It is one of the purest flat stages of the race and on paper it should be one for the sprinters. So much lines up for them in this stage from Modena to Asolo as the riders take on stage 11 of the 2016 Giro d’Italia. Well, so much accept the final 12km that could tear it all apart for them.
Stage 11: Modena – Asolo. 212km
Here is the problem: if a sprinter is going to win stage 11 of the Giro d’Italia he will first have to get over the climb of Forcella Mostaccin, the first and only categorised climb of the day. Get over that and there is one final ramp before the downhill dash to the line. Marcel Kittel, Andre Greipel, Arnaud Demare, Matteo Pelucchi, all of these sprinters will be gagging for a chance to take another stage win. The competition will be electric, but will they get over those two slopes?
Would this stage not be more suited to a Philippe Gilbert type rider? He is a rider with something to prove this year. The Ardennes Classics have been a massive disappointment for someone who has taken five of them in an illustrious career. He has just one win to his name this year, at the Vuelta Ciclista a la Region de Murcia. He has been on the podium twice and in the top ten six times in all. That is not a massively different record to his tally last year, but crucially he was good in the Ardennes; not brilliant, but good. He took third in the curtain faller of the Belgian Classics – Brabantse Pijl – last year and tenth in Amstel Gold. This year he was 81st in Amstel Gold and 91st in Fleche Wallonne.
This could be his stage to win this year. The question surrounding Gilbert will be, can he use the pain of disappointment over the year that’s gone as fuel to stir a performance at the Giro? We shall see.