Hello and welcome to Cycling Weekly's live blog for stage 11 of the Giro d'Italia, and anything else you might need to know from the world of cycling. I'm Adam Becket, and if you want to get in contact, here's my Twitter.
Today's stage is from Camaiore to Tortona, and is the longest of the race at 219km, so a nice easy relaxing day for the peloton is expected - or not. Hopefully, it is not as much of a snoozefest as the second-longest was last Friday.
You can check out the stage 11 route in more detail in our Giro route analysis.
Are you planning on tuning into the Giro today? Find out how you can catch all the action in our how to watch guide.
09:59 - Soudal Quick-Step down to three riders as four depart with Covid
10:14 - Three others depart, two with Covid
10:31 - Arnaud De Lie breaks back in 4 Jours de Dunkerque crash
10:53 - Stage 11 is go
11:02 - Six-man break up road
14:35 - Tao Geoghegan Hart crashes
14:49 - Geoghegan Hart and Óscar Rodríguez abandon
Soudal Quick-Step down to three riders as four more depart with Covid
Wednesday begins with more Covid news, I'm afraid. Soudal Quick-Step's woes did not end with Remco Evenepoel leaving the race, as four more of his Belgian team will not take to today's stage due to testing positive.
Jan Hirt, Josef Cerny, Louis Vervaeke and Mattia Cattaneo will all head home from Italy, leaving Quick-Step with just Ilan Van Wilder, Davide Ballerini, and Pieter Serry at the Giro.
"After the positive of Remco on Sunday evening, we had two more riders who were feeling unwell on Monday morning, but were negative on antigen tests," the team's doctor, Toon Cruyt said.
"Therefore a PCR test was carried out on the seven remaining riders, the results of which showed that the four guys were positive. We will continue to monitor and implement our testing protocol on the three riders and staff that remain at the race."
Three more riders depart Giro
Three more riders - not from Soudal Quick-Step - will not start stage 11. They are Natnael Tesfatsion (Trek-Segafredo), Stefano Gandin (Corratec-Selle Italia) and Andrea Vendrame (AG2R Citroën). The latter two have tested positive for Covid, while the former is just regularly ill.
“Andrea has tested positive for Covid-19. He was immediately isolated from the other riders on the team, who all tested negative. He will return home today,” explained Etienne Barbiche, the team's doctor said.
Arnaud De Lie fractured sternum in 4 Jours de Dunkerque crash
There was a giant crash at stage one of the 4 Jours de Dunkerque on Tuesday, which means Arnaud De Lie (Lotto-Dstny), Benjamin Perry (Human Powered Health), Barnabás Peák (Human Powered Health) and Théo Delacroix (St Michel-Mavic-Auber93) will all not start stage two.
The first rider, De Lie, suffered a fracture to his sternum along with a broken rib, a collapsed lung and a broken left collarbone in the crash, and will be undergoing surgery soon.
Stage 11 in neutralised zone
The riders are currently riding towards kilometre 0 for stage 11 of the Giro d'Italia. The skies look grey again, but the peloton will be hoping for a drier day than Tuesday.
There are three classified climbs on the menu today: two third-category efforts and a fourth, so if the sprint teams can keep control it could end in a bunch finish. Or, will the breakaway win again?
If you wanted to know what was going on with Covid at the Giro, you could do worse than read my explainer of everything, that I wrote yesterday before six more riders left with the virus.
Stage 11 is go
219km to go: And we are off! Charlie Quarterman (Corratec-Selle Italia) is one of the first to try and attack. This will go on for a while, there are 70km to the top of the first climb of the day.
215km to go: The break is very much still not established. There's an Intermarché-Circus-Wanty rider out in front, chased by multiple others. This probably won't last, unless the Intermarché man wants to stay out there alone. More attacks from EOLO-Kometa, Cofidis and more. Bahrain-Victorious shut that down.
214km to go: It looks like Trek-Segafredo and Bahrain-Victorious are policing the front of the peloton very carefully. They want a move of two or three to do the work. Another attack from Corratec among others goes.
Six man break up road
210km to go: Well, that looks like the day's break has been established. The members are: Laurenz Rex (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), Thomas Champion (Cofidis), Diego Pablo Sevilla (EOLO-Kometa), Alexander Konychev and Veljko Stojnić (both Corratec-Selle Italia), and Filippo Magli (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè).
207km to go: With the day's break comfortably established, it's time for people to stop and relieve themselves. Not that the men in the break have that advantage. They have three minutes over the peloton, and that gap will grow. This is perfect for both the sprint teams and the GC teams - unless something ridiculous happens, these six are not making it to the finish, and there is no one there to worry about.
203km to go: Incidentally, Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) has a pink helmet on today now he has officially secured the maglia rosa. He didn't wear one on Tuesday because it seemed impolite, with Remco Evenepoel's withdrawal. Now though, he can go full pink.
200km to go: The sprint teams really don't want to give the break any advantage, with Trek-Segafredo, Bahrain-Victorious, Movistar and Astana-Qazaqstan already riding on the front. The gap is four minutes.
199km to go: The sun is out. Do not adjust your sets, the sun is out.
