Giro d’Italia. Vincenzo Nibali moves to 5th place in GC after “Mortirolo” stage
The Astana Qazaqstan Team leader Vincenzo Nibali finished 9th on today’s very tough mountain Stage 16, moving up to 5th place in the General Classification of the Giro d’Italia.
“Well, it was a tough challenge for everyone. We tried to do a strong and active race and the guys were working really well, so I want to thank my teammates for that. Then, it was Bahrain who went in front to set the pace and it was a fast one. The last climb… I did all I could, but in the final it was just too much for me, so I tried to continue on my own rhythm until the end. I think we did maximum today and let’s see how the next stages will turn out”, – said Vincenzo Nibali.
Stage 16 from Salo to Aprica with a total distance of 202 km brought the peloton back in high mountains after the third rest day: the peloton passed four categorized climbs with a total elevation gain over 5000 meters.
At the bottom of the famous climb Passo del Mortirolo Astana Qazaqstan Team took control over the pink jersey group, setting a high pace, chasing the break and making a huge selection in the peloton.
Later, on the steep slopes of the last climb of the day Valico di Santa Cristina there remained just a small group of GC contenders behind a few riders from the early break. Vincenzo Nibali pushed hard to stay with the other favorites but dropped out not far from the top of the climb, finishing 40 seconds behind the pink jersey group and taking 9th place. This result moved the Astana rider up to fifth place in the overall standings, 3 minutes 40 seconds behind the pink jersey Richard Carapaz.
The Czech rider Jan Hirt took a solo win after a late attack from the breakaway.
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Following the impressive efforts of Sonny Colbrelli at Tour of Benelux, Jack Haig and Gino Mäder made their way up in the GC at Vuelta as Haig moved onto the podium while Mäder moved into the top 5. Gino Mäder also moved into the white jersey in the best young rider classification ahead of the Vuelta finale, a 33.8km time trial.
While Stage 20, didn’t have any high mountains, it was one that had the potential to shake up the GC covering 202km with over 4,300 vertical meters. An early breakaway formed, which included Mark Padun and 15 other riders. The break had a gap of 11 minutes to the peloton but was quickly slashed by work in the peloton by Ineos Grenadiers.
On the hardest climb of the day, Alto de Mougás, there were a limited group of riders left, mainly of GC contenders. Attacks started and pressure by Gino Mader saw Lopez (Movistar) who was in third at the start of the day drop along with Egan Bernal, who was leading the best young rider classification. With Jack on the virtual podium, Mark Padun was then called back from the break to help Jack and Gino to the foot of the final climb.
On the final climb Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) a minute behind Jack in the GC, putting the pressure on, with several attacks, however, Jack was able to respond. At the end, Champoussin (AG2R Citroen), a member of the breakaway won the stage and Haig crossed the line in 5th losing no time to Yates, moving him onto the podium ahead of the final stage. Gino Mader’s effort also moved him up from 8th to 5th in the overall and put the white jersey firmly on his shoulders going into tomorrow’s time trial.
Jack Haig:” The day started off relatively straight forward considering all the other days we’ve had in the Vuelta with the breakaway getting away quite early on with no one in GC, so we had a pretty relaxing ride, until about 100km into the race until the first climbs and Ineos picked up the pace, which I was assuming was to set up Bernal as we were quite close in the fourth position. On the longest climb of the day, there was a rolling plateau where people started to gamble and it just happened to be that Gino and myself were in the perfect position.
I knew that if we wanted to get away, we needed one of the two Movistar riders, which ideally would be Enric and one of the two Ineos riders. It basically meant the group behind didn’t do any chasing. Gino did an awesome job going down the descent and the flatter section until we caught Mark. They both did an awesome ride to the foot of the last climb. I knew Yates was going to attack on the steeper gradients of the climb to get an advantage over me ahead of the TT, but I managed to limit my losses, and now there is a minute between us ahead of tomorrow. It’s a nice position to be in tomorrow, but it’s definitely not safe and done”
Gino Mäder:” Today was a crazy day. We had Padun in the breakaway, which in the end really saved our day. In the beginning I was a bit worries as the pace wasn’t really high and Jumbo was looking really strong and had it all under the control. But once Ineos decided to put on the pressure in the race it was full gas, and everyone was on the limit. Then Yates decided to go, it was just full gas. I knew I was here for Jack and I wanted to get him on the podium, and I think we achieved that, and I got a little extra, so it’s been a really nice day.
