Stage 16: Valloire to Ivrea, 238km
Benat Intxausti (Movistar) won a three-man sprint ahead of Tanel Kangert (Astana) and Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida). The threesome went clear of the maglia rosa group in the final kilometres with Intxausti winning Movistar’s second consecutive stage and third overall.
Once the remnants of the day’s 22-man break had been swept up 19km from the finish on the last climb of the day, Carlos Betancur (Ag2r La Mondiale) was the first to launch an attack. As he swept over the summit and down the technical descent he was swiftly followed by Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi). While they initially gapped the leading group, one by one riders fought their way back with race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) leading the charge, leaving a group of 14 to contest the finish.
Lampre’s Niemiec and Michele Scarponi, who’d gotten back into the leading group, were looking to profit from the misfortune of fourth-placed Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia), at this point over two minutes back having been dropped on the climb. On the flat run-in to the line, riders successively pinged off the front of the leading group only to be chased down and brought back into the fold until the winning trio went clear with just over a kilometre remaining, along with Robert Gesink (Blanco), whose luck immediately ran out with a mechanical. The threesome started playing cat-and-mouse but, with the leading riders quickly bearing down on them, the Pole Niemiec launched his attack from way out only to be easily overhauled by the Basque rider.
Overall race leader Nibali finished safely in the chasing group some 14 seconds back to retain the maglia rosa with only five days of racing left.
VeloVoices rider of the day
It’s got to be stage winner 27-year old Movie-starlet Benat Intxausti, who today recorded the most important victory of his career which he dedicated to late teammate Xavier Tondo, who died in front of him in a domestic accident almost two years ago.
The truth is that we have three stage wins, were second in the team time trial and had a day in the pink jersey. As a team, we couldn’t ask for more.
In our birthday tribute to Intxausti we said that the final year of his three-year contract with Movistar would be make or break for him and, having already donned the maglia rosa on stage seven, it was great to see him take an individual maiden victory in a Grand Tour. He also leapfrogged Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r) into ninth place.
Opinion & analysis
The stage after a rest day can sometimes produce unexpected results. Cast your minds back to the race defining stage 17 in last year’s Vuelta a Espana when Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) attacked on a relatively benign stage to take control of the leader’s jersey. Today, no one looked as if they were going to challenge the race lead. Instead it was all about preserving small advantages and profiting, where possible, from the misfortunes of a few. However, if anyone is thinking of challenging the status quo, they are rapidly running out of road.
There was merely a shuffling of the pack today with the hot pink boys from Lampre-Merida moving up the leaderboard ahead of Glowstick Mauro Santambrogio, who dropped to sixth. Intxausti moved up one place into ninth and, further down, Estonian Tanel Kangert (Astana) and Robert Kiserlovski (RadioShack-Leopard) traded places while Samuel Sanchez‘s attacking riding saw him move up two places into 15th.
In the battle for the maglia rossa, Cadel Evans (BMC) is now only six points behind birthday boy Mark Cavendish (OPQS). It would be so cruel if Cavendish were to lose it once again by the odd point. Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox) picked up sufficient points today to consolidate his lead in the mountains competition while Carlos Betancur still leads the best young rider competition by five seconds from Rafael Majka (Saxo-Tinkoff).
Stage 16 result
1. Benat Intxausti (Movistar) 5:52:48
2. Tanel Kangert (Astana) same time
3. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida) s/t
4. Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Sharp) +0:14
5. Cadel Evans (BMC) s/t
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) 67:55:36
2. Cadel Evans (BMC) +1:26
3. Rigoberto Uran (Sky) +2:46
4. Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida) +3:53
5. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida) +4:13
6. Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) +4:57
7. Carlos Betancur (Ag2r La Mondiale) +5:15
8. Rafal Majka (Saxo-Tinkoff) +5:20
9. Benat Intxausti (Movistar) +5:47
10. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale) +7:34
Link: Official website