Stage profile: The longest stage of this year’s race is defined by the fourth category Vico climb, whose summit sits just 11km from the finish line. The ascent (3.3km, 5.2% average) is sufficiently steep and narrow to set up an opportunistic attack, so expect a tussle at the front of the peloton between the want-away puncheurs and the tired legs of the sprinters’ teams who will try to control the tempo.
Top three: 1. Roberto Ferrari (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela), 2. Francesco Chicchi (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), 3. Tomas Vaitkus (Orica-GreenEDGE).
Who was in the breakaway?: Olivier Kaisen (Lotto-Belisol), Adrian Saez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Simone Ponzi (Astana), Stefan Denifl (Vacansoleil-DCM), Manuele Boaro (Saxo Bank) and Mickael Delage (FDJ-BigMat) fled the peloton after only 10km although Ponzi was recalled by his team after 60km. The others soldiered on bravely, never gaining more than a five-minute lead. Boaro attacked with 3okm remaining to go and Saez gave chase for a few kilometres. The latter was caught 10km later, while Boaro managed to survive until the start of the 14.4km finishing circuit.
How the stage was won: To be honest it was a bit of a soporific stage until the final climb of the day – fourth category to Vico – just after the start of the finishing circuit. The attacks came thick and fast, including some from GC contenders. The peloton – and Liquigas-Cannondale in particular – was having none of it and they were pulled back with 8km to go. Sky resumed its place at the head of affairs before leading the peloton into the final technical stretch. On the last corner, two Sky riders almost came a cropper on the barriers, baulking teammate and world champion Mark Cavendish. Tomas Vaitkus (Orica-GreenEDGE) saw his chance, as teammate Matt Goss had been dropped on the climb [that’ll teach you to tip him for the win – Ed] and started to sprint from way out. Simultaneously Sacha Modolo (Colnago-CSF) went down along with a number of other riders, effectively hindering others. Roberto Ferrari (Androni Giocatttoli), instigator of stage three‘s multiple pile-up, set off in pursuit of Vaitkus and overhauled him to land arguably the biggest win of his career. Cavendish’s consolation was regaining possession of the points jersey.
Quote of the day: Stage winner Ferrari was somewhat more polite and modest than he was in the aftermath of the stage three crash:
I’d like to develop into a rider like Petacchi, although I don’t think my motor is the same. But I’ll do the best I can.
Odd occurrences: Loved Joaquim Rodriguez‘s all pink outfit but was disappointed the team couldn’t spring for the matching gloves.
VeloVoices rider of the stage: Jeremy Hunt (Sky). How many kilometres did he spend driving along on the front of the peloton? Phenomenal work rate.
1. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) 47:16:39
2. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) +0:17
3. Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) +0:32
4. Roman Kreuziger (Astana) +0:52
5. Benat Intxausti (Movistar) same time
Points leader: Mark Cavendish (Sky).
King of the Mountains leader: Miguel Angel Rubiano (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela).
Tomorrow: Stage 12 – Seravezza to Sestri Levante, 155km. Another rolling day with four categorised ascents, each in the 5-6% range and totalling nearly 28km in length. The last is the third category climb of Villa Cassani, which is steepest at its summit and leads into a 11.25km is downhill and then flat run to the finish in Sestri Levante. The undulating profile combined with this being the ninth consecutive day of racing favours a successful breakaway, while the long downhill/flat section at the end will probably discourage GC contenders from attacking on the climb.
Link: Official website