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Having bridged across to a big breakaway on the first climb, Nieve emerged as the strongest in stage 13 of the Giro d’Italia, riding to a solo win; Jungels got dropped by the favourites and Amador took the maglia rosa

Photo: Sirotti

ANDREY AMADOR

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GIOVANNI VISCONTI

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GIRO D'ITALIA

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MIKEL NIEVE

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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TEAM SKY

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VINCENZO NIBALI

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20.05.2016 @ 17:46 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Like he did it in the 2014 Criterium du Dauphiné, Mikel Nieve (Sky) saved the race for Team Sky as he claimed a marvelous solo win in stage 13 of the Giro d’Italia. Having bridged the gap to a large breakaway on the first of four climbs, he dropped his companions on the penultimate ascent and held off both a hard-chasing Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) and the group of favourites. Bob Jungels (Etixx-QuickStep) lost contact on the final climb and was the notable absentee for the group that sprinted for third, meaning that Andrey Amador (Movistar) moves into the race lead.

 

In the 2014 Criterium du Dauphiné, Chris Froome crashed out of contention while wearing the leader’s jersey and it looked like Team Sky would leave the race empty-handed. However, Mikel Nieve saved the race for the Brits by riding to a solo win on the final stage.

 

Last year Chris Froome crashed out of the Vuelta a Espana and again it looked like Sky would miss out on a result in a major race. Again they could look to Nieve to save the race though as the Basque finished 8th overall.

 

Fast forward a few months and Sky found themselves in a similar position at the Giro d’Italia as illness forced Mikel Landa to leave the race. Luckily Sky again had Nieve in the line-up and again the Basque saved the race by riding to a solo win in today’s first big mountain stage of the race.

 

While Nieve battled against his rivals in a big breakaway, the GC riders tested each other on the final climb but with the queen stage coming up, no one dared to go full gas. Hence, it ended as a bit of a ceasefire but Bob Jungels was unable to follow the best and even though he did his best to chase down the favourites in the flat run-in to the finish, he saw Andrey Amador become the first Costa Rican to take the maglia rosa.

 

The 170km stage included four steep climbs in the Friuli region and Nieve initially looked like he was out of the running for the stage win. Having missed out on joining a big group of more than 30 riders, he refused to give up and on the first climb, he bridged across.

 

The first two mountains whittled the group down to just Matteo Montaguti (Ag2r), Davide Malacarne, Andrey Zeits (Astana), Alessandro De Marchi, Darwin Atapuma (BMC), Simon Clarke, Joe Dombrowski, Moreno Moser (Cannondale), ohann Van Zyl, Jaco Venter (Dimension Data), Diego Ulissi, Matej Mohoric, Ilya Koshevoy (Lampre-Merida), Giovanni Visconti, Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar), Damiano Cunego, Grega Bole (Nippo), Enrico Battaglin (LottoNL-Jumbo), Sebastian Henao, Mikel Nieve (Sky), Alexander Foliforov (Gazprom), Manuele Boaro (Tinkoff and Matteo Busato (Wilier) and it was Clarke and Mohoric who had sacrificed themselves to make sure that the group hit the penultimate climb with an advantage of 2.50 while Etixx-QuickStep had been chasing hard all day as Ulissi was a GC threat.

 

Koshevoy led the group on to the climb beforeDenifl upped the pace in the front group and sent Venter, van Zyl, Mohoric and Clarke out the back door. However, it was Moser who surged clear with a powerful acceleration on the lower slopes. Nieve, Dombrowski and Montaguti gave chase.

 

In the peloton, Michele Scarponi (Astana) hit the climb hard and immediately created a big selection. Tanel Kangert soon took over and whittled the group down to around 20 riders, bringing Clarke, van Zyl and Mohoric back in the process. Strong rider like Rein Taaramae, Gianluca Brambilla, Georg Preidler and Stefano Pirazzi were among the riders to get dropped. However, the Italian made it back and so was in a position to support Jungels.

 

Further up the road, Nieve and Dombrowski passed Moser who dropped back to form a chase group with Henao, Visconti, Foloiforov and Moser. Cunego was struggling a few metres further back, desperately chasing KOM points.

 

Visconti split the chase group and started to approach the two leaders while Cunego caught Foliforov who had been the nearest chaser. Further up the road, Nieve dropped Dombrowski and soloed towards the top.

