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Giro d'Italia 2015: Stage 16


Hello and welcome to our live coverage from stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia from Pinzolo to Aprica.

After yesterday's rest-day, a well deserved break for the peloton in this year's race - we're back in the saddle for another day in the Dolomites. Arguably the hardest stage in this year's race, we'll take in five peaks with two ascents into Aprica, and one of the Mortirolo. The stage starts with the Camp Carlo Mago, before also tackling the Passo del Tonale. Epic is a word that's often overused so lets get it out of the way as quickly as possible. Epic.

Right now the riders are shuffling around the start area, with the official start in around 30 minutes from now. There are a few nervous faces out there, and the time cut could certainly be a factor with the first climb of the day coming right at the start. Dropped there and it's going to be an incredibly tough day of survival and chasing.

Heading into the stage, this is how things look on GC with Contador still ahead of Aru and Amador.

A lot of folk believe that with Contador in control that the race for pink is over. The Spaniard certainly isn't saying anything of that sort - at least not in public - and with around 1000km to go in this year's race the maglia rosa is still up for grabs. One bad day, one bad climb, and a GC rider  - even Contador - could lose minutes.


As for Aru's he's not 'lost hope', which is nice given that we've still got nearly a week of racing. If you're tuning into live before the start of the race, Fabio, this is for you. There's probably some obvious subtext to that song that I'm missing but it's been a long Grand Tour.

If you  have any more songs for a Fabio Aru playlist please tweet them into us at Cyclingnews.

Back to business and we're around 15 minutes from the official start. Contador and most of the peloton are on the start line and ready for the roll out, with the maglia rosa a picture of concentration at the front. Could be rain later today as well but the first issue of day is the Camp Carlo Magno, a second cat climb that the riders will tackle immediately.

A lot of riders actually warmed up on the rollers this morning at the start, all in preparation for the first climb of the day.

It will be quite interesting to see how Movistar take on the stage. Benat Intxausti has a lead in the KOM competition but Landa is on the prowl and could easily take the jersey by the end of the day. Movistar also have Amador in third and they'll want to protect that from Landa as well. Can they work towards both aims with one tactic?

Through the neutralized zone for the peloton then, 174km ahead of them and five categorized climbs.

1km into the race and it's all together for the peloton.

Onto to the lower slopes of the Campo Carlo Magno and most of the riders have opted not to start with rain jackets, Contador included. The climb rises up to around 12 per cent.

We're just trying to confirm the full list of riders who have not started the day's stage. The biggest casualty is of course Richie Porte, who confirmed that he would leave the race yesterday morning. The Australian picked up a knee and hip injury in a crash and lost over 27 minutes on stage 15. He now returns to his base in Monaco where he must pick himself up and focus on the Tour de France. For our exclusive interview with Porte, click here.

Geschke , Domont , Zardini , Bouet and Berlato have jumped clear on the climb so all eyes on Movistar as to whether they chase. Geschke is a threat in the KOM competition.

That move has come back together and the peloton are upping the pace. Already there are casualties with Viviani among those who have lost contact with the main field.

The rain has started to fall and the attacks are raining down too with Pirazzi and Mihaylov just two of the riders to try their luck. The Viviani group is at 30 seconds.

Contador and Aru are riding close to each other near the front of the race, their respective teams around them as we tackle the first of five climbs today.

Roughly half way up the first climb of the day and the Viviani group have dropped back to 1'30. They'll have to work hard on the wet descent in order to claw back this time.

Around 20 riders have trying to go clear at the moment but their gap is just a few seconds.

Over the top of the climb and it's Carlos Betancur who leads the way, followed by Pellizotti, Intxausti, Zardini and then Hesjedal.

142km remaining from 174km

Groups are forming, splitting and re-forming on the descent but we have confirmation that Sebastian Reichenbach has climbed off and abandoned the race.

The group of seven, that now lead the race, have 35 seconds on the bunch. They include Zardini, Pellizotti, Felline, Bookwalter, De La Cruz, and Fernandez and Niemiec.

