Stage/Finish: Cuneo › Pinerolo
Distance: 158 kilometers (hills, flat finish)
Stage/Finish: Pinerolo › Lago Serru
Distance: 196 kilometers (mountains)
Stages 12 and 13....... these two stages led us into the second half of the Giro and the massive mountain onslaught. Yesterday’s stage was mostly one very steep climb and a technical finish, which we got through ok and did well keeping our strong contingent of climbers around Simon. The cobbled climb in the city of Pinerolo, which we tackled twice, left me gasping for air but in awe of the environment and passion of Italian fans. The atmosphere in this race is just unmatched.
Today’s stage was on the other end of the spectrum. It was a long day out and just so, so much climbing. I trained my ass off in the mountains before coming here and today still had me wondering when it was going to stop.
Some uncategorized climbs at the start would rank as “mountains” back in Asheville and caused the bunch to split and come back together before a big group finally went on the first Cat 1 climb. We had Chris and Mikel in up. Some other GC dangermen kept the pace in the peloton behind very high and we really never had a chance to quiet down or even take a pee. I finally gave in about 15 kilometers before the next Cat 2 climb as my bladder was about to burst. This meant a costly effort on the legs to come back but a necessary human flaw. Not sure what the other hundred guys who never stopped did? Maybe functional dehydration?
The pace over the next Cat 2 was stiff, and the group was thinning quickly. I felt under pressure but buoyed as I watched the group shrink. I was optimistic I could go over the top and play a role in the next long valley. Astana had other plans as they smacked it hard and blew the group apart, leaving only 10-15 in the front and another 10-15 in the pink jersey group, which I was dangling behind. I dug for a couple of kilometers thinking maybe the pace in front would relent, but with GC guys spread all over the road, it never did.
Up ahead, we had Nieve going for the stage win. What a display of tenacity as they were within 30 seconds of being caught and he still managed to finish a close second. Depth and class!
Simon’s group sounded heinously hard and aggressive. Our young gun, Lucas, did a super ride to stay by his side and help him limit the losses. We will assess this evening and rally for another one.
Back to me, it was survival mode. I did my best to find a good group but it was still a very long grind to the line, and I was amazed to see how many dropped guys were still up for pushing the pace.
But first—a three-hour transfer from the finish to our next hotel. Up until now, the transfers have been tolerable but in classic Giro fashion; when the stages are long and hard, the transfers match.