This is how our coach Boštjan Mervar described eleventh stage: “This was the last chance to make any changes in the overall standings. It was 240km long, with two 3rd category mountain finishes. Everybody was expecting a change on the very top, as the yellow jersey team Qinghai Tianyoude Cycling Team isn’t strong enough to control the long stage. We also agreed to send Radoslav Rogina in the attack when the right moment arrives. On the 60th kilometer a breakaway of nine cyclists was formed, we didn’t have anybody there. That was not ideal situation for us, but we still had lots of time and climbs till the end of the stage. Heavy rain started to fall, escapes came to a lead of one minute and 50 seconds. Gap was getting smaller, and the main group fell apart on the downhill from the first mountain finish. Thanks to great tires we had our guys up in the front. Then something unexpected happened. Due to heavy rain there was a thin layer of mud on the road, and that stretched on the distance of about two kilometers. There were maybe 10 guys that didn’t go on the ground, some of them crashed more than once. Even our mechanic Dejan Rifelj hardly stayed on his two feet when he was saving Žiga Grošelj. Main commissar reacted quickly and smart, and decided to suspend the stage right away. 90% of the cyclists were on the ground, with mechanical problems and injuries. We don’t have exact info yet, but we know that at least five cyclists suffered from hard injury and were taken to the hospital. Our guys were lucky and got away just with small cuts and bruises. Jon Božič even managed to stay on the bike, he was one of just a few that managed to do that.”
There were no changes in the overall lead after the 12th stage, Colombian Yonathan Monsalve is still in the lead.
Photo: Adrian Hoe