Giro d’Italia #11: O’Connor keeps GC place on testing stage

Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) extended his lead in the Maglia Rosa, by winning stage 11 of the Giro d’Italia. Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) finished second, followed by Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe).

After the long and difficult stage that took place yesterday at the Giro d’Italia, one would have thought the peloton may have taken it slightly easier today, that was not the case. The stage was just 156km, running from Assisi to Osimo and the peloton went on to average over 45km/h for the full day of racing.

The stage began with multiple attacks. Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Ben King and Natnael Berhane all tried to make the escape, but the peloton neutralised all early break attempts. Eventually a break containing Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) and Alessandro de Marchi (BMC Racing) got away. They were later joined by Mirco Maestri (Bardiani CSF), Fausto Masnada (Androni Giocattoli) and Alex Turrin (Wilier Triestina).

With 5km to go, the peloton had reeled in the escapees though and the GC contenders came to the fore once again. Tim Wellens (Lotto Fix-All) and Zdenek Stybar (Quick-Step Floors) attacked on the cobble climb, but they were not able to stay away. Ben O’Connor was being looked after by Jaco Venter initially, and then by Ryan Gibbons and Jacques Janse van Rensburg heading into the final two decisive climbs.

Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) went on the offensive on the final climb and soared to the finish line with Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) finishing just behind him. Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe) took third place. O’Connor finished 21st on the stage, 36 seconds behind Yates, and maintained his position of 13th in the GC.

Ben O’Connor – Rider

I think the whole stage was a lot harder than what people thought, and only half the peloton probably thought it was going to be a hard day. We thought maybe it could be one for the break but pretty soon it became clear when teams started chasing that it was not the case. It was fast and bit stressful with the short steep climbs, as nobody wanted to get caught out. The guys did a really good job today. I was following Jaco before Filottrano, near Michele Scarponi’s home, and then towards the finish it was Jacques and Ryan. There was a little crash with about 5km to go, as we hit this steep cobble section and I had to throw on the brakes. Gaps opened up and I ended up with Froome. We almost caught the front group by the time we started the final 1.5km climb to the finish, but we were still behind. You always have to do your maximum from whatever position you’re in but it would have been nice to have been in contention when it kicked off, because you would always rather be racing than chasing.