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"When we got above 2,000 metres, I started to feel much better and at ease. In the end it was a good day, but it wasn’t easy. Maybe I didn’t even believe in it myself either, but deep down I was hoping to do something like...

Photo: ANSA - PERI / DI MEO / ZENNARO

GIRO D'ITALIA

RACE PROFILE
|
NEWS
27.05.2016 @ 23:15 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) proved that you can never count on the aggressive Italian who proved himself as the true champion he is by riding to a storming solo win in the first of two big stages in the Alps. Having attacked already on the Colle dell’Agnello, he joined forces with Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) and after the latter had crashed on the descent,  he dropped his Colombian rival on the final climb before putting 53 seconds into the Orica-GreenEDGE leader. A devastated Kruijswijk lost almost five minutes and so Chaves moves into the race lead with a 44-second advantage over Nibali while Kruijswijk is now third at 1.05.

 

We have gathered several reactions.

 

Vincenzo Nibali: Maybe I didn’t even believe in it myself

"I was overwhelmed by emotion and so I cried. It hasn't been a Giro d'Italia easy for me, but there is still one stage and I'll try until the end,” Vincenzo Nibali said.

 

"Climbing the Colle dell'Agnello, I did not feel 100%. Then I unlocked and I thought I could make a great exploit. I have to thank all my teammates who have made this victory possible.

 

”I've won by rage today. It hasn't been easy to handle everything that has happened over the past few days. I dedicate this victory to Rosario [a young pupil of his who accidentally died two weeks ago]. I'm very happy. It's been a terribly hard stage. I want to keep my feet on the ground. There's another hard stage to contest tomorrow.

 

"In the high mountains, I feel good. I feel much more at ease on longer climbs like this compared to the shorter ones.  Today I found a bit of feeling again too. Over the years, I’ve always seen that in the Grand Tours you can always hope right to the end that something will happen. You never know. Not every year is the same. I’ve been through some very difficult days but today I certainly found the release.

 

"Tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow’s stage will be pretty similar to today's, so we’ll have to see how to take it on with the whole team, and we’ll have to be focused. It’s sure to be a very difficult day.

"Today I raced thinking only of the stage win knowing that there were a lot of riders ahead of me in the general classification. But when we got towards the top of the Agnello, I could see that there were various riders suffering so I looked to accelerate. There were three of us over the top. I could see Kruijsiwjk wasn’t going very well, so I accelerated. I took the descent on fast. Then Kruijswijk crashed and we changed our strategy.
 

"I had completely different sensations [here and in last year’s Tour, they’re completely different situations. Here, even in the days when I was only so-so, I still had good sensations, it was just that I couldn’t express myself. It might simply be that the Dolomite stage was very hard and I made a big effort to chase for 25 kilometres, so maybe I paid something in the days that followed.
 

"When we got above 2,000 metres, I started to feel much better and at ease. In the end it was a good day, but it wasn’t easy. Maybe I didn’t even believe in it myself either, but deep down I was hoping to do something like that.

 

”We had Michele Scarponi in an important breakaway. I mostly thought of winning the stage. I rode away and went straight to Risoul. It wasn’t simple to bounce back but inside myself, I kept believing that I could do something before the end of the Giro. This is for sure a beautiful victory but my favourite one remains Il Lombardia.”

 

"21 days are always hard. Tomorrow will be the hardest day. This Giro will continue until the end. I want to keep my feet on the ground. We are all very close, even (Alejandro) Valverde. It will be a great battle where you have to watch everyone.

 

"At the briefing this morning, we planned that Fuglsang or Scarponi should attack. My goal was to follow. That's what I did. On the dell'Agnello Colle, I followed the accelerations and dropped Valverde. So I accelerated and I made the descent quickly. That's when Kruijswijk crashed. He had to take a turn in a bad way. I then spoke with my director and we changed strategy. Now we had to go full gas to the finish.”

 

"We look forward to the last mountain stage  now the GC has reopened. We are calm and aware that we can do well, commented sport director Alexander Shefer.

 

“I said the Giro finishes in Turin so congratulation to Vincenzo; it was brilliant today,” manager Alexandre Vinokourov told Eurosport. “He’s a real champion and congratulations to the team because they worked hard. Without them it’s very hard to win the Giro. Vincenzo, thanks to a great team effort, has found the legs, and the Giro is still not finished.