Hesjedal is about 20 seconds back on that first group and a few more riders are also trying to bridge over. The peloton at 55 seconds, and the Viviani group another 40 seconds back.

Confirmation of those in the break: Pellizotti, Zardini-Bookwalter, De la cruz, Niemec, Fernandez, Felline-Hesjedal and Mihaylov.

Hesjedal is the best placed rider on GC in that move, 11:17 down on Contador.

The leaders have reached the Passo del Tonale, their gap at 1'20 over the peloton with a couple of riders sandwiched in between.

The rain has at least eased but the peloton are wrapping up on the climb as the cold air creeps in.

128km remaining from 174km

So just confirmation of those riders in the main break. We have  - in order of height - Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale Garmin), Nikolay Mihaylov (CCC Sprandi), Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre Merida), Ruben Fernandez (Movistar), Sander Armée (Lotto Soudal), Franco Pellizotti (Androni Sidermec), Fabio Felline (Trek), David de la Cruz (Etixx QuickStep), Edoardo Zardini (Bardiani CSF) and Brent Bookwalter (BMC).

Simon Clarke is climbing alone. Orica had Chaves in an early move but it didn't work out so Clarke has been sent up the road. The former maglia rosa is 46 seconds down on the leaders.

On the climb it's Tinkoff Saxo who set the pace for Alberto Contador - steady but manageable, nothing too intense as there's still well over 100km of racing to go an three more ascents after this one.

The group containing Viviani and a number of other sprinters is around two minutes down on the main field with Tinkoff Saxo continuing to set the pace for race leader Alberto Contador.

Fernandez is top over the climb and he leads the rest of the break at the start of the descent. The peloton are at 1'38 so the break really aren't establishing anything like the advantage they would have wanted.

Clarke has just gone over the top but he should be able to make contact on the fast, long descent.

Clarke is about to catch the leaders on the descent but the peloton will not ease up, the gap at 1'29.

106km remaining from 174km

The rain is falling once more as Astana line out behind the Tinkoff Saxo train. The break move into the final 99km of racing, their gap at 2'03.

Clarke has a mechanical and has been distanced on the descent by the leaders. The gap is out to 2'20 and that's the largest it's been all day.

Feedzone for the break but they race through without any hesitation or thought of picking up supplies. A couple of riders break rank and take on food as they start the climb to Aprica.

Average gradient of 3 per cent but there are some steep ramps on this third cat climb.

The main field hit the lower slopes of the climb not with Tinkoff pulling on the front.

And already riders are dropped from the peloton, just on ones and twos but the damage is being done by Contador's team. The break meanwhile, spread out all over the road, each man fighting against the gradient in the best way they can.

Contador keeps his rain jacket on but he's lost a couple of teammates. Aru takes a quick peek at his main rival before going back into the pack.

Into the final 80km of the stage and it's heating up out on the road as Tinkoff Saxo set the pace with the gap at a steady 2'00.

The gap is dropping, it's down to 1'43 as we head towards the Mortirolo. The pace is rising in the bunch and they're almost encouraging Astana to take up the pace duties and it's as if Tinkoff aren't worried about Contador becoming isolated later on.

With the gap down to 1'30 Hesjedal has attacked and gone clear of the break.

The Cannondale leader is over 11 minutes down and with 78km to go this a very brave move from the Canadian.

There are about 70 men left in the main field as Hesjedal takes a couple more seconds on the break.

Dry roads, the rain having held off on this part of the course and Hesjedal is motoring along as he moves the gap back out towards two minutes.

Hesjedal has 31 seconds on the break as he climbs towards the crest of Aprica. He takes a quick look over his shoulder before moving out of the saddle.

The Cannondale Garmin rider comes over the line for the first time. He has 74km to go and it will be interesting to see if he can extend his lead on the descent.

And now we're joined once again by former pro Bobby Julich.

Julich: Coming into a stage like this one after a rest day surely made for some nervous riders at the start of the stage. The tempo has been high and the break hasn’t been given much of an advantage, but sure once we hit the Mortirolo the sparks will start to fly.

