News: Nibali Hits back to take Pink


Whilst Katusha’s Rein Taaramäe won the final mountain stage, Vincenzo Nibali won the battle for the GC and is one stage away from winning overall

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News: Nibali Hits back to take Pink

One day after TEAM KATUSHA’s Giro bad luck, with Ilnur Zakarin’s horrible crash and abandon, Rein Taaramäe had the perfect answer by winning the last mountain stage in Sant’Anna di Vinadio.

A smart race by the Estonian rider and a perfect timed attack on the Colle de la Lombarda were the ingredients of his success. Darwin Atapuma (BMC Racing) finished second, 52 seconds behind. Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale) was third at 1.17.

Behind the battle for the stage, the one for the Overall was what everyone wanted to watch and whilst the young Chaves in Pink bravely tried to hold on, Vincenzo Nibali tactically and with his legs, blew the GC apart to wear the ‘maglia rosa’ at the finish podium.

The Stage 

Orica GreenEdge’s report of the stage …  The penultimate stage of the 2016 Giro d’Italia got underway in the French Alpine town of Guillestre this morning with large crowds lining the streets and 134 kilometres and three huge climbs to come.

Race leader Chaves was at the front of the peloton for the roll out through the neutral zone with the serious racing starting as soon as the flag dropped. The Col de Vars began only a couple of kilometres out of town and the peloton split apart immediately.

Mikel Nieve (Team-Sky) instigated the first attack that formed the lead group of eight riders including Tanel Kangert (Astana) and Giovanni Visconti (Movistar). The group developed a lead of two minutes within the first 15kilometres as Sam Bewley and Svein Tuft took control for ORICA-GreenEDGE at the front of the peloton.

Chaves had Ruben Plaza and Damien Howson alongside him with Amets Txurruka and Michael Hepburn a few wheels ahead behind Bewley. The pace was high and the peloton was already slightly reduced and filled with nervous energy as the favourites marked each other closely.

The eight leaders had over six minutes as ORICA-GreenEDGE led peloton over the summit of the Col de Vars with 110kilomtres to go and the 22kilometre Col de la Bonette up next. The breakaway group began to attack each other repeatedly on the low slopes of the Bonette with Nieve going clear and creating close to a two-minute gap. Accelerations also occurred in the bunch as Movistar moved to the front and tried to shake things up.

Chaves was left with Bewley, Howson, Txurruka and Plaza as the gradient reached 10% with 75kilometres to go and Movistar setting the tempo. Over ten minutes separated lone leader Nieve and the Chaves group when Nieve reached the top of the snow covered Col de la bonette.

Alejandro Valverde and Movistar teammate Andrey Amador tried to create a selection on the following descent with Chaves and the other favourites reacting swiftly to the Spaniards attack and Chaves still with teammates.

Txurruka led the bunch onto the third first category climb of the day, the Colle della Lombarda with 30kilometres to go and the breakaway at ten minutes. With 23kilometres to go Chaves had only Plaza in support as Tinkoff picked up the pace and riders began to drop out of the group. Astana took over from Tinkoff and again the pace went up with the pink jersey group being reduced to twenty-two riders as Plaza lost contact.

Michele Scarponi (Astana) was on the front for Nibali when the attack came as the two Italians split the group again but Chaves closed brilliantly and fixed himself to the wheel of Nibali. With twelve kilometres left to race Astana had called Kangert back from the break when Nibali unleashed two brutal attacks. Chaves fought bravely with Valverde and limited the damage to ten seconds as Nibali bridged across to Kangert.

Colombian Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale) made contact with Chaves and Valverde and took up the tempo for the trio as Nibali pulled away. Chaves lost contact with Uran and Valverde close to the summit of the Lombarda and battled on into the descent as the Scarponi group caught his wheel.

Rein Taaramae (Katusha) won the stage from the breakaway as the fight for the race continued behind onto the short final climb to the finish. Chaves continued to fight on the tough gradient all the way to the line coming in over a minute down on Nibali and into second place overall.

