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As it happened: Almeida wins Giro d'Italia stage 16, Thomas regains pink


Hello and welcome to our live coverage of stage 16 of the 2023 Giro d'Italia!

Racing is set to get underway shortly, at 1105 local time, on the first key stage of the final week of the 2023 Giro.

You can read our full preview of the stage, courtesy of my colleague Barry Ryan, and exactly why it's so important here: High stakes, tight margins – Can Monte Bondone break Giro d'Italia deadlock? Stage 16 preview

The big news from the Giro's second rest day was Mark Cavendish's announcement he'll be retiring at the end of the season. Stephen Farrand has an in-depth piece on Cavendish and the implications of that news for what are now set to b the final months of his career here: It’s not forever – Mark Cavendish and a last dance we should savour

There are set to be at least three DNSs in an already seriously depleted Giro d'Italia peloton this morning:

Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier (Trek-Segafredo)
Simon Clarke (Israel-Premier Tech)
Davide Ballerini (Soudal-QuickStep)

Ghebreigzabhier has quit because of the after-effects of a crash, Clarke has been fighting illness for a couple of days and Ballerini is also sick. This brings the total of abandons in this year's Giro so far to 47.

And in the final minutes before stage 16 gets underway, here's a reminder of our race leaders:
Overall leader: Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ)

Points: Jonathan Milan (Bahrain Victorious)

With 5,852 metres of vertical climbing, the most of any of the 2023 Giro's 21 stages, there's only one way to describe today's 203 kilometre mountainous trek: very hard. The full list of climbs is as follows:

Km 76.8: Passo di Santa Barbara (Cat. 1: 12.7km at 8.3%)
Km 84.2: Passo Bordala (Cat. 3: 4.5km at 6.7%)
Km 116.4: Matassone (Cat 2: 11.3km at 5.5%)
Km 153.5:  Serrada (Cat 2: 17.7km at 5.5%)
Km 203: Monte Bondone (Cat 1: 21.4km at 6.7%)

And stage 16 of the 2023 Giro d'Italia has started.

Stop the presses: for a second straight stage, it's not raining today in the 2023 Giro d'Italia, one of the most waterlogged in recent history. Though there's always another six hours for that to change...

And we have our first break: Kristian Sbaragli (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Davide Gabburo (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè) and Christian Scaroni (Astana Qazaqstan). The gap is only 15 seconds, mind, and Trek-Segafredo and Israel-Premier Tech in particular seem determined to bring the trio of Italians back.

Crash for Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma), Laurens De Plus (Ineos Grenadiers) and Lorenzo Fortunato (Eolo-Kometa) at the back of the peloton. All three well-known as climbers, and who are expected to play a big role in a mountains stage like today's.

De Plus and Kuss making the way back to the peloton through the team cars. Neither appear to be seriously affected by that crash.

185 kilometres to go

Here's a photo of Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) prior to the start of stage 16. He's one of the several GC contenders who could well have a big say in the outcome of today's ultra-difficult high mountains trek.

The bunch has split in the fast start and the maglia rosa, Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ) is part of a big second group of riders who've been caught behind. 

The gap between the main peloton and the second group, the latter containing about 50 riders, is roughly 25 seconds as they speed alongside Lake Garda.

The two big groups, which saw riders like Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers), Kuss (Jumbo-Visma), Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Easy Post) and Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) caught behind, have come back together.

Meanwhile at the front end of the now re-formed peloton, one attack after another is going off the front, the latest including Mark Cavendish (Astana Qazaqstan) and Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates). But as yet none have stuck.

Another group of 17 riders goes clear, reportedly including EF racer Ben Healy, two Ineos Grenadiers riders, Filippo Zana (Jayco-AIUIa), Derek Gee (Israel-Premier Tech),  Jonathan Milan and Jasha Sutterlin (Bahrain Victorious), Tom Skujins (Trek-Segafredo) and Valentin Paret-Peintre (AG2R-Citroen). Exact info is tricky to come by, though, given the race is heading through numerous tunnels as it winds alongside the shores of Lake Garda and radio coverage ranges from poor to non-existent.

158 kilometres to go

The 17 have a gap of 41 seconds on a chasing group of nine riders, but with the radio coverage being so poor, there's no indication yet of the gap on the main peloton.

