PezCycling News - What's Cool In Road Cycling : Giro’15 St.16: Mikel’s Mortirolo Supremacy!

Giro d'Italia
Giro’15 St.16: Mikel’s Mortirolo Supremacy!
Race Report: Mikel Landa won the tough Mortirolo stage, taking his second stage win in this Giro d’Italia and moving into second overall. But the story of the day was Alberto Contador’s recovery and eventual domination of stage 16. He was over a minute down on Fabio Aru, but turned it round to a near three minute advantage on the Mortirolo. A great day of action.

On the descent from Aprica, before the Mortirolo, Alberto Contador punctured as Katusha and Astana put the pressure on the front to distance him by over a minute. The Tinkoff-Saxo team was down to two men and the gap was getting bigger. At the base of the Mortirolo Contador headed off on his own to chase down Aru, his Astana teammate Mikel Landa and LottoNL- Jumbo’s Steven Kruijswijk. He caught them and blew Aru out. From there it was a battle for Aru to stay in contention. Landa sat on Contador and Kruijswijk and they towed him to the stage win and second overall. Today Alberto Contador won the Giro d’Italia with a confidence and calmness you don’t see very often.

giro15st16-contador-pink-620Still in pink, but with 4 minutes on Landa

‘Mammoth’ is probably how you could describe stage 16 (read the PEZ Top Ride here). Pinzolo to Aprica, 174 kilometers of torture with five categorized climbs. Right from the gun the peloton has to tackle the Cat 2 Campo Carlo Magno, then the Passo del Tonale (Cat 2) peaks after 55.5 kilometers. The race climbs to Aprica (Cat 3) and crosses the finish line for the first time after 100.9 kilometers and then hits the Mortirolo (Cat 1), which climbs 1,000 meters in 12 kilometers. The finish climbs to Aprica for the second time. The stage has a total of 4,500 meters of climbing with ramps on the Mortirolo of 18%.

giro15st16-profileThe Queen stage of the 2015 Giro d'Italia

Richie Porte was not at the start line and whether his caravan had also gone was not known. The stage starts up-hill, so riders were warming up on the indoor trainers so as to be ready for the battle.

We didn’t have long to wait and a group soon formed off the front, as did another off the back, it was going to be a long, hard day. At the top of the Campo Carlo Magno: Carlos Betancur (AG2R-La Mondiale) was first, followed by Franco Pellizotti (Androni-Giocattoli), KOM Beñat Intxausti (Movistar), Edoardo Zardini (Bardiani-CSF) and Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin). On the descent groups form and split, but a group manage to take a small lead. They were: Zardini, Pellizotti, Fabio Felline (Trek), Brent Bookwalter (BMC), David De La Cruz (Etixx – Quick-Step), Ruben Fernandez (Movistar), Nikolay Mihaylov (CCC Sprandi), Sander Armee (Lotto Soudal) and Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida) with Hesjedal trying to catch them at 20 seconds and the peloton were at 50.

Giro d'Italia 2015 stage - 16Ryder Hesjedal was at the front all day

Passo del Tonale
Hesjedal made it across to the others, giving us ten out front: Zardini, Pellizotti, Felline, Bookwalter, De La Cruz, Fernandez, Mihaylov, Armee, Niemiec and Hesjedal, who was the best placed overall at 11:17 to Alberto Contador. Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEDGE) was between break and bunch at 55 seconds. After 50 kilometers the group had 1:30 on the peloton led by Tinkoff-Saxo.

At the top of the Tonale: Fernandez took the points to try to help his teammate Intxausti stay in the mountains leaders jersey. Clarke could see the escape and made it to them on the descent. The pink jersey group crested the Tonale at 1:29, so the leaders were not being given much space.

Down into the valley and the rain was falling quite heavily and as the race passed through the 1st feed zone the gap had opened slightly to 2:02.

100 to go
The leaders had moved into some dry weather as the peloton hit the rain, but the forecast was for showers, so it was expected and no one was giving their rain jackets to the team cars.

