Giro d'Italia: Bernal gains time, Evenepoel loses contact on 'Strade Bianche' stage

Mauro Schmid (Qhubeka Assos) claimed his first victory as a professional on stage 11 of the Giro d’Italia, as Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) conquered the Tuscan gravel to extend his overall lead.

Schmid, in his first year as a pro, beat fellow youngster Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates) to the line in a two-up sprint on the kick to the line in Montalcino, as the breakaway enjoyed yet more success at this Giro.

However, the four sectors of sterrato packed into the final 70km of the route made this one of the key rendezvous of the entire Giro from a general classification perspective, and there were significant developments.

Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep), second overall at the start of the day, had a torrid time and shipped more than two minutes to Bernal. The 21-year-old was dropped on the third sector with 25km remaining, at one point ripping his earpiece out in frustration as João Almeida initially declined to drop back. He did eventually receive assistance from his teammate to stem the tide on the final sector but suffered on the tarmacked final climb and crossed the line in 26th place.

That climb of the Passo del Lume Spento was where Bernal, who had already forced the issue on the gravel, delivered another demonstration of his superiority and took full control of this Giro d’Italia. It was only a category-3 ascent but, after such a demanding afternoon, it detonated a GC group that had already been thinned down to just 14 riders.

Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) was on the attack first, but Bernal countered accelerations from Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) and Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo) to leave them for dead and fly across the gap to the German.

The pair then worked together as they dipped down into Montalcino and up the final rise to the line, with Bernal easing away to claim every possible second. He crossed the line in 11th place, 3:09 down on the winner and behind the rest of the breakaway remnants, with Buchmann three seconds further back.

Vlasov was the next best of the pre-race favourites, 23 seconds behind Bernal, followed three seconds later by the trio of Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious), Simon Yates (BikeExchange), and Tobias Foss (Jumbo-Visma). Carthy was the only other rider to finish within a minute of Bernal, with Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), Marc Soler (Movistar), and Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) the only others within two minutes – and only just.

Romain Bardet (DSM) was in a decent position on the gravel but suffered on the final climb and crossed the line alongside Evenepoel, 2:08 behind Bernal.

The biggest casualties, however, were Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates), who lost contact when the bunch split on the first sector and never saw the front of the race again. Both riders finished more than six minutes down on Bernal.

Bernal now has a 45-second lead, with Vlasov moving up to second, and Caruso third at 1:12. Carthy is a further four seconds back, just ahead of Yates, while Buchmann is up to sixth at 1:50. Evenepoel slips five places and now finds himself 2:22 behind Bernal, with Ciccone a further two seconds back after also slipping down the standings on that final climb.

Foss, who had a brief two-up attack with Jumbo-Visma teammate George Bennett on the second sector, climbs nine places to 9th, while Ineos have a second rider in the top-10 in the form of Daniel Martinez at 3:19.

As expected, the stage turned gaps of seconds into minutes and started to truly shape the overall complexion of the race, but the day’s honours belonged to Schmid, a 21-year-old neo-pro from Switzerland.

He was part of an 11-rider breakaway that built a lead of 14 minutes over the quieter opening couple of hours. The group largely stayed together on the first three sectors but Schmid responded when Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix) kicked off the hostilities on the final one. He and Covi were quickly away in a trio with the Belgian champion before dropping him on the asphalted final climb.

Schmid launched a sprint at the top of the climb but the pair stayed together on the run-down into town, where Schmid nervously led through the narrow streets that led to the final kick to the line. Once through the final left-hand bend, he immediately sprang from the saddle to initiate a fearsome long-range sprint. Covi initially mustered a strong response but was forced to relent as Schmid refused to relent, and he rose from the saddle once more to roar in delight.

How it unfolded

Sector 1

The day’s breakaway formed quickly and with a minimum of fuss. Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix) attacked from the gun and was joined by 10 others: Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates), Simon Guglielmi (Groupama-FDJ), Lawrence Naesen (AG2R Citroën), Harm Vanhoucke, Roger Kluge (Lotto Soudal), Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Bert-Jan Lindeman, Mauro Schmid (Qhubeka Assos), Enrico Battaglin (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè), Francesco Gavazzi (Eolo-Kometa).

Ineos soon emerged at the head of the peloton to marshal proceedings but it wasn’t much of a chase, as they let the breakaway build their lead into the double figures. With 62km on the clock and 100 remaining, they had 13 minutes, and hopes of contesting the stage win were enhanced when it surpassed the 14-minute mark just ahead of the first gravel sector. With 69 kilometres to go, the break rode through Torrenieri and emerged onto the golden sterrato. The first sector measured 9.1km, starting with a gentle rise before descending snakingly to Buonconvento.

