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After Nizzolo had been relegated for irregular sprinting, Arndt took his first grand tour stage win on the final stage of the Giro d’Italia; Nibali finished safely and took the overall victory

Photo: Sirotti

ALEJANDRO VALVERDE

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ESTEBAN CHAVES

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GIACOMO NIZZOLO

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GIRO D'ITALIA

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MATTEO TRENTIN

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NIKIAS ARNDT

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SACHA MODOLO

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TEAM SUNWEB

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VINCENZO NIBALI

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29.05.2016 @ 17:40 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Nikias Arndt (Giant-Alpecin) took a hugely controversial first grand tour stage win on the final stage of the Giro d’Italia. The German had crossed the finish line in second place behind Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) but when the Italian was relegated due to irregular sprinting, the Giant-Alpecin rider could step onto the podium as the stage winner. Due to the wet conditions, the times were taken at the first passage of the line and so Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) could roll slowly to the finish to take his second Giro d’Italia victory, with Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) rounding out the podium.

 

With nine second places and four third places, Giacomo Nizzolo was close to making history as the rider with most podium places but no stage win at the Giro d’Italia. Only Pietro Rimoldi with 14 podiums in the 1930s had been more unfortunate than the Trek sprinter and Nizzolo had openly spoken about how karma was against him.

 

After the frustrating near-miss in Cassano d’Adda on Wednesday, Nizzolo had one final shot at victory in today’s final stage in Turin and he was in a determined mood right from the start. Having virtually secured the points jersey by winning the first intermediate sprint, he could turn his attention to the stage win and he used his team to bring back the many attackers on what proved to be a tricky, technical circuit that was made even more treacherous by slippery roads.

 

Despite having used all his teammate to control the race, Nizzolo seemed to finally have got that elusive win as he turned out to the fastest when a small group arrived at the line. Launching from far back, he managed to pass Nikias Arndt and hold off the German, Matteo Trentin and a visibly frustrated Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida).

 

However, Modolo launched an appeal as he had been boxed in towards the barrier and so had no chance to launch his sprint. After a long wait that postponed the podium ceremony significantly, the commissaires decided to relegate Nizzolo and so it was Arndt who got his first grand tour stage win in controversial fashion.

 

Meanwhile, Vincenzo Nibali was slowly rolling to the finish. The wet conditions had prompted the organizers to stop the clock at the first passage of the line and when a big crash involving the likes of Esteban Chaves and Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale) split the field, most riders opted for safety. Nibali did so too and arrived at the finish in a second group, raising his arms to celebrate his second Giro race after one of the greatest grand tour comebacks in recent history.

 

After the usual celebrations in the early part of the flat stage, the race started a bit earlier than expected with 68km to go when the riders were approaching the start of the first lap of the technical 7.5km finishing circuit that was set to be covered eight times and included a small 500m climb in the early part.

 

It was van Emden and Maarten Tjallingii (LottoNL-Jumbo) ho kicked things off as the Dutch took off just as they entered the Turin suburbs. They caught the peloton unaware and so immediately got a gap of 25 seconds.

 

Bakthiyar Kozhatayev, Andrey Zeits, Tanel Kangert, Davide Malacarne and Eros Capecchi upped the pace for Astana but the sprint teams didn’t react. At the same, the organizers made the decision to stop the time at the first passage of the line, meaning that the GC riders could opt for safety on the circuit.

 

Van Emden and Tjallingii were the first to cross the line while Michele Scarponi led the peloton to the finish for Astana 35 seconds later. Astana continued to ride fast on the first lap and so the sprint teams could save their energy for later as all the Astana riders expect Nibali were now contributing to the pace-setting.

 

At the end of the first lap, the gap had gone out to 1.00 and it was Kangert who led the peloton across the line for the second time. Moments later, the attacking started again when Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx-QuickStep) and Manuele Boaro (Tinkoff) took off on the climb and they were quickly joined by Eugert Zhupa (Wilier), Simon Clarke (Cannondale) and Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal).

 

The situation was a dangerous one and so Trek and Lampre-Merida immediately started to chase. Nonetheless, the chasers had pushed out a 20-second advantage at the end of the second lap where light rain had started to fall. Tjallingii and Van Emden were 35 seconds further ahead and it was Marco Coledan (Trek) and the entire Lampre-Merida train who led the peloton across the line.

 

As they hit the climb again, Clarke and Zhupa were dropped from the chase group but there was no cooperation as Wellens refused to work. Hence, Boaro tried to attack but he had no success.

 

At the end of the third lap, the Dutch pair had an advantage of 1.05 over the peloton and 30 seconds over the chasers. It was an organized chase though as Coledan, Laurent Didier (Trek), Valerio Conti, Ilya Koshevou (Lampre) and Tom Stamsnijder(Giant-Alpecin) were working hard on the front.

 

The peloton didn’t get any closer during the fourth lap and the sprint teams were starting to panic as they approached the finish line for the next time. Here a big crash brought down the likes of Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE), Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale), Pieter Serry (Etixx-QuickStep), Johann van Zyl (Dimnsion Data and Jasha Sütterlin (Movistar) and the latter two were forced to abandon. The two Colombian got back on their bikes and lost no time due to the neutralization of the GC.

