Giro d'Italia 2021: Stage 12 Preview - A Climber's Dream

Rouleur previews stage 12 of the 2021 Giro d’Italia. Following the brutal battle to Montalcino, the Giro isn’t slowing down with 4,500 metres of climbing.

Stage 12 of the Giro d’Italia is one of the longest of the race at 212 kilometres. Following a demanding battle to the finish in Montalcino, they’ll be no let up for the GC riders here with the most climbing across a single stage on this year’s route thus far.

This follows one of the most challenging stages in recent Giro d’Italia history, where the riders conquered 35 kilometres of gravel on their way to Montalcino. Mauro Schmid recorded his first professional win when he outsprinted Alessandro Covi from the breakaway. 

Behind in the peloton, Egan Bernal demonstrated his power yet again — he was the first GC contender across the line. Alternatively, some of the other challengers suffered massive time loss. Among them, Remco Evenepoel, who has now dropped from second to seventh overall.

Route

Stage 12 Giro d'Italia 2021 profile

Stage 12 profile

4,500 metres of climbing and over 210 kilometres of road. This is an almost cruel stage to follow the gravel mayhem of stage 11.

Departing from the town of Siena, the first 75 kilometres take place on hilly terrain. None of these hills are categorised, but those planning on venturing into the breakaway will hope to join the group and develop a sizeable advantage over this period. 

An intermediate sprint is found at Sesto Fiorentino — Peter Sagan may look to join the breakaway to solidify his maglia ciclamino jersey — this leads into the Monte Morello. A third category climb is 7.7km and averages just over 6%, but some pitches are much steeper. Gradients touch 16% on the mid-section of the ascent. Rolling terrain and a descent follows for the next 20 kilometres, before the next major climb is found at 95km to go.

Passo della Consuma

Passo della Consuma profile

The Passo della Consuma is the longest climb of the stage at 17.1km. Coupled with an average gradient of 5.7%, we will see a severely reduced peloton at the top. A descent follows and at the foot of the Passo della Calla 65 kilometres still remain. This climb is of similar difficulty at 15.3km and 5.5%. Both of these ascents are second categorised climbs so Geoffrey Bouchard must be at the front to be sure of defending the maglia azzurra, although that is something he has stated he isn’t specifically focused on.

The next 28 kilometres are almost exclusively downhill before a bonus seconds sprint is located in Santa Sofia. Egan Bernal and Remco Evenepoel frantically raced for these bonus seconds prior to the rest day, but the climbing involved here will surely reduce their aggression.

Passo del Carnaio

Passo del Carniao profile

The Passo del Carniao begins with just over 20km remaining. At 10.8 kilometres and 5%, it is the final notable effort of the stage. With pitches up to 14% we will likely see the final attacks launched and riders scattered all across the road at the top. A descent follows before the final 3 kilometres take place on a false flat to the finish in Bagno di Romagna.

Contenders

Image credit: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Egan Bernal remains in the maglia rosa following a flawless ride from the Ineos Grenadiers on the Strade Bianche stage 11. With the jersey still in their squad, it will be the British outfit’s job to control the tempo throughout the stage. The Grenadiers’ goal is to win the Giro d’Italia, not maximise their stage winning opportunities. With that in mind and rolling terrain over the first 75km, we think a breakaway has the best chance at claiming consecutive stage honours.

It makes sense to focus on the riders that had an easier day on stage 11. Among them, Matteo Fabbro and Felix Großschartner for Bora-Hansgrohe. It was a great day for the German outfit as Emanuel Buchmann revamped his GC hopes. They will want to send at least one rider up the road who can support Buchmann later on, if not challenge for the stage win, and Fabbro and Großschartner are their two of their best climbers. The aforementioned Peter Sagan will also be interested in the intermediate sprint points.

Trek-Segafredo have been one of the most aggressive teams at the Giro thus far, but are coming off a disappointing day in the GC — Giulio Ciccone dropped from fourth to eighth and is now 2:24 down on Egan Bernal. They are still hunting for their first stage win even though Bauke Mollema has tried in the breakaway on multiple occasions. Bauke Mollema, Gianluca Brambilla and Amanuel Gebregziabher are riders that Trek could send up the road to try and win the stage or use as satellite riders.

EF Education-Nippo rode a fine race to Montalcino, where Alberto Bettiol and Ruben Guerreiro helped Hugh Carthy all the way to the line. Guerreiro has displayed fine legs throughout the Giro and although stage 12 suits the Portuguese rider especially well, he may have exerted a little too much to genuinely challenge. Instead, Simon Carr could be their best breakaway bet. The Brit excelled going uphill on stage 9.

The fight for the maglia azzurra is still very close and even though Geoffrey Bouchard still holds blue, he has expressed that he’s more interested in stage wins. Gino Mäder lost the jersey recently, but was the last finisher of all on stage 11 — a sign that he’s conserving his legs to move up the road again tomorrow. 

Team DSM may be downbeat with the current GC position after Romain Bardet lost time on the gravelled roads, he is now 12th whereas Jai Hindley is 22nd. They must now be aggressive to make up for lost time and their best route to success could be stage hunting in the breakaway. A suitable candidate is Michael Storer who found himself up the road days ago in the ultimately unsuccessful breakaway to Campo Felice. 

Jumbo-Visma displayed their offensive riding style on stage 11 when George Bennett and Tobias Foss moved up the road together. The move didn’t pay dividends initially, but was an innovative tactic that may have worked on another day. Here, Koen Bouwman could be the Jumbo-Visma breakaway rider. He almost won stage 9 before he was caught and very swiftly passed by Egan Bernal and the main GC favourites in the closing kilometres. Foss is now too dangerous in the GC to attack, but Bennett may join Bouwman at the front.

Other breakaway riders that may stand a chance include Einer Rubio, Jefferson Alexander Cepeda, Nicolas Edet and Alessandro De Marchi.

Behind, in the peloton’s GC battle we should see some exciting racing, particularly after some teams lost major ground in the GC. Davide Formolo and Dan Martin were among the big losers on the gravel and are now 19th and 18th in the GC respectively. They are among the riders that may decide to attack early on and should be given more breathing room, whether that’s in the early breakaway or later in the stage.

Further, it will be intriguing to see how Deceuninck Quick-Step respond to their disappointing day on the gravel. Remco Evenepoel is still just 2:22 down in the GC and with 30km of time trialling still to come, all hope is not lost. Fausto Masnada and James Knox could be breakaway candidates for the Belgian team.

Prediction

The route suits Ruben Guerreiro down to a tee and he has displayed stellar legs over the past week. He may suffer somewhat from the efforts to Montalcino, though, which means we are picking Michael Storer to win from the breakaway. He was able to cruise into Montalcino with the backmarkers and although Storer is yet to win a professional race, that hasn’t prevented Victor Lafay or Mauro Schimd. Stage 12 could be won by a multitude of breakaway candidates. Could this be the Australian’s day?

Cover image: Tim de Waele/Getty Images