Two hundred and fifty five kilometres of hard riding, not to mention a heavy rain shower early on, will make for a tough Giro stage today as the event ‘celebrates’ reaching its half-way point with the longest day’s racing of its whole three weeks. And if stage 11 should culminate with a bunch sprint in Montecatini Terme this evening, it will come after three tough corners in the final kilometre.
All in all, far from the easiest day at the office, with the sprinters understandably even more wary than usual of such finishes after Monday’s big crash on the last corner of the stage.
Fastman Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge), equally at home in rain soaked northern Classics as he is in a grand tour, is cautious about his chances today, even if the stage three winner was unlucky enough to lose out badly and hit the tarmac hard on Monday’s pile-up.
“I’m not feeling great, Monday’s crash wasn’t ideal,” the points competition leader told Cyclingnews as he waited for the start of stage 11.
“Some guys were trying to take the corner from the inside and I went out wide to try and take the apex of the corner and they just went straight on.” Cue one very painful crash.
“Yesterday wasn’t so bad, but today I’m not feeling so good. My neck and back and hip are aching from the crash.”
“Still, it’s a long stage today and there’s enough time for the body to warm up and hopefully I’ll pick up during the day. I should be fine.” Today started rainy, but after an hour’s racing it was beginning to clear, which could make a difference, too.
As for the finish, “it’s almost identical to the other day [Monday] except the corner goes the other way. There’s a couple of corners beforehand which should string the bunch out. And there’s a hard little climb about 11 kilometres from the finish which will make it more difficult.”
Just as with all the teams with top sprinters, Orica-GreenEdge will have someone doing a recon of the course to provide as much up-to-date information about the run-in as they can possibly get. But Goss says it is impossible to have any kind of fixed strategy or ideal position to be sure of a top result on such a technical finish.
“It depends on corner to corner, some corners you take really fast, [then there’s] road surfaces, [if it’s] wet or dry, the sharpness of the corners, there’s a lot of variables.”
“But that’s racing, it’s a finish and whatever happens [at the end of the day] somebody will be there crossing the line with their hands up.”
Should it be Goss, it would be the third Giro stage win of his career.