 

The peloton had been whittled down to just Pozzovivo, Dupont, Kangert, Scarponi, Nibali, Fuglsang, Uran, Formolo, CardosoSiutsou, Brambilla, Jungels, Valverde, Amador, Chaves, Zakarin, Kruijswijk, Roche Majka and Hesjedal as Kangert kept riding on the front. The pace was too much for Roche who exploded completely and Brambilla also lost contact.

 

Kangert ended his work 3km from the top and then Scarponi took over. He sent Siutsou and Cardoso out the back door while also picking up escapees, with De Marchi being one of the riders to surrender. At the same time, Jungels and Amador drifted to the rear end to the group.

 

Dombrowski and Visconti joined forces but they were not getting any closer to Nieve. At the top of the climb, the Italian led Dombrowski across the line 30 seconds behind Nieve. Cunego, Foliforov and Henao crested the summit with a time loss of 54 seconds while the peloton reached the top with a time loss of 2.25.

 

Amador attacked hard on the descent and even put Nibali in difficulty. Fuglsang smartly created a small gap behind his leader and the Costa Rican but Valverde was quick to react, closing the gap. Fuglsang took over the pace-setting and so the group stayed together while also bringing Ulissi back.

 

Nieve increased his advantages to 45 seconds and 2.55 respectively while Montaguti joined Visconti and Dombrowski, again showing his excellent descending skills. The Basque was still riding strongly as he hit the final climb.

 

Scarponi went back to work as the peloton hit the climb but they constantly lost ground to Nieve.. Pozzovivo, Dupont, Nibali, Scarponi, Fuglsang, Uran, Formolo, Jungels, Ulissi, Valverde, Amador, Chaves, Zakarin, Kruijswijk, Boaro, Majka and Hesjedal had made the selection at this late point in the stage.

 

Chaves launched the first attack and was joined by Boaro, Majka and Fuglsang but Kruijswijk shut it down. However, the acceleration had the effect that Jungels and Ulissi lost contact.

 

Jungels tried to limit his losses but he lost further ground when the peloton caught Battaglin who went straight to work for Kruijswijk. Meanwhile, Visconti gave it one final desperate try and easily distanced his two companions.

 

Valverde briefly tried to accelerate half-heartedly before Nibali launched a very strong counterattack. The Italian briefly seemed to have gone clear but a strong Battaglin brought him back with Valverde, Kruijswijk, Majka, Chaves and Fuglsang in tow. Pozzovivo also regained contact and when Battaglin exploded, Zakarin also made it back.

 

Amador, Uran, Formolo, Battaglin, Moser and Atapuma formed a chase group from which the former two managed to bridge the gap to the main group in which Fuglsang went to work. Scarponi also made it back and after a short moment to recover, he took over the pace-setting.

 

Further up the road, Visconti’s huge acceleration reduced the gap to 40 seconds but then he again started to lose ground. Jungels joined forces with Hesjedal and Atapuma 19 seconds behind the main group.

 

As they approached the top, Nibali tried again, sprinting past Henao and Foliforov in the process, but Valverde, Chaves, Majka, Kruijswijk and Fuglsang didn’t give him an inch. Uran and Pozzovivo made it back before Fuglsang again started to ride on the front.

 

Nieve reached the top of the climb with a 57-second advantage over Visconti while Montaguti and Dombeowski were at 1.45. In the peloton, Fuglsang was doing the hard work, bringing Denifl back just before they crested the summit with a time loss of 2.00. Hesjedal, Jungels, Moser and Atapuma crossed the line 47 seconds later.

 

Zakarin regained contact just after the top and so saved the day while Fuglsang safely negotiated the tricky turns at the head of the group. Further back, Jungels took huge risks and even though he nearly crashed, he managed to distance his three companions.

 

Nieve reached the bottom of the descent with a 55-second advantage over Visconti while the peloton made it down with a delay of two minutes. Just as they reached the bottom, Amador and Denifl regained contact, meaning that the Costa Rican was now the virtual leader.

 

The pace briefly went down but very quickly the favourites started to cooperate to distance Jungels further. The race leader was now with Moser, Dupont, Scarponi and his teammate Brambilla and the two Etixx riders were giving it their all to try to save the jersey. However, they were still 40 seconds behind with 3km to go.