Tomorrow’s 21st and final stage covers 163 kilometres from Cuneo to Turin over a predominantly flat parcours that culminates in eight laps of the 7.5 kilometre finishing circuit. The circuit includes the stages only climb which is short at just under one kilometre in length. … continued after advert


Vincenzo Nibali: “I want to dedicate the pink jersey – said an emotional Vincenzo Nibali – to all my teammates”. “Together we have always believed, and the dream can become reality tomorrow in Turin”.

“We applied perfectly our race strategy – continued the Italian rider – knowing we are the strongest team and totally motivated. When I took on the penultimate climb, I saw my opponents full gas but meter by meter my advantage was increasing. It was wonderful”.

“After I crossed the line, I listened to the speaker who was counting down the seconds, and only then did I realize that the pink jersey was mine”.

Rein Taaramäe (Stage winner) “Yesterday was really a hard and sad day for us. The team worked for three weeks for the GC and I know how motivated Ilnur was. Everything ended in one sudden second. That’s why I was so motivated today to go in the break. The second reason was that I wanted to prove myself I can do a good race. I worked so hard in the beginning of the season and I hoped this work would pay off one day, – said Rein Taaramäe.

“It was not easy at all to go in the break. Honestly, I suffered a lot in the beginning. I even dropped a few times from the break but everytime I was able to come back. I did everything to go on on a regular pace and that worked. I know these climbs very well since I did a lot altitude training camps here. From those camps I also learned that I become better the higher we go in the mountains. I found my moment to attack and I went away.”

“I took my rhythm and was able to create a gap. The last two kilometers were really hard, I had strong cramps, but I went until the finish and won. This victory is very important for me but also for the team. I am super happy and I still can’t believe it. What a day! – concluded Rein Taaramae.

Esteban Chaves: “Today was really hard,” said an exhausted Chaves at the finish. “I don’t want to make any excuses because we gave it everything today. I didn’t have the legs and that’s how it happened when I got dropped. I am very proud of my teammates and how they were fighting. It has been an incredible Giro d’Italia and tomorrow we will have the last stage. After that we can celebrate everything we have achieved.

“I really think that this is just the beginning for me and for ORICA-GreenEDGE in Grand Tour races so for sure other opportunities will come.”

Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL Jumbo): Steven Kruijswijk dropped to fourth place on GC on stage 20. A small rib fracture made Kruijswijk’s day that much harder. Overnight, it was unclear if he would even start. Kruijswijk was suffering with a lot of pain in his foot and the side of his body, but moved on. “I did the best I could,” Kruijswijk said. “I barely slept last night after my crash and I felt a lot of pain. I tried to ignore that pain. I wanted to forget everything and go to the finish line. I did. This was it.”

Alejandro Valverde (third overall): “I’m extremely happy about today’s stage. I think everyone could see it when I punched the air so hard after the finish, standing there, waiting for the overall podium to be confirmed. It seemed as if I had won the race myself. It wasn’t easy at all, but we got that third place and we came so close to the second spot”.

“It’s nothing short of incredible for me. Being on the podium of all three Grand Tours is a phenomenal achievement for my career. And at the end, after struggling so much in altitude, it seemed like I got used to it, because my legs during the final climbs were fantastic”.

“The job we did all day, from the first attacks in Vars, the whole team helping me out in the Col de la Bonette, plus that final hand from Visco in Sant’Anna… it was marvellous. So many ‘tifosi’ at the final slopes meant I didn’t have any real time gaps coming from my earpiece, I couldn’t hear them, but I knew I was putting time on those behind, that we were climbing strong and, with visuals against Nibali, even taking time back on him. The last two ascents – it all really went well. I can only be happy.”

“It was another surprising day to close a Giro with lots of changes, quite different from what fans and people around the race could expect for. Nibali? We knew he was going to be really strong again today, and into the stage, before his attack, we could feel he was going to drop Chaves behind. He truly deserves this final victory. I was stronger than him at some stages, while he beat me at others.”

“Both of us, Chaves too, deserve to be on the podium. I consider myself a good rider, who gives everything for myself, my team, my fans. Stepping onto the Turin podium with my kids tomorrow will be a massive satisfaction.”



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