Giro’21 St. 11 BREAKDOWN: Bernal Blasts GC On White Roads to Montalcino
The Giro d’Italia’s stage 11 ripped out of Tuesday’s rest day as the peloton raced on the famous white gravel Tuscan roads and through the stunning countryside the region is guaranteed to serve up. Mauro Schmid, nearly unknown before today, won the stage ahead of Alessandro Covi, in a drag-race sprint after the two riders came to the line ahead of the rest of the early breakaway.
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Back in the peloton, Egan Bernal and his Ineos team blew up the fight for the general classification as soon as the stage hit the first gravel section with 60-kilometers to go and put wonderboy Remco Evenepoel to the sword, with the Belgian superstar losing over two minutes to the surging Colombian by the end of the stage. Turning the situation from bad to worse is that Evenepoel appeared to throw a public temper tantrum inside the final 20 kilometers due to his infighting in his Deceuninck-QuickStep squad that cost him precious time. While there were eight riders within a minute of Bernal’s race lead at the start of the stage, only Aleksandr Vlasov, at 45-seconds back, remained within a minute of the Colombian after the literal dust settled.
GC Time Gaps on Stage
New GC Standings
- This a huge, career-defining win for Schmid. The 21-year-old Swiss is in his first year in the WorldTour but rode the finale perfectly and executed a great drag-race sprint.
- In the GC race, some of the biggest gaps we will see in this Giro may have come in those last 5k to Montalcino, rather than in the much-hyped major climbs still to come.
- However, while some pundits have stated Bernal is in total control of the race, Vlasov would likely win if we raced the final TT tomorrow. Yates and Carthy move up by the process of elimination but have some major work to do in the mountains to come.
The GC Winners:
- Ineos knew exactly what they had to do before the stage and executed the plan perfectly. Perhaps you could quibble that they used Ganna up too early, but the initial split he caused isolated Evenepoel and instantly put him on the back foot by forcing him to claw back to Bernal by himself.
- Bernal looked incredible today. He is hands-down the stronger rider in the race, at least so far, and has taken time from nearly every other GC contender in every decisive road stage so far. And this is key since he knows he will need the time come the final time trial on stage 21.
- Besides Bernal, riders who ‘won’ the day are Aleksandr Vlasov, Emmanuel Buchmann, and Tobias Foss. Foss is lurking in a similar position to last year’s winner, Tao Geoghegan Hart, after 11 stages, and put 2.8 seconds per kilometer into Bernal in the opening TT.
- Vlasov, who rode a perfect race today until being distanced by Bernal in the final few kilometers, is still likely the ‘leader on the road’ due to his superior TT ability. Bernal will have to put more time into him before the final time trial.
- However, one thing to consider about the time gaps needed before the TT is that Bernal looks SO strong, while some like Evenepoel appear to be fading, so the gap in the final TT might be much closer than we would calculate based on historical results.
- Another rider with a sneaky good day is Simon Yates. The British rider hates battling for position, was sitting towards the back nearly all day, and limited his losses to Bernal and Vlasov in the finale. This is about as good as he could have hoped for.
- Damiano Caruso is quietly having the race of his life. The 33-year-old Italian consistently flies under the radar but he has some serious chops and has three career grand tour top tens. If the others like him lurk while they watch each other, he could seriously spoil the plans of some of the higher-profile contenders.
Damiano Caruso looking forward to great day ahead.
The GC Losers
- Carthy and EF somewhat stuffed up this finale. They had numbers and control of the peloton with as little as 3km-to-go, but Carthy’s ill-advised attack meant he was unable to stay with Bernal and Vlasov and would go on to lose 32-seconds to Bernal, 9-seconds to Vlasov and 6-seconds to Yates at the end of the stage.• Dan Martin and Davide Formolo were dropped on early gravel sections and tumble out of GC contention after losing over six minutes to Bernal by the end of the stage. However, both riders aren’t pure GC riders and will be excited to be freed up to chase stage wins for the rest of the Giro.
- Soler attacked with 9km to go, but then was dropped and lost 2 minutes to Bernal by the finish. I’m not sure what to say there. He was riding to one of the best grand tour results of his career but his inconsistency is an undeniable pattern at this point.
- But the biggest ‘loser’ on the day is undoubtedly Remco Evenepoel. He loses over two minutes to Bernal and now has to go on the attack if he wants to win the overall. More concerning is that he looked both physically outclassed and mentally rattled.
- I expected Evenepoel to struggle in the first stage after his first career rest day and that is exactly what happened. Despite his obvious positioning issues, he clearly wasn’t at his best physically.
- Another factor to consider is that Evenepoel only started riding his bike seriously 4 years ago, and it really shows on technical days like this. This was really an underrated storyline before the race and during the first week since the Giro is one of the most technical grand tours.
Almeida & Evenpoel chase as dreams of GC slip away.
- But all things considered, this certainly isn’t the worst outcome for Evenepoel and you could even argue that he would win the race if they went into the final TT tomorrow.
- Most concerning for Evenepoel is that complete meltdown within his Deceuninck-QuickStep team. If Almeida, who is no longer in GC contention and had no reason to stay with the front group, had dropped back to assist Evenepoel as soon as he lost contact, they could have limited the losses to much less than two minutes.
- The fact that Almeida refused to drop back portends of a major fissure inside the team and that the contentious contract negotiations are spilling over onto the road. This friction will continue to plague the team throughout the race.