 

Amador took some huge turns in the main group and so the gap had gone out to 50 seconds as they passed the 2km to go banner. At this point, it was clear that Jungels would lose the maglia rosa but as he managed to catch Formolo and Henao, he didn’t lose any time in the battle for the white jersey.

 

Nieve had plenty of time to sit up to celebrate his win while a disappointed Visconto reached the finish 43 seconds later. Valverde looked like he was destined to win the sprint for third after Montaguti and Dombrowski had been caught but surprisingly he was beaten by Nibali who picked up the important four bonus seconds to pass the Spaniard in the GC. Jungels reached the finish 50 seconds too late.

 

 

Amador now takes over the maglia rosa with a 26-second advantage over Jungels who drops to second. However, the Costa Rican faces an even harder stage tomorrow as stage 14 is the Dolomitian queen stage. After a relatively flat start, the riders will tackle a total of six categorized climbs in the second half. The big challenge is the brutally steep Passo Giau whose top is located with 41.2km to go. Then there is an easier category 2 climb before the riders get to the final 19.4km of descending and slightly rising roads.

 

A tough stage in the mountains

After yesterday’s flat stage, the terrain was completely different for stage 13 which brought the riders over 170km from Palmanova to Cividale del Friuli. The first 50km were flat but from there all hell broke loose. In the first half the riders tackled a category 1 and a category 2 climb in quick succession and then there was a flat middle section that led to the first passage of the finish line with 58.8km to go. The final part was made up of another pair of category 1 and category 2 climbs, with the final top coming just 14.2km from the line. From there, it was a very technical descent and five flat kilometres that led to the finish.

 

As expected, a large number of sprinters stayed at the hotel when the peloton gathered under a sunny sky in northern Italy. Nicola Ruffoni (Bardiani), André Greipel, Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Soudal) and Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge) all left the race.

 

Lots of attacks

Many expected that a break cold make it to the finish and so it was a very fast start with many attacks. Tobias Ludvigsson (Giant-Alpecin) was the first to get  a bigger gap, but he was brought back after 5km of racing. Later two riders managed to escape, then Georg Preidler (Giant-Alpecin) tried a solo move and then a large 20-rider group got a gap. However, things were back together at the 20km mark.

 

After 21km of racing, Daniel Oss (BMC) and Valerio Conti (Lampre-Merida) got clear but after 2 kilometers of fierce battle, they were also brought back. Instead, Manuel Quinziato, Alessandro De Marchi (BMC), Matteo Busato (Southeast), Matej Mohoric (Lampre-Merida), Maarten Tjallingii (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Blel Kadri (Ag2r) escaped and more riders, including Matthias Brändle (IAM) joined the move. However, they were brought back with 130km to go.

 

A big group gets clear

De Marchi refused to give up and so he attacked again. Simon Clarke (Cannondale), Stefan Denifl (IAM) and Matej Mohoric (Lampre-Merida) joined the move but Nippo were chasing hard as they wanted Damiano Cunego to attack on the climb.

 

Suddenly a very big group had gathered in front as Matteo Montaguti (Ag2r), Davide Malacarne, Andrey Zeits (Astana), Alessandro De Marchi (BMC), Simon Clarke, Moreno Moser, Ramunas Navardauskas (Cannondale), Johann van Zyl, Jaco Ventet (Dimension Data), Matteo Trentin, Lukasz Wisniowski (Etixx-QuickStep), Arnaud Demare (FDJ), Alexandr Kolobnev (Gazprom-Rusvelo), Stefan Denifl (IAM), Diego Ulissi, Ilya Koshevoy, Matej Mohoric, Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida), Pim Lighthart (Lotto Soudal), Carlos Betancur, Jasha Sütterlin, Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar), Damiano Cunego, Grega Bole (Nippo-Vini Fantini), Bert De Backer (Orica-GreenEDGE), Enrico Battaglin, Maarten Tjallingii (LottoNL-Jumbo), Sebastian Henao, Christian Knees (Sky), Manuele Boaro (Tinkoff), Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) and Matteo Busato (Wilier) surged clear. Demare beat Ligthart, Tjallingii and Nizzolo in the intermediate sprint and as the peloton slowed down, the gap quickly went out to more than a minute.

