The queen stage of the Giro d’Italia may have been downsized from 212 to 153 kilometres and two of the three category 1 climbs removed from the course, but stage 16 still reigned supreme as a challenging day for GC contenders.
Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) used the new Cima Coppi climb on the Passo Giau to propel himself to his second stage win of this year’s Giro, giving him a stronger hold on overall lead with a rest day and just five days to go until Milan.
Cold and snowy conditions in the Dolomites caused organisers to remove two of four categorised climbs from the route, including the Passo Pordoi, the highest point of the Giro. Instead, the imposing Passo Giau became the Cima Coppi, its 2236-metre summit covered with low clouds and freezing temperatures. From there, the peloton sped downhill for 17km on wet roads to the finish in Cortina d’Ampezzo.
The maglia rosa covered with a black Ineos Grenadiers team jacket, Bernal heated up the frigid day by launching an attack half-way up the Passo Giau. Near top of the climb, Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) was trying to catch the Colombian, and on the descent was joined by Romain Bardet (Team DSM).
With wet roads, the two didn’t seem to take many chances and could not reach Bernal. Bardet would finish second and Caruso third, the pair crossing the line 26 seconds behind the pink jersey. Caruso moved from third to second overall, at 2:24.
Starting the day in Sacile in second overall was Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange), who fell to fifth after suffering on the Giau. Other GC contenders who lost some time were Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) and Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo), who finish finished fourth and fifth, respectively, on stage 16, losing 1:18 to Bernal. Carthy is now third in the GC hunt, 3:40 back.
The Ciccone-Carthy duo finished alongside João Almeida (Deceuninck-QuickStep), who was given freedom in the breakaway when his teammate Remco Evenepoel lost contact with the peloton on the approach to the Passo Giau and lost 24 minutes. Evenepoel dropped out of the top 10, while Almeida moved to 10th position.
A total of 24 riders formed the main breakaway once the peloton left Sacile and reached the early first-category climb of La Crosetta. From there, several riders separated at the front on the descent which included Vincenzo Nibali and his Trek-Segafredo teammate Ghebreigzabhier, plus Almeida, Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates), Gorka Izagirre (Astana-Premier Tech), and Antonio Pedrero (Movistar).
When the race reached the top of the 10km ascent for Cima Coppi honours, Bernal took control, taking the climbing prize and then descending into Cortina d'Ampezzo for his second stage win.
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