On the descent and heading towards the Mortirolo and Hesjedal is taking risks as he looks for every second he can. It's Katusha who are setting the pace at the front of the bunch as Hesjedal takes on a quick gel and almost loses his position around a tricky corner.

Another mistake on a corner and Hesjedal has to unclip his left foot in order to stay up.

And there's crash for Rosa. He's up and okay but the roads are still slippy.

Has Contador had a problem because he's just off the back of the bunch. There are splits on the descent and three Katusha men have pushed clear.

Contador is actually in a chase group, behind the main field but he's being paced by his teammates.

Julich: I was on the Mortirolo with CSC in 2005. We started the Gavia and then headed down the valley towards the Mortirolo. I remember pulling on the front with Jens until the first km of the climb and then our day was over. From there to the top, we were able to listen to what was going on above us on the climb with Ivan and Simoni. Sounded like quite a battle!! I remember this being the stage that Ivan dropped Simoni for the stage win after he (apparently) agreed to let Simoni win the stage. Jens and I actually enjoyed the Mortirolo, but of course we weren’t doing anything besides trying to finish the stage.

Julich: Felt a bit like two buddies just out for a ride and is always nice when your hard work is repaid by your leader with a stage win.

There are a number of splits but it's starting to come back together with Contador and his team pulling the peloton back into one larger group. Aru is still clear though with Uran and a number of other riders.

According to the time checks Contador is a minute down on the Aru group and Astana are not letting up.

We have several groups and Contador is around 40 seconds down on the Aru group. We still dont know what caused that split but at one point Contador's team were waiting for him.

No let up from Katusha who are setting a furious pace with around 25 riders. Then we have Aru's group, and then Contador around 30 seconds down.

Hesjedal is on the climb now with 63km to go. Contador is having a real problem trying to close the gap to the Astana group. The race leader is under huge pressure right now.

The Aru group have linked up with the Trofimov group.

The Aru group have 22 seconds on the Contador group.

52km remaining from 174km

And Contador is losing teammates fast. He's down to just Rogers and one other rider. He needs to close that gap before the climb proper begins.

And Astana start to work with Katusha. Hesjedal just has 40 seconds of an advantage left.

Julich: This is not ideal situation for him at the moment, but has to stay calm and use his team to close this gap as quickly as possible.

Contador has pegged the Aru group back to around 20 seconds but that's still 20 seconds too many.

And Hesjedal is caught 3km from the start of the Mortirolo. Astana and Katusha have Contador back at 30 seconds. The Spaniard had a puncture, that's why there has been a gap.

Contador only has Kreuziger left. Is the race leader on the ropes?

The maglia rosa is at 45 seconds with 46km to go. He has one more teammates with him now but this a huge task for Tinkoff to pull this back. There are a few BMC riders in the Contador group. Will they help?

It's up to 50 seconds now and the Mortirolo is fast approaching.

Contador will have to take on this climb almost on his own. Cataldo is setting the pace for Astana and the gap is at 50 seconds. Onto the Mortirolo.

And now Contador takes over. This is a massive moment in the race. It's Contador against Astana and Katusha.

The gap is still 50 seconds and Aru is getting a free ride.

Julich: It is going to take a monumental effort to close this gap at the bottom (!) of the Mortirolo. He has to go full but under control. Astana going full gas on the front and this could be a massive turning point in the race.

And Contador attacks from his group and drop everyone including Uran. Contador is cutting through the groups on the road. The gap at 38 seconds.

Out of the saddle, this is a massive test for Contador and Aru just has Landa left. Are we about to see Contador's finest ever ride?

The gap is at 38 seconds at 9.4 per cent.

It's at 40 seconds as Contador continues to cut through groups.

Julich: If there is one person that could do this sort of effort, it is Alberto but don’t think anyone saw this situation panning out this way. Bike racing is brutal and unforgiving!!

Contador is finding a few friends out on the road who help pace him on the climb. He deserves that to be honest given that he was attacked on a descent when he had a mechanical.

The gap is still holding at 40 seconds.

