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"I think he's the strongest rider in this Giro d'Italia. There are still two tough days to go but he's clearly got the strength and the know-how. I think Kruijswijk will win this Giro but I want the podium."

Photo: ANSA - PERI / DI MEO / ZENNARO

GIRO D'ITALIA

RACE PROFILE
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NEWS
24.05.2016 @ 23:25 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

At the age of 36, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) joined the list of riders that have won stages in the every grand tour when he came out on top in the hugely dramatic stage 17 of the Giro d’Italia. Having attacked with most of the favourites already on the first climb, he was the instigator of the decisive move on the final climb when he joined forces with Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) and he easily won the 3-rider sprint to claim his first victory in the race. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) both had a bad day and lost a significant amount of time to the thre best riders.

 

We have gathered several reactions.

 

Alejandro Valverde: Kruijswijk will win the Giro but I want the podium

The most spectacular stage in the 2016 Giro d'Italia (132km between Bressanone and Andalo) was won by a legend in cycling and the leader of the Movistar Team. Alejandro Valverde has turned the dynamics of the 'Corsa Rosa' upside down with the gift that turned him into the most consistent rider of the peloton for decades: tenacity. The plan was clear for the Blues, and Valverde unveiled it after the finish: "Tear the race apart". Nothing else. Forgetting about power data for a day, without counting the seconds behind his nearest rivals, including Vincenzo Nibali (AST). The only premise today was going on the attack.

 

75 kilometers from the finish in Andalo, after good work from the whole telephone squad on the Passo della Mendola climb (Cat-2), Ilnur Zakarin (KAT), Steven Kruijswijk (TLJ) and Valverde himself ultimately broke the peloton after several accelerations. The attacks left Colombia's Esteban Chaves (OGE) behind, 39" after the ten-man group led by Valverde into the 'Traguardo Volante' of Cles, where Valverde took a two-second bonus he would multiply at the finish.

 

Cards were on the table as Valverde recovered his nonconformist spirit from the Mur de Huy, the Vuelta a Andalucía and already so many races this year, leaving Nibali behind on the Fai della Paganella (Cat-2) ascent and beating Kruijswijk on the last kick up Andalo. The win, his 97th as pro, takes him directly into the selected club of stage victors in all three Grand Tours vueltas (Tour, Giro, Vuelta). Things will calm for a while on Wednesday - 196km from Molveno to Cassano d'Adda, with just one Cat-4 climb - before the big finale of this 'Corsa Rosa' starts in Piedmont on Thursday.

 

Alejandro Valverde said: 

 

“It was an amazing victory. We came to the start fully focused, knowing that it was going to be a really demanding stage for us. We had already inspected it back in March, the three of us – Chente [Garcia Acosta], Andrey [Amador] and myself. The team worked their hearts out to go for victory today and tear the peloton apart. We really dug deep for the victory, we used all means we had to claim it.

 

“The split wasn't forming on the first ascent, and the race leader and other rivals were insisting a lot. Happily, we were able to open that gap just before the end of the ascent, with Kruijswijk and without Chaves. We went ahead, pulling all the way to the foot of Fai della Paganella - I think we did a great job, all of us up there.

 

"I don't think it was a really bad day for Nibali. He was keeping up with us all the time during the break and had everything under control. It was just that I attacked on the final ascent, so I could keep the gap over Chaves and reduce the field in front - those kilometers alone might have cost him a lot.

 

“Seeing Kruijswijk doing that well wasn't a surprise to me, not when he took the leader's jersey either. He's been already showing for years he can cope well with the Giro, he was arguably the strongest in the final week last season, and this year, he came here with all willingness to win the race. We three, Steven, Zakarin and myself, insisted until the very end so we could keep that gap. That brought me the win.

 

"I already stated during the rest day that my bad day on Saturday was just a consequence of riding in altitude for so long, so many kilometers above 1,700, 1,800 meters. We got through the day as good as we could and later on, we saw at the mountain TT that my physical condition was still near optimal. We just had to go for it today, breaking the peloton into pieces - and we succeeded. The team was phenomenal. I want to thank all of them - mechanics, carers, riders, sports directors - for their dedication. This is a tribute to them, also for my family, my kids and all the fans.

