Giro d’Italia 2021 : Stage 11 – Schmid takes the stage but Bernal puts on the show

Stage 11 of this year’s Giro d’Italia might not have been the mudfest of 2010’s strade bianche stage, but the drama did not disappoint. Mauro Schmid of Qhubeka Assos took his first professional win in a lung-busting sprint to the line with fellow breaker Alessandro Covi (UAE), three minutes ahead of the GC. But it was race leader Egan Bernal who put the fire in the race as he showed his ruthless side, putting the screws to all his rivals and some clear space between himself and Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana)  who now sits in second at 45sec. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) is in 3rd at 1.12. The top 10 got quite the shuffling, with Emanuel Buchmann (Bora) coming out of the stage the best, by jumping from 15th to 6th.


How the race was won

That’s a good question. INEOS Grenadiers had a plan for the day and that plan consisted of letting the breakaway go so they could methodically pull the legs off Egan Bernal’s rivals without having to ride tempo to reel anyone in. Go out, young riders, take as much time as you like! Dream your dreams of glory while we crush those dreams in the guys back here. Be free! Win the stage!

And that’s just what happened.

Eleven young men, strong and true, took that invitation at face value and did just that. They rode away, free and clear.

That 13 minutes between them hitting the gravel and the peloton hitting the gravel was possibly the last time in the race that the break was paid attention to at all by the cameras or the commentators. Why? Because … Ganna

Ganna goes great guns

The peloton jostled and pushed and jostled and pushed themselves around and as they hit their first stretch of gravel, the only rider in the INEOS team who has never ridden Strade Bianche was at the front. And he went absolutely apeshit crazy.


“Get on my wheel, little buddy, and I’ll take you through this gravel at speeds that would make a brave man terrified,” Filippo Ganna said to Egan Bernal. “We are going to be a blur … a blur within all the dust and expectations and we will hear the tiny whimpers of dreams being crushed from all those behind us.”

And that’s just what happened.

Ganna gunned it so fast, with such wild abandon, that even he couldn’t keep up with himself and nearly lost control, veering towards a clump of trees. However, Ganna being Ganna, he recovered with barely a batted eyelid. Bernal’s reaction to that was unrecorded.

But let us be in no doubt. Ganna was the puppet, but Bernal was the puppet master. Who do you think was egging Ganna on … saying, ‘Motopace me, Pippo, and we shall taste victory this day! Before they know they’re in trouble, my rivals will have lost …’

And that’s just what happened.

Flotsam and jetsam

By the time Ganna got Bernal safely through the first section of gravel there were splits everywhere in the peloton. Riders like Guilio Ciccone, Marc Soler and Vincenzo Nibali were still in the front group … but it was only a matter of time.

Remember that sunny day … only Monday! … when Bernal and Evenepoel sprinted for single seconds in the intermediate sprint and laughed and joked when they finished. Oh, how innocent we all were.

It all came back together as they neared the second stretch of gravel. By that time, the Ganna engine seized up and he slipped off the back to terrify the gruppetto. But this was only Bernal lulling his rivals into a false sense of security. Because he wasn’t done yet – he was going to make his statement. But first, he let cheekier, over-excited riders seal their own fate.

And that’s just what happened.

Peak Soler

This tactic worked all day long for INEOS.

Add to Remco’s woes was the miscommunication between him and his teammate Almeida. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth – and that was just from the team car.

Existential questions were asked.

Things were noticed.

Gifs were deftly provided.

And they fell one by one.

Soler dropped. Ciccone dropped. Yates hanging on the back but not being bothered to do anything. Evenepoel losing two minutes. Bernal in complete control.

No, Midge, watch ME use that in my race write-up.

Egan Bernal took full advantage of the gravel. He took full advantage of his mountain bike experience. He took full advantage of his Strade Bianche racing in March. And he marked this stage as one where he could take his rivals by surprise and leave them in his dust.

And that’s just what happened.

But who won the stage again?

Mauro Schmid and Alessandro Covi were battling it out in front. It would take some power to sprint to the victory after such an intense stage. There was no chance of getting caught by anyone so it was down to those two. And the victory was going to change someone’s life.

And that’s just what happened.

If you’re interested in donating to Qhubeka to celebrate Schmid’s win, here is the link. Because bicycles change lives. 

Words from the vanquisher

With Bernal picking up so much time over his rivals – and none of them near him look as strong – t over? Will it now be a defensive race, with INEOS reverting to the Skytrain, shutting down everything?

Let’s hope that’s just not what’s going to happen.

The final word


Stage 11 Top 5 

1 Mauro Schmid (Team Qhubeka Assos) 4:01:55

2 Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates) +0:01

3 Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto Soudal) +0:26

4 Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix) +0:41

5 Simon Guglielmi (Groupama-FDJ) same time

GC Top 10 

1 Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 42:35:21

2 Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana) +0:45 (up from 3rd)

3 Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) +1:12 (up from 7th)

4 Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo) +1:17 (up from 6th)

5 Simon Yates (Team Bike Exchange) +1:22 (up from 9th) 

6 Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) +1:50 (up from 15th)

7 Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) +2:22 (down from 2nd)

8 Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) +2:24 (down from 4th) 

9 Tobias Foss (Jumbo-Visma) +2:49 (up from 18th)

10 Daniel Martinez (INEOS Grenadiers) +3:15 (up from 11th)

All the jerseys

Leader’s jersey Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers)

Points jersey Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe)

King of the Mountains Geoffrey Bouchard (Ag2r Citroen)

Best Young Rider Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers)

For full race reviews, go to cyclingnews.

Official race website: Giro d’Italia

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