The sun shone beautifully over the Plan de Corones to bathe the riders in Vitamin D as they suffered like pigs in the TT. The peaks around the riders all still capped with May snows laid backdrop to this contest of man against clock. Today was sure to change the time gaps in the GC, no doubt. If you have a bad day here, your Giro could very well be over for all intent and purposes. And with so many big names still so closely placed on GC, today was sure to be a game changer.
The top guys started rolling out and the first big name to slot up top the leader board was the bald Italian Stefano Garzelli, smashing the previous best time by a minute and a half. What a ride.
A lot of the previous riders, especially those with work to do for their team leaders as they went deeper into the Dolomites in the days to come took it as easy as possible. They were clearly saving as much energy as they could.
Evans took to the course in the points leader skinsuit, slogging his way up the climb. Getting dropped on the Zoncolon by Basso might serve him as motivation today. Speaking of Basso, he looked similar today as he did day before last, pedaling smoothly at a high cadence with very little body movement.
Richie Porte rolled out resplendent in the white best young rider’s colors. What a Giro this young man has had.
What a steep climb! The riders are jettisoning whatever they can dislodge from their bikes as they go. No TT bikes today. No TT helmets, either, just straight road set ups for everyone with skinsuits being the only aero upgrade. At certain points the road bites down hard, as evidenced by Damiano Cunego practically willing his bike up the steep pitches.
As Pinotti finished, he fell off his bike in exhaustion, looking mildly disgusted as his helpers handed him water and took his helmet off of him.
Scarponi looked to be turning some squares at about 18 minutes in. The TT is not this man’s favorite, but his deceiving pedal stroke still showed him with the best time at the first split.
Sastre underway looked good in the lower steppes.
The renewed showdown from the Zoncolan was today between Cadel Evans and Ivan Basso, no doubt. And nearing the halfway point the Australian had cut 13″ second from the Italian’s overall GC lead of about a minute and ten seconds. Other big names lurked within a few minutes on GC like the resurgent Carlos Sastre and the likes of Vinokourov.
Scarponi looked like death warmed over entering the last 350 meters, and they had to feel like the longest 350 ever. A long grinding steep slog to the finish line. As he finished with drool hanging from his lip, he looked rather shell shocked.
The Maglia Rosa of David Arroyo was not setting the course on fire, ceding over a minute at the intermediate time check but he still had his sights set on preserving pink.
Meanwhile up ahead Evans carved out another tick, making his advantage 14″ over Basso. As he lurched to the finish line with everything he had, it was evident that, while he was having a good ride, he wasn’t going to dislodge Garzelli from the top time on the day. Blasting through the dust, Evans slotted in 2nd place, 42″ off Garzelli.
Sastre did NOT look comfortable as he made his way up to the finish, and his earlier time losses would prove insurmountable as at this point he looked like he was just trying to finish. Slipping farther down the ladder, he finished 16th, 2:31 back.
Basso slid into the final bits of the climb, outside of Garzelli’s top time no doubt. And finishing he had ceded 28 seconds to Cadel Evans as well. That would have to brighten the Aussie’s mood as more mountains loomed ahead. But for Basso, it might have been enough to take pink as Arroyo sloshed around the climb, looking for a little something extra to preserve his time atop the GC.
The youngster Richie Porte finished solidly in the top 20, 2:17 off Garzelli’s time.
And now all eyes were on Arroyo, swinging wildly left to right as bikini clad men cheered him on. That’d make me go faster, for sure. Arroyo was all out, digging deep, inspired by the pink jersey. And indeed Arroyo produced the goods and denied Basso a day in pink. While chances are slim he’ll take it to the end of the race, it still had to be a hell of a confidence booster to have such a gutsy ride today. Well done, David!
F1 great, Fernando Alonso, was on hand to celebrate fellow Spaniard, David Arroyo’s, continued leadership of the Giro.
Stage 16 Results
1 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone 0:41:28
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:42
3 John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:54
4 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:01:01
5 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli 0:01:07
6 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:01:10
7 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Caisse d’Epargne 0:01:36
8 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana 0:01:37
9 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Quick Step 0:01:41
10 Evgeni Petrov (Rus) Team Katusha 0:01:46
11 Branislau Samoilau (Blr) Quick Step 0:02:05
12 Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:02:06
13 Johann Tschopp (Swi) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
14 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini 0:02:10
15 Sylvester Szmyd (Pol) Liquigas-Doimo 0:02:12
16 David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 0:02:16
17 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Saxo Bank 0:02:17
General Classification After 16 Stages
1 David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 68:32:26
2 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:02:27
3 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Saxo Bank 0:02:36
4 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:03:09
5 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervelo TestTeam 0:04:36
6 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:04:53
7 Alexander Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana 0:05:12
8 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli 0:05:25