Stage 11 takes us over the halfway hump, though with a number of fallers at the testing COVID-19 fence, the odds of getting all the way to Milan seem somewhat longer than they did. Take it day by day, enjoy it while we can.
And boy, did we enjoy it yesterday.
For all that Miles predicted Peter Sagan to take the win, our man in Kent would be the first to admit that wasn't the way he expected the Bora rider to take it. The three-time world champion day spent all day in the break before riding his colleagues off the wheel in a last gasp attack that few, at the time, thought he could make stick. It required him to put out an average of 440 watts - that's a lot of watts - for 20 minutes but make it stick he did. 460 days after the last of his 113 wins he claimed his 114th. And it might have been the most impressive of the lot.
Stage 11 looks a little more straightforward and surely a bit more predictable, but we've said that before, haven't we?
Porto Sant'Elpidio to Rimini
Emilio (Rouleur Italy)
Peter Sagan - Bora-Hansgrohe
When Peter Sagan begins to win, normally, he carries on winning. Maybe, hopefully, this is the case. Italians like him, and he seems to like Italians back.
Arnaud Démare - Groupama-FDJ
It’s a tricky one. Michael Matthews leaving means another team with no incentive to keep it together for a sprint. But while Groupama-FDJ stood down yesterday and lost the battle to Sagan, they may yet win the points jersey war.
Arnaud Démare - Groupama-FDJ
As a 1-star difficulty day according to the Giro website and with the last little climb nearly 30km from the finish, stage 11 looks to be almost certainly a sprinter’s stage. Of course, this is shaping up to be a pretty unpredictable Giro. For the race into Rimini, the technical finish will likely be the biggest concern with several corners to negotiate in the last 4km of the stage, and a big 180° turn within the final kilometer. Luckily it looks like it’ll be dry in Rimini tomorrow. So long as we don’t have any more nasty covid surprises, I see no reason to take my money off Démare. This would be his 4th stage of the Giro, which would be a pretty impressive haul by anyone’s standards. Both Viviani and Gaviria should be up there with him, but haven’t been in danger of winning a stage before now. It’s just hard to see anyone getting the better of Démare, especially since he still has a strong team entirely united behind him.
Mikkel Bjerg - UAE Team Emirates
Because it would be boring if we all went for Démare, wouldn't it? The Giro is looking increasingly like the anti-Tour. Not just because the organisers are - "allegedly" - rather more casual when it comes to COVID precautions than their French cousins, but also because it seems to be set up to serve time trialists more than any Tour in about a decade. On top of the whopping THREE official contre le montres, testers have taken to winning road stages as well. First Ganna, then Dowsett, who's next? I'm saying Mikkel Bjerg.
Arnaud Demare - Groupama-FDJ
Having been to Rimini, I can attest to the bewildering flatness of the Emilia Romangna region. This is going to be a fast finish and it's going to need a fast man. I'm loathe to go for Sagan twice in two days and despite his scintillating form, it's tricky to look past the flying Frenchman. Surely another one in the bank for Démare?
The Cycling Mole says...
Sagan? Seriously? That was one hell of a way to get the monkey of his back, hats off to the great man.
Stage 11 is one for the fast men, weird that it should be the first, easy sprint of the race. As expected, most of the team are on Démare. With three stage wins, and a brilliant lead out, he’s the out and out favourite for this one. Nick is hoping for a surprise, but Bjerg will be on lead out duty for Gaviria, he won’t get any freedom.
Emilio enters the murky world of cycling prediction; his maiden pick is Sagan. Will I go easy on him? Of course not! Well Emilio, I’m not quite sure what planet you’re on, but Sagan hasn’t won a full sprint for a very long time. After today’s efforts, his legs will be lacking in the finish. Back in your box.
Will I go bold? No, I’ll go for a winner. Stage number four for Arnaud Démare.