Overall favorite Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) lost over a minute to his rivals in stage 16 of the Giro d’Italia Tuesday. The early wearer of the pink jersey got dropped on the climb of the Mortirolo with over 30km to go and finished 1:22 behind a group containing race leader Richard Carapaz (Movistar), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Mikel Landa (Movistar).
He has dropped from second to third overall, 2:09 behind Carapaz. Nibali moved up to second.
Meanwhile, at the front of the race, serial opportunist Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) survived a day long break to claim the stage in Ponte di Legno ahead of Jan Hirt (Astana). The pair contested the finish after leaving the rest of the day’s escape on the steep slopes of the Mortirolo.
A dispute on the run-in over tactics had threatened to be the move’s undoing, but the duo stayed clear to finish with 1:20 in hand over third place Fausto Masnada (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec).
Hirt, on team orders, had initially refused to work with the Italian after the descent of the Mortirolo. But, when a chase group comprising his team mates Miguel Angel Lopez and Pello Bilbao, was reabsorbed by the Carapaz group, Hirt started to co-operate again.
Despite doing the bulk of work and leading out the sprint, Ciccone -who also won a stage in the 2016 Giro– had the legs to finish off in the rain.
The main drama of the day was on the climb itself, though.
Gaps opened in front of Roglic after hostilities between the favorites kicked-off on the lower 18% slopes of the Mortirolo. Nibali was the first to make a move, before being joined by Hugh Carthy (EF Education First). But it was pressure from Lopez that saw Roglic get dropped.
While Movistar’s Hector Carreterro, then Landa, set a steady pace for a group centered on Carapaz all the way up the climb, Lopez yo-yoed around it. Although he would go over the summit and into the valley in front, he would, like Nibali and Carthy were on the climb, eventually be absorbed by the pink jersey group -and ultimately dropped- on the 15km drag to the finish.
But for Roglic there was no coming back. He eventually settled into a group with Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Simon Yates and Mikel Nieve (both Mitchelton-Scott).
There were 21 riders who initially made the day’s escape in the opening uphill kilometres out of Lovere. Although the Gavia pass had been withdrawn from the route due to snow, mountains leader Ciccone took maximum points over all three of the classified climbs.
Hirt hit out from low on the Mortirolo’s steep slopes but was later joined by Ciccone and Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-Merida). The latter dropped back before the summit to assist team mate Nibali.
As well as Caruso, Antonio Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Bilbao, David Villella (Astana), Andrey Amador (Movistar) and Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) had all placed in the early break and been able to offer varying degrees of assistance to their GC contending team mates.
EF Education First’s Joe Dombrowski was also a member of the break and finished alongside team mate Carthy in the pink jersey group.