 

“This victory is extra motivation for the team. Everything is not over and tomorrow we will try again. Chaves was in difficulty towards the end, so you never know. The Giro is still not finished.”

 

Michele Scarponi: Nibali has proved that he is a champion

"It was an important and difficult stage,” Michele Scarponi told RAI. “The Giro is still long and we still have one day left. We are happy again.

 

"During three weeks everyone can have hard times. Vincenzo has proven to be a champion who can overcome challenges. We are ready for tomorrow.”

 

In-form Mikel Nieve close to second Giro d’Italia stage win

Mikel Nieve rode to a superb second place on a memorable and mountainous 19th stage at the Giro d'Italia.

 

The Basque climber was the only man able to follow a late acceleration from Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) on the final climb to Risoul.

 

Nieve hung tough to secure another impressive result, overhauling Chaves to finish 51 seconds behind stage winner Nibali on a dramatic day for the general classification.

 

Nicolas Roche also made the day's 28-man break alongside team-mates Nieve, Ian Boswell and David Lopez, with the Irishman securing ninth as the stage culminated on French soil.

 

"We tried. I did the maximum I could do. I finished second and you have to congratulate Nibali who proved to be the strongest.

 

"Now the goal is only to regain strength. We will see how it goes in tomorrow's stage."

 

Esteban Chaves I deserve to be in the maglia rosa

Colombian Esteban Chaves has moved into the lead of the 99th Giro d’Italia after finishing third on an epic stage 19 today.

 

As Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Pro Team) took the stage victory ahead, Chaves finished over four minutes in front of leader Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) who crashed into a wall of snow on the descent of the ‘Cima Coppi’.

 

The 26-year-old claimed the pink jersey for ORICA-GreenEDGE and holds a 44second advantage to Nibali with just two more race days to come.

 

A great team performance saw Ruben Plaza escape in the breakaway on the ‘Cima Coppi’ climb before joining up with Chaves later in the stage and supporting the queen stage winner onto the start of the final climb.

 

“It’s a dream,” said Chaves. “Absolutely incredible. The team were fantastic yet again today and I have to thank them and everyone at ORICA-GreenEDGE because this is for all of us.

 

“Today was truly a difficult stage but we executed our race plan to perfection. Ruben (Plaza) was ahead in the break and he worked very hard for me in the final after Damien (Howson) had done a great job on the Colle dell Agnello.”

 

Chaves both instigated and fended off attacks in an impressive performance throughout the stage before battling and riding intelligently with Nibali on the climb to the finish in Risoul.

 

“I tried to follow Vincenzo (Nibali) when he attacked late in the stage,” explained Chaves. “I managed to keep my rhythm and stay close enough at the finish. I’m very sorry for the crash of Steven (Kruijswijk), unfortunately it’s a part of bike racing and he was unlucky today.

 

“It was an amazing day of the race for me. Also, more important I take the maglia rosa. I'm really happy today - the team worked unbelievable. All the guys attacking the dell'Angelo, and Ruben waited for me, and pushed like a real machine. In the final I tried to follow Nibali but he was stronger today - I take the maglia in the final and we will try to defend tomorrow.

 

“Kruijswijk’s team showed today they would fight for the maglia rosa, but unfortunately he crashed. Sorry, mate. I was behind Nibali and he descends very fast.

 

“It's been difficult. I'm happy to have the Maglia Rosa and be so close to winning the Giro but there's another hard stage tomorrow. I'm sorry for Steven Kruijswijk. He made a small mistake in the downhill but he defended himself very courageously. I've tried to stay with Nibali but he was too strong for me today.

 

"We’ll never know what would have happened. We can’t reverse events in life. That’s cycling, the race was on. It only takes one error and you can crash. Zakarin crashed too, and if either I or Nibali had made a mistake, it could have happened to us. I hope that this jersey doesn’t seem to be worth less.

"It’s a dream to take the pink jersey. I always say that dreams can come true. There’s a lot of work behind this moment by my team but we always believed we could do it. I also have to thank my family and all the people who were involved and who have helped me in the difficult moments. This jerseys shows that dreams can true.”
 