After the second feed at Edolo at the base of the climb to Aprica for the first time; the eleven up front had 2:20, although Clarke had mechanical problems and was trying to regain the leaders (again).

Through the intermediate sprint and Clarke had regained the lead, which was at 1:43. Ryder Hesjedal kept the pressure on as he came to the front to take his turn and gained a gap on the others. At the finish line for the first time, with 74 kilometers to go: Hesjedal was solo with a lead of 1:04 on the break and 2:08 on the peloton, of around 70 riders, with Ivan Basso on the front.

The Canadian dropped like a stone and had an easier time on his own being able to pick his line. Katusha had moved to the front with three riders ahead of Tinkoff-Saxo. On the descent Contador had a puncture and his teammates moved from the front, which allowed the Katusha riders to cause a split in the peloton.

The Katusha group caught the break, Fabio Aru (Astana), the 2nd overall, was in a group with Rigoberto Urán (Etixx – Quick-Step) with the Contador group at 20 seconds. The Aru group got together with the Katusha split.

Through the second intermediate sprint in Tirano with 54 kilometers to go: Hesjedal had 44 seconds on the peloton and 1:13 on the pink jersey group.

Hesjedal had 40 seconds on the Aru group, but that gap was shrinking as Katusha were pushing hard and Astana were starting to help. The Contador group was at 1:04 and was struggling to close the 24 seconds. The Tinkoff-Saxo team were wearing themselves out with the chase, which was just what Aru needed.

Giro d'Italia 2015 stage - 16Alberto Contador had to make a solo effort to catch Fabio Aru and save his Giro

The Mortirolo
Ryder Hesjedal was caught by the Aru group at the start of the Mortirolo. Contador had Kreuziger, but he was tiring and the gap was out to 51 seconds. At the base Contador was on his own against three Astana riders pulling their leader Aru.

Contador worked his way through the stragglers as Aru only had Mikel Landa to lead him up the monster Mortirolo. In a matter of a few kilometers, the Spaniard took back 11 seconds. Occasionally there were some riders who could help him, but there were not many that were capable.

Landa was laying down a hard pace, the only riders who could stay with him were Aru and Krijswijk, Contador had a little help from Igor Anton of Movistar, but the gap was still at 35 seconds between the white and pink jerseys.

Contador passed the next group containing Amador and Betancur and the lead was cut to 27 seconds. At the front Landa was too strong for Aru and he had to ease off slightly. Next to be caught by Contador was Hesjedal and Trofimov, again he took a short rest and then rode on after Aru.

Round the next bend and Aru, Landa and Kruijswijk were in sight.

Contador catches the three and attacks, which sees of Aru, only Kruijswijk and Landa can hold him. 5 kilometers to the summit and now Aru is at 17 seconds. Trofimov had caught Aru, but the Italian can’t hold the Russian’s wheel, then Hesjedal catches him and Aru can’t hold the Canadian either and was in big trouble.

Steven Kruijswijk rode on the front with Contador and Landa on his wheel, with 36 kilometers to go to the finish in Aprica, Aru was at over 1 minute. Hesjedal and Trofimov had got together and were at 37 seconds to Contador.

At the top, with a shade under 34 kilometers to the finish, Kruijswijk was first ahead of Contador and Landa, they were 57 seconds ahead of Trofimov and Hesjedal, Amador next just in front of Aru at 1:49.

All the leaders got down off the Mortirolo in one piece, although Hesjedal couldn’t hold the wheel of Yury Trofimov. Aru and Amador were together swapping turns on the descent and were taking time back on Contador, but it was still over a minute and a half. Just after the 20 to go Aru needed a bike change due a rear puncture, that was not going to help.

Giro d'Italia 2015 stage - 16Steven Kruijswijk was very strong and took the KOM for his work

The last climb to Aprica
Into Edolo again and Contador had 1:06 on Trofimov, 1:33 on Hesjedal and Amador, while Aru was at 1:50 with 15 kilometers to go.

