The dust has settled on the Giro d’Italia after a dramatic weekend in the mountains saw Vincenzo Nibali crowned victor for the second time in his career. Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) dropped out of pink on the final mountain stage but still secured his first Grand Tour podium – probably the first of many – while Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) completed a Grand Tour podium hat-trick with his third place.
As it often is, the Giro was full of breathtaking and jaw-dropping moments and Cyclingnews has put together a list of the five best stages of this year’s race. Has your favourite stage been missed off this list? Let us know your best moments of the 2016 Giro in the comments section below.
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Stage 4: Catanzaro - Praia a Mare, 200km
The first stage back on Italian soil, Lampre-Merida put on a lesson in team tactics with their perfectly-delivered performance to set-up Diego Ulissi for the stage win. His teammate Valerio Conti primed the stage, riding away with Ulissi and 13 others on the final climb. Conti’s performance on the ascent was enough to keep the pack at bay and allowed Ulissi the room to attack. It was a close call in the end with only five seconds between the winner and second place.
The battle lines were drawn early in the fight for the pink jersey during this stage. After losing his maglia rosa to Marcel Kittel the day before, Tom Dumoulin stamped his authority in the overall classification with an aggressive ride to take second place. Dumoulin would eventually leave the race with saddle sores but his efforts would give him another four days in pink.
Click here to read the stage 4 report.
Stage 8: Foligno – Arezzo, 186km
As the opening week of the Giro d’Italia neared its conclusion, the general classification fight was set to take an unexpected turn. Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx-QuickStep) made it away in a 13-man group that crucially included his teammate Matteo Trentin - an effort that would be repaid in the final week, Trentin sacrificed himself for Brambilla and pulled the break along until the final climb. Brambilla jumped clear on the Alpe di Poti, eventually winning by more than a minute.
Timing was key as race leader Dumoulin cracked in a big way on the same climb. While most of the contenders kept within two minutes of the Italian, Dumoulin lost a massive 2:51, giving the leader’s jersey to Brambilla.
Click here to read the stage 8 report.
Stage 14: Alpago – Corvara, 210km
The Queen stage to Corvara proved to be a day for the underdogs as Esteban Chaves and Steven Kruijswijk dropped the other main contenders. The first foray into the big mountains was going to be a brutal one with six classified climbs to contend with.
A large break got away early but the main story would be among the general classification riders. Following a move from Vincenzo Nibali on the second category Valparola, Chaves and Kruijswijk went on to drop the Italian. Despite a frantic chase from Nibali, the pair stayed away and eventually caught the break with Chaves storming to the stage victory while Kruijswijk stepped into pink.
Click here to read the stage 14 report.
Stage 19: Pinerolo – Risoul, 162km
Possibly the most dramatic stage of this year’s Giro d’Italia, the penultimate day in the mountains saw the overall classification turned on its head. Steven Kruijswijk had gone into the stage with a clear lead over his rivals but a crash on the descent of the Colle dell’Agnello signalled the end of his ambitions. Esteban Chaves took up the baton from the Dutchman but Nibali’s solo victory put him back into contention with just one more day in the mountains.
Kruijswijk battled on to the finish and was taken straight to hospital where he was diagnosed with a rib fracture, though he was able to continue. The same could not be said for Ilnur Zakarin after he was forced to abandon as a result of a high-speed crash on the Agnello.
Click here to read the stage 19 report.
Stage 20: Guillestre - Sant’Anna di Vinadio, 134km
The stage was set for a showdown on the final day in the mountains with just over a minute separating the top three. At the start of the week, it had looked like Vincenzo Nibali’s Giro d’Italia was over but he now only had 44 seconds to overhaul if he wanted to take the victory. Nibali set his Astana team to work on the penultimate climb of the day, the Colle della Lombarda, shedding most of his rivals.
Maglia rosa Chaves was the last rider to hold onto Nibali’s wheel but even he too was forced to let go. Fellow Colombian Rigoberto Uran tried to lend a hand to Chaves but there was nothing to be done. There was a tense watch for all involved as the gap between Nibali and Chaves grew but, in the end, there was no denying the winner. Nibali was gracious in victory, hugging and congratulating the Chaves family – who had travelled from Colombia for the occasion – after crossing the line.
Click here to read the stage 20 report.