 

"It's true that Kruijswijk's only weak point so far is his team. Even though we tried to isolate him today, he reacted fantastically well. However, the Giro is far from over. Many demanding stages are left, including Friday and Saturday. We must, however, enjoy today's win, and also the podium, which makes the final result even better.

 

“We really wanted to break the race up and we wanted create some mischief. That's what we did.

 

”It's a good day for me as I move up in the overall ranking, although I wanted a stage win as a gift for the mechanics, soigneurs, directors, my family... all the people who have helped me overcome the day I had on Saturday because of the altitude. It was only one bad day though. I rode the time trial as well as I could have hoped.

 

“It's a great feeling to win for the first time at the Giro d'Italia.

 

"I had two big goals before the race: to win a stage and secure a place on the podium. Now we got one and we're there for the other one.

 

"There are still two big stages to come and I'm happy how my Giro is going. The team is strong and now were even first in team competition, too [Movistar are second, ed.]. I'm enjoying the Giro and I now regret not coming before. Now I'm happy to be here.

 

"We went at a high speed to drop his team and isolate Kruijswijk but he defended himself well, even when we attacked. He then worked with us and controlled us all.

 

"I think he's the strongest rider in this Giro d'Italia. There are still two tough days to go but he's clearly got the strength and the know-how. I think Kruijswijk will win this Giro but I want the podium.

 

"This is my first win at the Giro d'Italia. This is my first Giro so I'm really happy. I have to be; we work really hard to get the results. It's not easy to do well and win a stage.

 

"I can't look back. I know I lost a lot of time but I prefer to look forward. I did a good time trial and I'm looking towards the future. I'd be up there for sure without losing time on the stage to Corvara but that's how things are and how they should be.

 

"I don't know if the podium has been decided. Kruijswijk is very, very strong, so it'll be very difficult to crack him. Nibali is fourth just behind me but for sure he'll attack too. He's classy and will try to knock me off the podium but I'll fight all the way to Turin."

 

”Half of the mission is now accomplished and I’ve moved into the top three for now, although I’m aware that Nibali who is a born attacker will try and knock me off the podium.

 

"Today we have started the last week well. We started with the idea to go for the stage win. In the end, we managed to win and we've taken time on some of our rivals - unfortunately on the leader who was very strong, but we must be happy.

 

"It's an extra motivation but I remain calm for the rest of this Giro because of what I have already accomplished. I want to continue enjoying becathis use I'm really happy to be here. "

 

Steven Kruijswijk: It was an ideal situation for me

LottoNL-Jumbo’s Steven Kruijswijk strengthened his lead in the general classification of the Giro d'Italia today. The pink jersey was second in the short stage behind Alejandro Valverde, taking bonus seconds and time on his rivals further down the climb into Andalo.

 

He leads by three minutes on Esteban Chaves (Orica - GreenEDGE) and 3-23 on Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). Vincenzo Nibali (Team Astana) lost time and dropped to fourth place in the standings.

 

The stage began quickly. In the first hour, the riders covered almost 50 kilometres. Some riders tried to get away on the flat, but could not make a gap. The bomb exploded on the Passo della Mendola: a group of six riders including Jungels (Etixx - Quick Step) and Kangert (Team Astana) broke away.

 
"We hit the first mountain hard. Everybody attacked," said Sports Director Addy Engels. "Movistar and later Astana tried, and then a group of six riders got away. The gap to Steven was not very big and he's closed the gap himself. Battaglin stayed with him for a long time. At the top, he sat right behind the group with Chaves, but he couldn’t close the small gap due to the high tempo.

 

“We are more than satisfied after today because Steven picks up time to the competition. His level is very high. This is not only consolidating the lead but increasing it without having to launch an action himself."

 

 

After the Passo della Mendola, the Brabander reacted to an attack by Valverde and put Nibali in trouble.

