The Orica-GreenEdge team currently supporting the Giro d'Italia's second place man in the overall standings, Esteban Chaves, lost one of their ranks after stage 16. Luka Mezgec went home after scans revealed a broken scaphoid, the result of a crash on stage 11.
Sport director Matt White explained how the fracture avoided detection for almost a week.
"We had some initial scans which showed nothing, but with scaphoids it can take a couple of days to develop," said White. "We got him re-checked today because he has been riding with a lot of pain for the last five days and it's been confirmed that he has fractured his right scaphoid."
"The best thing for the team and the best thing for Luka is that he go home and gets operated on quickly and then comes back as soon as possible, there's no need to take any risks here at the Giro d'Italia.
"You've got to admire Luka's spirit and work ethic," White said. "Myself and everyone at ORICA-GreenEDGE wish him a speedy recovery and a swift return to the team."
Sam Bewley was suffering from pain in his hip and underwent x-rays after narrowly avoiding being eliminated by the time cut today. He finished the stage with Carlos Betancur (Movistar) at 18:19, making the cut by 92 seconds.
Chaves gave up 42 seconds to race leader Steven Kruisjwijk, plus six bonus seconds after the Lotto-Jumbo rider finished second. He now trails by 3:00 in the overall, just 23 seconds ahead of stage 16 winner Alejandro Valverde.
Nizzolo keeps red on crazy day
Trek-Segafredo's Giacomo Nizzolo was one of the many riders fighting to make the time cut, but the points classification leader is eyeing a flat stage 17 for the Grand Tour victory that has still eluded him for his whole career.
Finishing a short, intense day of racing was the first step toward the Italian's goal.
"I was nervous for this stage because it was short and I was sure that the big GC riders would go full gas," Nizzolo said. "And this is what happened. It was really fast from the start and the problem for us was the time cut.
"I had a really good team next to me today, and we had to pull really hard in the last climb to stay in the time limit, but now we can enjoy the night and thinking about tomorrow. Sure I am tired, but I think at this point everyone is tired."
Jay Thomson and others go deep to avoid the short time cut
The short stage distance and the high speed on the descent and climbs during stage 16 to Andalo meant several riders had to sprint to the finish to ensure they finished within the time limit.
The official time cut or 'tempo massimo' was calculated at 19:41 based under race rules on the average speed, the stage distance and an index of difficulty.
A big gruppetto formed on the Passo della Mendola at the mid-way point but the riders kept riding hard to ensure they made the cut. Official results confirmed that a big gruppetto finished 17:21 down on stage winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). They were comfortably within the time cut. However other groups finished further back, with Carlos Betancur (Movistar) bringing up the rear and last across the line at 18:19.
He played it cool but Cyclingnews saw Roccaraso winner Giulio Ciccone and a Bardiani-CSF teammate sprint in, desperate to make the cut.
Manuel Belletti (Wilier Triestina-Southeast) suffered a bronchial spasm after the finish due to his huge effort. He was taken to hospital for further checks but is expected to start Wednesday's stage to Cassano d'Adda.
South Africa's Jay Thomson (Dimension Data) also went deep to make sure he made the time cut. He needed several minutes to recover before eventually riding to his hotel.
"That wasn't so easy today. It was a deceptive start as we thought it was a lot flatter than it really was, we were doing 60km/h for the first 45 minutes and then we already hit the bottom of the first climb," Thomson explained.
"Then it was just game on. I think it was Movistar who started the troubles. To be honest I don't really know what went on after that, I was just looking for wheels trying to make sure I just got the finish. It was not an easy day and as you can see, only 43 guys made it to the finish under 17 minutes behind the front guys, the rest being in the gruppetto."
Majka slips a notch behind Zakarin
Tinkoff's overall hopeful Rafal Majka found himself in a chasing group on stage 16, fighting to the finish with second placed overall Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge). Majka lost 50 seconds to stage winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), but more importantly conceded 46 seconds to Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) and therefore dropped from fifth to sixth overall.
"As we expected it was full gas from the start today, with the slight downhill run to the first climb," Sport Director, Tristan Hoffman said. "Then it went straight into the second category climb and the race was on. Rafal was there but just missed the first group when the attacks came towards the top."
After missing the move, Majka spent a long time chasing, ultimately linking up with Chaves. "For 40km he was in the chasing group at between twenty and forty seconds, and it was just 35 seconds at the bottom of the next climb. Chaves kept pulling on the climb and he was able to follow which was good, but he had to set his own pace towards the top."
After starting the day two seconds behind the Russian, Majka is now 44 seconds behind.
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