Stage 16 – Limone sul Garda to Falzes/Pfalzen, 173km
Stage profile: The final week opens with a profile which is uphill virtually all day. A sting in the tail sees a 2.3km section at 8.6% inside the final 5km which includes a short section of pavé for good measure, but this is a day tailor-made for the breakaway artists rather than the GC contenders.
Top three: 1. Jon Izagirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi), 2. Alessandro De Marchi (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela) +0:16, 3. Stef Clement (Rabobank) same time.
Who was in the breakaway?: The day’s successful ten-man breakaway did not form until shortly before half-distance. Finally Alessandro De Marchi (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela), Mathias Frank (BMC), Jon Izagirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Jose Herrada (Movistar), Lars Bak (Lotto-Belisol), Luca Mazzanti (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia), Nikolas Maes (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Stef Clement (Rabobank), Matthias Brandle (NetApp) and Manuele Boaro (Saxo Bank) did escape the clutches of the pack, establishing a decisive advantage of nearly 13 minutes as the remainder of the riders eased off and decided to enjoy their day in the sun.
How the stage was won: The escape group stayed together until the final climb inside the final 5km, at which point the attacks started in earnest. Jose Herrada and Jon Izagirre were the first two to have a go, with Mathias Frank immediately covering on each occasion. Frank himself then put in a big effort which only Izagirre was able to follow, finally snapping the elastic in the group for good. The Basque sat on the Swiss rider’s tail momentarily, then put his foot down coming out of a hairpin bend and eased away, never to be caught. With neither Frank nor Herrada able to bridge the gap, Alessandro De Marchi put everything into catching Izagirre, but never got closer than ten lengths and eventually admitted defeat and slid back to the other two. Izagirre held a 14-second advantage over the summit and easily defended it on the flattish run to the finish. Stef Clement joined the chasers late on, but was unable to prevent De Marchi winning the sprint for second. The peloton arrived nearly nine minutes later.
Quote of the day: Stage winner Izagirre was delighted to have added more glory to his family name:
There’s a long tradition of cycling in my family. My dad did cyclo-cross but wasn’t a professional, while my brother [Gorka] is a professional too. But he’s bigger and stronger than me; I’m more of a climber. This is my second season as a professional but this is my first big win. I think winning a stage in the third week of the Giro d’Italia means I’m a good stage racer, who can recover well.
Odd occurrences: On what turned out to be the forecast classic breakaway stage, the peloton decided they would ease back into things after the rest day by completing the first hour at a far from sedate 49kph. Did someone have a train they needed to catch?
VeloVoices rider of the stage: 23-year old Jon Izagirre (the younger brother of Gorka) had never won a professional race until his time trial victory at the Vuelta a Asturias last month, but here claimed a maiden Grand Tour win with a strong and well-timed attack which left his rivals grasping at thin air.
1. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) 69:22:04
2. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) +0:30
3. Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) +1:22
4. Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) +1:26
5. Roman Kreuziger (Astana) +1:27
Points leader: Mark Cavendish (Sky).
King of the Mountains leader: Matteo Rabottini (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia).
Tomorrow: Stage 17 – Falzes/Pfalzen to Cortina d’Ampezzo, 186km. Four major climbs in the Dolomites: Valparola, Duran, Staulanza and finally the Passo Giau, before an 18km descent into Cortina. The peloton will have exploded long before then, but the final downhill could also see an attack from a daring descender to put the less confident GC riders such as Ivan Basso under pressure. Of the four climbs, the Valparola is the longest at 14.5km, with a long section towards its end averaging around 9%. The Duran and Staulanza are similar in length, but while the former is a relentless grind, the latter has more undulating gradients. Finally, the Passo Giau is 9.85km of unforgiving hell – it never dips below 8%, with several stretches of double-digit agony.
Cycling the Alps‘ interactive videos of the route can be found here.
Link: Official website