 

"I felt good and attacked on the last mountain along with Valverde," said Kruijswijk. "Nibali could no longer follow and Chaves was already in pursuit. I wanted to give the team a victory but sprinting against Valverde is difficult. I had no chance.

 

“Obviously, I wanted to win time for the standings. I sat the whole day where I needed to, but I also had to work hard to get into the leading group. The situation in the race was perfect and the time gain is sweet. Over the next few days, the stages are flat but then you have to be very careful.

 

”Second yet again! I wanted to give my team a win but it's an ideal situation for the maglia rosa as I'm now three minutes ahead of Esteban Chaves and the others. I was feeling really good so I had to make the best of this short but really hard stage. I had to follow Nibali when he attacked early in the stage. I didn't expect so much action the day after the rest day.

 

"I'm in first so maybe Valverde is right [that I will win] but you can never underestimate you rivals.

 

"Maybe it looked I was in control but there was a lot of attack on the first climb. I saw it coming because Movistar set the pace early on. But I knew the guys I had to watch and so reacted quickly on the attacks and knew that if I followed them and if we attacked together, there wouldn't be many riders up there. It was a good situation to be in. I felt good today.

 

"It was a short race but not the race of my life. This week have to race all the stage like they're the race of my life. I expect a lot of attacks. If I can maintain this position it'll be good.

 

"On paper they [stages 19 and 20] look really difficult but I like the long climbs and I think it'll suit me like last Saturday.

 

"I felt really good today, I like to race in the pink jersey and I think I showed myself up front. I think that's important when you wear this jersey. Today I was upfront with only three guys and that shows I'm still feeling good. I'm also in the right position each. Now I hope to do this during the next few stages too."

 

"I feel very confident and this jersey brings me to a higher level. I have proven to be very strong despite the pressure. At the moment it is not easy to break away."

 

Katusha sports director: Ilnur Zakarin was the strongest rider in the race

Day-by-day Team KATUSHA’s Ilnur Zakarin keeps chipping away at the results and continues to move up on the general classification. On Tuesday’s stage 16 the team leader put himself in the front group to try for the stage win as well as move into fifth place overall. It was a brave effort from the young Russian as he continues to race well in the 99th Giro d’Italia.

”We started the first climb very fast, there were a lot of attacks to go in the break. Finally, a group of 6 went away. Later closer to the top Nibali attacked with Valverde and Kruijswijk and I followed them. We caught the front break and continued to work on the descent. On the second climb I felt pretty good, so I tried to attack and finally three of us went – I was with the maglia rosa Kruijswijk and Valverde. I knew I could gain some time today and I did my best on both climbs, especially in the final. I did all I could. I was able to get time and to move up in GC. There are still a few hard stages ahead and I will continue step by step,” said Ilnur Zakarin.

 

The trio of riders raced in for the stage win with Zakarin taking charge in the last kilometer. But coming close to the finish line Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and then Steven Kruijswijk sprinted away to take the first two places, leaving third for Ilnur Zakarin.

 

”I am proud of Ilnur and the race he did today. He was the strongest in this stage. He attacked a few times in the penultimate climb, but Kruijswijk and Valverde were close. Finally, thanks to today's performance, Ilnur was able to get important seconds and even minutes. The Giro is far from over,” said team director Dmitry Konyshev.

 

Zakarin is now in fifth at only 7-seconds away from the Italian champion.

 

"For me, Ilnur was the strongest today. He only blew up in the end because he'd pulled on the front all day," Konyshev added in an interview with Cyclingnews.

 

"I expected more from Valverde in the finale. He should definitely have worked more, but he preferred to win a stage rather than gain more time. But normally they always ride like that, Movistar are always clever like that.

 

"Even if they'd all worked exactly the same amount, the stage was guaranteed for Valverde. He should have understood that he was three or four times faster than the other two, and he should have worked. They could have gained another 20 seconds.

