Giro Stage 16 – Shortened Queen Stage

On a shortened queen stage in freezing rain and wind, Egan Bernal takes time out of his rivals as he wins the stage wearing the Pink jersey, Simon Yates drops down GC after losing time

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Giro Stage 16 – Shortened Queen Stage

Stage 16 of the Giro d’Italia was an epic one in freezing rain and wind that had the organisers shorten the stage, removing two first category climbs and reducing the distance by 60km. The weather also stopped the TV transmitters on the helicopter and plane from flying which meant a lot of Egan Bernal’s victory was only witnessed by those around him the race convoy.

The race began with a big breakaway as the stage started its journey to Cortina d’Ampezzo. The breakaway escaped the Pink jersey GC group on the first climb of the day, the Cat 1 ascent of La Crosetta. The group had many big names such as Nibali, Formolo, Almeida, Dan Martin, Gorka Izagirre and Geoffrey Bouchard. The Frenchman Bouchard lead the way over the top of La Crosetta to consolidate his lead in the KOM standings.

A split in the large breakaway then happened on the descent with a strong group of six going clear, with Nibali bolstered by Eritrean teammate Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier who worked himself into the ground for his team leader, and Izagirre also there alongside Almeida, Formolo and the Spaniard Pedrero.

The smaller breakaway held onto an advantage of five minutes as the rain came pouring down causing a lot of spray being forced into rider’s faces as they raced towards the final Passo Giau climb. For much of the time, it was the Pink jersey’s team who forced the pace which appeared to be very quick but it only got quicker when Hugh Carthy’s team put riders on the front.

The breakaway with Nibali and Almeida etc

Race pictures were starting to break up as it relied on 4G technology but it was soon clear the GC group had slimmed down a lot as Carthy’s British teammate Simon Carr forced the pace to such an effect that Simon Yates was dropped. Meanwhile, Vlasov was distanced as well. Pictures of the race then went but in glimpses of the race, it soon became clear that the breakaway, now split up on the climb, but still holding on to their lead until Bernal went on the rampage and started his solo effort well early on the Passo Giau climb.

The Pink jersey caught all the riders in the breakaway as he was chased by the likes of Izagirre who almost crashed into some vehicles on the decent. Caruso was then leading the chase for Bernal on his own before being caught by Bardet but even as a duo, Bernal was not going to be caught. Carthy meanwhile was part of another small group chasing the leaders. It wasnt until the final kilometre that pictures of what was happening were seen by the World as Bernal came into view, removing his rain jacket to reveal the pink jersey and then raising his hands into the air to celebrate a victory which showed no-one in the race can match him.

There were some big losers on the day, Simon Yates dropping out of the podium places and Remco Evenepoel losing bucket loads of time and his GC challenge well and truly over. Second on the stage was Bardet from Caruso whilst another GC hopeful Ciccone outsprinted Carthy and Almeida who had been in the breakaway. Vlasov came in 7th having lost over two minutes whilst Yates was in 11th at 2.37.

Looking at the overall, the winners were Caruso up one place to second overall, and Hugh Carthy, up two places into third. Vlasov stayed where he was in 4th whilst Simon Yates lost three places and sits in 5th, now 4.20 down on Bernal but less than a minute back on Carthy in third.

Egan Bernal, Pink jersey and Stage winner: “It’s a great victory, you win with the Maglia Rosa, it’s special, so I wanted to show, not everyday you win a stage in the Giro with the Maglia rosa, so I wanted to show it, also for respect to the Maglia. I wanted to so something special. I wanted to show I am back in the game. The team believe in me during the stage and I just tried to go and to do, as I said before, something special. It was hard, of course, but when the race is hard because the weather you need to be hard also mentally, so I had the mentality at the start of the race, it was a day to suffer and we did it. Truly, I’m super happy, to win with this jersey is special. This victory is for all of you.”