“I want to say that was a very special day for me, my team and my country. The team worked incredibly. They were all great guys: Bewley, Hepburn, Svein Tuft, Howson. Ruben was in the break and I was with Howson and Txurruka.

“We attacked a little early, five kilometres from the summit of the Agnello, but had to do it to gain time to make the difference. I struggled to stay with Nibali on the descent; he’s a little crazy but was ‘loco’ or ‘pazzo’ as you say in Italian. But you do it when the maglia rosa is up for grabs. I’m sorry for Kruijswijk that he crashed. I didn’t see it but heard about it on the radio. At the end of the day Nibali was the strongest and I couldn’t stay with him. Congratulations to him and Kruijswijk, who fought so hard.
 

“Tomorrow is the toughest stag for sure. The last stage always is and now there are three riders within minute. That’s incredible.

“Today we raced to attack, tomorrow we can ride to defend the jersey. So we can stay calmer, with our feet on the ground. It’s also a short stage but a hard stage. We’ll do everything we can to try to take the jersey home. It’ll be ‘bellissimo’ if we can, if not we’ll have done our very best.”

 

"Taking the pink jersey is fantastic. It is a dream. We are not that far from Turin, so why not dream? We have a great team, Plaza waited for me. Then when the teammates were gone, Nibali attacked. Today he was the strongest. I tried to follow him, but he was simply stronger. Tomorrow we will give everything to defend the jersey. "

 

Sport director Matt White was very content at the end of the stage but well aware there is another big day in the mountains to come tomorrow.

 

“We wanted to get someone in the breakaway today that’s for sure,” said White. “After yesterday's stage we knew the racing was going to be very aggressive today with lots of teams looking to get into the break which didn’t end up forming until 75kilometres in.

 

“It made the difference for us having Plaza up the road because he was so important for Esteban in the final third of the stage when the chasers looked to be getting closer.”

 

“Nibali was very strong on the final climb,” continued White. “But Esteban rode really well and measured his rhythm and his tempo all the way to the finish.

 

“Tomorrow is going to be a very difficult stage and we are going to have to be on our guard all the time, but we have one more hard day to go and we are really happy to be in this position.

 

“We didn’t know who was going to attack on the biggest climb, the Cima Coppi, but we always had the plan to get one of our riders into the breakaway, and it was a very successful move with Ruben Plaza doing some incredible work today.

 

”Everybody is human, accidents happen, and people have good days and bad days. We’ve got one day to go and we’ve got one man to mark and that is Vincenzo Nibali.

 

”[Chaves] gave everything he could on the climb. Nibali played some games at the bottom of the climb but we knew that he would do that. He’s in good shape and he won’t be going anywhere without us tomorrow.

 

”Tomorrow is one of the hardest ways to finish off any Grand Tour, and I’m confident that Chaves is up to the challenge.”

 

Consistent Diego Ulissi close to another victory at the Giro d’Italia

For Lampre-Merida, Diego Ulissi finished fourth after having been in the early break

 

"I'm very happy with my performance: I'm fine, I feel comfortable on the climbs and I succeed in riding at a good pace which allows me to be competitive,” he said. “I anticipated the rest of the breakaway by attacking on the Colle dell'Agnello, the situation of the race became favourable for my characteristics but the stage was very demanding, also because of the crash of Kruijswijk which intensified the battle for the pink jersey.
 

”I focused my attention on the goal of exploiting my good form as much as possible. I obtained the 4th place and this result satisfies me a lot, because I'm aware that I gave my best.”

 

Rafal Majka still hopes for the podium at the Giro d’Italia

Starting the day sixth in the GC, Rafal Majka spent another day among the GC contenders while the Maglia Rosa lost his jersey on the final climb. Finishing the day in fifth, Majka goes into the final mountain stage fifth in the GC.

 

At the start of the day and the moment the flag dropped, the attacks came. Almost every team wanted to have one of their riders up the road today, but every time an escape attempt was made, the peloton pulled it back in. After more than 70km of racing and half the day gone, a break finally went clear. In this group of 28 were Jesús Hernández and Evgeny Petrov, and quickly the gap went out – reaching nearly five minutes after 95km of racing had been completed.

 

After a long wait for the break to form, Sport Director, Tristan Hoffman, was pleased to see a strong Tinkoff presence there.

