GIRO’21 Stage 11: Schmid and Bernal Battle the Dust!
Remco Evenepoel in trouble
Giro d’Italia Stage 11: It took a while for the dust to settle on stage 11 in Montalcino, but when it did we could see a shake-up in the overall standings. The big loser was Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck – Quick-Step). The stage went to Mauro Schmid (Qhubeka Assos) and Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) put time into everyone with a final attack.
Big win for the 21 year-old Mauro Schmid
The eleventh stage of the Giro on gravel roads did not disappoint. There were two battles through the dust to Montalcino. Mauro Schmid was the best of the break after four hours of racing, while Egan Bernal did an excellent job in the general classification.
Bernal can ride the ‘Strade Bianche’
Giro stage 11 route: With nearly 2,500m altitude gain, and 4 unpaved road sectors totalling 35 km over the final 70km of the route, this will be a very challenging stage. The first 90 km 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. 6 km, 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. 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. 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 (200m), on tarmac road.
Big day for Remco Evenepoel
Tim Merlier didn’t start; the sprinter had been struggling with stomach complaints for several days. Just outside the medieval start city of Perugia, Taco van der Hoorn, the stage winner in Canale, attacked with Dries De Bondt on his wheel. It turned out to be the start for the ‘break of the day’, which came about easier and faster than expected.
Peter Sagan suits ciclamino
In addition to Van der Hoorn and De Bondt, Lawrence Naesen, Enrico Battaglin, Francesco Gavazzi, Simon Guglielmi, Roger Kluge, Harm Vanhoucke, Bert-Jan Lindeman, Mauro Schmidt and Alessandro Covi were in the leading group. Gavazzi was the best GC rider, but the Italian was 33 minutes behind, and no threat to the pink jersey. The Androni team was missing.
Waiting for the action
INEOS Grenadiers relaxed their control, allowing the escape to quickly gain a big lead. Egan Bernal did not seem to want to tire his teammates too early, saving them for the final 70 kilometres. When the race left the Umbria region for Tuscany after 40 kilometres, the lead had already increased to more than 10 minutes, and for a long time the gap was between 12 and 13 minutes.
Stage 11 could be decisive
After 92 kilometres, the leading group started the first gravel section, with a lead of almost 15 minutes. The 9 kilometre stretch of Torrenieri was hard and dry. In the peloton, the teams of the GC riders came forward to hit the section as well as possible. INEOS Grenadiers for Bernal, Deceuninck – Quick-Step for Evenepoel and EF Education-Nippo for Carthy were well to the front.
The break got away easier than many thought
Vincenzo Nibali took the lead for Giulio Ciccone, while Bernal had Filippo Ganna. The time trial world champion took some risks, almost losing control in a right-hand corner. Luckily he managed to keep his bike upright. Remco Evenepoel lost contact with Bernal and had to chase, although he still had teammates with him. However, the young Belgian was not the only one who had been surprised.
The break built up a lead of over 14 minutes
Evenepoel had teammates with him and after the first gravel strip he was safe. The first bit of gravel also had an impact on the early break, Van der Hoorn and Lindeman were dropped. On the second section the peloton thinned further to about 30 men and again Evenepoel had a difficult time on the white road. Simon Yates was also having problems.
The peloton had a big chase to make up 15 minutes
George Bennett and Tobias Foss attacked from the peloton. The Jumbo-Visma duo rode ahead for some time, but were eventually caught by INEOS Grenadiers, who controlled everything. The remaining escape riders, who still had a lead of about 7 minutes, were surprised by the return of Taco van der Hoorn who had been dropped earlier.
At least it wasn’t raining
Evenepoel ran into problems again on the penultimate section, after which INEOS Grenadiers turned up the gas. First Gianni Moscon pulled hard and then Egan Bernal put the pressure on a few times. João Almeida dropped back from the group to help his team-leader, Evenepoel. Evenepoel seemed especially nervous of the sand and gravel when the route went downhill.
That dust could turn to mud if it rains
On the last section, Belgian champion De Bondt rode away from the leading group together with the 22 year-old Covi and Schmid, who is only 21 years-old. With 5 minutes on the peloton, they turned onto the asphalt for the last time. From that point it was 8 kilometres to the finish, although they had to climb the Passo del Lume Spento, the final climb.
It looks just like the Strade Bianche
Should this be part of a Grand Tour?