Here's the names of the 17 riders ahead:

Aurélien and Valentin Paret-Peintre (AG2R-Citroën)
Jack Haig and Jonathan Milan (Bahrain Victorious)
Jonathan Lastra (Cofidis)
Ben Healy (EF Education-EasyPost)
Marin Marcellusi and Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani)
Salvatore Puccio and Ben Swift (Ineos Grenadiers)
Derek Gee (Israel-Premier Tech)
Carlos Verona (Movistar)
Michael Hepburn and Filippo Zana (Jayco-AIUIa)
Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo)
Diego Ulissi (UAE-Team Emirates)
Christian Scaroni (Astana Qazaqstan)

Meanwhile there's a counter-attacking group of nine riders trying to get across to the 17 ahead and the peloton is sitting up.

The nine counter-attackers are closing in on the 17 so pretty soon there'll be a front group of 26.

140 kilometres to go

The climbs are fast approaching, mind, and this massive breakaway group could well disintegrate shortly. Jumbo-Visma and Groupama-FDJ are also chasing.

First up is Passo di Santa Barbara (Cat. 1: 12.7km at 8.3%).

It's not just dry today, it's warm: reports of 28 degrees in the valleys and 24 degrees atop of the Bondone.

Onto the Santa Barbara climb now, and Vadim Pronskiy (Astana-Qazaqstan) makes a move from the break.

A profile courtesy of RCS of the current climb

And here's a panoramic picture of the peloton early on stage 16 and the mountains beyond. Nice day/place for a bike ride.

Pronskiy has been brought back by the way by the way and the break remains loosely together with about four kilometres to go on the climb. Jumbo-Visma keep a watching brief on the front of the peloton, but with 134 kilometres to go, nobody's going mad yet.

132 kilometres to go

No major changes as yet on the first category Santa Barbara. Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) keeps things going steady at the front of the bunch, Nicolas Dalla Valle (Corratec) pulling on the front of the break. About two kilometres to go to the top.

Ben Healy (EF Education-Easy Post) leads over the top of the Santa Barbara and moves into the virtual lead of the mountains classification.

There's a very short descent off the Passo di Santa Barbara and then it's onto the Passo Bordala. (Cat. 3: 4.5km at 6.7%)

Derek Gee (Israel-Premier Tech), in the break of the day for the umpteenth time today, has a mechanical. 

Healy is just four points ahead of current KoM leader Davide Bais, incidentally, on the provisional overall ranking for that classification after taking top points on the Santa Barbara, but will surely be on the hunt for more points on this next third cat. climb, the Passo Bordala.

Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ), working for race leader Bruno Armirail, is sharing policing duties on the front of the peloton with Affini. Just under three minutes the gap on the lower slopes of the Bordala.

Healy claims second at the summit of the Bordala behind Davide Gabburo, strengthening his provisional overall lead in the mountains ranking.

Reports of brief rain showers early on this sgae, but it's basically sunny out there. Certainly nothing like the weather from the first ever ascent of the Bondone back in 1956, when Charly Gaul battled through a terrible snowstorm to take the race lead en route to overall victory.
Coming at the end of a 242 kilometre stage from Merano to Monte Bondone, no less than 46 riders abandoned in the freezing weather, including Gaul's great rival Federico Martín Bahamontes, who had to make his way through snow and freezing fog to the nearest farmhouse to seek shelter. "It was impossible to race. There had been landslides and stones as big as a cupboard were all over the road,” Bahamontes recalled to me once.
According to Bahamontes, his frostbite was so bad he couldn't use his hands for a month and the exit of Nino de Filippis, the provisional leader, was one of the most memorable: with his fingers glued around the handlebars with cold, and having ridden himself to a standstill, he and his bike simply keeled over in unison.
Gaul was so cold, his clothes had to be cut from him at the finish, but gained a seven-minute advantage on his nearest pursuer, Alessandro Fantini.  "Charly has the skin of a hippo," remarked his director, Raphaele Geminiani.  Gaul’s epic ride also brought him the record for overturning the largest overall disadvantage in the Giro to take the leader’s jersey. It is a feat that, more than half a century on, no one has matched.

Mechanical for Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious) in the break

On a short section of flat and through the first hot spot sprint at Rovereto and then the race is onto the third climb of the day: the Matassone (Cat 2: 11.3km at 5.5%)

While Haig latches back onto the lead break, no surprises as Jonathan Milan (Bahrain Victorious), the winner of stage 2 in this year's Giro and in the points competition lead since then, picks up top points in the intermediate sprint at Rovereto.

