Giro d’Italia 2019: Stage 16 – Ciccone wins tricky stage, Carapaz maintains race lead

Stage 16 of the Giro d’Italia. No Passo Gavia because of the threat of an avalanche, but there was an uphill start, the Mortirolo (dedicated to Marco Pantani), and over 5,000m of climbing. This should have all the elements for a lively queen stage, particularly right after the rest day. Shouldn’t it? It should and it did! A very cold and wet KOM Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) was one of two men left from an early 21-strong break, and through chattering teeth and possible hypothermia, he gathered everything left to outsprint Astana’s Jan Hirt for an emotional stage win. We expected Vicenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) to attack and we weren’t disappointed as his offensive shook up the GC and allowed him to leap over Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) but the Shark of Messina couldn’t dent his 1:47 deficit to maglia rosa wearer Richard Carapaz (Movistar).

Rider(s) of the race

I have two riders of the race. Firstly, the deserving stage winner who’s very popular with my VeloVoices colleagues. We love riders who lay it all on the line.

Giulio Ciccone surmounted horrendous conditions (including a downpour on the descent of the Mortirolo) to emerge victorious from a day-long breakaway. The Italian had been chasing points to extend his (now unsurmountable) lead in the king of the mountains’ classification, but found himself in front with Jan Hirt up and over the monstrous Mortirolo as the other escapees fell away or were called back to provide support for their team leaders.

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Unfortunately, relations between the duo became hostile as Hirt refused to work with Ciccone when they arrived at the bottom of the descent, still holding a 4min+ advantage over the maglia rosa group. We had team cars at dawn, remonstrations and a lot of arm waving! But, with the gap falling fast, Hirt finally started to pull on the front as Ciccone looked to be suffering in the cold. Ciccone led from inside the flamme rouge, daring Hirt to launch his sprint, but the former had the last word as he powered away, throwing his sunglasses into the crowd and his arms aloft as he crossed the line. Post race, he confirmed:

I’ve been waiting for this second stage win for two years now. So I yelled with joy on the finishing line because it’s been a complicated day with lots of rain and cold. Jan Hirt didn’t want to cooperate so it’s been a bit nervous between us but at the end I’m happy with everything.

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My second rider, arguably the MVP of the entire race thus far, is Vincenzo Nibali’s right-hand man, fellow Sicilian Damiano Caruso, who has been laying it down for his team leader, stage after stage. Runner-up on stage 12 to Pinerolo after recovering from a fever, he was part of today’s 21-strong break with Nibali’s brother Antonio. The group shattered on the lower slopes of the Mortirolo, leaving Caruso in a quintet, then a trio up front until he was called back to assist Nibali, as the Shark sought to put time into the other GC contenders. Caruso then set about doing the lion’s share of the pulling of the maglia rosa group on the false flat run-in to the line.

One of the best domestiques in the pro peloton, Caruso rode with Nibali at Liquigas in 2011-2012  and, when he joined the Bahrain-Merida team at the start of this season, he expressed the desire that in addition to their friendship, they build something good together. I’d say: “Mission accomplished!”

Fresh Face

While the cameras focus attention on the contenders as they rise or fall on GC, I like to cast my eye over the promising crop of youngsters, the future generation. Today my VeloEye falls on Valentin Madouas, a 22-year-old, second year neo-pro with Groupama-FDJ, riding his maiden Grand Tour.  Currently sitting 15th overall (fourth best Young Rider), due to his consistency and gritty performances today and in the previous three taxing stages. After posting impressive and consistent podiums largely in last year’s French Cup races, this up-and-coming rider has finished 11th in Paris-Nice, runner-up in Drome Classic and 8th in Amstel this year. While he’s following in his father Laurent’s footsteps, he has already made that all-important step up to compete at the highest level.

Today’s winners

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Well, well, well, a week ago Richard Carapaz was 20th overall and 3:16 down on Primoz Roglic, hardly an obvious contender for the Giro overall. He started today 47 seconds ahead of Roglic and finished it 1:47 ahead of Vincenzo Nibali and, more importantly, 2:09 ahead of Roglic.

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The situation for Roglic might have been much worse had he not been towed to the line by Simon Yates and Bauke Mollema.

Now, let’s take a closer look at today’s movers and shakers: Pavel Sivakov remains ninth, although he lost a further 41secs, handing the white jersey to Miguel Angel Lopez – another of today’s winners – now seventh at 6:17. Rafal Majka lost more than 3min to the top GC riders, falling to sixth overall, whereas Carapaz’s teammate Mikel Landa moves up to fourth, 1:06 behind Roglic. Mollema is still fifth, while Yates remains eighth. Jan Polanc drops three places to tenth. Plus, chapeau to Movistar whose team tactics often leave us scratching our heads, but not today. Today they played a blinder and now have two riders sitting very pretty in the GC.

Finally

A nice gesture today!

Stage Results – Top 5

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1 Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) 5:36:24

2 Jan Hirt (Astana) same time

3 Fausto Masnada (Androni-Sidermec) +1:20

4 Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) +1:41

5 Hugh Carthy (EF Education First) same time

General Classification – Top 10

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1 Richard Carapaz (Movistar) 70:02:05 =

2 Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) +1:47  ↑ 1place

3 Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +2:09 ↓ 1 place

4 Mikel Landa (Movistar) +3:15 ↑ 1 place

5 Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) +5:00 ↑ 1 place

6 Rafal Majka (BORA-hansgrohe)  +5:40 ↓ 2 places

7 Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) +6:17 ↑ 3 places

8 Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) +6:48 =

9 Pavel Sivakov (Ineos) +7:51 =

10 Jan Polenc (UAE Emirates) +8:08 ↓ 3 places

All the jerseys

Maglia rosa – Richard Carapaz (Movistar)

Maglia blanca – Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana)

Maglia azzurra – Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo)

Maglia ciclamino – Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ)

For full stage review and race results, go to cyclingnews

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