“There was a long fight of nearly 70km for a break to go but when it did we had two guys there, Jesús and Evgeny.

 

"The plan was to have them up the road if the attacks came from behind and this worked out well with Jesús going over the top of the climb then waiting for Rafal behind to help him chase the front. They chased together for 45km, and got the lead down to around 10-seconds, but couldn’t close it."

 

It was an exceptionally difficult day coming towards the end of a long race, but after a difficult start, Rafal Majka felt stronger as the day went on.

 

“I suffered in the first climb a bit, but then got stronger in the second climb. It has been a tough, long Giro with strong adversaries, but we still have another day ahead where differences can be made before the finish.”

 

Hoffman was pleased with the Tinkoff leader’s performance today, given that he had three weeks of racing behind him, and looked to tomorrow’s stage.

 

“Rafal did a good race, he didn’t have super legs, otherwise he would have been there when the attack came on the first climb, but today I think we saw today the race is not over. If tomorrow the race explodes like today, then things can change again. We are still racing for a podium spot until the end.”

 

With the finish only two days away, Hoffman was happy with the team effort and level of commitment shown by the riders.

 

“We have had some sickness and some crashes but we have still nine riders here, which is really good, especially for this final week when it becomes really hard. Hopefully we can continue this to Turin.”

 

Alejandro Valverde: It was the altitude again

The third-to-last stage in this year's Giro d'Italia - 162km from Pinerolo to Risoul - got Vincenzo Nibali (AST) back  into overall contention after a resounding victory as he took Alejandro Valverde out of the provisional podium. The Colle dell'Agnello, 'Cima Coppi' of the 2016 race, played a massive role in the stage already since a push from Orica-GreenEdge in the second part of the ascent led to an attack from Esteban Chaves -2nd in the GC until today - which isolated race leader Kruijswijk (TLJ) and dropped Valverde 2km from the top.

 

Valverde, supported in the last part of the climb and the subsequent descent by Rory Sutherland, José Joaquín Rojas and an outstanding José Herrada, flew past Kruijswijk as he lost balance against a wall of snow and later had to change bikes. Also Ilnur Zakarin (KAT) crashed during the downhill, forced to abandon with suspected collarbone injuries.

 

Despite a furious pursuit before the decisive 12km climb towards Risoul, Valverde couldn't bridge back to Nibali, who got the better of Chaves to increase his margin over Valverde. From one minute on the foot of the climb, to almost two and a half minutes at the finish, Alejandro Valverde now sits 43" behind the podium and 1'48" after the Maglia Rosa. Vars, Bonette and Lombarda, all Cat-1 climbs, will decide the overall outcome in the Giro as the final chance looms for Valverde, who also gave his best in Andalo when the GC was nearly lost for him.

 

"I didn't know that Kruijswijk crashed, but it seemed a bit strange alright [that he lost time],” Valverde told Cyclingnws.

 

"It was the altitude. I struggled a bit on the Agnello but I climbed quite well here at Risoul and I'm relatively happy because I gave everything.

 

"Kruijswijk isn't the kind of guy to give up. I'm just happy that I'm still fighting for the podium after such a tough stage."

 

Movistar blame motorcycles for failed chase at the Giro d’Italia

"As we said prior to the stage, everything could really happen today, as you could see,” Movistar sports director Jose Vicente Garcia Acosta said. “Alejandro was dropped on the Agnello, but thanks to Herrada's help, we got to just twelve seconds' distance behind Nibali and Chaves on the descent, so close to catching them. However, race circumstances combined with the amount of motorcycles in the Giro made that impossible, in a very strange way. We had to fight until the very end.

 

"I suspected Nibali could react in this way today. He's a very obstinate rider, even more when he's hurt in his pride. He knew how to manage his energies to focus everything on today's finale, despite struggling a bit on the Agnello, to hit back in Risoul. Another big stage could happen tomorrow in the Giro; let's see how our lads recover."

 

Sick Carlos Betancur abandons the Giro d’Italia

The real bad news for the Movistar Team in today's racing came from back at the top of the Agnello. Carlos Betancur, completely empty after a flu caught days ago left him with general discomfort and gastrointestinal problems, had to abandon just 48 hours before the end in Turin. A sad end to his first Grand Tour in Movistar Team colours.

