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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, May 29, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

I don't try to describe the future. I try to prevent it. - Ray Bradbury

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Giro d'Italia stage 16 team reports

We posted the reports from the race organizer and GC leader Richard Carapaz's Movistar Team with the results.

Here's the report from second-place Jan Hirt's Team Astana:

Jan Hirt took a solid second place, while Astana’s leader Miguel Angel Lopez took the while jersey of the best young rider after today’s extreme raining and cold stage 16 with a famous climb Passo del Mortirolo.

Giulio Ciccono an dJan Hirt

Jan Hirt leads Giulio Ciccone to the finish. Sirotti photo

A group of 21 riders went away in the first part of the distance with three Astana Pro Team riders: Davide Villella, Pello Bilbao and Jan Hirt. On the slopes of Mortirolo it was Jan Hirt, who attacked to try to go solo and, finally, only Giulio Ciccone, the leader of the mountain classification, could follow him.

Behind them, Astana’s leader Miguel Angel Lopez launched an attack from the GC contenders group inside the last km to the top of Mortirolo climb. Supported by Pello Bilbao, Lopez tried to escape and to gain some seconds on a very hard and dangerous descent from Mortirolo.

- In a moment, in the end of the descent it looked like Miguel Angel gets a good gap, but we were not sure, how much is the difference between him and the pink jersey group. So, we asked Jan Hirt, who was in the break, to wait a bit until we get the exact information about the time gaps. In case Miguel Angel would have a good gap, we would ask Jan to wait for our leader. But, finally, the pink jersey group could come back after a dangerous descent and we gave Jan a chance to fight for the stage, because the break still had over 4 minutes of advantage, - said Alexandr Shefer, sports director of Astana Pro Team.

Both riders, Jan Hirt and Giulio Ciccone arrived together to the finish line in Ponte di Legno, where in sprint Ciccone took the stage win, while Hirt finished second.

- In the end I was totally frozen and I just did not have power to do the sprint in the final. Today, I gave my best and on Mortirolo I felt quite good. But later, on the descent it was really cold and I suffered of it. Anyway, when our sports directors said me Miguel Angel has a chance to gain some time on his rivals, I was ready to stop and wait for him to help him with all I could. But, in the end, he was still far away behind us, while the chasers closed the gap. So, I tried to fight for the stage. I really did my best, but Ciccone was just stronger today. Congratulations to him, - explained Jan Hirt.

Miguel Angel Lopez did a great race today, firstly with a few attacks on Mortirolo, later with a brave move on the descent and with all that work he did in the pink jersey group, giving his best to increase the advantage on the chasers behind.

- With 1.5 km to go I was just empty. Nothing left in the legs. I was trying to pass it through, but it was not easy. I gave my best today, but in the end I suffered from the cold. Anyway, I could be happy with the way I did this stage and with the way my team helped me. Now, I retook the white jersey and this brings me more motivation ahead of the final hard stages of the Giro. We will continue this Giro day by day, - said Miguel Angel Lopez.

The group of the pink jersey arrived to the finish 1 minute 41 seconds behind Ciccone and Hirt. Miguel Angel Lopez finished 22 seconds later. A few GC contenders lost some time today, thus, the general classification of the Giro d’Italia has got important changes. Richard Carapaz still holds the pink jersey of the overall leader, while Vincenzo Nibali moved up to second position, 1.47 behind. Primož Roglič is third now, with a deficit of 2 minutes 9 seconds. Astana’s Miguel Angel Lopez is now 7th in the GC, 6 minutes 17 seconds behind the leader.

In the classification of the best young rider Lopez has an advantage of 1 minute 34 seconds on Pavel Sivakov.

Stage 17 will be held tomorrow: 181 km from Commezzadura (Val di Sole) to Anterselva (Antholz).

Rafal Majka's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this:

Although the queen stage today did not crest the 2618m high Gavia pass, as was previously planned, the parcours was no less challenging. Due to the continued avalanche risk as well as icy roads, the race organisers designated an alternative route. The new parcours traversed a distance of 194km and approximately 4800 vertical meters. The riders took to the start in Lovere, as originally planned, however then crossed two uncategorised climbs before cresting the 10.6km-long and 5.9 per cent steep ascent up to Cevo.

