The 2016 Giro d’Italia’s penultimate stage has been taken by Rein Taaramae (Katusha) after the breakaway managed to stay clear, but back in the peloton it was Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) who rode away from everyone to take the pink jersey.
It was a waiting game for much of the day in the peloton, but Astana played their cards down to perfection for Nibali and he would overtake Esteban Chaves (Orica GreenEdge) to claim the pink jersey and barring any major disaster the overall race victory.
After a fast start to the day with the race going straight uphill, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) looked like he was going to use his teammates to pull a long range attack, but was pulled back quickly.
The race would quickly settle down with the Orica-GreenEDGE team coming to the front of the race in an attempt to control things for Chaves. The pace went right off in the bunch and a breakaway would quickly build a large lead. The men who made the move were:
Darwin Atampuma (BMC), Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), Tanel Kangert (Astana), Mikel Nieve (Sky), Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale), Alexander Foliforov (Gazprom-Rusvelo), Stefan Denifl (IAM) and Rein Taaramae (Katusha).
Nieve would attack on the biggest climb of the day in the middle of the stage and open up a two minute gap over the rest of his compatriots, taking the lead and victory of the King of the Mountains classification.
He would eventually be caught by a trio of Atapuma, Dombrowski and Visconti, who quickly proceeded to move past him and try to ride away with the stage. However, there was little cohesion up front as Taaramae and Kangert made their way back to the leaders.
Moving into the back end of the stage, it would be Taaramae who would put in the best attack of the lot, riding away. Atapuma followed, but was simply unable to stay on the wheel. He did drop the others though as he chased Taaramae.
Back in the peloton, Nibali slowly bruned through his teammates, waiting for the moment to attack. The group was down to just eight riders as Michelle Scarponi led the way, before the first move came.
Scarponi would ride away, with Nibali getting onto the back wheel quickly. Chaves responded well to that attack and one other not long after, but neither were big attacks – just leg burners.
When Scarponi finally decided enough was enough, Nibali came to the front and upped the pace with Chaves simply unable to follow the wheel. He looked defeated, and that would be the case as he simply was not able to get his legs to work for him.
Alejandro Valverde would join him, but offer little support before fellow Columbian Rigoberto Uran joined in the chase, desperately trying to pull for Chaves. In the end, Chaves couldn’t even keep up with Uran and he continued to fall behind – back into the group of Steven Kruijswijk (Lotto Jumbo) and white jersey winner Bob Jungels (Etixx-Quickstep).
Despite his best efforts on the final descent and climb to the line, Nibali was simply too strong and crossed the line 1 minute and 35 seconds ahead of Chaves. With Valverde just 14 seconds behind, towing Uran across the line with him it means he is just 25 seconds behind Chaves, who manages to hold second place.
So, Nibali wins his second Giro d’Italia, but the efforts of Chaves should not be understated. The youngster has a massive future ahead of him, but today is all about Nibali.
1. Rein Taaramae (Katusha) @ 4:22:43
2. Darwin Atapuma (BMC) + 0:52
3. Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale) + 1:17
4. Mikel Nieve (Sky) + 4:12
5. Alexander Foliforov (Gazprom-Rusvelo) + 4:36
6. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) + 6:44
7. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) + 6:57
8. Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale Pro Cycling) + 6:57
9. Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) + 7:47
10. Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) + 8:06
Top 10 General Classification
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) @ 82:44:31
2. Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) + 0:52
3. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) + 1:17
4. Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNl-Jumbo + 1:50
5. Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) + 4:37
6. Bob Jungels (Etixx – Quick-Step) + 8:31
7. Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale) + 11:47
8. Andrey Amador (Movistar) + 13:21
9. Darwin Atapuma (BMC) + 14:09
10. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Dimension Data) + 16:20