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Giro d'Italia 2016: Stage 16

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Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia, a 132km stage from Bressanone to Andalo, featuring some significant climbs. 

 

Hello, have you missed us? We're back after the third and final rest day for full live coverage of stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia. A short one today, but with plenty of climbing - a definite GC day. 

Here's the stage profile

As you can see, just 132 kilometres but there are two big climbs on the menu, along with a short one just shy of the finish. The two biggies are listed as second-category but don’t be fooled; the Passo della Mendolo is turtuously long at 15km (average 6.5%), while the 10km Fai della Paganella has an average of 7.4% with ramps of 15%.

The team buses have pulled up in Bressanone and riders are currently signing on. They'll be rolling out at around 13.30 local time, and racing proper will begin some 10 minutes later. 

After a highly impressive weekend, LottoNL-Jumbo's Steven Kruijswijk leads the Giro, and by a considerable margin. Here's how the general classification stands.

Yesterday we took a look at the GC complexion after two weeks of racing. You can read that feature here:

Here we go then - here comes the roll out.

A couple of tweets there to show the difficulty/importance of this stage, despite its roadbook billing of just 3 out of 5 stars. 

Here's today's start location

A reminder of our jersey wearers today:

It could be a fight to get into the breakaway today and no moves have been allowed to go clear in the opening kilometres. Cunego is sure to be interested in getting involved with the KOM points on offer today.

With Kruijswijk enjoying such a buffer at the top of the standings, you have to expect aggression from Astana, and Movistar too, who both have greater strength in depth in the mountains than LottoNL. It's not what Kruijswijk wants to see, but it's probably what most spectators are hoping for. 

A few riders have skipped off the front, but they're not being given much freedom yet. 

Mirco Maestri, Daniel Oss, Simon Clarke, Eugert Zhupa and Pavel Brutt are among the aggressors, but they're not going to get away here as the pace in the peloton remains high. 

More riders trying their luck now and the peloton is being pulled along by Bardiani. That must mean Maestri missed the latest move. 

102km remaining from 132km

The riders in this escape group are: Mirco Maestri (Bardiani-CSF), Daniel Oss and Joey Rosskopf (BMC), Simon Clarke (Cannondale), Matteo Trentin (Etixx-QuickStep), Olivier Le Gac (FDJ), Pim Ligthart (Lotto Soudal), Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff) and Marco Coledan (Trek-Segafredo).

We've just come through the only intermediate sprint point and it's Coledan who takes maximum points, followed by Trentin and Oss.

This breakaway group has not been allowed to go clear. They still only have around half a minute, and we'll soon be climbing. 

The peloton makes the catch and it's all back together. 

Clarke goes again, but he's soon reeled back in. Lots more small attacks here but still nothing is sticking. 

We're about to start the first climb of the day, the Passo della Mendola. This is what it looks like. 

Movistar take it up on the front as the gradients begin to ramp up. 

It's all together but Dimension Data's Igor Anton puts in the first attack on this climb. 

Riders are already getting shelled out the back of the peloton. After a fast start, this climb is going to take its toll, especially with Movistar and Astana amassed near the front. 

Valverde rides up alongside Nibali and the pair exchange words. Plans being laid for an assault on Kruijswijk's race lead?

54 kilometres covered in the first hour of racing. There was a slight downhill all the way to the foot of this climb, but that's rapid. 

Movistar are absolutely drilling this. They're well and truly piling the pressure on here.

Igor Anton is brought back but goes again. David Lopez now has a dig.

Kruijswijk is already down to one teammate at the head of the peloton. There may be more towards the back but that could be worrying. 

Zakarin attacks!

Zakarin is 6th on GC and is a big danger. How will the others react to this one?

Nibali's Astana teammate Tanel Kangert attacks now and joins Zakarin. 

Gianluca Brambilla goes now, followed by Lopez. Cunego is interested here, and now Amador is up at the front. It's all happening on this climb!

Valverde attacks now!

Ulissi goes with Valverde. There's no gap but it strings out the front of the bunch. 

Lopez joins Zakarin and Kangert at the head of the race. Valverde drops away as Ulissi keeps chasing.

No panic just yet for Kruijswijk, who has two teammates now setting a steady pace on the front of the bunch. This is going to be a real test of his mettle. 

Zakarin drops back to the peloton now. 

Cunego attacks now, as does Visconti, two riders from Tinkoff, and a couple of others. 

Mechanical problem for Nibali, who has to change bikes with a teammate. 

No real worries for Nibali, who makes his way back up through the bunch very quickly indeed. It's another chain/derailleur issue for the Italian - as he had in the time trial on Sunday.

Jungels attacks now and Kruijswijk follows. Zakarin also alive to this. Valverde not far back. Nibali makes it back up in time to react. 

Gazprom's Sergiy Firsanov attacks on his own now as the GC men mark each other. 

Rigoberto Uran attacks now! Is there anyone who hasn't attacked yet?!

Kruijswijk follow, Nibali goes with it too, as does Valverde. 

As the move gets pegged back and they ease up slightly, Jungels comes back up to the group and immediately leaves them behind. 

It looks like Esteban Chaves is there in the bunch not too far back but he hasn't been a prominent presence here in what has been a really hectic start to this stage. 

Jungels gets a big gap and makes his way up to the leaders along with Firsanov. 

More attacks from the bunch now, but this time from breakaway hopefuls, including Riccardo Zoidl and Joe Dombrowski. Kruijswijk happy to watch them go. 

Pozzovivo ups the pace at the front of the bunch and most of those attackers are pegged back before the GC men ease up once more. Nibali has teammates but is right on the wheel of Kruijswijk at the moment. 