Here is your day's break: two Italians, a Croatian, a Belgian, a Spaniard and a Frenchman.
192km to go: The gap has already been brought back to 3-44, so the break has no chance at all as it currently stands. The sprint teams are desperate to ensure this ends in a bunch finish.
Your main contenders, should a sprint occur in Tortona: Jonathan Milan (Bahrain-Victorious), Mark Cavendish (Astana-Qazaqstan), Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo), Fernando Gaviria (Movistar), Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Michael Matthews (Jayco AlUla).
187km to go: whispers this looks like it might be a bit of a dull day, until the end that is. There are three classified climbs to come, of course, but the trio are not going to cause too many problems. The good news is that the average speed is high, so that's good.
180km to go: The gap is 3-18 now, which makes you wonder if the breakaway will be brought too early, which would cause chaos. An easier day if you are not one of the six men up front, or one of the men riding on the front of the bunch.
171km to go: The sun is still out. The gap is well below three minutes now, which is interesting - just 2-41. Bahrain-Victorious is at the front, and Jumbo-Visma is near the front too.
165km to go: Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) had a mechanical, but is safely back in the bunch. Phew.
157km to go: The breakaway raced for the intermediate sprint, with Veljko Stojnić (Corratec-Selle Italia) taking the honours. Behind, in the peloton, Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) and Jonathan Milan (Bahrain-Victorious) duked it out for the remaining points, with the latter taking two and the former one.
The time gap is 2-31.
148km to go: The break is about to tackle the Passo del Bracco, 10.1km at 4.4%, with the peloton 2-31 behind.
Christophe Laporte signs contract extension
Christophe Laporte has signed a contract extension with Jumbo-Visma, keeping him at the Dutch squad to 2026. The Frenchman won Dwars door Vlaanderen and Gent-Wevelgem this year. After rumours about other teams hoping to sign Laporte, Wednesday is confirmation that he feels at home at Jumbo-Visma.
"I feel great here," he said. "This team works in an extremely professional way, but at the same time, it feels very familiar. From the first day I arrived, there was a lot of trust in the team.
"I thank everyone, the staff and the riders, for that. I am still learning every day, and I want to advance with the team. I know that if I stay here, I can reach my potential."
145km to go: The break has 2-33 on the peloton, where Bahrain-Victorious, Trek-Segafredo and Astana-Qazaqstan are on the front. It is pretty controlled.
143km to go: Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) is hanging off the back of the peloton... His team will be hoping that he can stick around in the bunch and therefore sprint for victory.
139km to go: Over the top of Passo del Bracco, and Veljko Stojnić (Corratec-Selle Italia) takes the points, followed by Diego Pablo Sevilla (EOLO-Kometa) and Filippo Magli (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè)
129km to go: The peloton is taking it relatively easy down this descent, with Trek-Segafredo, Bahrain-Victorious and Astana-Qazaqstan still on the front. The gap has gone up to 2-48.
122km to go: The break has three minutes again! Huge news!
119km to go: The break is in a tunnel. I love tunnels in bike races. More tunnels, please.
116km to go: The breakaway has 2-45 on the peloton. That's about it.
Meanwhile, more excitingly, the Giro d'Italia special train is back. Here's the piece I wrote last year all about the exciting development from Trenitalia.
105km to go: Nothing has changed, really. If this isn't a sprint at the end of the day, something has seriously gone wrong. The race is approaching the Colla di Boasi.
101km to go: On TV, Alberto Dainese (DSM) has just said that stage 10 was the coldest day of his life. The poor guy. It did look horrible in the rain.
100km to go: We are finally under 100km. Two categorised climbs to go, and a lot of hard racing. Two and a half hours to the finish?
Adam's off to grab some lunch so I, Vern Pitt, am taking over for a bit. So if you have any questions or things you want to shout out hit me on Twitter.
What's with all the Covid?
88km to go: The biggest story of the day so far is the sheer number of Covid case we're having.
The Giro peloton was down eight riders this morning, six of whom had tested positive for Covid.
My colleague Adam dug into what's happening just yesterday in this piece.
It could well be that staying healthy may prove more crucial than usual to winning this Giro.
84km to go: The break's advantage remains narrow at 1-47.
British rider Charlie Quarterman tried to make it into the front group today but the move he was in was brought back, now two of his Corratec team-mates are in the group of six up front.
He's been writing a diary column for Cycling Weekly magazine with all his insights from the race.
The next one is in this tomorrow's magazine, which you can get a copy of here.
New French style
Cycling clothing brand Ale has unveiled revised French national kit, which I think is rather smart.
What are your thoughts? Message me here.
77km to go: The race is on a third category climb and its proven a bit too much for sprinter Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) who is dropping off the back of the bunch.
71km to go: The gap from the break of the peloton has ticked down a bit to 1-25.
Tao Geoghegan Hart crashes
69km to go: Tao Geoghegan Hart is down on the floor after a crash involving a raft of Ineos riders. Primož Roglič has also been in the crash and has taken a team-mates bike to continue.
Replays show Geraint Thomas went down but was up and back on his bike quickly.
