Pogacar dominates shortened stage 16 as Martinez moves into second

The start of stage 16 of the Giro d’Italia was delayed and shortened due to inclement weather and rider protests. Originally planned to start at 11:20 in Livigno and include the Umbrailpass, the route was modified to a more manageable 121km, commencing from Lasaa and retaining the final two climbs of the day. The stage eventually began at 14:25 on wet roads.

Despite the grim conditions, attacks started immediately. Early breakaway attempts by Marco Frigo, Juan Pedro López, and Kevin Vermaerke were unsuccessful. However, Julian Alaphilippe, Davide Ballerini, Andrea Piccolo, and Mirco Maestri managed to establish a lead after nearly 30km of downhill racing. Movistar took control of the peloton, keeping the breakaway in check, with the gap never exceeding two minutes.

As the race approached the climbs, Ballerini led the intermediate sprint at Bolzano. On the first climb, Passo Pinei, Alaphilippe distanced Maestri, taking the lead solo with over 30km to go. Ballerini and Maestri were joined by Filippo Fiorelli and Andrea Pietrobon from the peloton, but Alaphilippe maintained his lead, winning the sprints at Fié allo Sciliar and Siusi allo Sciliar.

Movistar’s chase and the final climb

Movistar’s Pelayo Sánchez attacked from the peloton at the 20km mark but was soon reeled back by his team. Movistar continued to reduce the gap, with Romain Bardet notably losing ground from the peloton. Alaphilippe crested the Pinei, but the chasers closed in, and the peloton, led by UAE Team Emirates, was just 40 seconds behind.

On the final climb to Santa Cristina Val Gardena, Alaphilippe’s lead dwindled. The steep gradients saw Pellizzari, Costiou, and Scaroni lead the chase. Eventually, Tadej Pogacar attacked from the peloton, passing the chasers and overtaking Pellizzari with 700 metres to go to secure the stage win.

Pogacar’s victory extended his overall lead to over seven minutes. At the finish, he celebrated by counting his stage wins on his fingers. Pellizzari finished second, with Martinez third, who moved into second overall.

Rider quotes

Pogacar’s teammate, Rafał Majka, revealed their unplanned win: “Tadej wanted that I go for the stage but actually I pulled already before, then I was a little bit tired, so I said ‘Go on man, win another stage’ so chapeau. But really today we didn’t want to go for the stage but when it is other teams pulling and we are still there with guys, then why not?”

Ben O’Connor criticised the organisation: “I’d like to see him (race director Mauro Vegni) in our position, go outside on the bike and do the start of the stage and see what his answer is after those couple of hours. It’s probably one of the worst organised races I think and I’m just being honest. This would never happen in 99% of other situations.”

Team DSM-Firmenich PostNL’s Romain Bardet faced challenges on the climbs but was supported by teammates Vermaerke and Leemreize, managing to limit his losses. Coach Matt Winston noted, “It was a really fast day of racing with the flatter start. We looked for the break but then it became clear that some teams wanted to keep it close for a GC day. The guys bubbled up well in the bunch as we headed to the climbs in the finale. Unfortunately, Romain had a bad moment on the Passo Pinei but the guys rallied around him really well. They showed some great teamwork, kept calm, and brought him back just before the steep part of the last climb. From there, Romain just pushed all the way to finish to limit the losses, which he did well in comparison to some of the other guys around him on GC.”

Unfortunately, Julius van den Berg had to abandon the race mid-stage due to illness. Team physician Laurens Kappelle explained, “Julius started to develop signs of a cold over the weekend, and he dug deep to finish on Sunday. We did further checks throughout the past days and he was medically safe to start the stage but we continued to closely monitor him throughout the day. Unfortunately, it became too much and Julius had to step off the bike. He will now take the needed time to rest and recover at home.”

Wednesday’s stage 17 promises another challenging route with constant climbing and descending on the 159-kilometre route from Selva di Val Gardena, ending with a climb to the finish on the Passo Brocon.

2024 Giro d’Italia Stage 16 result

Results powered by FirstCycling.com

Main photo credit: LaPresse

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