Up ahead it's Landa, Aru, Trofimov and Kruijswijk.

The gap to Contador keeps jumping between 33 and 45 seconds and Trofimov is starting to suffer.

And Anton is just ahead of Contador. Will he help his fellow Spaniard?

We see Konig now, who has cracked with 42km to go. The Sky rider couldnt live with the Astana pace.

Julich; Landa looks strong, but doesn’t look like Aru is on his best day. I don’t think that anyone expected a TT up this climb, but that is what is it starting to look like now.

Anton is helping Contador, the gap still at 42 seconds with 42 km to go.

All those favours handed out over the years will need to be called in today as Anton helps Contador and the gap drops to 31 seconds.

And Anton and Contador catch another group that includes Amador. Anton may need to stop helping Contador and help his teammate.

And Contador goes again. He moves ahead of Amador, and Geniez. The gap is down to 27 seconds as we hit 18 per cent pitches.

Is Landa about to drop Aru? The white jersey is cracking as we see Contador pass and drop Konig.

And Landa has to slow. Aru is in pain and Kruijswijk is looking good in that trio.

Julich: This is where Alberto has to use his massive experience in GTs and peg this gap back at his own pace. Many riders would be in full panic mode, but don’t sense that with Alberto. Experience counts just as much as legs in these situations!

Aru has drifted to the back of the leading trio and he's really cracking. He's all over the road and that will spur Contador on. And Contador is about to catch Trofimov.

What will Landa do?

Chasing we have Hesjedal, Trofimov and Contador.

The gap though has moved back out to 42 seconds between the pink and white jerseys.

Contador out of the saddle for most of the climb as he takes on some of the most difficult parts of the climb.

And Contador is about to close the gap. 40km to and he's just a few seconds off Landa, Aru and Kruijswijk

And Contador makes the catch. And he attacks. Superb from Contador. He's attacked and Aru has cracked.

Landa responds and will just sit on Contador's wheel. No waiting for Aru.

Trofimov is with Aru but he can't help him.

Julich: Aru suffering could be the saving grace for Alberto here. What will Astana do now since Landa is riding like a motorbike? Alberto is simply….Alberto…AMAZING!

It wasnt a huge attack from Contador but it was enough to drop Aru, but the Italian is coming back slowly on the climb.

Kruijswijk is with Contador and Landa. The Lotto rider has been excellent since the first week.

Aru is starting to struggle even more though and Landa looks around for his leader but he's not there. 5km from the summit but the gap is 17 seconds.

Julich: What started out as advantage Aru, has quickly changed to a massive disadvantage for him. We could be witnessing a change of leadership at Astana. Didn’t see this one coming at this moment of the race.

And now Trofimov attacks Aru. The Italian is in a world of pain and he's not got a teammate with him. Hesjedal is coming over to Aru now.

Steven Kruijswijk (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) is having his best day on a bike though and he's holding Landa and Contador. We've still got 38km to go.

Julich: Aru has to show the same class and poise that Alberto just showed if he wants to survive this stage with his podium aspirations in tact.

37km remaining from 174km

Contador will not attack. He'll want the Lotto rider with him on the descent in order to help put more time into Aru.

Bobby, should Landa have waited? 

And it's Kruijswijk who sets the pace for the leading trio. No time gaps at the moment but Aru is over 30 seconds down as Hesjedal links up with Trofimov.

Kruijswijk still on the front, with Hesjedal and Trofimov at 35 seconds. Aru is at 56 seconds. That's not the end of the world but it's not looking good for the Italian.

Julich: This is not the type of climb where you will gain a big advantage from sitting on a wheel, so it really is mano a mano for all the riders on the climb.

Over a minute now for Aru to make up and he's even losing time to Hesjedal and Trofimov.

Just under 3km to go for the leaders on the climb.

Julich: I am very impressed and years from now we could look back at this moment as one of the most impressive efforts of all time. Hasn’t sunk in quite yet and still a long way to go to the finish, but have a feeling we will be talking about this for a long time.

Aru pulls back a couple of seconds but there's still a huge amount of work to do.

