The 11th stage was the first real change for the GC riders to strut their stuff in the mountains, with four hard climbs in 150 km between Marostica and Zoldo Alto. After Lampre smothered any breakaways with a hard tempo on the early climbs, Gilberto Simoni attacked on the Passo Duran, the third climb of the day. That gave rise to the first selection, with most of the favourites making it across except for Cunego and Garzelli. But then Ivan Basso (CSC) took charge, putting in acceleration after acceleration to reduce the group to just five riders at the top: himself, Simoni, maglia rosa Di Luca, Paolo Savoldelli, and Jose Rujano.
On the last descent, Il Falco Savoldelli flew the coop and put 20 seconds in to Basso, Simoni and Di Luca, while Rujano was dropped. But Basso was able to close the gap to Savoldelli once the final climb to Dolomiti Stars began, and Simoni started yo-yoing off the back. Basso continued to put the pressure on, with help from Savoldelli, and Simoni finally went off the back of them for good. Savoldelli saved his strength in the last 2 kilometres and beat Basso to win the stage. Basso took his first maglia rosa and Savoldelli moved into second overall. Could the Giro be fought out between these two riders?