65km to go: It does not look good for Geoghegan Hart. He's on a stretcher, we will bring you news as soon as we get it.
Meanwhile, Óscar Rodríguez (Movistar) was also in a horrible crash on the descent. These wet roads are causing chaos.
62km to go: Tao Geoghegan Hart was third on GC when the crash happened. He has now abandoned, in bad news for him, the race as a whole, and the team.
The gap is 1-48 between the peloton and the break.
60km to go: Sivakov, Roglič and Thomas are all back on their bikes. Rodriguez looks like he will be out of the race too.
Tao Geoghegan Hart officially abandons
Tao Geoghegan Hart has officially abandoned the race, as has Óscar Rodríguez. The Giro has only been going 11 days and it feels like there have been enough incidents for two Grand Tours.
At the back, Primož Roglič has returned onto his bike, rather than using Koen Bouwman's.
54km to go: The impetus rather went out of the chase on the descent there, as the news of the crash and abandonments came through. Trek-Segafredo are still on the front, followed by the remaining Ineos Grenadiers.
To fill you in on what happened in the crash, Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates) slid out towards the front of the bunch, which also took out Geraint Thomas. Primož Roglič and Pavel Sivakov were caught up, but it was Tao Geoghegan Hart who crashed heaviest, coming down on his head and shoulder after sliding out.
After that, Óscar Rodríguez clipped wheels at the front and went at full pace into a road sign, narrowly missing a house after it. Brutal stuff, and we wish Geoghegan Hart and Rodríguez the best.
51km to go: Six-man breakaway still ahead, with 1-44 on the peloton. They are approaching the second intermediate sprint point. The bunch finish will probably still happen.
49km to go: Veljko Stojnić (Corratec-Selle Italia) won the intermediate sprint, taking the bonus seconds with it.
44km to go: The break are on the final climb. Behind, Jayco AlUla are pushing the pace on the peloton, possibly trying to shell some other sprinters out the back, to make the victory of Michael Matthews more likely.
44km to go: Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) is reportedly quite far out the back, and will be chasing to just finish the team inside the time cut.
43km to go: Splits in the bunch! The climb isn't the longest or the hardest, but at the end of a tough day, this must hurt. We will monitor who is heading out the back of the peloton.
42km to go: Veljko Stojnić (Corratec-Selle Italia) was first over the top of the climb, followed by Thomas Champion (Cofidis) and Laurenz Rex (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty). The gap is now just 35 seconds, however.
Mark Cavendish (Astana-Qazaqstan) and Jonathan Milan (Bahrain-Victorious) are among the sprinters that have been distanced a little bit.
39km to go: Cavendish is back in. Did Jayco AlUla do enough damage to help Michael Matthews to the win?
35km to go: Rex and Stojnić are now left alone at the front of the race, they have 55 seconds on the peloton, which still has Jayco AlUla on the front. It will be interesting to see if Trek-Segrafredo take over again.
The peloton has split a little on the descent from the Passo della Castagnola.
33km to go: All is back to normal in the bunch, with Trek-Segafredo and Movistar riding at the front. Everyone can breathe easily - as long as they stay upright.
29km to go: The gap is now back below one minute again, the peloton should have this...
20km to go: Just over 30 seconds for the two riders out in front, who are still Laurenz Rex (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) and Veljko Stojnić (Corratec-Selle Italia)
18km to go: Rex has gone alone, 23 seconds over the chasing bunch. Seems futile, but why not try?
15km to go: Rex has 22 seconds on the peloton. The sun has also reappeared.
10km to go: Laurenz Rex is still out front, but the peloton can see him, adding a bit more incentive to the chase. There are lots of interests at the front of the bunch, with GC and sprint teams both getting involved.
7km to go: Groupma-FDJ are on the front... are they setting up Jake Stewart? Interesting.
6km to go: Poor Laurenz Rex, he has been out ahead of the peloton for over 200km, and is now being left to hang out in front as the sprint teams continue to chase.
5km: All together now, Rex has been caught. It will almost definitely be a sprint - who do you fancy?
4km to go: It is very chaotic at the front of the race with many different teams attempting to take the front.
Attack from Corratec-Selle Italia! Charlie Quarterman is trying to do something. He is a time-triallist, after all... It doesn't look like it will work.
2km to go: Quarterman's attack has been neutralised. Big corners coming.
1.5km to go: Split in the peloton! There was a crash involving Henok Mulubrhan and a couple of others.
1km to go: Tiny group left because of the crash, but it doesn't matter thanks to the 3km rule.
500m to go: Trek-Segafredo are on the front...
Photo finish between Ackermann and Milan
Jonathan Milan (Bahrain-Victorious) and Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) both think they finish. Mark Cavendish (Astana-Qazaqstan) definitely third.
Pascal Ackermann wins!
Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) won stage 11 in a photo finish, incredibly narrowly from Jonathan Milan (Bahrain-Victorious), who came from nowhere to almost win. Mark Cavendish (Astana-Qazaqstan) came third, with Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) in fourth.
Ackermann immediately celebrated, but it seemed premature given how close Milan was, but there we are, if you know, you know. That's the first win for him in 2023.
Thank you for reading 10 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1