Giro d’Italia: Martin drops to 18th as Bernal stamps authority

Irish rider’s general classification chances took a major hit on Tuscan gravel roads

Dan Martin's chances of a podium place at the end of this year's Giro d'Italia all but evaporated on Wednesday, with the gravel roads of Tuscany spelling an end to his general classification challenge.

The dusty, technically-demanding sections along the 162 kilometre route to Montalcino imposed considerable demands on riders and blew the peloton apart, with Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) bolstering his overall lead and Martin finishing over six minutes in arrears. Others to lose out included Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep), who had started the day second overall, as well as fourth-placed Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo). They slipped to seventh and eighth respectively, while Martin tumbled from eighth overall to 18th.

“Personally, I was a bit too relaxed,” Martin said, referring to his frame of mind heading onto the first sector of gravel. “Everyone was battling for positions; I got a few pushes and lost my head for a while.

“My teammates did amazing by bringing me back to the second peloton. From there we nearly bridged the gap to the front.” However they fell short of getting across, with the gap rising again as time went on.

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The day's stage winner was Swiss rider Mauro Schmid (Team Qhubeka Assos), who was part of an early 11-man breakaway. He pushed ahead with Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates) close to the finish and then beat him in the sprint.

Behind, the general classification battle was raging on undulating, slippery terrain. Bernal was the most dominant of the big names, profiting after his team ruthlessly dispatched his rivals in the last hour and a half of racing. Stage one winner Filippo Ganna turned the screw inside 60 kilometres to go when he ramped up the pace, while Gianni Moscon further increased the pressure later on.

The 2019 Tour de France winner Bernal then fired off a number of efforts, seeking to distance a dropped Evenepoel and also to test the legs of the other general classification contenders. He finally made his key move with just over four kilometres to go, marking a surge by the rider who had started the day third, Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech).

Bernal attacked him on the day's final categorised climb and bridged across to the German rider Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-hansgrohe), the duo working together from there to the finish.

“Today was a really hard day,” said Bernal. “We expected some gaps, some big gaps, and actually there were a lot of GC [general classification] riders who lost some time. I am happy to arrive at the front. Now we need to stay focussed for the next days.

The Colombian explained the tactics he employed in the finale. “The pace was actually really hard when Buchmann went. I asked over the [RACE]radio where he was in the GC. They told me he was more than one minute 40 back, so I had some margin to play with this.” Bernal bided his time, then counterattacked a surge by Vlasov and bridged across to Buchmann. “We worked a little bit together, we did well and we gained some time on the other guys. We should be happy with this day.”

The new general classification sees Bernal 45 seconds ahead of Vlasov and one minute 12 up on Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-Victorious). Carthy is a further five seconds back in fourth overall, with Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) the same margin behind him again. Martin now finds himself seven minutes and six seconds adrift and may well switch his focus to trying for a stage victory. He has previously taken two stage wins in both the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España.

“Over the new few days, the team will fight for a stage win with Martin and sprinter Davide Cimolai,” the Israel Start Up Nation team said. “That was the goal from the beginning and remains that way. Also, the Giro is long and a good [overall] result for Martin is still possible.”

Giro d’Italia Stage 11, Perugia to Montalcino

1, Mauro Schmid (Team Qhubeka Assos) 162 kilometres in 4 hours 1 min 55 secs; 2, A. Covi (UAE Team Emirates) at 1 sec; 3, H. Vanhoucke (Lotto Soudal) at 26 secs; 4, D. De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix) at 41 secs; 5, S. Guglielmi (Groupama-FDJ) same time; 6, E. Battaglin (Bardiani CSF Faizanè) at 44 secs

Irish: 40, D. Martin (Israel Start-up Nation) at 9 mins 23 secs; 76, N. Roche (Team DSM) at 18 mins 59 secs

General classification: 1, Egan Bernal Gomez (Ineos Grenadiers) 42 hours 35 mins 21 secs; 2, A. Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) at 45 secs; 3, D. Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) at 1 min 12 secs; 4, H. Carthy (EF Education-Nippo) at 1 min 17 secs; 5, S. Yates (Team BikeExchange) at 1 min 22 secs; 6, E. Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) at 1 min 50 secs

Irish: 18, D. Martin (Israel Start-up Nation) at 7 mins 6 secs; 65, N. Roche (Team DSM) at 57 mins 7 secs

Points classification: 1, Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 108; 2, F. Gaviria Rendon (UAE Team Emirates) 91; 3, D. Cimolai (Israel Start-up Nation) 91

Mountains classification: 1, Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroën Team) 51; 2, E. Bernal Gomez (Ineos Grenadiers) 48; 3, G. Mäder (Bahrain Victorious) 44

Young riders classification: 1, Egan Bernal Gomez (Ineos Grenadiers) 42 hours 35 mins 21 secs; 2, A. Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) at 45 secs; 3, R. Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) at 2 mins 22 secs

Combativity classification: Simon Pellaud (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec)

Sprints classification: Pellaud

Breakaway classification: Pellaud

Teams classification: 1, Ineos Grenadiers, 127 hours 53 mins 12 secs; 2, Team BikeExchange, at 9 mins 35 secs; 3, EF Education-Nippo, at 9 mins 40 secs

Other: 5, Team DSM, at 19 mins 12 secs; 16, Israel Start-up Nation, at 1 hours 33 mins 9 secs