A traditional sprinters day and here's the script: A couple of guys escape (in this case it's Marco Bandieri from Androni and Andrea Fedi of Neti Sottoli), they ride off the front most of the day, get some publicity for their sponsors and then the sprinters’ teams reel them in just before the finish and there's a bunch sprint. Occasionally there are disruptions to this scenario but it's rare.
Stage 11 to Savona
This ought to have been another traditional breakaway stage and thus a semi-rest for the GC guys before the time trial but when Androni missed putting someone in the 14 man escape their DS decided to punish them by making them ride and ride and ride. A tactic more often than not which condemns the break and the team doing the chasing in equal measures. I know the team directors say they are keeping their top man in the game but really it's to teach the inattentive a hard lesson.
Friday the thirteenth proved unlucky for FDJ and Nacer Bouhanni's chance of win number four. It did however prove to be Bardiani's lucky day when Marco Canola out-sprinted his breakaway companions Jackson Rodriguez (Androni) and Angelo Tulik (Europcar) after being in the front for almost all the stage. Perhaps everyone was tired or worried about tiring out their troops before the weekend’s stages but no-one wanted to fully commit to chasing down the escape and when they finally did it was too late. Definitely a day of race politics between the sprinters teams and a day hiding for the GC guys though history was made with Uran being Colombia's first maglia rosa.
The first big day of penultimate weekend and with a mountain top finish after three other climbs a good indication of who was still to be considered a contender for the overall. Again it was the green men from Bardiani-CSF who would win the stage, this time Enrico Battaglin out-sprinting Dario Cataldo and Team Colombia's Jarlinson Pantano at the top of final climb to Oropa. Sky's Cataldo had looked the strongest of the guys who survived from the days escape but he died a death in the final sprint and Battaglin pulled round him in the last twenty metres to steal the show. Even going in the breaks didn't want to work out for the Sky riders.
This ought to have been an ideal stage for Domenico Pozzovivo to take time back on his rivals but surprisingly after being so strong the day before he was nowhere to be seen on the climb to Montecampione. He talked the talk in the morning saying he was going to go for it but sadly for AG2R he didn't walk the walk. Neither did Cadel Evans for that matter. It was Fabio Aru's day to shine and to a lesser extent Nairo Quintana's and Pierre Rolland's.
For Aru, Majka and Pozzovivo they have all had weaker moments but they aren't that far away, certainly not enough to discount their chances. Things will become a lot clearer after the mountain time trial on Friday but I think this Giro is coming down to a Colombian fight between Uran and Quintana on the Zoncolan.
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Robert Millar was one of the last pure climbers of the Tour de France, winning several stages in the mountain stages and finishing fourth overall in 1984. He is also the only English speaker to have ever won the prestigious polka-dot jersey climber's competition jersey.
Millar retired in 1995 but has continued to follow the sport closely. He was often critical of the media and quickly cuts through the excuses and spin to understand why and how riders win and lose.
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