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Giro d’Italia 2024, Stage 11: Foiano di Val Fortore – Francavilla al Mare, 207.0k

Since it’s almost bedtime in the US and nobody’s done it yet I’ll keep copy+pasting @Devil's Elbow until someone stops me.

Stage 11: Foiano di Val Fortore – Francavilla al Mare, 207.0k​



This stage marks the halfway point of the Giro, and perhaps fittingly it’s also the place where the route switches from the western to the eastern parts of the country. It also marks the halfway point of the sprint stages.



The route



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Every GT has at least one stage start or finish in a random village or small town in the middle of nowhere. In this Giro, Foiano di Val Fortore fulfils that role. The Fortore river is one of the few in Campania that drains in the Adriatic, a clear hint as to where we’re heading today. The absence of a road through its valley means that the stage starts with an uncategorised climb, to San Bartolomeo in Galdo.


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The first part of the stage is spent ticking off Italian regions as fast as possible. The descent from San Bartolomeo takes the riders into Apulia, which they almost immediately exchange for Molise, most forgettable of all Italian regions. Just after crossing the border, we hit the only KOM of the day, to Pietracatella.

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After a rolling section that ends with the intermediate sprint in Casacalenda, it’s a very gradual descent to the Adriatic. The coast is reached in Termoli, where Caleb Ewan won his eleventh and currently final GT stage three years ago. Here, the route turns northwest to head up the boot’s edge, swiftly re-entering the Abruzzo region that was already visited in the second weekend. The Intergiro sprint is in the border town of San Salvo Marina, where Jonathan Milan broke his Giro duck last year. The route mostly follows the flat coastal roads here, and it isn’t an area noted for its wind either. It heads down the Costa dei Trabocchi, through Fossacesia Marina (where the bonus sprint is held) and Ortona, the hosts of last year’s opening TT won by Remco Evenepoel. Fossacesia is also notable as the birthplace of Alessandro Fantini, who won seven Giro stages and two Tour stages in the 1950s in addition to coming second on the fabled Monte Bondone snow stage where Charly Gaul won the 1956 Giro. He died aged just 29, of injuries sustained in a horrible crash in a Tour of Germany sprint in 1961.

From Ortona, it’s only a short distance to Francavilla al Mare, the day’s finish location. The finale is completely flat and the final turn is at 3.5k from the line (assuming they remove the traffic furniture at a small roundabout at 200 metres to go), so expect a very hectic finish. Francavilla was a small port, always overshadowed by nearby Pescara, that only grey into relevance with the advent of tourism from the late 19th century onwards. In what sadly seems to be a recurring theme this race, it suffered greatly during the Second World War: a Nazi razzia, one of the worst in the Abruzzo, killed 20, and it was mostly destroyed by Allied bombing and the retreating German army. It has recovered since, serving both as a beach resort and a commuter town for Pescara.

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What to expect?

Anything other than a full bunch sprint would be a big surprise.
 
The first sprint might produce a few testing moments as the big guys have to get up a few lumpy bits but then ... we off to the seaside! Grab your bucket and spade, G has the sun lotion and time for a dip.
Big sprint of the remaining sprinters, it seems, but watch out for the street furniture, dogs etc.
 
I'm unsure if I think Alpecin is doing the smart thing by pursuing the points classification so agressively. But since they are doing it, they have to drill the start of this stage. The climbs there have the perfect difficulty to drop the heavier sprinters while making sure your own team stays as complete as possible. I'm sceptical if this will work, but if you don't do something like that here you might as well give up. Groves is not winning the jersey by beating Milan in bunch sprints.
 
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whats with Visma anyway.

Their whole spring team derailed because of falls and illnesses. Missing at least 50% of their riders in the cobbled classics.
Vingegaard out in Basque and potentially missing TDF

Giro team was already compromised without the originally planned Kelderman and Van Aert, then Kelderman replacement Bouwman also couldn't start. And to top it all off Gesink fell on day 1. Then Laporte dnf-ed...And now both their leaders, Kooij and Uijtdebroeks, are out as well. It's unreal after their succes year how much crap luck they get now
 
The attrition bit of the Giro has already kicked in with the bug going around. Not covid, but another virus according to Visma -
https://cyclinguptodate.com/cycling...ly-keep-kooij-and-uijtdebroeks-in-competition
“For Olav Kooij, this started the day before the rest day. The morning after his victory in Naples, he was diagnosed with a fever, which made further riding irresponsible."

"This was much to the disappointment of Olav, who absolutely wanted to complete his first Grand Tour," Visma tell. For Cian Uijtdebroeks, who revealed he was ill at the end of stage 10, the situation deteriorated in the same form: “It has gotten worse little by little in recent days. An increase has now also been measured for him, which means that continuing the Giro d'Italia is not an option."
So now it's guessing time, who else might have the bug? Pogi has said he's been sick, but the rest of the team? Ineos? Nothing from them so far. Bora have lost Lipowitz, AG2R nothing yet.
 
The loss of Uijtdebroeks is disappointing from an entertainment perspective, i.e. because the fight for the podium (now just Martinez versus Thomas versus O'Connor versus Tiberi) is all that's left in terms of suspense in this Giro.

It's what made yesterday's climb slightly more interesting (Tiberi attacking & O'Connor making a move when Uijtdebroeks dropped).