Tricky stage. It comes after the rest day and after a very hard week. Alejandro Valverde had it right: short and sharp, it's going to be a blast. Those climbs are more demanding than their official classification on the race book.
Vincenzo Nibali will face the pressure and could make mistakes. In my opinion it isn't his day, not yet. He needs some longest climbs to gain more time and to close the gap. He needs to recover, phisically and mentally. He needs to lose nothing today.
In my opinion today is a dangerous day: riders are more likely to lose time than to gain it, they should resist more than to attack. That's why today should be the last chance for a break-away.
And a break went away from the gun: Pavel Brutt, Simon Clarke, Marco Coledan, Olivier Le Gac, Pim Ligthart, Mirco Maestri, Daniel Oss and Joey Rosskopf and Matteo Trentin.80 km to go: Marco Coledan won the first intermediate sprint, than the peloton is back together.
Passo della Mendola: first KOM of the day, (2nd cat. 14.8 km, 6.5% average, 10% max.). Kangert, López, Ulissi and Zakarin attack and suddenly Kruijswijk is left alone. He responds on his own. Nibali got a mechanical problem but he's back riding and immediately in front, escorted by Eros Capecchi.
Valverde attacks, Jungels on his wheel, Kruijswijk responds.
Firsanov attacks and tries to join the break. Uran attacks, Nibali and Kruijswijk follow. Valverde joins with Jungels who immediately goes solo.
The Maglia Rosa's group is back in the peloton while Bob Jungels made it to the break-away. Riccardo Zoidl is also trying to bridge.
Kruijswijk respnds to every attack. Now Zakarin who had attacked with team mate Taaramae.
Dombrowski attacked and is chasing solo the front group. He joins so it's a six riders break.
67 km to go Vincenzo Nibali attacks and goes solo. Kruijswijk respond but Nibali has got a gap.
Lopez wins the KOM on Firsanov. Valverde catches Nibali first, Kruijswijk joins with Zakarin.
The Maglia Rosa group is back together and joins the break, but it's obvious that Movistar and Astana joined to isolate the Dutch. A dangerous strategy.
The front group include 10 riders: Nibali, Valverde, Zakarin and Kruijwsijk have bridged to Dombrowski, Kangert, Jungels, Firsanov, Ulissi and Lopez.
Chaves, Majka e Amador are NOT there. The gap is already over 1'. They are chasing hard though: 50 km to go the gap is down to 37".
Intermediate sprint in Cles: Ulissi wins... on Valverde and Nibali.
24 km to go the front group split. Everybody come back but Dombrowski couldn't. He's now in the Chaves' group. There is a strong head wind.
25.5 km to go the gap is 42". I'm puzzled. What are they doing? Nibali and Valverde are bringing Kruijswijk around. They are spending a lot and gaining time (only) on Chaves, but how much? Kruijswijk could even win the stage and increase his advantage.
Fai della Paganella (2nd cat. 10.2 km, 7.4%). Kangert has finished his work and loses contact.
Lopez and Zakarin gain a few meters but Kruijswijk closes the gap.
Behind Uran and Amador are dropped. Chaves, Pozzovivo and Majka are coming back to the front group.
Lopez attacks again. He gets a gap. Valverde attacks but Kruijswijk is on his wheel. Zakarin joins. Nibali is dropped. He found Firsanov and tries to hang on. Jungels and Lopez join but there isn't a good collaboration.
Kruijswijk, Zakarin and Valverde instead are collaborating, and well.
Chaves, Majka, Pozzovivo and Ulissi catch the Nibali's group.
12 km to go the gap is 36''. Nibali goes in front and gives a big pull. The gap is down to 25''.
10 km to go Chaves attacks but the move is neutralised by Jungels. Chaves attaks again. Nibali and Pozzovivo are dropped. Bob Jungels instead is on Chaves' wheel.
Chaves attacks again and this time Majka goes with him.
7.5 km to go Kruijswijk, Valverde and Zakarin have 28" on Chaves 'group and 38" on Nibali and Pozzovivo. With Chaves there are Majka, Jungels, Firsanov, Lopez and Ulissi.
3.2 km to go Kruijswijk, Zakarin and Valverde have 26" on Chaves' group and 1'04" on Nibali and Pozzovivo. Majka and Ulissi are dropped by the Chaves' group.
In front Valverde sprints to win the stage on Kruijswijk and Zakarin. In the Chaves' group Ulissi is the fastest. Nibali arrives on Pozzovivo's wheel, not even sprint.
After the finish Paolo Slongo says maybe Vincenzo Nibali is ill: he'll undergo medical examinations and to retire is an option.
Nibali didn't go to the bus but directly to the hotel.
"¡Gracias! Movistar_Team, ficionados y todos los que habéis disfrutado hoy de la etapa. Va por mis hijos."
"Today we started out with the mentality of going all out to get the victory. We got it and on top of that we took time on some rivals. The leader is very strong but we must be happy. I'm going to remain calm in what remains of this Giro, as I have done up to this point, and keep enjoying it. I'm loving being here."
