Bob Jungels holds on to the pink jersey and extends his lead over Alejandro Valverde and Vincenzo Nibali at the Giro d'Italia

There’s no such thing as an easy stage

The peloton on stage eleven of the 2016 Giro d'Italia (Watson)

The peloton on stage eleven of the 2016 Giro d’Italia (Watson)

It’s hard to look at some Giro d’Italia stages and think they’re going to be anything other than dull and predictable. Even though we’ve been proved wrong so many times before, you look at a profile like the one on stage 11 and assume nothing of much interest will happen.

Last year Alberto Contador fell and injured his shoulder on the flattest of flat stages, so we should know better than to write stages off early.

Today’s 227km stage looked to be passing with no particular interest, given that the highest point in the opening 200km was about 44m above sea level. Then, come the only categorised climb on the route the race came to life with a general classification battle unexpectedly breaking out.

A huge crash split the peloton but the sprinters didn’t really have much chance to contest the stage once the likes of Movistar, LottoNL-Jumbo and Etixx-Quick Step blew things up at the front.

There’s no such thing as an easy stage at the Giro d’Italia. Apart from the absolutely pan-flat stage 12…that looks really easy.

Jungels puts in the work to keep the maglia rosa

Bob Jungels after stage 11 of the 2016 Giro d'Italia (Sunada)

Bob Jungels after stage 11 of the 2016 Giro d’Italia (Sunada)

There’s defending your leader’s jersey and there’s doing what Bob Jungels did on stage 11. When Andrey Amador attacked off the front of the peloton in the final 15km Jungels knew he had to follow, with the Costa Rican sitting 26 seconds back in the standings.

Once he caught him the pair then took turns doing the work trying to stay away from the rest of the contenders, even though the Luxembourger could have easily just put the anchor on Amador and dragged him back to the group.

An accomplished time triallist, Jungels looked at ease turning a big gear on the front and pretty much led out stage winner Diego Ulissi in the finishing straight.

Unless something ridiculous happens on Thursday, Jungels should hold on to the pink jersey for another day and then we hit the really big climbs.

FDJ’s leadout for the intermediate sprint

FDJ at the Giro d'Italia (Sunada)

FDJ at the Giro d’Italia (Sunada)

Watching FDJ approach the intermediate sprint was a thing of beauty, but it made us wonder whether they thought the finish line was actually 50km before where it actually was.

Strung out in a long line, the blue and white FDJ kits detatched themselves from the front of the peloton and worked on a team time trial to the sprint line, peeling off one by one to send Arnaud Démare to the bonus points.

It was impressive to watch because the days of a eight-man sprint train seem to be a thing of the past, with Mark Cavendish’s HTC teams specialising in the art in the late 2000s and early 2010s.

Nowadays, even near the stage finish, we’ll only usually see five or six men from any one team in the sprint train, firing their fast men to the line.

Unfortunately for the French team they were pretty much obliterated by the huge crash soon after the intermediate sprint and were not in a position to contest the finish. But if they’re able to get their eight-man train working again on Thursday, Démare could take his first stage win of the race.


Watch: Who impressed most in the first half of the Giro d’Italia?


The crash caused a fair bit of carnage

Domenico Pozzovivo on stage eight of the 2016 Giro d'Italia

Domenico Pozzovivo on stage eight of the 2016 Giro d’Italia

The problem with really flat stages is that if riders touch wheels and go down the results are generally pretty catastrophic thanks to the high speed of the peloton.

With 35km to go on stage 11 we were greeted with the sight of a huge pileup emanating from halfway down the peloton, leaving dozens of riders on the floor – some with what looked like race-ending injuries.

Ivan Rovny (Tinkoff) was clutching his shoulder but seemingly got back on to finish 18 minutes down on Ulissi, while several Orica-GreenEdge riders had lost a fair amount of lycra in the spill.

Pre-race GC contender Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale) was one of the biggest losers from the crash, having to chase down the rest of the favourites and eventually finishing  in a group 77 seconds down on rivals Alejandro Valverde and Vincenzo Nibali.

The entire FDJ team was caught up as well, with their eight remaining riders finishing 17 minutes down.

Bye bye Tom

Tom Dumoulin abandons the Giro d'Italia (Watson)

Tom Dumoulin abandons the Giro d’Italia (Watson)

After stage 10 I predicted that Tom Dumoulin wouldn’t be on the start line for stage 11, but the Dutchman suited up and set off on his 227km adventure on Wednesday.

With saddle sores apparently giving him some jip, Dumoulin probably wasn’t looking forward to 200 flat kilometres where it’s hard to find the need to adjust your position too much to get comfortable.

He got to the feed station and decided he’d had enough, hopped in a car and said goodbye to the Giro d’Italia. It was probably for the best – sitting so far down in the classification after disastrous stages eight and 10 he would have essentially just used the final two weeks as a training ride.

Now he can focus on his real goal of the season, the Tour of Poland Olympic Games time trial.