Zakarin on the offensive once more as Kruijswijk is having a real job on his hands to try and keep some semblance of control amid this chaos. He's isolated but doing a good job so far. 

Cannondale are up there with plenty of numbers.

Zakarin with a big attack now. Kruijswijk with a really strong response. 

Nibali and Valverde go with this move. There's a gap back to the bunch with Chaves in. 

Poor Damiano Cunego. Every time he thinks it's settled down and it's safe to attack to get up to the break in search of those KOM points, there are more attacks from the GC men and his work is immediately undone. 

Dombrowski bridges to the leaders. Great effort from the young American

Nibali goes!

The Italian comes from behind and catches the others off guard. Kruijswijk forced to chase, Valverde on the wheel of the pink jersey. Nibali has a gap.

The break crest the climb and it's Lopez who takes maximum KOM points, followed by Firsanov.

Nibali is pegged back, but where is Chaves? He seems to be in the main bunch with Majka and Uran. 

We're heading downhill now and this Nibali group is really keen to kick on here. 

The Nibali/Kruijswijk group has caught the leaders on this descent. It's not a very technical one, with long straights and a chance to get into those aero tucks. 

Chaves and Majka are over half a minute behind here. 

Jungels gets out of the saddle on this descent and really turns that biggest gear as he can do so well. He's really pushing on here. 

Nibali is the only man with a teammate in this front group. They've not yet shaken the race leader but with Chaves and Majka distanced, he, Valverde, and Zakarin will be really keen to keep the pace high. 

Orica-GreenEdge lead the chase group for Chaves. He must have been suffering on that climb as he did not respond to any of the attacks. Now he's been forced into a frantic chase and it's not a battle he's winning, as the gap now stands at 40 seconds. 

Kruijswijk gives Valverde a pat on the back - i'm not sure what he said to Spaniard. In any case, this front group is strung out into one long line and everyone seems to be happy to come through and do their turns. 

There's a short little climb coming up at the town of Claes that will break up the downhill. Will it break up the front group?

Chaves has dropped back to the team car to get a bottle. That's not where he needs to be right now.

45km remaining from 132km

Riders are getting shelled out the back of the chase group as Orica put their big men on the front. The gap has come down slightly to below the 30-second mark. 

As the road kicks up again, the chase loses a bit of ground - around 10 seconds. Tangert driving the lead group. 

As can be expected the GC men are keen to sprint for the bonus seconds on offer at the intermediate sprint point at the top of this little climb. Diego Ulissi takes the maximum of three, with Valverde gaining two and Nibali one. 

Chaves has got just one teammate with him. The Colombian is sat second wheel with a string of Cannondale riders behind. They've got Dombrowski up front and maybe their playing for a stage win rather than the overall classification with Uran. 

Dombrowski is getting dropped from this group though and he doesn't look too happy. 

Orica-GreenEdge has peeled off the front and now it is Tinkoff who look to set things up. The gap has been bouncing between 30-40 seconds for some time. 

28km remaining from 132km

Cannondale are now working on the front with Orica-GreenEdge in the wheel. 

Was Dombrowski dropped or was he called back? Cannondale immediately appeared at the front of the chase group, which might suggest the latter, but then the American went straight to the very back of the group. Either way, he wasn't best pleased, and bashed his bars in frustration. 

Kruijswijk now gives Zakarin a pat on the back. Why is he patting everyone on the back?!

Situation

Here we go then, onto the second major climb of the day. This is what it looks like:

Kangert leads the race onto the climb. What a job he has done today. He'll surely be teeing Nibali up for an attack somewhere on this climb.

Formolo appears at the front of the chase group, and there's Chaves just behind him. Pozzovivo, Majka, Uran all present. Can they close this gap?

It's Chaves who takes it up now, Pozzovivo on his wheel, then Majka and Uran. The gap comes down to 15 seconds here. Chaves is closing this. 

Kangert peels off - his work done for the day - and he's soon caught by the Chaves group. 

Lopez digs. That's not a concern for Kruijswijk but it is when Zakarin goes. The pink jersey is quick to react and goes with the Katusha man. No panic from Nibali, who slowly claws his way back.

Kruijswijk is looking unshakeable here. He's been alive to pretty much every attack so far on this stage - and we've had plenty. 

Uran dropped from the Chaves group which now contains just three riders. 20 seconds is the gap.

Valverde attacks now! No surprise to see Kruijswijk right on his wheel. Zakarin bridges across and Nibali once again slowly claws his way back. 

Zakarin counters now. This is going to put Nibali in difficulty.

Nibali is dropped. He pulls over onto Firsanov's wheel but he didn't have a response to that small flurry of attacks. Will that trio push on?

Nibali has his head over his bars, the effort is really taking its toll. Zakarin smells blood and pushes on. 

Nibali is now with Jungels, Lopez and Firsanov. The gap is already 17 seconds. More woe for the Italian in this Giro. 

The Chaves group, still led by the Colombian himself, makes its way up to the Nibali group. 

Valverde comes through to the front now to give Zakarin a bit of a break. The gap continues to grow and it looks like they're all happy to be putting time into Nibali. 

Zakarin, Kruijswijk and Valverde lead the race

Jungels is grinding his way up this climb and Nibali quite frankly looks grateful to be on his wheel. The gap grows out to nearly 40 seconds and we're just a couple of kilometres from the summit of this climb. 

Kruijswijk now comes through for a turn. His closest rivals at the start of the day were Chaves at 2:12 and Nibali at 2:51, and he's distancing them both.

Nibali comes off Jungels' wheel and injects some pace, pegging the leaders back by around 10 seconds. 

Chaves goes now. We're approaching the steeper ramps of this climb towards its summit, and the Colombian ups the pace. He drags the others with him but it eats into the lead of the trio up the road.