Simon Yates: “I would have preferred to have been closer to the front, to the guys who were fighting for the podium, but that’s how it goes. I did my best and I’ll continue to do that in the coming stages and enjoy a well-earned rest day tomorrow. It makes a difference [the cold weather], some riders tolerate it better than others, normally I’m ok and today I was not so cold, but I think just a combination of several factors meant that I was unable to be where I wanted to be. It is was a difficult stage, not what I was looking for, but I did my best. The victory is a bit far away now, but the podium is still well within reach, so we’ll keep the head up, keep the chin up and go from there.”

Romain Bardet: “The guys did a good job to keep me safe in the earlier part of the stage before the last climb,” explained Bardet after the stage. “There, Bernal was once again the strongest. I was behind with Caruso and rode at my own pace until the top of the climb. Then on the downhill I did the most that I could to close the gap and gained back some time there. I think it was a good ride and we can be happy as we move into the third week.”

Damiano Caruso: was excited with his performance and shared his thoughts on the eve of a deserved rest day: “Although the race was shortened, the intensity was high all day long, as we expected. I felt good on the last climb. I was looking at the faces of other contenders, and I could understand at that moment that I was almost the strongest, except for Bernal, of course. I tried to follow the Maglia Rosa but I couldn’t. So I focussed only on my tempo and doing my best until the end. The morale now is high, for sure. I want to say thank you to my teammates because they did a great job also today and to all the staff that helped provide extra clothing during the race, and with such bad weather, it’s something vital. Now, we will enjoy the rest day, and then after tomorrow, we will start again with the last fight.”

Giulio Ciccone: Played a calculated and conservative tactic and as other rivals fell off the demanding pace, he continued to hold firm. “Although the Giro was forced to revise the route, I think the spectacle was not lacking – it was an epic stage,” said Ciccone. “The new profile blew away any tactics we had from yesterday evening and made the day more explosive. The pace was strong from the start, but, of course, Passo Giau made the real difference.”

“EF set an impressive pace, and from there it was a test of endurance, legs and head. I had good feelings all day, and this allowed me to manage my energy smartly. This is the aspect that makes me most satisfied today,” pointed out Ciccone, “I didn’t give in to the instinct to follow whoever was attacking and to accelerate even though I felt good, but I climbed at my own pace. Looking at the overall ranking now, it’s a choice that has paid off.”

João Almeida: “I felt good today despite the rain and cold. I wanted to go for the stage win, that’s why I attacked and joined that move, but the peloton was really strong and rode really hard, as they had other plans today. In the end, it wasn’t a bad day. I did my best and I’m happy to have gained a few places in the general classification. There’s still a long way to Milano and a lot of hard stages left, but we’ll continue to take it day by day and see where that takes us”, a smiling João said after his strong day in the rain.

Remco Evenepoel: He concluded the stage more than 20 minutes down on the winner, but not even this could dampen his morale: “Losing that much time shows that I didn’t have a good stage and I really felt the fatigue in my legs. I said even before that I didn’t have any expectations coming into the race after that lengthy injury and with just two months of training, I don’t think everyone thought I could be in top form for three weeks. At the same time, it’s a learning process that I’m sure will help me in the future. I am happy for Joao, he worked hard for me in the last couple of days and deserves to be in the top 10, so we’re going to help him in the remaining stages to achieve this.”

Davide Formolo : “The stage was really tough. We went out with the intention of going on the attack and aiming for a stage win. Education-First were pushing hard behind so it proved hard to get a big gap. On the final climb I dug very deep to try and distance my rivals but I paid the price for the big effort. It was a very hard stage but we’ll try again soon in the coming days.”

Aleksandr Vlasov: “When I started to take off my jacket, somehow a sleeve touched my wheel, immediately blocking it. I had to stop to solve the problem but fortunately our car was not far behind, so I got help from our mechanic. Well, with support of my teammates I tried to come back to the group, but it did not work out because I was quite far behind. It’s a disappointing moment, but it was how it was, nothing I can do about it. We did our best to the finish line but I still lost time to my rivals. I felt really good today and my teammates did a great job for me, but the luck was not on our side today. However I am not going to give up and I will keep on fighting in the third week”



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