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Giro d'Italia 2013: Stage 11

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Two more climbs are on the agenda today, with one of them coming at the end. Should be another exciting day!

This is another rolling, up-and-down stage. It starts out with a long and gradual descent over some 62 km, the goes up to a category two climb, and the down again, with some bumps along the way. And then it finishes of with a short but nasty looking cat.2 climb up to the finish line.

Is Ryder Hesjedal of Garmin-Sharp at the start today? That is the question of the day..... and has not yet been answered.

This stage is in honour of the more than 2000 victims of the Vajont Dam tragedy in 1963. There were many warning signs of problems with the dam, which were ignored. The evening of October 9, 1963, a massive landslide completely filled up the dam's reservoir, sending a huge wave of water – some 50 million square meters – over the dam. Numerous villages were wiped out, with estimates of those killed ranging from 1900 to 2500.

The closing climb is not all that ferocious, averaging only about 5% gradient. And in fact, the last 200 meters or so are actually downhill. Many observers are expecting if not a mass sprint, then the sprint of a large group of 40 or so. Or we could see another escape group staying away to the end.

Yesterday's mountain stage saw a number of changes, with the biggest being Ryder Hesjedal dropping to 33rd overall, more than 20 minutes down. Sky saw Bradley Wiggins lose time and Rigoberto Uran gain time. Meanwhile, Astana's Vincenzo Nibali easily retained his overall lead. Here is a look at the top ten:

1     Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team     38:57:32      
2     Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team     0:00:41      
3     Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling     0:02:04      
4     Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling     0:02:05      
5     Robert Gesink (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team     0:02:12      
6     Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida     0:02:13      
7     Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia     0:02:55      
8     Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida     0:03:35      
9     Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2R La Mondiale     0:04:17      
10     Rafal Majka (Pol) Team Saxo-Tinkoff     0:04:21    

Hesjedal was indeed at the start today. Let's see what he can do here.

Not starting, though, was AG2R's Sylvain Georges.

Cadel Evans of BMC is now in the points jersey.

1     Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team     73      pts
2     Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling     60      
3     Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step     58      
4     Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling     53      
5     Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia     52      
6     Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox     45      
7     Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team     45      
8     Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) Ag2R La Mondiale     43      
9     Maxim Belkov (Rus) Katusha     41      
10     Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Belisol     39      
 

172km remaining from 182km

We've gone 10km so far, and still no escape attempts?

167km remaining from 182km

Let's make that 15 km. Apparently lots of riders are trying to get away but so far no one is succesful.

The weather foreceast for today was sun, but the Gazzetta tells us it is raining. Again.

Stefano Pirrazi of Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox still has the mountain jersey.

1     Stefano Pirazzi (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox     38      pts
2     Robinson Eduardo Chalapud Gomez (Col) Colombia     23      
3     Jackson Rodriguez (Ven) Androni Giocattoli     17      
4     Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team     16      
5     Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling     15      
6     Emanuele Sella (Ita) Androni Giocattoli     13      
7     Maxim Belkov (Rus) Katusha     13      
8     Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Belisol     12      
9     Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Colombia     12

21km and still no break. Perhaps the weather is to blame....

There were 192 riders at the start today, which means that so far 15 riders have abandoned. Seven teams are one man down, while four teams have lost two riders.

Stefano Pirrazi of Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox still has the mountain jersey.

1     Stefano Pirazzi (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox     38      pts
2     Robinson Eduardo Chalapud Gomez (Col) Colombia     23      
3     Jackson Rodriguez (Ven) Androni Giocattoli     17      
4     Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team     16      
5     Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling     15      
6     Emanuele Sella (Ita) Androni Giocattoli     13      
7     Maxim Belkov (Rus) Katusha     13      
8     Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Belisol     12      
9     Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Colombia     12    

152km remaining from 182km

30 km so far, and, you guessed it......

Saxo-Tinkoff's Rafal Majka is the best young rider.

1     Rafal Majka (Pol) Team Saxo-Tinkoff     39:01:53      
2     Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) Ag2R La Mondiale     0:01:05      
3     Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team     0:04:34      
4     Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Col) Colombia     0:08:31      
5     Diego Rosa (Ita) Androni Giocattoli     0:24:09      
6     Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Colombia     0:34:59      
7     Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox     0:42:30      
8     Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEdge     0:45:16      
9     Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team     0:46:11      
10     Francesco Manuel Bongiorno (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox     0:48:02

It's hard to figure out Bradley Wiggins at the Giro this year. Last night he told Cyclingnews he was pleased with his performance although he lost some time, and that he would be open to helping teammate Uran win the race.

Hm, first we are told that the stage has gone 40 kilometers, and then immediately told they have covered more than 53 km in the first hour...