As the breakaway group – stretched out by some of the trickier corners but still together – exited the gravel, the peloton was just hitting it. Teams had been gathering into lines for the best part of 10km, and the battle for position intensified ahead of the narrow passage through Torrenieri. Once through the town, it was Ineos who had pole position, Filippo Ganna leading with Bernal tucked in his wheel and three more teammates behind. Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-Nippo) was just alongside, with Hugh Carthy in tow, along with one Deceuninck-QuickStep rider, although Evenepoel was a dozen places down the group.

Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) punched his way to the front for a moment, but Ganna took control once more for the downhill part. That’s when the first expected incidents happened, with crashes for Jonathan Caicedo (EF-Nippo) and two Cofidis riders, plus a puncture for Patrick Bevin (Israel Start-Up Nation). There was nearly an incident for Ganna himself, so keen to press on that he almost overcooked a right-hand bend. Just after that, Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) hit the front for a short uphill rise, briefly forming a seven-man group as the bunch really started to split. They were joined by the next group of 13 riders but there was a gap back to the next group with Evenepoel. It was bad timing to have a mechanical, but that’s what happened to Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates), who was left well behind.

By the time Ganna led them off the first sector, there was a 30-second gap back to the second group, where Evenepoel’s teammates – four of them – quickly hit the front to try and keep a lid on things. Up front, Ineos had three riders with Bernal in Ganna, Gianni Moscon, and Jhonatan Narvaez, while Trek-Segafredo and Movistar also had three riders and helped Ineos drive it on. However, it wasn’t just Evenepoel who’d missed out; Vlasov, Simon Yates (BikeExchange), Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo), and Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) were all in the second group and their teams contributed to the chase and managed to close it down ahead of the second sector.

Still, there were already casualties, as not only Formolo but also Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) were left in another group and would only slip further back.

Sector 2

After 12km on tarmac, the break hit the second sector with 52km to go and a lead of 10 minutes. The sector measured 13km and formed a category-3 climb of the Passo del Lume Spento, with double digit gradients early on and then again in the final kilometre.

Lindeman and Kluge were quickly dropped, while Van der Hoorn also lost contact by the intermediate sprint positioned near the top of the first steep section. Kluge, however, used the subsequent technical downhill and flat stretches to muscle his way back to the front. After the final kick up, those nine riders exited the sector with 39km remaining and with their lead down to 8:25. Vanhoucke took maximum points at the top of the Passo del Lume Spento a couple of kilometres of tarmac later.

As for the bunch, Gianluca Brambilla (Trek-Segafredo) led them onto the sector, ahead of Sagan, and then Narvaez and Bernal. Moscon was still there but Ganna no more. In contrast to the previous downhill sector, things calmed down on the steeper gradients, with Narvaez setting the pace at the head of what was a 40-rider bunch. Things started to thin out when Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) and Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ) hit the front of the group, with Sagan one of the riders to lose contact, although he battled to stay in sight.

At the top of the opening uphill section, George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) came to the fore, now working for Tobias Foss, pushing on to such an extent that they hit a downhill section with a small gap over the rest. The New Zealand champion pressed on with his effort, and Foss soon started contributing as well. When they went out to 30 seconds, Ineos re-established control of the bunch with two riders in front of Bernal, while Evenepoel – with just João Almeida for company – found himself plugging gaps nearer the back. By the end of the sector, Bennett and Foss were 7:15 down on the break and still 30 seconds up on the bunch, with Martin and Formolo now more than four minutes in arrears.

The second sector was followed by a largely downhill 12km run down to the bonus sprint in Castelnuovo dell’Abate. Kluge kicked off the hostilities, before Covi and Guglielmi enjoyed a spell off the front, but the group reformed by the bonus sprint, and even swelled after Van der Hoorn used the descent to regain contact. Back in the favourites, group, the Jumbo-Visma duo steadily began to lose ground on the tarmac and soon decided to knock off their effort, at which point Ineos wound up the approach to the third sector.

Sector 3

The 10 breakaway riders hit the third sector - climbing steadily for 7.6km towards Sant’Angelo in Colle – with 25km to go and a lead of just over seven minutes. Gavazzi and Naesen produced the first injections of pace but only Lindeman was dropped on the first half of the sector. The rest of the riders stayed together, without any really attacks, all the way to the end of it.

In the bunch, Ineos led onto the sector with two riders – Narvaez and Moscon – in front of Bernal and one – Martinez – behind. It wasn’t long before Evenepoel found himself distanced, looking distinctly uncomfortable on the sterrato, especially on the downhill bits. When he dropped off the back for a second time, Bernal himself hit the front of the group to hit the gas. He found willing allies at Astana and Jumbo but it was still striking to see the pink jersey working so hard in what was still a sizeable group. As the gradient started to rise, Bernal rose from the saddle to pile on the pressure and Evenepoel slipped back to 20 seconds. Almeida initially elected to stay with the group rather than assist his team leader, and by the time he eventually dropped back, the gap was 45 seconds.