 

"Ilnur's arrived where he was already supposed to arrive. Anything he gets from here is a plus. It's a shame to say it, but if he hadn't had that crash in the time trial, he'd definitely be in the top three now. I don't think it was possible to fight with Kruijswijk for the overall win, but he could definitely have fought with those two for the podium."

 

Diego Ulissi pleased to do well in a stage suited to climbers

Diego Ulissi was once again one of the protagonists of the race, counting on a very good condition which allowed him to reach the finish with the top climbers.


LAMPRE-MERIDA's riders obtained a pleasing 4th place at 37" from the winner Valverde, and collected points which helped him to reduce the gap to Nizzolo in the red jersey classification (Ulissi 130 points, Nizzolo 138).
 

"I'm satisfied, I delivered a good performance in a stage which was demanding and which was raced at a very high pace,” Ulissi explained. “The climbs were very demanding, they were suitable for pure climbers, and I rode the whole stage with the top riders, thanks to a good condition. The fourth place is a good result".

 

Bob Jungels: If I can defend this seventh place, it will be amazing

Just 132 kilometers and three categorized climbs were on the menu on Tuesday, when the Giro d'Italia exploded from the very first kilometer, as many riders tried to put pressure on overall leader Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo). Among those wasn't David De La Cruz, who unfortunately was forced to abandon after suffering from high fever overnight, but Etixx – Quick-Step was still very active, in the beginning with Matteo Trentin and Gianluca Brambilla, who made it into the first escape of the day, and later with Bob Jungels, who was determined to leave his mark over the stage.

 

On the first climb, the 14.8-km long Passo della Mendola, a plethora of attacks brought the race to life, all the GC contenders trying their luck at least once. With the status quo becoming a strange notion to the riders, it was everyone for himself, and Jungels attacked with a few kilometers to go till the top, taking a handful of seconds over the maglia rosa group. Before cresting the ascent, the Etixx – Quick-Step rider was joined by several opponents, including Steven Kruijswijk, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha), and that group opened a maximum gap of 45 seconds on chasers Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) and Rafal Majka (Tinkoff).

 

On the descent and the rolling terrain leading to the tough Fai della Paganella, the main group managed to keep the advantage and stay together until Valverde launched an offensive to which only Zakarin and Kruijswijk reacted. Despite not making the catch, Jungels put on an strong and impressive ride at the head of the chasing group, setting a relentless pace for more than three kilometers, thanks to which the leaders weren't allowed to take more than 40 seconds.

 

While at the front Alejandro Valverde notched the win after outsprinting Steven Kruijswijk, Chaves joined Jungels and even tried to forge a gap, but the young Luxembourger responded immediately and brought back the Colombian climber, while at the same time distancing Vincenzo Nibali. In the final 500 meters, despite putting everything on the line up until that point, the 23-year-old still had enough to sprint to fifth and gain a place in the general classification, jumping to seventh.

 

”As usual, the stage that came after the rest day was packed with fireworks and we were prepared for that. On the first climb I tried to ride my own tempo and don't get caught off guard. I felt good throughout the day, and to be honest, I'm happy with the way the race went and with the outcome", said Jungels at the arrival in Andalo, where his exceptionally strong ride helped him reinforce his position in the white jersey classification. "I now have an even bigger advantage over the next rider in the U25 standings, but the Giro d'Italia is still long. Today I stayed with the best and I hope to keep the momentum over the next couple of stages left until Turin.

 

”I've seen last year in the Tour that the last week is pretty good for me. Already yesterday I felt pretty good – on the rollers. Therefore, I wanted to give it a try today as the day after a rest day is harder for the older guys (laugh).

 

”I gave it a try in the first climbs where we had a lot of attacks. Then there was the group, and it was full gas all day long. In the end I just kept going my rhythm. That's my weakness and my strength - I cannot accelerate and stop and accelerate like the real climbers. But on climbs like these I can go in a high rhythm from the bottom to the top.

