Cycling: The Giro d'Italia has had an epic day on Stage 16. Last year, the 139-kilometer day section between Ponte di Legno and the finish in Martelltal had to be canceled due to the weather. The weather was also an influencing factor this year.
Regardless, the queen stage lived up to its name - and the new king is called Nairo Quintana (Movistar). The little Colombian was ahead of the Gavia, the first mountain of the day, still 3:40 minutes behind the previous leader Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), but took him 4:12 minutes to the finish.
The first notable outlier of the day, however, was someone else. The Italian Franco Pellizotti (Androni Giocattoli). Together with Dario Cataldo (Sky) and a few other drivers, he set out in the rain to conquer the Gavia. This succeeded. With a lead of about three minutes, the group then went to the Stelvio, where the Cima Coppi, the highest point of this Giro, was passed. Cataldo, who took the descent under the tires as a soloist, secured the prize.
If the favorites had formed a unit up to this point, Quintana now took his chance and pulled away from Uran in the cold of the Stelvio Pass. On the descent he was followed only by Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp), Pierre Rolland (Europcar) and Matteo Rabottini (Neri Sottoli).
This action was later to cause some trouble. The organizers were responsible for this. Although they allowed motorcycles to drive in front of the drivers with a red flag, they avoided the word neutralization to the sports directors. The interpretations of the situation were fatal afterwards.
Quintana, Hesjedal and Rolland started the nearly 1-kilometer final climb with a lead of 30:25 minutes over the group around Uran. Rabotini quickly lost contact here and Cataldo, after the trio had caught up with him, was also unable to keep up the pace.
While Quintana did most of the work at the front, Hesjedal and Rolland tried bitterly to stay on the back wheel of last year's Tour runner-up. Halfway up the climb, the lead had grown to two minutes. However, as the incline became steeper, Uran's group got more and more into trouble.
Five kilometers before the finish, Rolland finally had to give up. To the finish he lost 1:13 minutes on Quintana in third place. So Hesjedal remained the Colombian's only ally. Up to the last kilometer, both of them continuously took turns in the lead, before Quintana increased the pace again. In the final, he finally gained eight seconds on the impressively strong Giro winner from 2012. However, it was much more important that Uran showed weakness in the last few kilometers. Although he was able to distance Cadel Evans (BMC). When Wilco Keldermann attacked two kilometers from the finish, he had to let go.
The young Dutchman then showed what potential lies dormant in him. He finally crossed the finish line, 3:32 behind Quintana, just ahead of Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2R La Mondiale) and Fabio Aru (Astana). Uran didn't finish forty seconds later.
Nairo Quintana turned the standings upside down with his attack and will start tomorrow's stage 17 as the new leader.
However, despite the impression given by the pictures and the race, the organizers must be allowed to ask whether it is necessary to send athletes over passes in such conditions. Not having a clear view of the road on the descents is downright dangerous. Responsibility is different. It is not surprising that there was confusion about a possible neutralization of parts of the route.
Result – Giro d'Italia
1. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) 4:42:35
2. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin Sharp) 0:00:08
3. Pierre Rolland (Team Europcar) 0:01:13
4. Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) 0:03:32
5. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2R La Mondiale) 0:03:37
6. Fabio Aru (Astana) 0:03:40
7. Rafal Majka (Tinkoff Saxo) 0:04:08
8. Sebastian Henao (Sky) 0:04:11
9. Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) 0:04:11
10.Cadel Evans (BMC) 0:04:48
Appreciation – Giro d'Italia
1. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) 68:11:44
2. Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) 0:01:41
3.Cadel Evans (BMC) 0:03:21
4. Pierre Rolland (Team Europcar) 0:03:26
5. Rafal Majka (Tinkoff Saxo) 0:03:28
6. Fabio Aru (Astana) 0:03:34
7. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2R La Mondiale) 0:03:49
8. Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) 0:04:06
9. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin Sharp) 0:04:16
10. Robert Kiserlovski (Trek) 0:08:02