Omar Fraile wins stage 11 of Giro d'Italia 2017 as Geraint Thomas loses more time
Break succeeds but Welshman cracks under pressure of relentless attacks
by Colin Henrys
Omar Fraile (Dimension Data) won stage 11 of the 2017 Giro d’Italia after a day in the breakaway, as Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) lost more time overall.
On a frantic, attack-fuelled day which had threatened to cause more ruptures in the general classification at various points throughout the undulating stage, Fraile was fastest of the four survivors from the day’s break.
Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) faced an immediate test of his pink jersey credentials, meanwhile, and – despite being isolated at the front – dug deep to resist Vincenzo Nibali’s attacks and retain his overall lead.
Nibali’s attacks did claim two victims, however – Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Thomas – and while they limited their losses at the end, it is another blow for the Welshman, just a day after he had closed right back in on a top-ten place.
The stage started in frantic fashion, with the pace set by Movistar blowing the peloton apart on the day’s first climb, the Passa della Consuma and there was no shortage of wannabe escapees.
The break which eventually did go clear was instigated by Laurens de Plus (QuickStep Floors) and Igor Anton (Dimension Data), who led the way over the summit, before a 23-strong chasing group joined them.
With a two-minute advantage over the peloton, the move included British rider Hugh Carthy and Cannondale-Drapac team-mate Pierre Rolland but more significantly also boasted Andrey Amador (Movistar), who started the day in tenth place overall.
Mikel Landa (Team Sky), no longer a threat overall after his crash on stage nine, was also up the road, with every team except Bardiani-CSF and Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia represented.
Landa and Fraile went clear on the Passo della Calla, but with neither a threat overall it was Amador’s group which the Team Sunweb-led peloton were most worried about.
Dumoulin’s team-mates initially lined out at the front, but with the gap not coming down – and indeed the pace in the chase group being ramped up – FDJ and Trek-Segafredo felt threatened enough to also lend firepower to the chase, as Sunweb’s numbers started to dwindle.
That extra burst of pace proved too much for out-of-form Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), who once again could only watch his GC ambitions disappear up the road.
Having been more than two minutes clear of the chase group at one point, Landa and Fraile were victims of the increased pace up front, meanwhile, and the second group – sans Carthy who had dropped back to the bunch – rejoined the two leaders with plenty of racing still to be done.
Landa paid for the effort – eventually dropping straight out the back – while FDJ and Sunweb continued to lead the bunch.
The final climb provided the platform for the next round of attacks from the breakaway, and this time De Plus, Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) and Rolland linked up with daylight between them and the other escapees.
Nibali also used the climb to launch his attack, being led to the front by Franco Pellizotti and kicking on, isolating Dumoulin in the front group.
Nibali’s acceleration eventually proved too much for Thomas, who admitted pre-stage he was hurting more than he had been prior to the time trial.
Adam Yates (Orica-Scott), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Dumoulin and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) were all present and correct, but Kruijswijk was also dropped.
At the front, Amador’s chasing group almost latched onto Rolland’s group, but the Frenchman went solo just as contact was made.
Fraile bridged across as the summit of the climb approached, claiming more climbing points, and the duo held a steady gap on the rapid descent to the finish.
Back in the pink jersey group, Pinot was the man to attack and took the descent alone – and the successful chase behind him extinguished any hopes Kruijswijk and Thomas had of getting back to the front group.
It was rapidly becoming a tale of two races, and in the race for the stage win Costa did well to chase back on to Fraile and Rolland.
As the front three began attacking each other, however, the chasing group got closer and closer and Tanel Kangert (Astana) took the opportunity to bridge across under the flamme rouge.
Kangert led the sprint out, but Fraile dug deep to seal an incredible ride with a stage victory.
The GC men followed shortly afterwards, with Dumoulin safely tucked up with his lead intact, while Thomas and Kruijswijk had joined forces to cut their losses – another hit to their GC hopes, but not the terminal one it had appeared to be at one point.
Giro d’Italia 2017: stage 11 – result
1) Omar Fraile (ESP) – Dimension Data – 4.23.14hrs
2) Rui Costa (POR) – UAE Team Emirates – ST
3) Pierre Rolland (FRA) – Cannondale-Drapac
4) Tanel Kangert (EST) – Astana
5) Giovanni Visconti (ITA) – Bahrain-Merida
6) Ben Hermans (BEL) – BMC Racing
7) Dario Cataldo (ITA) – Astana
8) Simone Petilli (ITA) – UAE Team Emirates
9) Maxime Monfort (BEL) – Lotto-Soudal +3"
10) Laurens de Plus (BEL) – QuickStep Floors
1) Tom Dumoulin (NED) – Team Sunweb – 47.22.07hrs
2) Nairo Quintana (COL) – Movistar +2.23
3) Bauke Mollema (NED) – Trek-Segafredo +2.38
4) Thibaut Pinot (FRA) – FDJ +2.40
5) Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) – Bahrain-Merida +2.47
6) Andrey Amador (CRC) – Movistar +3.05
7) Bob Jungels (LUX) – QuickStep Floors +3.56
8) Tanel Kangert (EST) – Astana +3.59
9) Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +4.05
10) Inur Zakarin (RUS) – Katusha +4.17