 

”I'm seventh now I think. I don't know what I can do. If I finish seventh here it would be amazing but I prefer to keep my feet on the ground.  There are two more really hard stages to come, which go really high up in altitude. I really hope the weather will be OK, because that will be a big point. If we have snow, it would be a pity. It would change the fairness of the race. I really hope we can do the stages properly.”

 

 

"After the rest day, I usually respond well and in fact I had a good feeling. I was able to follow the best, taking a good fifth place and being able to gain a position. For me it is great. "

 

David Lopez eyes stage win after excellent ride in Giro d’Italia mountains

David Lopez showed impressive legs in the mountains to claim sixth place on a fast and furious 16th stage at the Giro d'Italia.

 

The Spaniard was full of riding as a short but mountainous 133-kilometre test was completed at a relentless speed in excess of 44km/h!

 

Lopez attacked on multiple occasions as he tried to push on up the road but, surrounded by elite and motivated general classification contenders, the Team Sky rider was brought back each time.

 

Lopez crossed the line 38 seconds back on the day, while Nicolas Roche and Sebastian Henao also found themselves in the mix, finishing 12th and 16th respectively in a chasing group after an enthralling day of racing. The result was enough to elevate Henao three places to 15th overall.

 

Lopez had monitored moves before attacking early on the stage's opening climb - the Passo della Mendola. The peloton quickly thinned out, with the pink jersey soon isolated. Despite that Kruijswijk was able to follow the moves, and put more time into Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) as the Italian began to slip back.

 

"Luckily, I was one of the few who were not among the best on GC in this group and I could go to the top of the climb, but hey, these guys have a better level and I did not follow them to the end,” he told Cyclingpro.net.

 

"I was in the break so it is true that I have taken KOM points from before but I missed a few points and Damiano Cunego is still many points ahead. I'll try to join a breakaway again in the coming days to try to get a stage win. The mountains classification is secondary. "

 

Esteban Chaves: I was a matter of inattentiveness, not bad legs

Giro d’Italia Queen Stage winner Esteban Chaves has retained second place on the general classification for ORICA-GreenEDGE today after an extremely difficult attack filled stage 16.

 

Colombian Chaves was forced to chase after race leader Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) went clear with Stage winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) in the last 60kilometres.

 

Strong work from ORICA-GreenEDGE teammates Ruben Plaza and Damien Howson brought Chaves onto the penultimate climb with the Colombian valiantly taking up the reigns to eventually finish in eighth place.

 

“I probably made a mistake underestimating the attack,” said Chaves. “Thanks to my teammates we managed to save the day. I’m really thankful for how they rode for me and I managed to keep the pace on the last climb.

 

“These explosive stages are always dangerous and I definitely tip my hat to Steven (Kruijswijk). One more day done and we are ready to fight on.

 

"It was a very, very fast stage, with no respite. Everybody was attacking and expending a lot of energy. I made a small error on the first climb but I managed to save my position on GC at the end of the day, which was the most important thing.

 

"It wasn't a question of not having the legs, I just left my guard down. I was too far back when Nibali attacked and the group formed with Zakarin, Valverde and Kruijswijk 500 metres from the top of the climb. I thought the gap would close because there'd already been a lot of attacks on the climb but the group always came back. But the last attack didn't come back. That was the error.”

 

Chaves is in second place and three minutes down Kruijswijk with five more stages to come.

 

Sport director Matt white spoke of his surprise at the speed and aggression of stage 16.

 

“I don’t think anyone could have predicted how aggressive the racing was going to be today,” said White. “The way the other favourites rode on the first climb totally annihilated the bunch and turned into a very dangerous situation for us.

 

“Thanks to Damien (Howson) and Ruben (Plaza) we certainly managed to contain what could have been a disastrous day.

 

“There was a lapse of concentration when the attack came at the top of the first climb which is why we had to chase, but we are still in a good position after an interesting day and lots of racing still to come.”

 

 

"As you could see, Cannondale were pinned, Saxo Bank [Tinkoff] were pinned. We thought they weren't helping for a reason but the reason was that they had nothing," White told Cyclingnews. “The boys took full responsibility, they gave Esteban every chance at the bottom of the penultimate climb."