Another few seconds to the leaders, and the gap is back out to 1'05 as Aru takes on a 9 per cent section.

Julich: Great to see Kruijswijk looking so good in the high mountains during the 3rd week of the Giro! Big talent!

Julich: Lets just hope for a nice and safe descent here for all the riders.

Aru is slipping and he could be off out of second place at the end of the day. He's at 1'24. No sign of Amador though.

Closing in on the top of the climb and Contador takes on a gel. There's snow starting to fall as Hesjedal leads Trofimov.

Julich: It is now up to Kruijswijk to make the difference because he is the one that can profit the most from the current situation. The final climb to Aprica will see the gloves come off and expect to see more action from Alberto. I am sure that Alberto isn’t happy about how that gap was initially formed and what better way to respond than to do what he did and WIN the stage!

Now's it 1'46 for Aru. The wheels have really fallen off for the Italian. I think he's been caught by Amador.

Kruijswijk has been doing a fantastic job and has been setting the pace for nearly half the climb. He will lead the trio over the top of the climb.

33km remaining from 174km

Aru's Giro is in tatters at this moment in time. If he had anything left he would have used it by now. The leaders go over the top of the climb.

Contador leads on the descent and Aru is at 1'49 but still not at the top of the Mortirolo.

Julich: I wouldn’t expect Alberto to take any risks on the descent but wants to take it from the front to make sure that he can choose his own line.

Aru is back with Amador on the descent and he's taken a few seconds back on the three leaders. Contador is leading the trio but he's not taking any risks. He doesn't really have to and the rain is falling.

27km remaining from 174km

Trofimov should catch the leaders, he has them at 34 seconds on the descent and he's cutting through the corners perfectly.

Amador and Aru are pulling back time and they have the three leaders at 1'30.

Julich: For me, watching these guys go down descents is the most stressful part of the day!

Aru has taken back around 30 seconds on the descent but we still have the climb to Aprica to come. Into the final 21km of a pulsating stage.

Trofimov is at 34 seconds with 20km to go as Amador leads Aru on the descent a little further back. No time gaps on Hesjedal or Konig for that matter.

Julich: Heading into the final climb, the first part is a bit steep and then it is just a long drag to the line. I think that we could see many of the riders dropped on the Mortirolo gaining back time on this sort of climb unless someone in the front really commits all the way to the line. With the stage win and GC placings up for grabs, I think that we will see a lot of probing attacks.

And Aru has a mechanical. He needs a new bike.

He loses a few seconds and most importantly, Amador's rear wheel.

Julich: Aru just changed bikes, but he made a mistake… He didn’t take his bottle with him and now will have to finish the race with nothing to drink since he is inside 20km to go. Young riders pay attention to these details even under stressful situations.

Aru now 1'48 with the final climb still to come.

Trofimov is losing time too and is now one minute down on the leaders. Hesjedal is now with Amador.

Julich: Refueling properly is very important. Something as simple as a dropped bottle can have major impact on performance.

The climb is about to start, and the gradient is at its toughest near this point. The leading trio have 1'15 on Trofimov, Arus at 1'44.

Landa must try and go for the stage win and try and save Astana's day. Contador will want the stage as he's not taken one yet, and  Kruijswijk will of course want to take the win. No gifts today, that's for certain.

As we see Trofimov joined by Amador and Hesjedal, 12.6km to go.

Kruijswijk is on the front, Contador on his wheel and Landa marking his fellow Spaniard.

Julich: Seeing how Trofimov was descending at the top, I am surprised that he didn’t close the gap to the leaders. Perhaps he overshot one of the turns at the bottom?

And Aru is climbing and he's started to lose time again with the gap moving out to 1'55.

Aru could drop into third by the end of today as Aru tries to close the gap to the Hesjedal group.

Julich: Aru has to settle in and give everything that he has left on this last climb. Time to show the “grinta” that the Italian fans love to see in their riders.

Aru is about twenty seconds down on the Hesjedal group. He cant think about Contador yet and just needs to close the gap to the group just ahead as we see Contador set the pace.