 

Etixx-QuickStep take control

With 120km to go, the gap had gone out to 1.50 as Fabio Sabatini (Etixx-QuickStep) had taken control. However, the Belgian team was pleased with the composition of the group and was definitely not chasing.

 

Modolo, Koshevoy, Mohoric and Knees were very keen to set the pace as they had strong climbers in the group and they went full gas as they hit the first climb with an advantage of 2.05. Unsurprisingly, Modolo sacrificed himself completely on the lower slopes and this was too much for De Backer and Demare who were the first to get dropped.

 

Wellens makes his move

As soon as the peloton hit the climb, Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) attacked hard. He was joined by Jose Herrada (Movistar), Laurent Didier (Trek), Axel Domont (Ag2r), Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani), Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), Alexey Rybalkin (Gazprom) and a BMC rider. Darwin Atapuma (BMC) and Joe Dombrowski (BMC) were among a group of riders to join from behind.

 

Etixx-QuickStep were reluctant to let that group get clear and as they chased hard, Wellens hit out again. He passed Demare and De Backer before being joined by Visconti, Dombrowski, Domont and Atapuma. They picked up Navardaskas and Ligthart and the former sacrificed himself completely for his teammate.

 

Nieve takes off

Denifl attacked from the front group and quickly got a big gap while Etixx-QuickStep chased hard in the exploding peloton. The big chase group got also whittled down as Trentin, Knees, Modolo, Tjallingii and Wisniowski were all passed by the chasers.

 

Wellens and Domont were dropped from the chase group before Navardauskas also swung off, leaving it to Dombrowski, Atapuma and Visconti to try to close the final bit of the gap. Meanwhile, Mikel Nieve (Sky) and Alexander Foliforov (Gazprom) attacked from the peloton which was 1.15 behind Denifl and led by Carlos Verona for Etixx-QuickStep.

 

Visconti goes down

Denifl reached the top with an advantage of 1.15 over the big chase group which had been joined by Dombrowski, Atapuma and Visconti. The latter went head to head with Cunego in the battle for second place in the KOM sprint and managed to come out on top. Unfortunately, he hit the deck in the turn at the top. Verona led the peloton to the top 2.03 behind the lone Denifl.

 

Visconti rejoined the chase group on the descent which slowly reduced the gap to less than a minute on the descent. As they hit the next uncategorized climb, Clarke and Moser sacrificed themselves for Dombrowski, setting a hard pace to give the American climber a chance to win the stage.

 

Nieve makes the junction

Trentin took over the pace-setting in the peloton. He managed to reduce the gap to less than 2 minutes.

 

Denifl almost crashed several times on the descent and so the chasers were just 30 seconds behind as they hit the second climb. At this point, Nieve and Foliforov had joined the group which was now composed of Montaguti, Malacarne, Zeits, De Marchi, Atapuma, Clarke, Dombrowski, Moser, Van Zyl, Venter, Ulissi, Mohoric, Koshevoy, Visconti, Betancur, Sütterlin, Rojas, Cunego, Bole, Battaglin, Henao, Nieve, Boaro and Busato.

 

Betancur drops off

Mohoric hit the front as they went up the climb and the pace was too much for Betancur who became the first of the four Movistar riders to get distanced. Later Sütterlin also got dropped. Denifl again proved that he was the better climber as he had pushed his advantages out to 1.15 and 3.30 as he entered the final 90km.

 

Denifl reached the top with an advantage of 1.20 before Cunego beat Visconti in the sprint for second place. Trentin led the peloton across the line 4.05 behind the lone Austrian.

 

Denifl sits up

Denifl wisely opted to wait for the chasers and so it was a very big front group that gathered as they entered the final 75km. At this point, they had an advantage of 2.20 over the peloton.

 

Unsurprisingly, Mohoric and Clarke went full gas as they emptied themselves for teammates Ulissi and Dombrowski respectively. However, they were unable to increase their advantage as Wisniowski had rejoined the peloton and started to work with Trentin on the front.

 

A fight for position

At the first passage of the finish line with 58km to go, Clarke and Mohoric had pushed the gap out to 2.45 and it even went out to 3.15 with 43km to go. This prompted Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) to ask his teammate Ruben Plaza to join forces with Wisniowski and Trentin on the front of the group.

 

Battaglin beat Ulissi in the final intermediate sprint before they hit the climb. The huge fight for position meant that the gap was reduced to 2.50 as the final battle started.

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