Stage 12 of this year’s Giro will be widely remembered for Stefano Oldani (Alpecin-Fenix) who broke his duck, winning for the first time as a professional and on his home grand tour no less. But it will also go down as a day when the runners went fast. Very fast.
Before the flag was dropped, you wouldn’t have imagined that the average speed at the end of the stage would be 45.88 km/h. After all, it was the longest tapped in this year pink corsicaand a lumpy one more, with 2,600 meters of elevation gain.
Oldani’s winning time was 4-26-48. So not only were the riders’ average speeds breathtaking, but they were the product of a long enough day in the saddle. Speed is one thing. Maintaining it for the time it takes to play three football games is quite another.
The Strava data for the stage that took runners from Parma to Genoa is interesting to read, although some runners chose to stick with the generic “lunch in the car” title.
Gijs Leemreize (Jumbo-Visma), who was part of the three-man breakaway who finally contested the finish in the sprint, averaged 45 km / h over the day. Considering they had to work hard to distance themselves from the original breakaway group, it’s perhaps unsurprising that his average speed is high.
However, the peloton also did not slow down once the breakaway was established. One of the favorites to wear the maglia rosa in Verona Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) averaged 43.5 km/h for the stage while the man currently wearing it, Juan Pedro Lopez (Trek-Segafredo) , also averaged just under 44 km/h .
The riders’ power numbers reflected the effort and speeds needed to keep up. Rein Taaramäe (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), who was part of the 22-man breakaway and eventually finished the stage in ninth position, had a weighted average of 316w. Attlia Valter (Groupama_FDJ) finished in the maglia rosa group, down 9-08. According to his Strava account, he had a weighted average of 274w, around 50w more than the day before and 130 more than his output on stage six, which was run at a snail’s pace by comparison. Briton Alex Dowsett (Israel – Premier Tech), who rode with the bandweighted average 292w.
These impressive average speeds were partly due to a frenetic start to the stage. The breakaway took a considerable time to form, attempt after attempt thwarted by those who had missed the shot. With the race directors no doubt barking into their earpieces, the riders kept up the intensity. After an hour of racing, the peloton had covered 53 km.
Modern racing is less stereotypical than in the past and Stage 12 featured the blistering pace that is one of its hallmarks. It was an exhilarating view from the couch, but for the runners it seems to have been just plain exhausting. Take Tobias Bayer (Alpecin-Fenix). The Austrian rider crossed the line in 156th place, 19-40 behind Oldani’s winning time. That said, he still had an average heart rate for the day of 129 bpm and occasionally hit 182 bpm. Contrast that with the sleepy sixth stage where Bayer’s heart rate dropped to 39 bpm. If that suggests he was taking a nap, it’s not far off. The average speed that day was 38.076 km/h on a much less demanding course.
Yesterday’s stage, however, was not the fastest of this year’s Giro. This prize goes to Reggio Emilia the day before, where the winner, Alberto Dainese (Team DSM), averaged just over 47 km/h. However, the course barely featured a bump in the road, with less than 500 meters of elevation gain over the 201 km.
As for the fastest stage in the history of the Giro, it returns to the seventh stage of the 2020 edition, won by the current wearer of the ciclamino jersey Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ). Arriving in Brindisi, the French sprinter averaged 51.23 km/h for the 143 km stage which included very little elevation. It was also the first time in the history of the Giro that the speed of victory exceeded 50 km/h, the previous record being 49.43 km/h, achieved during the 18th stage of the race in 2012.