Marek Rutkiewicz got in the escape of the day on stage 11 of Giro d’Italia, while two other CCC Sprandi Polkowice riders – Maciej Paterski and Grega Bole – finished in the top 15.
The stage kicked off with an extremely high pace – Marek Rutkiewicz said afterwards. – On the first climb there were so many attacks that some climbers had difficulties with staying in the main group. I tried to pull away near the top but I was caught. On the second ascent, also very demanding, with 14% sections, I made another attempt to join the leading riders and this time it was successful. I bridged the gap but it cost me a lot of energy. I had no time to rest, because the leader’s group was chasing us down and we had to go full gas to remain in the front. Finally the situation calmed down and it started to rain, which was perfect to me. I felt good until 40km to go. This is when I had a short moment of weakness and I got dropped on the hill. I was trying to catch the leading runners, alongside Montaguti, and we maintained around 20-30 second gap. Eventually the bunch reeled us in. I’m little bit upset, how it all unfolded. The course and the weather were ideal for me but one moment of bad legs shattered my chances. That was one of the stages that I’d marked before Giro, a stage where I was hoping for good result.
The route of the stage, with winding and hilly lap in Imola, suited Marek Rutkiewicz perfectly. The finale was going downhill and CCC Sprandi Polkowice rider is known for his great descending skills. He was riding at the front of the race with Benat Intxausti, Ruben Fernandez, Carlos Betancur, Matteo Montaguti, Diego Rosa, Ryder Hesjedal, Ilnur Zakarin, Franco Pellizotti and Steven Kruijswijk. They established around 4 minute lead
Due to rainy and windy weather, the bunch split with 80km to go. Main group, led by BMC Racing and Tinkoff-Saxo, picked up the pace and reduced the gap to 2 minutes.
When the escapees entered laps in Imola, which in some part ran on the Formula 1 circuit, the advantage dropped to under one minute. When it was at 45 seconds, 40km from the finish, attacks occurred in the front group. Rutkiewicz was not able to keep the pace and fell behind. He was chasing down the leaders together with Montaguti, but eventually was caught with 17km to go. The “orange baton” was passed to Maciej Paterski and Grega Bole who were able to stay in the shattered peloton. On the last descent, Volta a Catalunya stage winner took some risk and jumped away. Philippe Gilbert followed him. There were still 7 riders ahead of the duo, but this attack showed that Paterski is getting back into his good form and he is feeling better and better with every day. He was the first rider to cross the line from outside the escape and took 8th. Grega Bole was close from making the top 10, and finished 11th.
After few days of very hot weather, it was finally cooler and I could finally breath normally – Maciej Paterski said. – In the first week of racing I felt like my lungs are blocked, but today I felt comfortable again and I hope that my good form is coming back. In the end I broke away from the bunch to catch the 6-man group, riding behind Zakarin, and try to fight for the podium. They were not that far away, so I decided to give it a try. The victory was out of reach, but top 3 was in sight. I missed out by a small margin.
Ilnur Zakarin claimed the win thanks to a solo move from the break. He remained in the lead all the way to the end. Betancur and Pellizotti were 2nd and 3rd respectively. Alberto Contador retained the maglia rosa.