Following on from that, the peloton rode through Edolo, then turned westwards up to Aprica and from there, descended down into the Adda Valley before heading up to climb the fearsome Mortirolo. Having had already 154 km in the legs, the 11.9km-long and on average 10.9 per cent steep ascent saw many riders struggle. After a steep and sinuous descent, the road gradually went uphill once more for the final 10km until the finish in Ponte di Legno.  A 21-man strong breakaway,  among them BORA - hansgrohe’s Michael Schwarzmann, was able to gain an advantage of more than 5 minutes during the first half of the race.

The main field, lead by Movistar, did not attempt to reel the group of escapees back in a hurry, and the race situation remained unchanged for a long time. On the start of the climb to the Mortirolo, the breakaway was reduced to a small group of riders. while back in the main field Movistar once again made the pace but the advantage of the leaders remained around 5 minutes.  Davide Formolo and Rafal Majka remained at this point in the group of favourites. With 34km to go V. Nibali attacked and some of the favourites had to drop back.  H. Carthy was able to catch up with the Italian rider but the breakaway still had 5 minutes on the chasers. The group around the Maglia Rosa was about 20 seconds behind the chasing duo.

Rafal Majka

Rafal Majka climbs in stage 13. Sirotti phjoto.

Shortly before the top of the mountain, it started to rain making the upcoming descent even more treacherous. At this point the chasing group with the Maglia Rosa and V. Nibali was still four minutes behind the leading duo. Davide and Rafal had to drop back to the main field at this point. The wet roads and poor visibility prevented the chasers from taking risks in the descent of the Mortirolo and the race situation remained unchanged.  With 5km to the finish, the chasing group of V. Nibali and the Maglia Rosa had a gap of less than 3 minutes to the leading duo.  At the end of a terribly difficult day, G. Ciccione won the stage ahead of his breakaway companion J. Hirt. Rafal and Davide crossed the line 4:46 minutes behind the stage winner and the Polish rider dropped to 6th place in the General Classification.

From the finish line:
“I lost time today and I don’t quite know what went wrong, but I had bad legs on the Mortirolo. I hope that it is just one bad day, and there are more stages yet to come. Michael Schwarzmann did a very good job, and Davide Formolo supported me extremely well on the Mortirolo. We tried to make up time in the descent, however we eventually weren’t able to do that successfully. It was a hard day in the saddle, and I think that everyone suffered out there. Now we will have to see how we fare tomorrow.” - Rafal Majka

“The day after the rest day is always critical at a Grand Tour, especially when it is a mountain stage with torrential conditions like we had today. We planned accordingly, however, Rafal had a worse day in the saddle than we would have liked. We had Davide Formolo there to help him, and he was to stay with him to support him, even though we expected that the leading group would have a good chance of making it on today’s stage. In the end, Rafal had a difficult day in the saddle, however, Davide deserves particular mention for the work that he did for his teammate, accompanying him the whole day. We should also mention Michael Schwarzmann, who was able to assist, coming back from the breakaway group. At the end of the day, we lost some time, and Rafal slipped back to 6th position overall. However, we’re assuming that this was only one bad day, and that he’ll bounce back. We’re now looking with confidence to tomorrow’s stage, and then we’ll be able to gauge the situation better.” - Christian Poemer, Sports Director

And here's what GC second-place Vincenzo Nibali's Bahrain-Merida team had to say about the stage:

“We were a great team today – comments SD Alberto Volpi – in a stage that was very difficult as expected. Everyone worked very well, starting with Antonio Nibali and Damiano Caruso who entered in the break to end up with Domenico Pozzovivo who made a great pace on the Mortirolo that put many opponents in trouble. And then Vincenzo did a great race and the result rewards us with his second place in the GC “.

Under intense rain, the Italian Giulio Ciccone won the 16th stage preceding the Czech Jan Hirt with the pink jersey Richard Carapaz and Nibali (4th) arrived with 1:41 gap form the stage winner.

“It had to be the Queen stage of this Giro – explains Vincenzo Nibali – but without Gavia it was the same a very demanding stage conditioned by the bad weather especially from the Mortirolo to the finish in Ponte di Legno. Damiano and I collaborated with Carapaz and Mikel Landa to earn as much as possible on Roglic. Now we have to invent something to try to take the pink jersey but it won’t be easy because Carapaz is proving to be a very solid rider ”.

The new general classification still sees the Ecuadorian rider first followed by our captain at 1:47 and third the Slovenian Primozz Roglic at 2:09. Tomorrow the stage profile is wavy and twisting with two 3rd category climbs before the last 5.5km ascent to Anterselva.

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