Aru is holding the leaders at 1'48 but there's still 11.3km to go.

Landa drops back to the Astana team car for and has his saddle adjusted. As things stand Aru is keeping second place by around 20 seconds.

Julich: Just realised that before I said that this stage was in 2005, but it was in fact 2006 that Ivan Basso won and dropped Simoni. Quite the war of words between those 2 riders after that. I remember that Ivan took out a photo of his new born son and showed it to the crowd as he crossed the line. Cycling is a brutal sport, but at times this you realise how beautiful it can be as well.

10km remaining from 174km

Julich: This final climb may not be the most difficult on paper, but it just seems to go on forever and at this stage of the race, with the accumulated fatigue setting in, is just as hard any climb they do.

The gaps are holding and no one can really make any inroads at the moment. Aru needs to close that gap on the first chase group though as the road does ease up towards the finish.

Amador is slipping off the podium at this rate with Landa in provisional third place.

The road kicks up once more as Kruijswijk sets the pace for the leaders. Just 6.9km to go.

Contador takes over on the front as he looks to put more and more time into Aru. The Italian is now losing ground on the second group on the road.

Now Contador drifts back behind Landa. Is he about to attack?

Aru is now 40 seconds down on the Amador group.

Up ahead and Kruijswijk opens up a bit of a gap.

Landa closes the gap and Contador follows.

And now Landa attacks with 4km to go and Contador has to chase.

And Landa has a gap on Contador and Kruijswijk.

3.7km to go and Landa is on course to move into second overall.

Landa has the gap and he looks set to take a stage win today. Contador just didnt have the legs to close that gap.

Julich: Very surprised to see Landa attacking so early. This will allow Alberto to take more time on Aru. I think that he would have been the favourite for the stage if he just sat on the wheels, but obviously the leadership at Astana has changed.

Contador and Kruijswijk are sharing the pace but Landa has the gap he needs with 2.3km to go.

Julich: It has to be hard for Aru to hear this information through his earpiece.

Landa has around 15-20 seconds on the two chasers with 2km to go.

Landa has 30 seconds on Contador according to race radio.

But Aru has drifted out to 2'33.

Landa will take second overall from Aru today and he'll take his second stage of the race.

And Contador has a new rival in town.

Julich: Landa has for sure shown that he is the most dangerous to Alberto this final week! To open such a big gap so quick is quite impressive.

Landa takes the stage. His second of the race, Astana's third.

Contador wants second place but Kruijswijk comes over the top and takes second. Contador has to settle for third, around 40 seconds down at the finish.

Here comes  Amador and Trofimov, Hesjedal a little further back. The time gap to them is two minutes.

Here comes Aru, he's giving it everything, right up until the finish line. Aru 2'50 down at the line and Landa is up to second.

Here comes Konig, Betancur, Caruso and Geniez, at 3'21.

1 Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Astana Pro Team 5:02:53
2 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:00:38
3 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo
4 Yury Trofimov (Rus) Team Katusha 0:02:03
5 Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team
6 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team 0:02:10
7 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:02:51
8 Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:03:18
9 Leopold Konig (Cze) Team Sky 0:03:19
10 Carlos Betancur (Col) AG2R La Mondiale

Julich: That was another epic stage. Seems like there is going to be some drama unfolding this last week. Contador put on a classy performance, but Landa made a huge impression on the race.

1 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 65:04:59
2 Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:04:02
3 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:04:52
4 Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team 0:05:48
5 Yury Trofimov (Rus) Team Katusha 0:08:27
6 Leopold Konig (Cze) Team Sky 0:09:21
7 Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:09:52
8 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:11:40
9 Alexandre Geniez (Fra) 0:12:48
10 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team 0:12:49

Bobby can you really see Landa challenging Contador?

What an incredible stage. We've seen Contador on the ropes after Katusha and Astana put the hammer down. The Spaniard fought back and then cracked Aru before Landa claimed a second stage win of the race.

Thanks for joining us today. You can find our complete report, images and full results right here. We'll be back tomorrow with stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia.. Catch you then.

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