A nice shot of Salvatore Puccio (Ineos Grenadiers), currently in today's break, on a descent during the stage.

Onto the the Matassone, and Milan, having picked up his points, sits up. Job done.

Riders are beginning to get shed from the break on the Mattasone. Dalla Valle, who lost time on the Santa Barbara, the first climb of the day, has been swept up and Milan has eased up.

Meanwhile nine kilometres from the summit of the Matassone  Pronskiy and Scaroni, the two Astana Qazaqstan riders, have gone off the front. Nobody follows.

Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) is in difficulties on the Mattasone. He's a key player for Ineos Grenadiers, so that's likely a blow to their strategy for today.

The break had never really worked too well together, being so big, and it's now beginning to fall apart. The two Astana Qazaqstan riders, Pronskiy and Scaroni, are still in the lead on the Mattasone climb, but Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè are none too happy about that, they are pulling hard and riders are getting squeezed out the back.

89 kilometres to go

Meanwhile we're getting reports through that it's starting to rain at the finish, no wind and 18 degrees.

Milan has been caught by the main group.

Pronskiy leads Scaroni over the summit of the Mattasone. 

Healy comes across the line at the summit of Mattasone in fourth to pick up some more points in the ranking and extend his provisional lead a bit more. The break  is timed at 1:44 on the two stage leaders as it passes the summit, the bunch at 5:14.

It's now raining on the descent of the Mattasone as well.

The bunch heads over the summit of Mattasone, where it's still dry, so it looks as if the rain is very localized.

There's a counter-attack from the early break finally going clear on one of the short uphill segments that intersperse the descent off the Mattasone. Martin Marcellusi (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè) is about 30 seconds ahead of the remnants of the move.

Flat for Pronskiy. He gets a quick change and then speeds off in search of his teammate and stage leader Scaroni.

Scaroni has sat up and waited for Pronskiy, while lone counter-attacker Martin Marcellusi (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè) is back with the break.

A dramatic shot of the peloton as it wends its way through the mountains of stage 16

The rain eases off, and Scaroni and Pronskiy make the most of a fast descent to try and keep their gap open. Meantime, another counter-attacker, Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Hansgrohe) has now gone clear of the remnants of the break, is trailing the Astana duo by just over two minutes, and has a 25 second margin to his benefit.

65 kilometres to

The race moves onto the second last climb, the cat 2 Serrada and Jumbo-Visma begin to pile on the pressure in the main group. Sprinters and allrounders are getting shed out the back in droves.

Sam Oomen is now on the front of the long line of Jumbo-Visma workers, with race leader Armirail in the middle of the yellow-black string and Primoz Roglic about a dozen riders back.

The cat 2 Serrada isn't particularly steep overall, but it's seriously long: 17.7km at 5.5%.

61 kilometres to go

Jumbo-Visma's work on the Serrada has squeezed the lead group to just 30 riders

The Paret-Peintre brothers, Aurelien and Valentin, are doing much of the hard work in the counter-attack as the gap on the Astana riders ahead drops to under a minute.

45 kilometres to go

45 kilometres to go

After the two Astana stage leaders were caught, Ben Healy picked up second place at the summit of the Serrada to boost his provisional lead in the mountains classification.

Still a big group leading the stage today, with both Paret-Peintre brothers, Aurelièn and Valentin (AG2R-Citroöen), Ben Healy (EF Education-Easy Post), Ben Swift (Ineos Grenadiers), Carlos Verona (Movistar), Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious), Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe), Jonathan Lastra (Cofidis), Christian Scaroni and Vadim Pronskiy (both Astana Qazaqstan), Derek Gee (Israel-Premier Tech) and Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates)  with 4:30 on the bunch.

The race is into the valley and the break is fast approaching the final ascent of the day, the Monte Bondone: 21.4km at 6.7%.

Worth noting that of the Giro GC, none of the top 12 have won a stage yet this year. Could today be the first time one of them hits the jackpot?

Jumbo-Visma are present in numbers in the front of the peloton, with six riders in the bunch of around 40 at the foot of the Bondone.

Here's a profile of what's to come.

Here's a picture of the Jumbo-Visma team in action 

21 kilometres to go

Giro leader Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ) is still in the bunch He's got a 1:08 advantage over closest pursuer Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers).