 

Rigoberto Uran: I will try to help Chaves win the Giro d’Italia

Rigoberto Uran moved into 8th overall but may now turn into a domestique for a rival.

 

"If I am in front tomorrow, I will try to help Chaves,” he told Rai.  “My personal goal is a stage victory."

 

Impressive Simon Clarke fights for the teams classification in Giro mountains

Today’s stage at the Giro d’Italia was some of the most exciting stages fans have been treated to out of the Italian Grand Tour this year. On days like these, every rider has a story, and Simon Clarke, Cannondale’s third finisher, coming in at 6:49 for 21st, tells you his below:

 

"When it took 75km for the breakaway to go away, I think we all knew what sort of day it was going to be today. The fact that no one was happy with the breaks made it clear that a lot of teams had ambitions today. When the break finally went, we had Moreno [Moser]in it, but it so close to a big climb, which is always a recipe for the shit to hit the fan – which is pretty much what happened.

 

"I was two minutes behind the maglia rosa group over the top of the first climb [Coll dell’Agnello], but I had caught Moreno after the breakaway had split, which made me the third guy on the road for the team. In terms of team classification, my time officially counted on the finish line, so I hauled it down the descent.

 

"I caught Kruijswijk, passed him, caught the white jersey group and just sat with them. I knew I could get to Rigo. I knew I couldn’t help him, but with team class in mind, I had to go full gas to the finish line.

 

"I was probably only one of a few guys that hadn’t been in the break and wasn’t a GC guy that made it to the base of the final climb. I knew I was a bit out of my league racing alongside Amador and the white jersey, so my plan was to pace myself.

 

"Because Kruijswijk had been pulling the whole time in the valley, he was pretty pinned by the time he reached the button. He set what ended up being a perfect tempo for me. I managed to get a fair way up the climb and then with maybe 5km to go, my lights went out. I just had to get to the finish line as best as I could.

 

"Before today, we couldn’t really plan for tomorrow. Now seeing the GC situation, there’s no doubt that Astana will absolutely blow the race apart tomorrow in attempt to get 45 seconds back. Nibali was able to drop Chaves today, and he’s going to think he can do it again tomorrow. I think the breakaway is a waste of time tomorrow. You need to sit in and all our climbers will hang on as long as we can to support Rigo as best we can."

 

Consistent Georg Preidler again in the top 10 in Giro d’Italia mountain stage

If the breakaway of the day took a long time to form, they were eventually 28 riders who broke clear of the bunch on the slopes of the Cima Coppi. Among them was once again Georg Preidler who continued to show good form at this year’s Giro

 

It was a strong performance by Georg Preidler to take 8th place on the big mountain stage.

 

Georg Preidler said: “It was a hard stage in the mountains but I am really satisfied with my performance. I gave it everything today.”

 

Coach Marc Reef added: “The goal was to be in the breakaway of the day and after a long fight, Georg was once again in a big group at the front. He had some difficulties on the Cima Coppi and in the descent, he managed to come back to the group of Nibali and Chaves. On the last climb, he got dropped and decided to ride his own pace and it was a very impressive ride from him to finish in 8th place.”

 

Hubert Dupont surprises himself with top 10 in Giro mountain stage

Ag2r had Hubert Dupont in 10th.

 

"Early in the race, the terrain was mostly flat and didn’t suit me so I stayed quiet,” he said. “When we got to the bottom of the Col d'Agnel, I started to move up. I tried to go there but I was not great. A big break got clear and I was there. It turned out that this was the day's breakaway. 
 

”We were 24 in the front, we had trouble getting organized with more teams having strength in numbers. In the hard part of the Agnello, over the last ten kilometers, it was a bit every man for himself. Scarponi made ​​an attack and climbed at an incredible speed. I held on. 
 

”At first I really struggled and I was dropped from the Sky group. On a plateau I managed to make the effort to get back and I held on until the end. I knew if I could be with them in the valley, it would be better. Behind there was a battle. We were caught 5-10km from Risoul.  We took advantage of the work from Astana and Orica to get to the last climb. 
 

”For me it was a beautiful day. Tomorrow there is still a big stage.  I'll try not to be in trouble. Everyone has used a lot of energy today.I'm pretty surprised because my feelings are not very good off the bike. I have no energy.”

