The general classification was sensationally turned on its head in the Giro d’Italia today as Richie Porte of Team Saxo Bank took the race leader’s maglia rosa from Alexandre Vinokourov after getting into a 56 man escape group that headed off the front of the peloton 20km into the day’s stage.
On a cold, wet day that is sure to rank among the most dramatic in the Giro’s 101-year history, today’s 262km stage, the longest in this year’s 93rd edition, took the race from Lucera to L’Aquila, the city in central Italy struck by an earthquake a little over a year ago, Team Katusha’s Evgeni Petrov claiming victory with an attack inside the final kilometre.
But the big news was the seismic shift in the general classification, with Vinokourov and second-placed Cadel Evans, as well as Liquigas riders Ivan Basso and Vincenzo Nibali, taking a massive, perhaps fatal, blow to their hopes of topping the podium in Verona a week on Sunday, while Cervelo TestTeam’s Carlos Sastre, who crossed the line third, and Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins, fourth, headed back towards the top of the overall standings.
But besides Porte, the two big winners today in general classification terms were David Arroyo of Caisse d’Epargne, 1 minute 42 seconds down on the Australian, and the Croation Robert Kiserlovski of Liquigas Doimo, a further 14 seconds back. Cervelo TestTeam’s Xavier Tondo is fourth, 3 minutes 54 seconds behind Porte.
There are conflicting views about quite how a number of maglia rosa contenders – not to mention the jersey’s wearer himself – got caught out so badly by a breakaway that besides Porte contained a number of riders whose chances of a podium finish seemed to have disappeared.
One is that there was a delay in the race organisers reporting back to the main peloton the details of the escape group, meaning that it was too late for them to react. Another is that poor weather made radio communication difficult, so the composition of the escape group was not known until it was well down the road. A third is that as the rain came down early in the stage, the main peloton sat up to sort out their capes and arm warmers, heedless of the escapees speeding off ahead.
Whatever happened, the fact is that even with 200km left to run, the escape group had built a lead of a quarter of an hour over the peloton and it was clear that not only did it contain some big names, but also that it wasn’t going to get caught. In the end, the main group including Vinokourov and Evans trailed in almost 13 minutes down, leaving a general classification that looks very, very different to how it looked this morning.
Giro d'Italia Stage 11 Lucera-L'Aquila 1 PETROV Evgeni KAT 06:28:29 2 CATALDO Dario QST 00:05 3 SASTRE Carlos CTT 00:05 4 WIGGINS Bradley SKY 00:07 5 EFIMKIN Alexander ALM 00:07 6 GERDEMANN Linus MRM 00:07 7 PINEAU Jerome QST 00:07 8 ARROYO David GCE 00:07 9 TONDO Xavier CTT 00:07 10 BAKELANDTS Jan OLO 00:07 11 KISERLOVSKI Robert LIQ 00:18 12 SERPA Jose Rodolfo AND 00:18 13 PORTE Richie SAX 00:21 14 MAYOZ Iban FOT 00:23 15 VOECKLER Thomas BTL 00:23 16 ARDILA Mauricio Alberto RAB 00:26 17 MONCOUTIE David COF 00:31 18 DE GREEF Francis OLO 00:31 19 DUPONT Hubert ALM 00:41 20 CODOL Massimo ASA 00:41 Overall standings after Stage 11 1 PORTE Richie SAX 45:30:16 2 ARROYO David GCE 01:42 3 KISERLOVSKI Robert LIQ 01:56 4 TONDO Xavier CTT 03:54 5 AGNOLI Valerio LIQ 04:41 6 EFIMKIN Alexander ALM 05:16 7 GERDEMANN Linus MRM 05:34 8 SASTRE Carlos CTT 07:09 9 DIDIER Laurent SAX 07:24 10 WIGGINS Bradley SKY 08:14 11 BAKELANDTS Jan OLO 08:35 12 VINOKOUROV Alexandre AST 09:58 13 EVANS Cadel BMC 11:10 14 NIBALI Vincenzo LIQ 11:28 15 BASSO Ivan LIQ 11:49 16 PINOTTI Marco THR 12:15 17 DE GREEF Francis OLO 12:21 18 KARPETS Vladimir KAT 12:32 19 GARZELLI Stefano ASA 12:42 20 CUNEGO Damiano LAM 13:03
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.