Moscon then reappeared at the front of what had been whittled down to a group of just 21 riders, as Evenepoel dropped off Almeida’s wheel almost as soon as he found it. He started speaking into the radio before ripping his earpiece out in dramatic fashion. It was soon back in and he was soon with Almeida again, but they exited the gravel with a deficit of 1:10 to the main GC group.

Sector 4

After just a few downhill kilometres of asphalted respite, the break hit the final sector with 14km to go and a lead of six minutes. It was 5km in length, with an initial kick followed by more rolling terrain. De Bondt launched repeated attacks. He first went with Schmid, before going clear with Cov, although Schmid then made his way across to form a trio. They were trailed by another trio in Naesen, Guglielmi, and Van der Hoorn.

In the GC group, the race was about to explode on the short final sector. Movistar took over from Ineos, with Nelson Oliveira leading the way for Soler, just ahead of Bernal. Meanwhile, Evenepoel and Almeida hit the sector having stemmed the tide and pegged the gap to one minute. Soler himself then took it up, and when Vlasov moved through to do the same it was clear the GC favourites were being drawn out into open battle. The group shattered, with a dozen riders in front, followed by several stragglers.

A group of 14 soon formed, with Bahrain Victorious leading the way through Damiano Caruso and Pello Bilbao. EF had the best numbers with Alberto Bettiol and Ruben Guerreiro alongside Carthy. The rest of the group was made up of Bernal, Nibali, Ciccone, Yates, Soler, Bardet, Buchmann, Foss, and Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ).

Finale

Out on the tarmac, with 8km to go, the road continued to rise, heading up the Passo del Lume Spento for a second time, this time on smooth roads, the category-3 climb measuring 9.3km at 4.6 per cent.

De Bondt was dropped from the front, as Gueglielmi attacked the chase group and made inroads. With 4km to go, Covi and Schmid reached the top of the climb. Schmid launched a sprint, but it appeared to be for the mountains points, and the pair regrouped for the subsequent downhill section.

They worked together until they reached Montalcino, where Covi placed Schmid on the front. The Swiss rider didn’t seem to mind, and wasted no time once they emerged onto the wide uphill finishing straight. They both strained every sinew as they wrestled with their bikes, but Schmid managed to sustain his acceleration all the way to the line to clinch a breakthrough moment in his career.

The GC group hit the tarmac five minutes behind the break and 1:15 ahead of Evenepoel. Ciccone issued the first acceleration, but his teammate Nibali soon lost contact. Buchmann put in a more sustained attack, causing Soler to lost contact. Ciccone himself then started to struggle. Bardet was the next to go, with the Frenchman falling all the way back to Evenepoel, who himself was dripping with sweat and starting to crack, his deficit quickly rising towards two minutes.

With the numerical advantage, EF set the pace in the group, several bike lengths behind Buchmann, and the group continued to shatter. Carthy put in a small acceleration, followed by a more pronounced effort from Vlasov. However, both paled in comparison to Bernal’s effort, which took him decisively clear and had him with Buchmann in a flash.

From there, the GC riders crossed the line in ones and twos, with the GC battle well and truly opened up, and one rider head and shoulders above the rest just past the half-way point of this Giro.

