Too many doubts, many disappointments, but finally, the start of the third week of the Giro d’Italia brought the spectacle that had been so withered in the previous fifteen days. This Tuesday, the 16th stage brought a direct duel between the favorites that left two great winners: Joao Almeida and Geraint Thomas. The Portuguese won the stage in Monte Bondone, the most substantial of the ten that now stand out in his record, to become the eighth rider to debut his tally of victories in a Grand Tour on this Corsa Rosa, while the Briton regained the Pink jersey that a few days ago he gave to Bruno Armirail. But what about Primoz Roglic? The Slovenian was not able to follow Almeida and Thomas in the final kilometers and was lucky to have the help of a superb Sepp Kuss, that prevented a debacle for its leader. Eddie Dunbar, the great surprise of this Giro, was the only mortal who rubbed shoulders with the three giants. The race is beautiful.
The drums of war sounded from the beginning of this impressive journey of 203 km and 5,200 meters of accumulated elevation gain. The breakaway, of about 25 runners, was not consolidated until after about 40 km and was attended by several runners who already they knew what it was like to win in this Giro: Aurélien Paret-Peintre and Ben Healy. The Irishman added 44 points between Passo di Santa Barbara and Passo Bordala, which helped him to unseat Davide Bais from the mountain lead. In those, the Jumbo-Visma decided to set the pace in the peloton and control the escape for many minutes, until when they reached the equator of the route it was the Groupama FDJ who started working to stretch the pink gum of Armirail. The difference between the head of the race and the diminished group of favorites was paralyzed in 6 minutes.
On the way to Serrada, the penultimate ascent of the day, a skirmish broke out ahead that was led by two Astana, Pronskiy and Scaroni. Benedetti, in no man’s land, pursued from behind, while Carlos Verona and Jonathan Lastra, the two Spaniards on the run, they were waiting. And then… the Serrada rose. From the first ramps, the Jumbo showed that it had simply taken a breather in the hour before the race. High, sustained pace and the breakaway advantage began to plummet. So what Roglic still had Kuss and Bouwman intact, his chief squires.
The intentions were clear. Roglic wanted everything, stage and leadership. His gregarious made a first selection, leaving the group of favorites in twenty units. The escape, despite the last advance of men like Verona, Haig and Zana, was doomed. At 14 km from the finish line, Dennis moved away and there was an exchange of glances between Ineos and UAE. The Emirates team put one more point and the fairy tale that Armirail was living came to an end with 10 km to go. A kilometer later, the bosses were left head to head in the race. Only Roglic kept Kuss to face Almeida, Thomas and Dunbar. The Portuguese was the first to light the firecrackers and opened a small gap, as if he had a presentiment of what was to come… Thomas accelerated and Roglic was unable to respond, even losing his teammate Kuss’s wheel for a few seconds. Very close to the limit, but Almeida managed to resist the wheel of the Briton to risk the sprint victory with him. There, the Portuguese imposed his top speed to make history. Despite the bad day, and thanks to a lifeguard named Kuss, Roglic saved the furniture to only give up 25 seconds. The Giro, at last, has exploded.
See complete classification
Sierre – Cassano Magnago
Seregno – Bergamo
Sabbio Chiese – Monte Bondone
Pergine Valsugana – Caorle
Oderzo – Val di Zoldo