 

The crash left a small peloton of around 40-50 riders to press on while a big part of the group rolled slowly to the finish. They brought the chasers back just after the passage of the line and it was Coledan, Didier, Stamsnijder, Conti and Manuele Mori (Lampre-Merida) who were leading the chase 1.00 behind the leaders. Tjallingii was first across the line to win the final intermediate sprint.

 

There were groups all over the circuit, most notably one with Kruijswijk, one with Uran and one with Chaves. Meanwhile, Etixx-QuickStep also started to chase with Brambilla and that paid off as the gap was down to 45 seconds at the end of the fifth lap.

 

Stamsnijder and Conti blew up as they went up the climb again and it was now left to Coledan, Didier, Brambilla, Mori and Georg Preidler (Giant-Alpecin) to work on the front. Diego Ulissi even took a huge turn as they went up the climb.

 

Lampre-Merida had to dig into their lead-out resources when Matej Mohoric came to the fore and it was the Slovenian, Coledan and Brambilla who led the peloton onto the penultimate lap 20 seconds behind the leaders. Brambilla went full gas on the climb before Roberto Ferrari (Lampre-Merida) and Bob Jungels (Etixx-QuickStep) took over.

 

When the gap had dropped to 10 seconds, Van Emden dropped Tjallingii who fell back to the peloton. Mohoric, Ferrari, Jungels and Brambilla were in charge of the chase while Nizzolo now only had Eugenio Alafaci to company. The syrong Dutchman managed to push the gap out to 15 seconds as he started the final lap.

 

A massive turn from Jungels on the climb ended the break for van Emden who came to a standstill. Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani) attacked hard and was riding away when he hit a spectator out and crashed hard. Luckily the rest of the field managed to avoid the tumble.

 

Jungels rode on the front before Moreno Moser (Cannondale) took over on the descent and it was Trentin who led the peloton to the bottom. As the group came to a standstill, Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) attacked but Tobias Ludvigsson (Giant-Alpecin) was attentive to shut it down.

 

Ludvigsson kept riding on the front until Trek took control with Eugenio Alafaci. The small group meant that no sprinter had any real train so it became a waiting game while the Italian set the pace.

 

With less than 2km to go, Kangert attacked but again the attentive Ludvigsson reacted immediately. The Swede hit the front but ran out of power when Sean De Bie (Lotto Soudal) launched the next attack.

 

De Bie passed the flamme rouge with a small advantage but was about to be brought back by Viacheslav Kuznetsov. However, the Katusha riders exploded completely and so the Belgian reopened his advantage.

 

Eduard Grosu (Nippo) gave chase and made it across before he sprinted past the fading Belgian. However, Matteo Busato (Wilier) closed the gap with less than 500m to go and so the scene was set for the big-name sprinters.

 

Arndt started a long sprint but Nizzolo reacted immediately, easily passing the German. Modolo tried to pass on the left but as the Trek rider moved slightly to the left, there was no room. Nizzolo was jubilant as he crossed the line, with Arndt in second and Trentin in third, and even did the post-stage interview before it came out that he had been relegated.

 

A few minutes later, Nibali rolled across the line to confirm his Giro d’Italia victory with a 52-second advantage over Chaves. Alejandro Valverde was 1.17 behind in third and so completed his set of grand tour podiums.

 

Nizzolo had the consolation prize of winning a second points jersey while Mikel Nieve (Sky) won the mountains competition. Bob Jungels (Etixx-QuickStep) was the best young rider and Astana won the teams classification.

 

With the Giro d’Italia done and dusted, the WorldTour will have a one-week break before racing resumes on Sunday at the Criterium du Dauphiné. The next major event in Italy is the national championships in late June and the new Montichiari-Roncone one-day race on July 3.

 

A ceremonial stage

After yesterday’s big mountain stage, it was back into flat terrain for the final stage which brought the riders over 163km from Cuneo to Turin. After a flat run from the start to the finish, the stage ended with eight laps of a 7.5km finishing circuit that included a small 500m climb at 6% right after the passage

 

As forecasted, it was raining when the 157 riders gathered in Cuneo to head towards Turin. As is always the case on a flat final stage in a grand tour, the first part of the stage was used to celebrate ahievements of the past three weeks. The riders posed for photos, enjoyed a glass of champagne and chatted while the slowly moved towards the finishing circuit.

 

Bak crashes out of the race

As usual, there was no big stress but a bit of drama occurred early in the stage. Unfortunately, the wet roads resulted in a crash that involved Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge), Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Lars Bak (Lotto Soudal) and although everybody could initially continue, the race quicklye ended for the Dane who had to abandon so close to the finish.

 

The rest of the field continued at a leisurely pace back and covered only 35.9 kilometres during the first hour. Luckily, the rain soon stopped and they hit dry roads as they continued to enjoy a nice ride.

 

There was a bit of racing when the riders got to the first intermediate sprint where Giazomo Nizzolo (Trek) strengthened his hold on the red jersey by beating Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) and Matteo Trentin (Etixx-QuickStep). However, things immediately calmed down again and it was the Astana trio of Andrey Zeits, Tanel Kangert, and Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev who led the peloton towards Turin. Moments later, the attacking started when Van Emden and Tjallingii kicked off the action.

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