Can anyone beat Bernal?
That’s the question on everyone’s mind as we contemplate his dominant performance on Stage 11. With arguably the strongest team in the peloton supporting him, can any other GC contender come close?
If you’ve watched the first week of the Giro, you’ll have received a first-rate tutorial in why cycling is a team sport. The Ineos Grenadiers have controlled the peloton most days, protecting Bernal from harm and allowing him to conserve energy – both necessary to success in a grand tour.
It’s also been impressive to watch his mates race for interim sprint points when they’re not even in the running for the maglia ciclamino. They don’t actually care about the points, it’s the bonus seconds awarded to the top finishers that interest them. Intermediate sprints usually occur in the middle of the race and offer a time credit of 3, 2, and 1 seconds respectively, to the first three men across the line. Bernal’s buddies contest those sprints so that other GC contenders don’t get the bonus seconds. Always thinking, those guys . . .
So, About Stage 11
It was a crazy day resulting in a major shake-up in the GC classification. Ineos went out hard, attempting to drop anyone who felt poorly after the rest day. The pace was high, the course rugged; quite a few top-placed riders fell to the back.
Remco Evenepoel, in second place overall at the start of the day, failed to keep pace and found himself several minutes behind the main group. Where were his teammates? Why was João Almeida riding at the front of the peloton when his GC guy was drifting into no man’s land?
We watched as Evenepoel had a bit of a meldown, ripping out his earpiece and gesturing angrily toward his team car. Soon after, Almeida appeared, ostensibly to pace him back to the group. Not a word between the two, nary a glance. As yet I’ve not heard the story of what caused the problem: was Evenepoel having a bad day? Did he blame Almeida for not dropping back earlier? Stay tuned, there will definitely be more on this story (especially as Remco dropped from second to seventh place overall.)
The stage victory went to Mauro Schmid, a Swiss rider from Team Qhubeka Assos, who nipped Italian Alessandro Covi of UAE Team Emirates at the line. But the spectacle of the day started with Emmanuel Buchmann of Bora-Hansgrohe, who tore away from the front group on one of the final climbs. He rode alone until a small figure clad in pink flew up from behind, passed him, and kept charging forward. Egan Bernal again imprinted his authority on this Giro and put the other riders on notice. He might wear the pink jersey all the way to Milan.
A Preview of Stage 12
Thursday’s race is one of the longest of the 2021 Giro (212 kms) and includes four categorized climbs. It will be another difficult day in the saddle, especially for riders who suffered after the rest day. At this point my eyes are on Bernal because any challenges must go through him. Accompanied by his henchmen who are ready, willing, and able to fend off every attack, he’s headed for the top spot on the podium. Only accident or illness will change that.
Chianti DOCG and Chianti Classico DOCG
We’ve got a wealth of options when it comes to wine for today’s stage. The race begins in Siena and progresses north toward Florence, right through the heart of Chianti and Chianti Classico. What’s the difference? Well, they’re separate regions, for starters.
Chianti DOCG is a large region that surrounds the smaller Chianti Classico DOCG (see map.) There are climatic differences: Classico is a bit hillier and cooler at night, and requires a slightly higher minimum percentage of Sangiovese in the blend (80% vs 75%.) Yields are predictably lower in Classico (52 hl/ha vs 63 hl/ha) and the aging requirements are stricter.
Each region is divided into subzones which, in the Chianti DOCG, may appear on the label and enforce tighter restrictions than for the regional DOCG. Chianti Classico includes nine communes, whose names may not appear on the label, although there is much support for that to change.
For a more in-depth analysis of the appellation requirements for Chianti DOCG and Chianti Classico DOCG (and the relatively new Gran Selezione category) please refer to this article by Lauren Mowery in Wine Enthusiast.
I hope you enjoy Stage 12. While you’re pouring a glass of Chianti or Chianti Classico, you might want to get the popcorn ready. It’s going to be dramatic!