Everyone expected a spectacular day, and it was indeed. In the aftermath of the rest day, a typical “Strade Bianche” stage was on the riders’ program this Wednesday on the Giro. On stage 11, Simon Guglielmi managed to enter the rightbreakaway that fought for victory after 162 kilometers. On the finish line, he eventually secured a nice fifth place, which is his best result on a Grand Tour so far. A few minutes behind, Attila Valter tried to hold on with the favourites but still slipped to thirteenth overall.
After a few hours of rest on Tuesday, the Giro peloton was back on the road today. Not only on tarmac road, but on gravel road as well. As a starter for this second week of racing, the Corsa Rosa’s organizers had planned a “Strade Bianche” stage on the Tuscan gravels. No less than 32.5 kilometers of “white roads” divided into four sectors were to be tackled over the162 kilometres from Perugia to Montalcino. At the start, the fight for the breakaway was probably shorter than some had expected and eleven riders immediately managed to create agap. Among them: Simon Guglielmi. “I really wanted to be in front,” said the former Conti rider. “I really liked doing the Strade Bianche this year and finished fifth on a Baby Giro stage on this type of course. These are great races, which I love, so I gave it a go right from the start. It was great to be in front on such a stage“. “Only Simon was supposed to try to go for the breakaway today because we wanted to keep the others around Attila, and Simon fulfilled his mission perfectly,” added Philippe. “There was a big probability that the break would make it, and when we saw the composition of the group, we understood that they would play the win up front“.
“I have no regrets”, Simon Guglielmi
The peloton did completely let go at first, giving more than ten minutes to the breakaway, before the tension really picked up approaching the first “gravel” sector of the race. The Ineos team of the pink jersey Egan Bernal immediately accelerated and the field split into several pieces. “The sectors are so difficult and specific that you would expect it to break very early on,” commented Philippe. “There was no room for chance. Attila and Antoine were present in the front in the first sector. Unfortunately, Antoine got unlucky and broke his derailleur. In a chasing group, we also had Romain, Rudy and Seb who managed to come back”. While the breakaway remained quite complete at the head of the race, the field continued to lose riders in the last fifty kilometers. “In the final, when there were only about 20 riders in the pink jersey group, we still had three guys with Attila, Romain and Rudy,” added Philippe. “There weren’t that many teams with numbers. It also shows that we are in the mix as a team“. The former white and pink jersey even took control of the group for a bit of time in the longest sector of the stage.
Approaching the last white road, Attila Valter and Rudy Molard were still standing alongside the pink jersey, as Simon Guglielmi was about to fight for the stage victory five minutes ahead. In the final sector, three men made a gap and the Groupama-FDJ rider then found himself in chase. “It came down to the legs in the last 10 kilometers,” said Simon. “We tried to come back, I tried to bridge across, I was just thirty meters away, but I was cooked and I couldn’t join them. It was close. I lacked a bit of strength to win the stage but I have no regrets“. At the finish, the 23-year-old rider took fifth place on the day, forty seconds after winner Mauro Schmid (Qhubeka-ASSOS). “I’m really happy to get a result on this stage which was particularly close to my heart,” he added. “It’s nice, I was chasing a result since the start of the season. It was a great day up front but I don’t forget that the goal is to win. It didn’t succeed today but we’ll try again until it works out. The balance of the day is positive but we are going to attack again because what we want is to win a stage”. “Simon bravely tried his chances,” added Philippe. “He got beaten by stronger riders, so you can’t be disappointed. Fifth on a stage like this on the Giro, for a youngster like him, is already a very good performance“.
“I’m a little disappointed”, Attila Valter
Distanced from the pink jersey group about ten kilometers from the finish, Attila Valter suffered in the last half hour of racing and finished about three minutes behind the best favourite on the day: pink jersey Egan Bernal. “It was a bit of a roller coaster for me today,” said Attila. “I managed to start the first gravel section in a good position and I felt really good. I felt I was coming from mountain biking. In the secondone, I was pulling a bit because it was quite technical and I wanted to try to take advantage of it. On the other hand, the third one felt a bit harder and I exploded in the fourth … I tried to focus on eating though, but in the end it seemed that it was not enough. I was really lacking some power for the last part and it was really good that Rudy was there to try to limit the damage. Without him, the loss would be much bigger. In the end, I didn’t lose lot of time, but when we were in the first sector, I really thought I could finish with the first group, so I’m a little bit disappointed.“ On Wednesday evening, the Hungarian slid back to thirteenth overall, 3’51 from the pink jersey. “For me, it’s not a disappointment,” Philippe concluded. “When you see the names of the guys ahead of him, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. The guys did what they had to do, they had a great day as a team. It’s just cycling. We are not going to give up though. Few people would have imagined that we could do what we are doing on this Giro. Still, it is far from over.”