 

"If you look at the statistics, Esteban was the fastest guy up the penultimate climb. He went from being 28 or 30 seconds down to just 12 or 13 at the top.”

 

Tinkoff and Rafal Majka had hoped for more in tough Giro d’Italia stage

After a massive effort to reduce the gap on the GC breakaway, Rafal Majka finished the stage in ninth position.

 

Tinkoff Sport Director Tristan Hoffman knew attacks were likely and the stage was going to be fast-paced.

 

“As we expected it was full gas from the start today, with the slight downhill run to the first climb. Then it went straight into the second category climb and the race was on. Rafal was there but just missed the first group when the attacks came towards the top.”

 

Having used a lot of effort to recover distance on the breakaway, there was bound to be some impact on Majka, explained Hoffman.

 

“For 40km he was in the chasing group at between twenty and forty seconds, and it was just thirty-five seconds at the bottom of the next climb. Chaves kept pulling on the climb and he was able to follow which was good, but he had to set his own pace towards the top.”

 

After working so hard to keep in touch with the breakaway group, Maka started to drop back on the final climb of the day, but in spite of this, the Polish rider bravely pushed on to the finish, crossing the line only fifty seconds after the stage winner. More significantly, he finished almost a minute in front of Vincenzo Nibali and some of his other GC rivals. In spite of moving down a place in the overall standings to sixth, there are still five stages still to race, and anything can still happen.

 

Hoffman had a lot of praise for the team, having been able to support Majka until later in the stage, where other teams weren’t able to do the same.

 

“We hoped for a little bit more but he's still in a good place. Pawel Poljanski worked hard for Rafal today between the mountains, and it was good to have him there to help as there weren't many riders in the front part - it was a very tough day.”

 

Tomorrow, after four mountain stages, the Giro hits flatter terrain. The 196km route from Molveno to Cassano d’Adda has an undulating first half, finishing with a fourth category climb, before a flat run-in to the finish. Other than some mild bends, this is a rest for the GC riders, who will aim to finish the stage unscathed. While many of the race’s major sprinters dropped out of the race before it hit the mountains, there are still enough to bring some excitement to the end of the stage – but the GC riders could still spring some surprises when least expected. Hoffman was making sure the team kept a close eye on the GC contenders.

 

“Tomorrow I believe there's a good chance for breakaway with the flatter profile. For the GC guys, it can be a stage to go easier but we always need to stay vigilant and alert.”

 

Domenico Pozzovivo: I am happy to be in the top 10

"It was very fast, a very hard race from the start,” Domenico Pozzovivo said after having taken 10th on the stage. “In the end I was in the group with Chaves. I had to use a lot of energy to get there and I found myself with Nibali. In the end it was unfortunately impossible for me to get back. I am happy to move into the top ten. I know I can still improve but the road to Turin is long.”

 

Vincenzo Nibali: I am not myself and I don’t know why

"We tried to make selection on the first long climb and along with Vincenzo we ended up with the little group of the top riders,” said Tanel Kangert. 

 

"It had been a good attack but it was too bad that in the end we paid a little.”

 

"We had to try and we were the team stars with Movistar. It didn't go well, but we will try again soon,” said sporting director Giuseppe Martinelli.

 

"I'm not myself," Vincenzo Nibali said. "I seemed to me that I was feeling well but I found myself empty. At the moment, I don't have an explanation, but I need to find the reasons for the fluctuating performance."

 

 "In the beginning I felt good, but then ... I do not know what it is ... I do not want it to be an excuse, but I have to find out what happens.

 

"I was fine and I was there but I cannot give me an explanation.  I do not understand my feelings, I was sure I was okay, but when the others went, I couldn’t follow.”

 

"Today we tried,” added Martinelli. But no, it did not work We need to understand more. Now he will see a doctor.”

 

"For three days we have paid,” added sports director Paolo Slongo. "It is clear that something is wrong. “Until Marmolada, the feelings were not bad. We will find out why Vincenzo is in this strange situation.”

