The great mountain passes tend to catch the eye when the route of the Giro d’Italia is presented each autumn, but come May, some less heralded finales inevitably end up shedding important light on the general classification battle.
It certainly felt that way in Osimo on Wednesday afternoon, where maglia rosa Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) notched up his second stage win of the Giro and defending champion Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) seemed the only man capable of operating at something approaching the same rarefied level as the Briton.
While it would be extremely premature to extrapolate too much from the skirmish in the final 1,500 metres or so of stage 11, it would also be remiss to dismiss its relevance for the harsher tests still to come, not least because the afternoon also appeared to confirm the downward trajectory of some of the pre-race favourites, with Chris Froome (Team Sky) conceding another 40 seconds.
Thursday morning’s headlines will belong inevitably to Yates, who accelerated with notable facility on the 16% gradient of the Via Olimpia, and barely relented from there to the finish. The overall leader has been the Giro’s outstanding climber thus far, pedalling with remarkable agility and seemingly able to open gaps at will. He served up more of the same in the Marche, adding another handful of seconds to a lead that he maintains will need to stretch to minutes if he is to keep the maglia rosa beyond next Tuesday’s time trial in Trentino.
The terrain on stage 11 meant that the gaps were never going to be sizeable, but Yates’ satisfaction at another sparkling display might be tempered slightly by the identity of the rider closest to him. Dumoulin has been consistent but unspectacular when the road has climbed to this point, but his fierce pursuit of Yates at Osimo suggested that his condition is in crescendo as the Giro reaches its midway point.
Come the finish line on Piazza Municipio, Dumoulin trailed Yates by just two seconds, though the Briton also picked up an additional four seconds in time bonuses. In the overall standings, Dumoulin remains in second place, now 47 seconds behind Yates.
Froome goes backwards
Pinot and Pozzovivo ever-present
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