An early attack by Carlos Movistar (Movistar) and Filippo Zana (Jayco-AIUIa) goes clear of the break.

19 kilometres to go

Michel Hessman and Rohan Dennis lead the Jumbo-Visma string. Roglic lurking in the middle of the peloton. For now.

Now Dennis takes over. He was instrumental in the 2020 Giro for overall winner and former teammate Tao Geoghegan Hart on the climbs and now he's back in action in the mountains again.

Armirail is doing a great job for now defending his jersey, sitting in second spot.

Verona and Zana have been joined by Haig, Aurelien Paret-Peintre, Konrad and Pronskiy. And Ben Swift is coming up fast.

17 kilometres to go

No sign of any of the big names getting dropped yet, but we've got more than three quarters of the climb still left.

Healy is caught by the peloton, where Rohan Dennis is still piling on the pressure at the front.

Just two dozen riders now in the peloton, and Dennis' teammate Koen Bouwman, a former double Giro stage winner and 2022 KoM in the race, is dropped. 

The break is now down to eight riders: Aurélien Paret-Peintre, Pronskiy, Haig, Konrad, Swift, Verona, Zana, Ulissi.

The maglia rosa is sliding back through the group but still not cracked.

With the gap on the break down to 94 seconds on the eight ahead, Dennis sits up, his job done for the day. What happens now?

After a brief moment of hesitation, UAE Team Emirates take over with former Giro stage winner Davide Formolo. He was in a break early in the day, and he's back in the action again now.

Armirail is struggling. Metre by metre, the Frenchman's grip on the pink jersey is slowly being loosened.

UAE are in a majority in what remains of the peloton, with four riders including leader Joao Almeida. Of the top GC contenders, Jumbo-Visma have two including Roglic and Ineos Grenadiers three with Thomas.

After what looked like a mini-crisis, Armirail is not giving up with a struggle. He's worked his way back to the middle of the peloton.

10 kilometres to go

Armirail was sliding in and out of the peloton and now appears to be suffering another crisis. Will he manage to hold on to the jersey going at his own pace or crack? Watch this space.

Jay Vine takes over from Formolo for UAE. Less than 30 seconds for the break.

In less than a kilometre Armirail has lost 30 seconds, and now Groupama-FDJ teammate Thibaut Pinot is starting to struggle.

Carthy is also dropped, in a big blow for EF Education-Easy Post's GC hopes.

The break is caught and UAE's dramatic acceleration with Jay Vine squeezes out former Giro leader Andreas Leknessund (DSM). 

Thomas sweeps to the front, accelerating steadily, and there are just half a dozen riders in the front group: Zana, Kuss, Roglic, Thomas, Dunbar and Almeida.

Dunbar and Roglic are the only two GC riders with teammates here - Zana for the Irishman, Kuss for the Slovenian.

Seven kilometres to go

Almeida puts in a steady acceleration, and now Italian National Champion Zana is dropped. 

Almeida eases back after a long pull, and there's a lot of hesitation in the group. Then he attacks again.

Kuss sets down a steady pace to stop Almeida opening up too much of a gap. Behind him, Dunbar, then Thomas and Roglic bringing up the rear.

Five kilometres to go

Thomas makes a move and bridges across to Almeida. At the same time Dunbar falls behind. Is Roglic in trouble?

Now we've got Thomas with Almeida at the front of the race, Kuss is working for Roglic around 100 metres back, and Dunbar is coming back up to the Jumbo-Visma duo. Thomas could be on the point of taking pink here.

Roglic and Kuss are already around 15 seconds back, but Roglic doesn't look to be cracking badly, yet. 

Thomas is driving hard ahead of Almeida, who is fighting to stay on the Welshman's wheel. 

Wow. The gap between Thomas/Almeida and Kuss/Roglic/Dunbar is now opening up a lot faster and the two ahead are out of sight on a long straightaway near the summit.

As the rain teems down, Thomas is giving it everything, Kuss is keeping Roglic in contention, but only just: the gap is now up to around 30 seconds.

Into the last two kilometres where the slope notably eases, but Thomas drives on. He gifted the pink jersey to Armirail three days ago, but now he's getting it back with a vengeance.

Last kilometre and Almeida finally comes through to take a turn.

Kuss is still working hard for Roglic but at 30 seconds back, the stage win is between the two ahead.