Well, no matter how fast they are going or how far they have gone, the peloton has done it all as one big sociable group.

118km remaining from 182km

64km into the day, and everyone still all together!

Uran may be the top dog at the moment, but he is not ready to take over as Sky's captain here. Afaer all, Wiggins is only one second behind him, and the race is only half over.

The field has now reached the bottom of the very long and gentle descent which opened the race, and will soon start up the category two ranked Sella Ciampigotto. Perhaps we will see a break group form on the ascent?

You can win a limited edition Fi'zi:k Arione R3 saddle personally signed by Andreas Klier! It's easy enough to enter the competition, just look here

Klier announced his retirement as a rider but is now at the Giro, learning how to to be a directeur sportif for Garmin-Sharp.

102km remaining from 182km

Signs of life at long last? We hear rumours that a 20-man group is trying to get away!

Not only are they trying to get away, they are said to have a three-minute gap. (Have we said that reliable information is a bit hard to come by?)

Pirazzi, Rodriguez, Martens, Bonnafond, Navardauskas and Oss are said to be in the group.

Names are dribbling in, we will try to get them all. Di Luca is also said to be in the group.

And here we go: Egoi Martínez, Duque, Cobo, Navardauskas, Bonnafond, Jackson Rodríguez, Pirazzi, Martens, Oss, Sarmiento, Le Bon, Gusev, Pauwels, Keukeleire, Popovych, Puccio, Gretsch, Petrov, Veuchelen y Di Luca.

96km remaining from 182km

The group is: Egoi Martínez (Euskaltel), Leonardo Duque (Colombia), Juan Jose Cobo (Movistar),  Ramunas  Navardauskas (Garmin-Sharp), Guillaume Bonnafond (AG2R), Jackson Rodríguez (Androni Giacattoli), Stafano Pirazzi (Bardiani Valvole), Paul Martens (Blanco), Daniel Oss (BMC), Cayetano Sarmiento (Cannondale), Johan Le Bon (FdJ), Vladimir Gusev (Katusha), Serge Pauwels (OPQS), Jens Keukeleire (Orica-GreenEdge), Yaroslav Popovych (RadioShack-Leopard), Salvatore Puccio (Sky) Patrick Gretsch (Argos-Shimano), Evgeni Petrov (Saxo-Tinkoff), Frederik Veuchelen (Vacansoleil) and Danilo Di Luca (Vini Fantini).

Only three teams are not represented in the group: Astana, Lampre and Lotto Belisol.

90km remaining from 182km

And the gap is already to five minutes.

Of the group, Petrov is the highest ranked in GC, at 13 minutes down.

This just in: AG2R's Sylvain Georges did not start today because he tested postitive for Heptaminol.

81km remaining from 182km

The gap has dropped slightly, to 4,30. Astana is rather relaxed at the head of the field.

It may have been raining earlier but now the sun is out!

74km remaining from 182km

The lead group is about two-thirds up the first climb. It is not a terribly difficult one.

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) is sitting pretty these days, even managing to build up his overall lead. Yesterday he not only took bonus seconds at the end of the stage, he also picked up bonuses at the last intermediate sprint.

Euskaltel's Robert Vrecer has jumped from the peloton and apparently hopes to make up the five minutes to the lead group.  Good luck!

Well, that wasn't such a good idea. He is back in the fold now.

Sky is massed behind Astana. Up ahead, some members of the break group are suffering slightly.

70km remaining from 182km

The gap just keeps going up, now at 5:45.

The lead group is working well together, sharing the lead work.

Cadel Evans (BMC) has been quietly doing very well in this race. Yesterday he made up time on a number of his rivals and is comfortably in second place overall.

No signs of weaknesss for Wiggins on this climb! He is tucked in with his teammates, right behind Astana.

Pirazzi knows the mountaintop is coming, and he is eager to get the points. He jumps out, but is soon joined by Sarmiento.

Th higher up we go, the cooler it gets -- which is no surprise when we see the great quantities of snow along the roadside! -- and Nibali decided to warm up with a vest.

It didn't work out entirely to Pirazzi's plan, as he finished second to Rodriguez.

Evans moving up in the field, as a Blanco rider is in the lead.

What is wrong with Ryder Hesjedal? That is the big question after yesterday's stage. At least he was able to start today.

The field crosses under the mountain ranking, 5:28 behind the break group.

Gretsch has jumped from the break group on the descent. He is followed by Popovych.

Everyone is flying down the descent now, with happily no more snow to be seen. Popovych  may be chasing Gretsch, but he is not catching him.

49km remaining from 182km

Less than 50km to go! And the gap is 5:18.