 

Excellent solo ride by Maxime Monfort in Giro d’Italia mountains

After a fast beginning of the stage, 28 riders got away, among them Tim Wellens and Maxime Monfort. Especially Monfort was very strong. After Michele Scarponi rode solo to the top of the Colle Dell’Agnello, Monfort caught up with the Italian in the descent. Scarponi had to wait for Nibali which was an opportunity for Monfort to ride solo towards Risoul, the final climb. The group Chaves/Nibali caught Monfort at ten kilometres from the finish. Eventually, the Belgian crossed the finish line as eleventh and moves up in the classification; he is fourteenth.

 

"There was quite a fight at the beginning and I tried to be as smart as possible to be in the break without being completely burnt,” he said. “And it was successful. On the first climb, Sky made ​​the tempo and there were not many riders left. I decided to make a rapid descent and got back to Scarponi who was already in front. He quickly said he would wait for Nibali who was in the group behind. I found myself alone in the lead and I gave it my all. There was a lot of headwind but I felt good. I kept my tempo. Unfortunately, the Nibali group caught me 10 kilometers from the finish. I could not follow them. I set my own tempo to still finish the day on a positive note. I'm happy with my stage. Tomorrow will be hard with a very close GC. It's going to be a great day.”

 

Darwin Atapuma promises to give it a go in final mountain stage

Darwin Atapuma reached the base of the Colle del’Agnello with the Maglia Rosa group, before attack after attack from the General Classification contenders and a crash for race leader Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) opened the field for the Maglia Rosa to change hands to Estaben Chaves (Orica GreenEDGE).

 

Atapuma finished in 13th place, 3’36 behind Nibali. He now sits in 12th place on the General Classification heading into the final mountains stage on Stage 20.

 

Darwin Atapuma said:

 

“Once again I was feeling good and had good sensations on the climbs. At the top of Colle del’Agnello I was distanced a bit and then it was hard to come back from there. On the final summit finish in Risoul, I was at the limit. But we have one last chance in the mountains tomorrow and I want to give it everything I have. With good form I hope to be up there again.”

 

Max Sciandri, Sports Director, added:

 

“Today was a really tough stage for everyone, the GC guys and the non-climbers. When the breakaway finally went we didn’t have anyone in it which we really needed to. Not necessarily Darwin but one of the other guys who could have given it a go. But in the end the breakaway didn’t make it and the GC guys came back. Darwin felt good but wasn’t in the best position at the end. Tomorrow we’ll do everything that’s possible to go for the stage win, before we hit the final stage on Sunday.”

 

Impressive Bob Jungels moves up in the Giro d’Italia GC

A tough and energy consuming stage awaited the bunch, but it didn't intimidate in any way Bob Jungels, the best young rider in the race, who proved once again, as if it was necessary, that he's one of the biggest talents in the professional peloton.

 

The pattern of the previous days was repeated also now, which meant that a huge escape made its way to the front, with Carlos Verona – a debutant in the Corsa Rosa – among the 27 riders to get a maximum advantage of six minutes. On the merciless ramps of Agnello, which took the riders to an altitude of 2744 meters, Michele Scarponi (Astana) attacked from the break, while Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) made a move out of the peloton, which was seriously trimmed by the Colombian's action. Five riders responded immediately, including Bob Jungels, but a second surge of Chaves let the Luxembourg champion trailing the contenders' group by less than a minute at the top of the ascent.

 

On the fast downhill, two dramatic moments unfolded, as Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) and Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) went to the ground. The Russian suffered a collarbone injury and was forced to retire, while the leader of the race, who crashed on a snow bank, returned to his bike and continued, but he lost two minutes due to the incident. Soon, he was joined by Jungels and Carlos Verona, after the two Etixx – Quick-Step put their descending skills to work and made up the gap to the maglia rosa group.

 

In what was one of the toughest Grand Tour stages in recent years, Bob Jungels put on another valiant and powerful effort to limit the damages, at one point during the Risoul climb even attacking Kruijswijk and leaving the GC leader behind. Pacing himself on the French ascent, which was making its debut in the Giro d'Italia – Etixx – Quick-Step's rider crossed the line in 14th place, less than four minutes behind the winner, a result which saw him increase his advantage over the next rider in the white jersey standings.