Thomas and Almeida sprint for the finish

Almeida gets the stage, Thomas takes back the maglia rosa.

Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) wins stage 16 of the 2023 Giro d’Italia, from Sabbio Chiese to Monte Bondone, Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) is back in the lead.

Roglic is third on the stage at 25 seconds. His GC options have been dented, but he's not out of the fight yet.

The day's winner, Joao Almeida,  on stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia

An excellent ride for Eddie Dunbar (Jayco-AIUIa), fourth, just behind Roglic at 25 seconds, with Kuss over a minute.

A quick reaction from Eddie Dunbar: "I'm still off the top guys, G and Almeida, but it's a positive day. This is all I've ever wanted to have an opportunity at a race like this, and thankfully Jayco-AIUIa believed in me and we worked hard in the last six months. So I'm just thankful for the opportunity."

A quick look at the new GC here:
Thomas leads by 18 seconds over Almeida, with Roglic dropping to third at 29 seconds. Then there's a notable gap to Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious), at 2:50, while Dunbar is at 3:03.

Lots of big questions to resolve after this, with Thomas proving that as the Giro moves into the third week, he's more than capable of winning the Giro, while Almeida now looks like the biggest threat. Yet Roglic cannot be ruled out, either and let's not forget there are three really tough mountain stages yet to come.

Some words from Joao Almeida, stage 16 winner at the Giro d'Italia.

"I'm super-happy, it's a dream come true, after four years [at the Giro] I was always so far and so close at the same time. Finally I got it so yeah I'm super, super happy."
"My team was amazing, they did a really good job like always. I tried to give it a go  at the end it was a super hard day, always up and down, for the legs it was super hard. I would say the hardest so far and I was feeling good, I took the risk to go for it, if you don't try you never know. I tried and I achieved it, I'm so happy, so I'm so thankful to the team, to my family, to my girlfriend, everyone that supports me and believes in me, it's really very special for me."
You're already in the white jersey so will you fight for the pink, now?
"Like I said I'll always try to go for more, if I feel good I'll attack, if I don't attack maybe it's because I'm not so good. But I'll always fight it til the end to give it everything I have."

And here's a first reaction from Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers), back in the pink jersey:
"Yeah it would have been nice to win the stage, but it was one of them where I had to keep riding. I didn't want to play cat and mouse with Joao with Roglic behind, so we worked well together, and he led it out and got the jump on me and unfortunately he won the sprint. But it's nice to be back in pink and to gain some time, but obviously it's not great to lose a teammate [Pavel Sivakov]."
As whether Almeida had taken him aback and if he was going better than he expected, Thomas denied this. "He was always one of the biggest rivals I've got, he's often shown how strong he is, his team too, so no surprise."

Here's a photo of Joao Almeida winning the stage. He's led the race before for a hefty spell back in 2020, has never finished outside the top six overall barring one DNF last year with COVID-19, but this is his first Grand Tour stage victory. And it was certainly a memorable one.

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Here's a link to our full report on the race, complete with gallery, results and comments. Analysis and further news reports will be coming through the evening from our colleagues on the ground.
Giro d'Italia: Almeida outduels Thomas on stage 16 atop Monte Bondone

On a day of major upheaval in the GC, the first of this year's race, there's also been a quiet revolution in the mountains ranking as Ben Healy (EF Education-EasyPost) claims the top spot. All this at 22, after winning a Giro stage earlier this race, getting second in another, and in his first Grand Tour.

The points jersey remains in the hands of Jonathan Milan (Bahrain Victorious) and he added a few more to his current total on stage 16 after winning the first intermediate sprint of the day at Rovereto.

Wednesday's stage of the 2023 Giro d'Italia is a very different kettle of fish to Tuesday's assault of the Monte Bondone, as the race returns to the flatlands of northern Italy for a 197 kilometre trek from Pergine Valsugana to Caorle.There are no classified climbs and it's almost all downhill. Cue one bunch sprint, most likely.

And here's an image of Geraint Thomas back in the pink jersey again. The race looks increasingly to be a three-way battle between Thomas, Almeida and Roglic, but it's far from over. And don't forget this is the Giro: anything can happen and it usually does.

That wraps it up for today for live coverage of the Giro d'Italia. But there will be more news and analysis on the Cyclingnews site as the evening goes on, and we'll be back with more live coverage on Wednesday. 

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