Luke Durbridge of Orica-GreenEdge is tackling his first grand tour, and so far so good......

Handing off to Peter for a few minutes....

44km remaining from 182km

The riders have hit the bottom of the descent and the break's advantage holds at 5:25 with 44km remaining.

The Astana team of maglia rosa holder Vincenzo Nibali is at the front of the peloton, setting tempo.

Patrick Gretsch (Argos-Shimano) is alone in the lead and has a one-minute lead over his former breakaway companions. The peloton remains at 5:25 back.

Susan back again,to run you in to the finish.

Gretsch is going and going and going, he now has 1:25 on his chasers.

Gretsch is working hard to build up a decent gap before starting the next climb. He is not a climber....

35km remaining from 182km

35 km to go for Gretsch. The chase group is at 1:29, and the field at 5:50.

It is warmer again, and an Astana domestique starts gathering vests, raincoats and so on to take back to the team car.

it's an easy win for Gretsch at the intermediate sprint.

Veuchelen and Navardauskas took the rest of the points at the intermediate sprint, the first of two.

The second sprint came very quickly thereafter, and this time it was Gretsch ahead of Cobo and Popovych. They are at 1:21 behind the leader, with the peloton at exactly 6 minutes.

24km remaining from 182km

Di Lucas couldn't take it any more, and jumps from the chase group. But he takes the rest of the group with him, so that didn't work out.

21km remaining from 182km

Oss and Navardauskas are the next to go in pursuit of Gretsch.

The chase is showing its effect, as their gap is now down to one minute.

Only 31 seconds now between Gretsch and the chasing duo. Will that be our podium?

17km remaining from 182km

The two catch and pass Gretsch.

The German catches up again, so we have three in front.

Astana is still firmly in control back in the peloton.

The group of now seven chasing riders is 1:25 behind the leading trio, with the field at 5:50.

Gretsch is willing to let the other two do the lead work, since he pushed on alone for so long.

The clilmbing has started, and it is too much for Gretsch. He is dropped but the other two keep on.

The two in front are flying - or the chasers behind them have given up hope. They have a gap of 2:07. That is enough to inspire Duque to take off and give chase.

Gretsch dropped when the road started going up, but now the leaders have officially started up the final climb.

Duque has 2:31 to make up on the two leaders. He is a climber, so perhaps he can make it?

4km remaining from 182km

Navardauskuas is the stronger of the two here, doing most of the lead work. Oss manages to stay with him, but -- oops, just as we say that, he has cracked!

It looks as if Garmin-Sharp will be taking its first stage win here -- if he can keep it up for another 4km or so. Yesterday his Giro roommate Thomas Dekker was in the escape group for a long time.

Bonnafond is the next to jump and is on the verge of catching Duque, who is faltering.

Gretsch is still in there, between Oss and Duque.

Navardauskas is a 25-year-old Lithuanian. He already has one win this season, taking a stage in the Tour de Romandie.

2km remaining from 182km

Oss is grimacing and shaking his head -- we doubt he will catch the leader.

Back in the peloton, AStana looks around to make sure that no one shows any signs of jumping from the field.

And indeed, two riders jump from the group,one from Lotto and one from ---- Androni, maybe?

Navardauskas is in the last kilometer, and about to take the biggest win of his career.

He has more than enough time to straighten up his jersey, cross himself and raise his arms in celebration!

Oss is still on his way, crossing the line for second place over a minute down as he weaves around the final run-in.

Pirazzi is third, about three minutes down.

That win will be a real relief to Garmin-Sharp. After Hesjedal's downfall yesterday, they had to wonder how to save their Giro.

The field comes across the finish line about 5 and a half minutes down.

Looks like there will be no changes in the top of the GC. The only change ought to be Intxausti moving from 11th to 9th.

The top ten in today's stage:

1  Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin-Sharp  4:23:14  
2  Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team  0:01:08  
3  Stefano Pirazzi (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox  0:02:59  
4  Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Sky Procycling  0:03:07  
5  Paul Martens (Ger) Blanco Pro Cycling Team      
6  Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia      
7  Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi      
8  Serge Pauwels (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step  0:03:10  
9  Evgeny Petrov (Rus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  0:03:11  
10  Jackson Rodriguez (Ven) Androni Giocattoli  0:03:25

1  Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team  43:26:27  

2  Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team  0:00:41  
3  Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling  0:02:04  
4  Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling  0:02:05  
5  Robert Gesink (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team  0:02:12  
6  Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida  0:02:13  
7  Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia  0:02:55  
8  Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida  0:03:35  
9  Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team  0:04:05  
10  Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale  0:04:17

That's it for today! Thanks for reading along and be sure to join us again tomorrow, when the sprinters will have another of their rare chances in this race!

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