 

More importantly, following his remarkable ride on the breathtaking stage 19 between Pinerolo and Risoul, the 23-year-old rose to sixth place in the general classification, a fantastic result for a rider who's just in his third Grand Tour since turning pro. At the end of the day, Bob Jungels talked about the difficulties encountered on the first climb and how he managed to avoid hitting the red zone in this penultimate mountain stage of the Corsa Rosa.

 

"It was hard to breathe at high altitude on Agnello, especially when the attacks came, so that's why I wanted to find my own rhythm. Over the top I couldn't follow the leaders, but did a good downhill, went really fast there, and this was important. We had backwind on that section, so I hit a maximum speed of 105 km/h. Then, luckily, Carlos Verona came from the break and helped me until Risoul, and I want to thank him for that. On the last ascent, I rode again without panicking, had a good pace and overall I'm satisfied with how things went. Hopefully, tomorrow I will be as strong and enjoy another solid ride", said Jungels of stage 20, which will take the peloton between Guillestre and Sant'Anna di Vinadio (134 kilometers).


Broken rib for Steven Kruijswijk who admits defeat at the Giro d’Italia

Steven Kruijswijk lost the Giro d’Italia’s leader’s pink jersey today due to crash coming off the Colle dell’Agnello. Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s front man fell, lost time in his race to return and finished 4-54 minutes behind stage winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana). Esteban Chaves (Orica - GreenEDGE) took the pink jersey.

 

The Dutch WorldTour team appeared to be in control as it has over the last three weeks. Kruijswijk was among the best climbers on the hardest climb of the race.

 

“On the top of the Colle dell’Agnello, I was on my limit,” Kruijswijk said. “I wanted to eat and drink something, and followed the others.”

 

In that moment, everything went wrong. In the beginning of the descent, Kruijswijk crashed.

 

“I made a stupid mistake. I made a wrong move and crashed in that wall of snow. My bike was battered, and I wasn’t able to continue immediately. After I started riding, everything hurt. I felt pain in my back and my ribs, and my morale was broken. I knew that I had lost time and tried to move on, but it was over. I lost my Giro today.

 

“I screwed up. A stupid mistake. It hurt so much. I’ve lost the Giro. I’ve f*cked up everything.

 

“It was a stupid mistake on the descent. I just screwed up. I was at my limit at the top and wanted to eat and drink something. I was following the others but made a mistake and ended up in the snow bank.

 

“The crash wasn’t too bad but my bike was a mess and I couldn’t ride on with it. I lost contact with the leaders, and when it’s like that, you know it’s all over.”

 

“I can feel that I’ve hurt my ribs and my back. After the finish I was really hurting. My morale is broken. I tried to give it everything but my body hurts like hell and so it’s all over.”

 

Sports Director Addy Engels thinks otherwise.

 

“It isn’t over for Steven,” he added. “The best situation would have been with Steven still in the pink jersey. It looked like that was going to happen because he gave a good impression on the Colle dell’Agnello. The odds are not in our favour anymore, but when he’s able to recover, he can strike back tomorrow.”

 

Kruijswijk could not receive a new bike immediately.

 

“I was the first car behind Kruijswijk’s group, but we were not allowed to go ahead because of the dropped riders,” Engels continued. “We told him to go on with his old bike because we were not behind hem. When we reached him, he said that he wanted to change bikes immediately.

 

“We kept on shouting for him. It was obvious that he was going to lose a lot of time, but tomorrow is another very hard stage. The way he kept on going today looked like he is still able to push on for tomorrow.”

 

Kruijswijk went to the hospital, immediately after the stage. It has been confirmed that he has a broken rib. The team will make an update tomorrow morning.

 

Excellent team performance saves top 10 for Kanstantsin Siutsou at the Giro d’Italia

The action would begin before the Agnello though as 26 riders got into the break of the day, this happened just after 74km of racing. Johann van Zyl was representing Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka in the big move.

 

GC rider Kanstantsin Siutsou was not enjoying the Agnello but fortunately he could rely on Merhawi Kudus and Igor Anton to pace him up the climb, knowing that Johann van Zyl was also up the road.