It wasn’t in my thoughts to get the white jersey and I only thought about taking Jack to the finish and lose as little time as possible. With Bernal’s gap I had to wait a long three minutes for the confirmation of moving into the jersey and so I also get something out of today.”
(All pictures can be used for editorial and non-commercial usages only and are copyright @Bettiniphoto @TeamBahrainVictorious)
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Israel Start-Up Nation’s team leader, Ben Hermans, did well against the clock on stage 4 of Critérium du Dauphiné, moving up to 17th place in the general classification.
Wednesday’s 16.4 km long individual time trial had several short ascents for the riders to overcome, meaning that it was crucial to save energy for the final part of the course.
Early on, Reto Hollenstein put in a strong performance as he crossed the line in fourth place, while Mads Würtz Schmidt came in 14 seconds down on his teammate not long after.
However, the best ISN time of the day was set by Hermans, who stopped the clock at 22:27 minutes, ultimately finishing in 23rd place, which saw him move up to 17th place in the GC going into the upcoming mountain stages.
Ben Hermans: “This was a nice course but a hard course. You had to do six efforts over the hills and if you didn’t have the legs for it, you would be done after the first three. I managed to recover well after each effort, which allowed me to go really deep all the way to the finish. I think I can be happy with my performance today, also looking at the GC. I hope to have good legs in the mountains.”
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James Piccoli finished strong after a long, wet and exhausting stage in the Tour du Rwanda and leaves all options open for the GC.
Stage three in the Tour du Rwanda was all about the elevation. In the queen’s stage, almost 4,000 meters of climbing elevation had to be covered over 170 kilometers.
An early alarm at 4:55 am, a two-hour transfer to the start, and pouring rain in the first kilometers of racing resulted in a not so exciting start of the queen’s stage. Luckily, the weather improved and halfway into the race there were only low-hanging clouds in the Rwandan valleys, ensuring incredible views over the ‘country of a thousand hills.’
However, on the final climb it was pouring down as it only can in Africa. Streams, some sort of small rivers of water, were flowing down the final climb. Piccoli, Israel Start-Up Nation’s nominee for the general classification in Africa, did not mind.
According to the Canadian, the final climb was not steep enough to really make a difference. He therefore waited for the final stretch, and: third in the sprint.
He named that result a true team effort. “The help of Edo Goldstein and Omer Lahav during the race and towards to final climb was fantastic. Throughout the day, Stormi-Norman (Vahtra) helped us in the wet descents. Guy Sagiv went so fast upon the most challenging hill of the day that I had to tell him to slow down.”
“The team’s confidence has grown after today,” Piccoli concluded. “We are looking forward to the next stages.”
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A serious mountain stage in the Tour of Turkey totally shook up the general classification in stage 5. Israel Start-Up Nation’s climber, Sebastian Berwick, was in the mix.
Over the last few days, Seb Berwick worked hard to get the sprint train into position. He was the first man chasing breakaways and closing gaps. In stage 5, the team roles were reversed.
First things first. Matthias Brändle decided early in the stage to spend most of his time in the breakaway of the day. After a group of riders went, the Austrian closed the gap and showed his strength in front of the race.
On the second categorized climb of the day, the gap decreased a little, but there was still a significant distance between the front group and the bunch before the final ascent to the finish started.
Brändle said he had great legs today. “We worked well together and grew our lead after the second climb to four minutes. The headwind in the last twenty kilometers was a game changer though. I attacked a few times on the final climb and enjoyed my time in the break today.”
The team protected Berwick sublimely in the beginning for the final climb, and after that it was up to the 21-year-old himself to put up a show.
Till three kilometers to go, the Australian was in the first group. When competitors started attacking, he chose to keep climbing at his own pace, finishing 19th.
“I gave everything I had”, he would say right after the finish. “I hoped for a top-10, but that was just out of reach today.”
Berwick moved up 130 positions in the general classification and is now sitting in 19th.
Pics: VeloImages, Bettini Photos and Sjors Beukeboom.
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