A gentler day in prospect after two tough days in the high mountains, and one on which the riders who have emerged as contenders for the GC will be happy to let others enjoy the limelight.
A second high mountain stage - and one that is very handily placed for Milan's Malpensa airport for anyone who decides they've had enough before the start. This is also our second video preview courtesy of IG Markets, Dan Lloyd, latterly of Garmin Cervelo and these days riding for Team IG Sigma Sport discusses the demands of riding in the high mountains and how the riders and teams cope with them.
Some of those who began this year’s Giro with ambitions of a place towards the top of the GC, or even getting onto the podium, will already have fallen by the wayside, but today is the day when the battle for the maglia rosa begins in earnest, the first in the high mountains, and the first big summit finish.
Officially a flat stage that takes the race inland from Savona on the coast in Liguria into Piedmont, but it starts with a little over 30 kilometres of mainly steady climbing ahead of the day’s only categorised climb. It’s a rolling profile after that, ahead of a flat and dead straight last 3.5km to the line.
A stage that starts and finishes on the coast, and heads along it for the opening 50 kilometres, but after that there are a succession of tough climbs as the race goes into the hills above the Ligurian sea. Inside the final ten kilometres, there’s a fast descent from the day’s last climb, as well as a 180-degree bend just 500 metres from the finish.
Stage 11 is the longest stage of the 2012 Giro so rather approprirately we've got a longer than usual stage preview with video input from Geraint Thomas's Sky teammate Dario Cionia and Dan Lloyd ex-of Garmin Cervelo and now riding for Team IG Sigma Sport who ride the key points of the stage in this really good IG Markets video.
Another reasonably short stage with rolling hills, but the climbs are bigger than those encountered yesterday and with a tough uphill finish in Assisi, it’s definitely one for the puncheurs rather than the sprinters.
The closing 4km pack a one-two punch in the shape of two short but hard climbs, separated by a little over 1km of descent, with the final climb on a narrow, stone-paved road in a closing kilometre that on paper at least, is reminiscent of the end of the Strade Bianche in Siena.
Today’s stage heads north west, the opposite direction to yesterday’s, but is 63km shorter and much closer to the coast, giving it an entirely different profile and a rare opportunity for the sprinters, who don’t have too many chances left in the race.
There’s a rolling profile, although nothing too taxing, and the final 2km represent a flat run to the line, although there is a nasty-looking 135-degree left-hand bend a little over 300 metres out that could well help determine who wins today’s stage.
Last Wednesday saw the Giro d’Italia return to home soil after a three day starting interlude in Denmark. Verona the home of Romeo and Juliet, was where the race got properly Italian. The riders were not taking in the sights of this historic town - and nor was Phil Gale as he went behind the scenes to get these pictures of that very particular grand tour discipline - the team time trial, over you Phil…
Like yesterday, today’s itinerary begins inland and heads towards the Adriatic, but the similarities end there in what is the first medium mountain stage of the race. Starting in the hill town of Urbino, the climbs are short but punchy and come thick and fast. The Passo della Capella, around halfway through, is certain to see attacks, but the decisive move could well come on the smaller climb of Montegranaro, 33km from the finish and with a gradient of 18 per cent.