Contador and Kruijswijk were working together as Landa watched them, behind them Hesjedal and Amador had caught Trofimov as Aru was a lonely figure.

10 kilometers to go: Alberto Contador was leading Kruijswijk and Landa stuck to their wheels at 1:09 was Hesjedal, Amador and Trofimov, Aru at 1:38. Landa was getting very close to second place overall and Kruijswijk and Hesjedal were moving into the top ten.

Contador tried to get Landa to come to the front by letting Kruijswijk take a small lead, Landa took the baitKruijswijk and jumped, passing Kruijswijk and heading off up the road on his own. Contador now looked tired and could only watch the Basque Astana rider go, Kruijswijk was also on his last legs.

The last K
Landa took 20 seconds in a kilometer and by the finish line he had 38 seconds on Kruijswijk and Contador, both of whom were just keeping the wheels rolling. Amador and Trofimov finished together with Hesjedal just behind. Fabio Aru came in at 2:51, moving Landa into second place overall.

giro15st16-landa-win-620Two in a row for Mikel Landa

Other riders were crossing the line in small groups, the overall was changing in front of our eyes.

The stage winner, Mikel Landa (Astana), said: "It was a really beautiful day for me, perhaps even better than Sunday. We saw that Alberto had a problem, and Katusha went full gas, so we worked with them. On the Mortirolo, Fabio Aru wasn't feeling good and he told me to go with Contador and Kruijswijk. Today I really proved that I can be one for the strongest riders on the climbs, and we still have several uphill finishes left. As a team, we will have to stick together and stay attentive, because what happened to Contador today could happen to one of us."

The Maglia Rosa, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), said: "It was a very hard day, an incredible stage. Cycling isn't mathematics: I had a puncture on the descent, Ivan Basso gave me a wheel, but ahead they were going at full speed, and it was impossible to close the gap immediately. It was hard for me, but I'm very happy with the time gaps now. I would have liked to have helped Steven Kruijswijk, but it was not to be. To Mikel Landa, I can only say: chapeau. These are the stages that people remember."

Ed & Martin are working the way to the press room and wifi with a full report from the mountainside - so keep it PEZ'd all day for more Giro action.

Giro d’Italia Stage 16 Result:
1. Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Astana in 5:02:53
2. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:38
3. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo
4. Yury Trofimov (Rus) Katusha at 2:03
5. Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar
6. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Cannondale-Garmin at 2:10
7. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 2:51
8. Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC at 3:18
9. Leopold Konig (Cze) Sky at 3:19
10. Carlos Betancur (Col) AG2R-La Mondiale
11. Alexandre Geniez (Fra)
12. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 6:18
13. Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal
14. Igor Anton (Spa) Movistar
15. Stefano Pirazzi (Ita) Bardiani-CSF at 8:13
16. Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Col) BMC
17. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar at 10:31
18. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Sky
19. Grega Bole (Slo) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
20. Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC
21. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx - Quick-Step
22. Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana
23. Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale
24. Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana at 14:38
25. Andre Cardoso (Por) Cannondale-Garmin.

Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 16:
1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo in 65:04:59
2. Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Astana at 4:02
3. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 4:52
4. Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar at 5:48
5. Yury Trofimov (Rus) Katusha at 8:27
6. Leopold Konig (Cze) Sky at 9:21
7. Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC at 9:52
8. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 11:40
9. Alexandre Geniez (Fra) at 12:48
10. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Cannondale-Garmin at 12:49
11. Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 14:04
12. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 15:49
13. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar at 19:50
14. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx - Quick-Step at 22:12
15. Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC at 26:04
16. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Sky at 26:30
17. Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana at 26:58
18. Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Col) BMC at 27:20
19. Carlos Betancur (Col) AG2R-La Mondiale at 32:33
20. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini at 37:22
21. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo at 37:47
22. Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana at 38:00
23. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana at 46:09
24. Ion Izagirre (Spa) Movistar at 46:43
25. Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin at 48:09.


Related Stories