"Second yet again! I wanted to give my team a win but it's an ideal situation for the maglia rosa as I'm now three minutes ahead of Esteban Chaves and the others. I was feeling really good so I had to make the best of this short but really hard stage. I had to follow Nibali when he attacked early in the stage. I didn't expect so much action the day after the rest day."
"I felt good and attacked on the last mountain along with Valverde," said Kruijswijk. "Nibali could no longer follow and Chaves was already in pursuit. I wanted to give the team a victory but sprinting against Valverde is difficult. I had no chance.
Obviously, I wanted to win time for the standings. I sat the whole day where I needed to, but I also had to work hard to get into the leading group. The situation in the race was prefect and the time gain is sweet. Over the next few days, the stages are flat but then you have to be very careful."
"On the first climb I tried to ride my own tempo and don't get caught off guard. I felt good throughout the day, and to be honest, I'm happy with the way the race went and with the outcome. I now have an even bigger advantage over the next rider in the U25 standings, but the Giro d'Italia is still long. Today I stayed with the best and I hope to keep the momentum over the next couple of stages left until Turin."
"I'm not myself. I seemed to me that I was feeling well but I found myself empty. At the moment, I don't have an explanation, but I need to find the reasons for the fluctuating performance."
"I was nervous for this stage because it was short and I was sure that the big GC riders would go full gas. And this is what happened. It was really fast from the start and the problem for us was the time cut. I had a really good team next to me today, and we had to pull really hard in the last climb to stay in the time limit, but now we can enjoy the night and thinking about tomorrow. Sure I am tired, but I think at this point everyone is tired."
MORE TO COME
1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 2:58:54
2 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
3 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team Katusha 0:00:08
4 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre - Merida 0:00:37
5 Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx - Quick-Step
6 David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Team Sky 0:00:38
7 Sergey Firsanov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo
8 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge 0:00:42
9 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff Team 0:00:50
10 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:47
11 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 12 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Sky 0:03:20 13 Rein Taaramae (Est) Team Katusha 14 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 15 Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 16 Sebastian Henao (Col) Team Sky 17 Darwin Atapuma (Col) BMC Racing Team 18 Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Dimension Data 19 Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team 20 Valerio Conti (Ita) Lampre - Merida 0:04:47 21 Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 22 Riccardo Zoidl (Aut) Trek-Segafredo 0:05:02 23 Andre Cardoso (Por) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:05:28 24 Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling 25 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale Pro Cycling 26 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana Pro Team
1 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 63:40:10
2 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge 0:03:00
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:03:23
4 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:04:43
5 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team Katusha 0:04:50
6 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff Team 0:05:34
7 Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:07:57
8 Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team 0:06:53
9 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:10:05
10 Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Dimension Data 0:11:03
11 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:11:21
12 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:13:53
13 Darwin Atapuma (Col) BMC Racing Team 0:20:47
14 Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:22:13
15 Sebastian Henao (Col) Team Sky 0:22:14
16 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team 0:26:58
17 Stefano Pirazzi (Ita) Bardiani CSF 0:29:06
18 Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:30:11
19 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:30:26
20 Andre Cardoso (Por) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:31:36
21 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:34:28
22 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre - Merida 0:37:53
23 Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro Team 0:40:49
24 Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:42:08
25 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Sky 0:43:06
26 Georg Preidler (Aut) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:48:58
27 Sergey Firsanov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo 0:50:22
28 Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Astana Pro Team 0:50:30
29 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:54:56
30 Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Dimension Data 0:56:57
31 Pavel Kochetkov (Rus) Team Katusha 0:58:21
32 Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team Sky 1:00:48
33 Valerio Conti (Ita) Lampre - Merida 1:01:37
34 Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 1:06:21
35 Joe Dombrowski (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling 1:09:09
36 Rein Taaramae (Est) Team Katusha 1:12:15
37 Carlos Verona (Spa) Etixx - Quick-Step 1:16:13
38 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini 1:18:10
39 Ivan Rovny (Rus) Tinkoff Team 1:19:06
40 Pawel Poljanski (Pol) Tinkoff Team 1:21:23
41 Riccardo Zoidl (Aut) Trek-Segafredo 1:22:42
42 Moreno Moser (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling 1:25:27
43 Manuele Boaro (Ita) Tinkoff Team 1:25:55
44 Davide Malacarne (Ita) Astana Pro Team 1:27:22
45 Merhawi Kudus (Eri) Dimension Data 1:28:01
46 Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar Team 1:28:04
47 Egor Silin (Rus) Team Katusha 1:33:11
48 Damien Howson (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 1:35:34
49 Marcel Wyss (Swi) IAM Cycling 1:35:45
50 Matteo Busato (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Southeast 1:42:12
Pink: Steven Kruijswijk
White: Bob Jungels
Red: Giacomo Nizzolo
Blue: Damiano Cunego