A grand tour is always about more than just the final podium – there are battles within battles within battles. And there are always one or two heartwarming stories that restore your faith in whatever you’ve lost faith in … The 2019 Giro d’Italia was no exception. It had it all – including some horrific weather – and while it might not have been the most exciting Giro on record, it certainly had something interesting, confusing or astonishing every day.
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).
Yesterday Monte Zoncolan assaulted the riders’ legs and bruised a few egos. Today’s stage required maximum concentration and sheer power. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) delivered an aggressive masterclass taking the stage win and solidifying his place at the top of the GC. Every other rider was an also-ran.