Bernal was well supported by his team
The difference between Bernal and Evenepoel, first and second overall, remained more or less around 1 minute. The Bernal group still consisted of about 15 men, including Aleksandr Vlasov, Giulio Ciccone, Attila Valter, Hugh Carthy and Simon Yates. Evenepoel was behind, just like Damiano Caruso, Dan Martin and Davide Formolo, seventh, eighth and tenth respectively on GC at the start of this stage.
Evenepoel in trouble
INEOS put the pressure on
On the last section of gravel it was too fast for De Bondt at the front, as Covi and Schmid turned out to be the strongest riders of the early break. The two would fight for the stage victory. Schmid was the strongest on the slightly uphill finish in Montalcino. For the 21 year-old neo-pro from Qhubeka Assos, it was his first victory. Second place for Covi.
Schmid was never far from the front
A hard chase for Evenepoel
For the GC riders, the final ended in pieces. The Trek-Segafredo duo of, Vincenzo Nibali and Giulio Ciccone, couldn’t hang on and Evenepoel’s loss started to get bigger and bigger. EF Education-Nippo meanwhile impressed with Carthy, Alberto Bettiol and Ruben Guerreiro at the front. In the finalé, Bernal dropped the others to cross to Emanuel Buchmann, who had attacked earlier. He then soundly beat the BORA-hansgrohe rider at the finish.
Bernal jumped late to take a good chunk of time
Great stage win for first year pro Mauro Schmid
Stage winner, Mauro Schmid (Qhubeka Assos): “Actually I cannot believe it. I was only selected for the Giro team about 2 weeks before the race. 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.”
More time in the pink bank for Egan Bernal
Maglia Rosa, Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers): “Today we rode well and I increased my lead in the GC 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.”
Giro d’Italia Stage 11 Result:
1. Mauro Schmid (Swi) Qhubeka Assos in 4:01:55
2. Alessandro Covi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 0:01
3. Harm Vanhoucke (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:26
4. Dries De Bondt (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix at 0:41
5. Simon Guglielmi (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
6. Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizanè at 0:44
7. Roger Kluge (Ger) Lotto Soudal at 1:23
8. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) eolo-Kometa at 1:37
9. Taco van der Hoorn (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux at 1:43
10. Lawrence Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroën at 1:59
11. Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) INEOS Grenadiers at 3:09
12. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) BORA-hansgrohe at 3:12
13. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech at 3:32
14. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious at 3:35
15. Simon Yates (GB) BikeExchange
16. Tobias Foss (Nor) Jumbo-Visma
17. Ruben Guerreiro (Por) EF Education-Nippo at 3:39
18. Hugh Carthy (GB) EF Education-Nippo at 3:41
19. Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 4:56
20. Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education-Nippo
21. Gianni Moscon (Ita) INEOS Grenadiers at 5:05
22. Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar at 5:07
23. Koen Bouwman (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
24. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
25. Daniel Martinez Poveda (Col) INEOS Grenadiers at 5:11.
Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 11:
1. Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) INEOS Grenadiers in 42:35:21
2. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech at 0:45
3. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious at 1:12
4. Hugh Carthy (GB) EF Education-Nippo at 1:17
5. Simon Yates (GB) BikeExchange at 1:22
6. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) BORA-hansgrohe at 1:50
7. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 2:22
8. Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 2:24
9. Tobias Foss (Nor) Jumbo-Visma at 2:49
10. Daniel Martinez Poveda (Col) Ineos Grenadiers at 3:15
11. Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar at 3:19
12. Romain Bardet (Fra) DSM at 3:29
13. Attila Valter (Hun) Groupama-FDJ at 3:51
14. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 4:11
15. Gianni Moscon (Ita) INEOS Grenadiers at 4:25
16. Rein Taaramäe (Est) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux at 5:43
17. João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 7:04
18. Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-up Nation at 7:06
19. Davide Formolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 7:16
20. Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Spa) Bahrain Victorious at 7:23
21. Ruben Guerreiro (Por) EF Education-Nippo at 7:49
22. Jai Hindley (Aus) DSM at 7:55
23. Nicholas Schultz (Aus) BikeExchange at 8:45
24. Tanel Kangert (Est) BikeExchange at 10:49
25. Koen Bouwman (Ned) Jumbo-Visma at 13:19.