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Full Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Mauro Schmid (Swi) Team Qhubeka Assos 4:01:55
2Alessandro Covi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:01
3Harm Vanhoucke (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:00:26
4Dries De Bondt (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 0:00:41
5Simon Guglielmi (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
6Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane' 0:00:44
7Roger Kluge (Ger) Lotto Soudal 0:01:23
8Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team 0:01:37
9Taco van der Hoorn (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 0:01:43
10Lawrence Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team 0:01:59
11Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers 0:03:09
12Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:03:12
13Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech 0:03:32
14Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious 0:03:35
15Simon Yates (GBr) Team BikeExchange
16Tobias Foss (Nor) Jumbo-Visma
17Ruben Guerreiro (Por) EF Education-Nippo 0:03:39
18Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Education-Nippo 0:03:41
19Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:04:56
20Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education-Nippo
21Gianni Moscon (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers 0:05:05
22Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team 0:05:07
23Koen Bouwman (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
24Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
25Daniel Martinez Poveda (Col) Ineos Grenadiers 0:05:11
26Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:05:17
27Romain Bardet (Fra) Team DSM
28João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-QuickStep
29Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:06:16
30Attila Valter (Hun) Groupama-FDJ
31Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech 0:06:27
32Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
33Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar Team 0:06:33
34Rein Taaramäe (Est) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 0:06:36
35Jai Hindley (Aus) Team DSM
36Tanel Kangert (Est) Team BikeExchange
37Giovanni Carboni (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane' 0:07:00
38Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Spa) Bahrain Victorious 0:07:05
39Davide Formolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:09:23
40Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-up Nation
41Nicholas Schultz (Aus) Team BikeExchange
42Amanuel Gebreigzabhier (Eri) Trek-Segafredo 0:09:32
43Mikel Nieve Iturralde (Spa) Team BikeExchange 0:09:37
44Christopher Hamilton (Aus) Team DSM 0:09:39
45Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) Groupama-FDJ 0:09:40
46Samuele Battistella (Ita) Astana-Premier Tech 0:11:59
47Matteo Sobrero (Ita) Astana-Premier Tech
48Quinten Hermans (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 0:13:59
49George Bennett (NZl) Jumbo-Visma
50Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:15:20
51Jacopo Mosca (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
52Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
53Samuele Zoccarato (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
54Romain Seigle (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
55Dario Cataldo (Ita) Movistar Team 0:17:33
56Matteo Jorgenson (USA) Movistar Team
57Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
58Davide Villella (Ita) Movistar Team
59Bert-Jan Lindeman (Ned) Team Qhubeka Assos 0:17:35
60Antonio Pedrero (Spa) Movistar Team
61Lars van den Berg (Ned) Groupama-FDJ 0:18:59
62Mikkel Honoré (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep
63Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep
64Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
65Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Bahrain Victorious
66Filippo Zana (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
67Paul Martens (Ger) Jumbo-Visma
68Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Israel Start-up Nation
69Louis Vervaeke (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
70James Knox (GBr) Deceuninck-QuickStep
71Oscar Riesebeek (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix
72Fabio Felline (Ita) Astana-Premier Tech
73Jos van Emden (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
74Einer Rubio Reyes (Col) Movistar Team
75Márton Dina (Hun) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team
76Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team DSM
77Jefferson Cepeda (Ecu) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
78Vincenzo Albanese (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team
79Jhonatan Narvaez Prado (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers 0:19:12
80Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 0:21:24
81Jens Keukeleire (Bel) EF Education-Nippo 0:22:35
82Matthias Brändle (Aut) Israel Start-up Nation
83Matteo Fabbro (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
84Giovanni Aleotti (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
85Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
86Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal
87Patrick Bevin (NZl) Israel Start-up Nation
88Simon Pellaud (Swi) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
89Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Bahrain Victorious
90Geoffrey Bouchard (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
91Michael Hepburn (Aus) Team BikeExchange
92Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team DSM
93David Dekker (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
94Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) Team Qhubeka Assos
95Kilian Frankiny (Swi) Team Qhubeka Assos
96Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
97Larry Warbasse (USA) AG2R Citroën Team
98Senne Leysen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
99Antoine Duchesne (Can) Groupama-FDJ
100Lorenzo Fortunato (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team
101Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Team Qhubeka Assos
102Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
103Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Ineos Grenadiers
104Albert Torres Barcelo (Spa) Movistar Team
105Davide Gabburo (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
106Fernando Gaviria Rendon (Col) UAE Team Emirates
107Attilio Viviani (Ita) Cofidis
108Iljo Keisse (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
109Andrea Vendrame (Ita) AG2R Citroën Team
110Simone Ravanelli (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
111Christopher Juul-Jensen (Den) Team BikeExchange
112Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Team Qhubeka Assos
113Pieter Serry (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
114Jan Tratnik (Slo) Bahrain Victorious
115Vadim Pronskiy (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
116Alexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
117Andrii Ponomar (Ukr) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
118Julius van den Berg (Ned) EF Education-Nippo
119Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
120Simon Carr (GBr) EF Education-Nippo
121Kobe Goossens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
122Tejay van Garderen (USA) EF Education-Nippo
123Callum Scotson (Aus) Team BikeExchange
124Wesley Kreder (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
125Fausto Masnada (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:22:52
126Stefano Oldani (Ita) Lotto Soudal 0:23:16
127Harold Tejada Canacue (Col) Astana-Premier Tech 0:23:25
128Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
129Filippo Ganna (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers
130Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
131Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Cofidis 0:26:00
132Victor Lafay (Fra) Cofidis
133Nico Denz (Ger) Team DSM
134Rémy Rochas (Fra) Cofidis
135Umberto Marengo (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
136Filippo Fiorelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
137Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
138Nicola Venchiarutti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
139Filippo Tagliani (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
140Max Kanter (Ger) Team DSM
141Koen de Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
142Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers
143Mark Christian (GBr) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team
144Riccardo Minali (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
145Natnael Tesfazion (Eri) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
146Natnael Berhane (Eri) Cofidis
147Alex Dowsett (GBr) Israel Start-up Nation
148Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis
149Matteo Moschetti (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
150Michael Storer (Aus) Team DSM
151