Bernal to do dirt double



What’s the stage like?

It’s notoriously difficult to predict the form that riders will bring to the first Grand Tour stage after a rest day and, in case that wasn’t enough, the route they have to negotiate is notorious in its difficulty.

The first 93km are innocent enough: after the start in Perugia, the peloton has a few lumps and bumps to pass and nothing more. The last 70km are brutal, though. Four dirt sections – totalling 36km – greet the riders, along with a series of climbs, two of which are categorised.

The last time the Giro visited the dirt roads made famous by the one-day race, Strade Bianche, was in 2010, where carnage ensued. That carnage was magnified by heavy rain, which some weather bureaus predict is likely for Stage 11. Expect some hard luck stories.

Who are the favourites?

Given the way he blew away his rivals on the gravel of Stage 9 (and given his third place at Strade Bianche earlier this year), it’s no surprise that Egan Bernal is the favourite at around 6.005/1. And he’s hard to oppose. The hills might not be as long as would be ideal for Bernal, but they include some steep ramps, reaching gradients of 16%, so he should still excel.

Expect Ineos Grenadiers to hit the front as the second dirt section starts, setting a scorching pace for others to try and follow. If they do, and Bernal brings the same legs he had on Stage 9, it’s hard to see him not winning his second stage here.

Who are the most likely outsiders?

Giulio Ciccone (14.0013/1), Aleksandr Vlasov (40.0039/1) and Remco Evenepoel (10.009/1) followed Bernal home on Stage 9 and can’t be discounted, but it’s hard to see how any of them are value to turn the tables. Of the three, Evenepoel might have the best chance: there’s still the sense that he’s feeling his way into the race, and with 10 days done and a recuperative rest day just had, he might decide to ride more aggressively. At the prices, however, Vlasov would have to be the pick for anyone fancying a speculative punt.

Of the others, Pello Bilbao (40.0039/1) and Simon Carr (100.0099/1) both rode well enough at Strade Bianche, and both have shown good form at this Giro. Whether they quite have the legs – or the team – to compete for the win here, though, is questionable. For both, they will likely need a breakaway to be given the day if they are to taste glory.

What effect will it have on the overall markets?

Take out the gravel and this is a day of little consequence: a few seconds here-and-there perhaps, but otherwise the General Classification would emerge largely unscathed. A bit of dirt changes everything, though. Although Bernal has leapt to odds-on favouritism after his stage win, several riders will still be eyeing the Pink Jersey. After Stage 11, though, several will have given up on those pretentions.

*Odds correct at the time of writing