the blue jersey as overall leader in the mountains classification.

The top three in the youth classification mirrors that of the overall and so Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick Step) will wear the maglia bianca, or the white jersey, on behalf of the maglia rosa.