 

"Vincenzo has always honored the race. If he is not physically fit, it would do damage to continue. We will decide when w eget the answers. The doctor will do further tests to avoid a situation that can affect Vincenzo’s conditions.”

 

"We've had a few surprises ourselves in the last few days because it seemed that his condition was optimal, and that he was ready for the tough days coming up," doctor Emilio Magni said. "On Sunday, he was already below what we expected and that surprised us a bit.

 

"We already examined him yesterday and to find a more convincing answer, we'll have some laboratory tests done tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. Right now, I don't feel like I can make a hypothesis."

 

Darwin Atapuma: I had the legs and good sensations

At only 132 kilometers, it was difficult for an early breakaway to successfully get away, despite multiple attempts including one from Daniel Oss and Joey Rosskopf. Instead the stage was set for attack after attack from the General Classification contenders.

 

Darwin Atapuma was in the mix for the whole stage, attacking to close gaps on breakaways on numerous occasions, but was unable to stay with the Maglia Rosa in the final 30 kilometers of racing.

 

Atapuma crossed the line in 17th place, 3’20 behind stage-winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), and has moved up to 13th place on the General Classification.

 

Darwin Atapuma said:

 

“It was full gas all day from the kilometer 0 mark. I had the legs and I had good sensations all day, but in the final 30 or so kilometers I didn’t have enough to close the gap to the front riders. With such a short stage it is hard to bring it back as riders will expend all of their energy knowing that it’s not a long stage. The stage after a rest day is always hard, so now I’m looking forward to the next stages to come.”

 

Max Sciandri, Sports Director, added:

 

“We had two plans today. One was to try and get Daniel Oss in an early breakaway to get some points at the Intermediate Sprint and that happened as he got third place, and he also gained a few kilometers in the breakaway competition. Our second plan was to try and get Darwin in a good move on the climb. Unfortunately for us, the whole top ten of the General Classification started to move and it made it hard for him to go on the offensive. Instead he stuck in there and finished as high up as he could on the stage.”

 

Kanstantsin Siutsou still in the top 10 after tough day in Giro mountains

Dimension Data’s Igor Anton actually started the first climb with a small gap but the likes of Valverde and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) decided to throw even more fuel onto the fiery start and attacked from the base.

 

The African Team were on high alert as we tried to protect Kanstantsin Siutsou in order to conserve his top 10 GC placing overall.  Siutsou was in the 2nd group along with Andrey Amador (Movistar) and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) among others. He came home with his group, 3'20" down but 18th on the day and now 10th on the overall GC.

 

Jay Thomson said:
 

“That wasn't so easy today. It was a deceptive start as we thought it was a lot flatter than it really was, we were doing 60km/h for the first 45 minutes and then we already hit the bottom of the first climb. Then it was just game on. I think it was Movistar who started the troubles.

 

”To be honest I don't really know what went on after that, I was just looking for wheels trying to make sure I just got the finish. It was not an easy day and as you can see, only 43 guys made it to the finish under 17 minutes behind the front guys, the rest being in the grupettos.

 

“It's really great to see Kanstantsin kept his top 10 on GC. I tried to help him as much as I could before the bottom of the first climb but after that he was all by himself and man alone, so it was also a hard day for him today. I'm really happy for him though, I hope he can keep on improving and you never know what lies ahead. On the weekend there are 2 super hard days coming so we look forward to then and see what he can do there.   

 

Giacomo Nizzolo targets victory in stage 17 after tough day in the mountains

Stage 16 offered a short, but mountainous stage and the general classification favorites traded blows all the way to the finish. The biggest concern for Trek-Segafredo – notably points leader Giacomo Nizzolo – was to make it to the finish within the time limit.

 

But with his teammates surrounding him the whole day, Nizzolo arrived safely to fight in tomorrow's stage 17, a flatter parcours tailored to the sprinters.

 

"I was nervous for this stage because it was short and I was sure that the big GC riders would go full gas," explained Nizzolo. "And this is what happened. It was really fast from the start and the problem for us was the time cut.

