It was an action-filled day in the Apennines. Cannondale-Drapac’s Pierre Rolland emerged from the chaos to claim third place on stage 11 following a brief stint in the race lead on the second-category Monte Fumaiolo.
The medium mountain stage covered 116 kilometers between Florence and Bagno di Romana and took in four categorized climbs – the first of which came only 15 kilometers into the race.
A fierce pace up the Passa della Consuma split the peloton in the opening 30 minutes with sprinters losing contact off the back and numerous groups forming off the front. Eventually a 25-man move succeeded in gapping the bunch. Cannondale-Drapac had Rolland, Hugh Carthy and Davide Villella in the move.
“Today the idea was to be in the escape, ideally with team members,” said Rolland. “It was a great battle to be at the front. Many riders high up on the general classification tried to make it more complicated.”
Mikel Landa (Team Sky) attacked from the breakaway on the second climb, the third category Passo della Calla, and Omar Fraile (Dimenson Data) marked the move. The pair spent the next 70 kilometers in a two-man move ahead of a 23-rider chase group.
Forty kilometers from the finish, the first two groups on the road came back together. Carthy had been dropped by this point but Rolland still had Villella for support. Non-stop attacks caused further attrition up the 23-kilometer long Monte Fumaiolo. The category two climbs begins gently but steepens towards the top, and it was here that Rolland played his cards.
“After great work by Villella, I tried to take the maximum advantage before the last descent,” Rolland explained. “Omar Fraile joined me just before the KOM and Rui Costa came on the descent, seven or eight kilometers from the finish.”
Tangel Kangert (Astana) bridged across before the flat two-kilometer run to the line. At this point, the remnants of the breakaway were a mere 14-seconds behind the leaders.
Frailed out-sprinted Costa for the win. Rolland managed third place.
“My sensations were really good today,” said Rolland. “I’m tired now, and it will take a few days to recover. If the legs recover well, I will try my luck again – hoping this time I can take the win.”
Davide Formolo finished in the third group on the road alongside the maglia rosa and most of the overall contenders. He remains 13th overall, 6:19 behind Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) heading into Thursday’s stage 12.