Stage 11: Forlì › Imola – 153km
What looked set to be a very uninteresting Stage 10 turned quite interesting when a breakaway managed to stay clear, giving Nicola Boem a stage victory, and things got even crazier when Richie Porte lost nearly 3 minutes on the General Classification due to an untimely puncture and an ensuing penalization for receiving a wheel from a non-teammate. The interesting action should continue on Stage 11, which has the profile for plenty more compelling racing at the Giro d’Italia.
There are no long, brutal climbs, but it will be an exhausting day of truly constant up and down. There is a Cat. 3 climb almost from the gun, followed by three uncategorized climbs (and descents) that could easily merit at least Category 4 status in their own rights, and then another Cat. 3 before a descent to the foot of a climb that the riders will have to take on four consecutive times. The Tre Monti climb is apparently worthy of Category 4 status . . . but only on one of the four trips up, the penultimate one. It’s a little over 4km at an average over 4%, but it’s an irregular ascent with a few steeper stretches. After the first ascent, the riders will descend toward the Imola racetrack and cross over the finish line for the first time, and from there, they’ll embark on three laps in a circuit that will take them back up the Tre Monti and back down to the track.
The descent into the finish is not technical, but the downhill run from the top of the Tre Monti only flattens out inside the final km, though, so any ground lost on the climb and ensuing descent will be hard to make up before the final crossing of the finish line.
With so many climbs on the menu, it’s hard to see a sprint happening, for many reasons. First, the pure sprinters probably won’t make it too the finish. Categorized or not, there are some tough uphill challenges to overcome on Stage 11. What’s more, the profile is perfect for a long-range move, either the morning breakaway or, if that is swept up, later attacks on the climbs—it will be extremely difficult for the peloton to control this race, and the Giro’s peloton has not shown itself to be particularly interested in inter-team cooperation. Even if the day does somehow see a large, compact lead group coming into the finish, with less than a kilometer of flat running into the line, the surviving sprinters won’t have much of an opportunity to get into position for the final kick to the line, and it’s likely to get pretty messy. This one is a challenge to predict.
In terms of the potential victory-by-long-range scenario, Orica-GreenEdge has a number of riders they might send up the road, chief among them, Simon Gerrans and Simon Clarke. In recent seasons, Gerrans has made a name for himself by waiting for reduced sprints on hillier days (and he’ll of course be a danger in that scenario here), but he’s always had a great talent as a breakaway specialist, and he could try to get up the road here. Simon Clarke has spent plenty of time in breakaways in this race already, and will be a strong candidate again here.
Philippe Gilbert should be an obvious name for this sort of stage, given the profile. It will be a fierce fight to get into the breakaway, but his talent for climbing small hills like the ones that will kick off the racing on Stage 11 will give him a great chance to get involved if he goes for it.
Diego Ulissi has already won a stage in this race, showing off his excellent form right now. Like Gerrans, he’s got a great finishing kick, which means he’ll be deadly if he’s in the lead group at the end of the day—he can use his great climbing legs to stay at the front of a group over the last climb without necessarily needing to attack knowing that he can rely on the fast finish to win.
Tom-Jelte Slagter looked very strong on Stage 9 and will like the look of this profile, though it’s hard to pick one Cannondale-Garmin rider here with so many breakaway options among Tom Danielson, Davide Formolo, David Villella, and Ryder Hesjedal.
Simon Geschke, Sylvain Chavanel, Maciej Paterski, Adam Hansen, Giovanni Visconti, Stefano Pirazzi, Edoardo Zardini, Enrico Battaglin, Sonny Colbrelli, Grega Bole, and Rinaldo Nocentini are just some of the many other potential long-range victory candidates on this stage, most of whom will also be a dangerous if a reduced peloton contests this finish in a compact group.
Should this all come back together, Michael Matthews will be among the top names to add to the above list of stage victory candidates—Orica-GreenEdge really does have a wealth of options on this sort of profile. Trek’s Fabio Felline and Movistar’s Juan José Lobato are others who could get involved if everything goes their way; that is, if they can hold on over the difficult parcours, if the morning breakaway is swept up, and if no one gets clear on the final climb.
VeloHuman Stage 11 Favorites
1. Simon Gerrans | 2. Philippe Gilbert | 3. Diego Ulissi
Be sure to follow @VeloHuman on Twitter for more race analysis, and check back after the conclusion of Stage 11 for the preview of the next stage. Also, don’t miss the most recent episode of the Recon Ride podcast!