 

"I had a really good team next to me today, and we had to pull really hard in the last climb to stay in the time limit, but now we can enjoy the night and thinking about tomorrow. Sure I am tired, but I think at this point everyone is tired."

 

Only Riccardo Zoidl was in the game being played by the climbers in a race packed predominantly with uphill kilometers.

 

On the long second-category climb at mid-race, Zoidl attacked in an attempt to bridge to a five-man leading group. His move was marked back and the GC contenders hit out near the top to create 10 leaders, but missing was second on GC, Esteban Chaves (Orica GreenEdge).

 

A heated pursuit ensued, and Zoidl continued with the Chaves chase group that remained 30 seconds behind the leaders until the penultimate categorized climb, some 18 kilometers from home.  As soon as the road pitched upward, Chaves accelerated, blowing up the chasing group.

 

While the GC contenders continued to scrap to the line, Zoidl eased off the pace, his day finished. With no GC to fight for, saving energy for another day, and another try for a stage result, was essential.

 

Tomorrow the battle for red – and a stage win – will have a motivated Trek-Segafredo team holding the reins. 

 

Joe Dombrowski admits stupid mistake after great ride in the mountains

Wondering what went down in the Giro d'Italia stage 16 breakaway? Joe Dombrowski explains:

 

"I did feel like I had a shot and then I saw the break ride away from me. It sounds stupid to make it to the break on the climb and get dropped on the flat, but that’s what happened. It was a little bit of it was inexperience,” he said.

 

"It’s better to sit last, last wheel even if Valverde and Nibali want to scream at you. If you sit behind the guys rotating, they keep opening a gap and trying to make you get in the rotation and then you’re just jumping around. I should have sat very last wheel. They can yell all they want but they know I know I have no reason to pull. They want to win the jersey. I’m here trying to win a stage.

 

"Let’s be honest, I’m not as strong guys like Nibali and Valverde. If they’re trying to win the Giro, I have every right to sit on and try to go for the stage. It was just a stupid mistake on my part.

 

"The good thing is that I’m going super well. The last two days suit me more than today. We’ll see if I can pull something out."

 

Quiet day for Bardiani at the Giro d’Italia

The #GreenTeam aimed to be in the game today and tried immediately to escape with Mirco Maestri, but the peloton gave no freedom to anyone. Then Stefano Pirazzi tried a few attacks but, unfortunately, with no result. When the fight for the general classification started, team Bardini-CSF had to give up the stage ambitions.

 

The first #GreenTeam rider was Stefano Pirazzi, 32th. Pirazzi is now 17th overall.

 

Maxime Monfort with no excuses after bad day in the Giro mountains

Maxime Monfort crossed the finish line as 33rd, almost thirteen minutes later than Valverde and therefore he drops from sixteenth to nineteenth position on GC.

 

"I have no excuse,” he said. “I gave the maximum but I was not at my level. At the top of the first climb, I was only 30-40" behind the pink jersey group. I thought I could get there in the downhill but it was never possible. The gap grew and there was nothing to do.”

 

Wilier-Southeast sprinter taken to hospital after tough Giro d’Italia stage

It was a tough day for Manuel Belletti. After the stage, the Romagna rider was taken by ambulance because of a crisis of bronchospasm with dyspnea and was transported to the hospital for inspection. The sprinter of Wilier - Southeast has been suffering from a fever and this does not allow him to breathe properly. He is a possible non-starter tomorrow.

 

A day in the gruppetto for Giant-Alpecin at the Giro d’Italia

All riders of Team Giant-Alpecin were part of the grupetto to finish 17’21” after today’s winner, it was Georg Preidler who came in first in 52nd place.

 

Coach Marc Reef said: “It was a very fast race today. The breakaway didn’t manage to get in front before the first climb so the race exploded with the GC contenders. The good thing is that our guys came in on time and without problems. Tomorrow it will be a flat stage and a sprinting opportunity for Nikias [Arndt] so we will try and get him in a good position in the finale.”

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