 

Going over the top, Siutsou was around 4 minutes down on the Nibali group. Th trio of riders joined up with Van Zyl on the negative gradient and it became a 4 rider team time trial for the African Team. The boys were trying to limit the losses of Siutsou, bearing in mind that the stage still had to finish with a 12.8km climb to Risoul, averaging just above 6%. 

 

The rider to finish directly behind Kruijswijk on the stage though was Siutsou. After and incredible ride by the team to deliver Siutsou to the foot of the final climb, the team had ensured Siutsou didn’t lose any more time during the 45km downhill section to the start of the final climb. The Belorussian then found his 2nd wind and flew up the final big test of the stage to not only limit his time loss, but in the end, Siutsou even gained a place on the general classification by moving up from 10th to 9th overall.

 

Sports director Jean Pierre Heynderickx said:
 

“It was a crazy stage today and everybody knew it would be hard to get into the break. We tried first with Merhawi Kudus, then Jay Thomson and after with Johann. A big break of 26 riders went with Johann in, it was a good situation for us. Kanstantsin didn't have a good moment on the first climb but luckily Merhawi and Igor could stay with him and help him in the downhill. Afterwards, Johann was waiting for him so we were pulling with 4 riders. It was a real team effort and great to see it, we are very happy about that. In the final climb Kanstantsin found his good legs again, he was catching one rider after the other one and now he is 9th in the GC, so we won a place today. ”

 

Stefano Pirazzi with no regrets after solid ride in Giro d’Italia mountains

Bardiani played their chances with a proud Stefano Pirazzi. The Italian veteran took part in the daily breakaway and finished 22nd. In the classification he’s now 18th.

 

“I wanted to try, it was my daily goal and I didn’t want to give up,” said Pirazzi. “It was a really hard day - I needed legs and head. I did my best and I don’t have any regrets.”

 

Ilnur Zakarin suffers broken collarbone and scapula in bad Giro d’Italia crash

Two days before the end of the Giro d’Italia, Ilnur Zakarin crashed out on stage 19 from Pinerolo to Risoul. Zakarin came off in a turn on the long descent off the Coll dell'Agnello. At that moment Zakarin was fifth overall, 4.50 behind race leader Steven Kruijswijk, who crashed as well and lost his pink leader’s jersey. For Zakarin the race is over. He ended the stage in the ambulance.

 

The crash immediately looked serious. After a while Zakarin was able to move, indicating that he was conscious.

 

“Ilnur is in the hospital now. By the information we have at this moment, he escaped from the worst. The medical check is still going on and later we will have more information about his collarbone or shoulder and all other injuries. It is such terrible bad luck for Ilnur and for our whole team. It was a technical downhill and Ilnur was going fast to catch the leaders. Of course he risked a bit. Those things happen in cycling. There is nothing we can do. It was clear that everything could happen in these two stages in the high mountains. Somebody gets luck, somebody gets bad luck. Unfortunately it was Ilnur who had bad luck today as well as the pink jersey, ” said Team Director Dmitry Konyshev.

 

At the moment of the crash, Ilnur Zakarin was chasing a small group including pink jersey Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), Vincenzo Nibali (Team Astana) and Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge).

 

”[Ilnur Zakarin] had a big fall - 20 or 30 metres he flew,” Konyshev added. “The doctors didn’t want to move him at the beginning but he’s conscious and he’s talking and we think that it’s just a collarbone.

 

”Of course, the health is more important. I’m really sorry for him, though, because the race was getting interesting and he was feeling good and he was in the main group.”

 

After complete evaluating and testing following Friday’s crash in the Giro d’Italia, Team KATUSHA’s Ilnur Zakarin has returned to the team hotel and a plan is made for the next few days.

 

“We just arrived from the hospital after all medical testings. Ilnur has a fracture of the left collarbone and of the left scapula. In general he feels OK. It is a very sad day for us, but we hope for a quick recovery from Ilnur. Tomorrow he flies to Munchen to the Orthopädie- Zentrum Rosenhem where on Monday doctor Oliver J. Braunsperger will do a surgery. All the team wish Ilnur to get well soon,” said general manager Viatcheslav Ekimov.

 

“I want to thank everyone for support and warm greetings! I am OK if it's possible to say that in this situation. I hope my recovery will go fast,” said Ilnur Zakarin.

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