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Overnight leader Rigoberto Uran loses more than 4 minutes and the maglia rosa to his compatriot

Nairo Quintana of Movistar is the new leader of the Giro d'Italia after winning a memorable Stage 16 of the race at Val Martello. It's one that will be talked about for years, with the riders having to deal with snow on the upper parts of the earlier ascents of the Passo di Gavia and the Passo dello Stelvio.

Ryder Hesjedal of Garmin-Sharp crossed the line 7seconds later to finish second, with Europcar's Pierre Rolland a little over a minute further back in third.

Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Rigoberto Uran, who led the race this morning, with Quintana 2 minutes 40 seconds behind in fifth place, lost more than 4 minutes to his compatriot.

As the news of the conditions on the Gavia quickly spread on social media, many fans as well as team staff questioned whether the stage should be abandoned. Perhaps mindful that Stage 19 of last year’s race was cancelled due to the weather, organisers pressed ahead.

Picture credit: LaPresse

There were rumours that the descent from the Stelvio, crested with 68.7km of the 139km stage from Ponte di Legno remaining, would be neutralised, although that did not in fact happen.

This evening, race organsiers RCS Sport issued a statement to clarify the what Uran's Omega Pharma-Quick Step team described as "a confusing scenario." RCS Sport said:

In consideration of audio recordings of instructions relayed to Directeurs sportifs during today's stage, the Directors of the Giro d'Italia would like to clarify that Race Radio provided an inaccurate interpretation of the indications stipulated by the Directors.

As previously stated, the intention was to guarantee rider safety during the first section of the descent (the first 6 hairpins, approximately 1500 m) of the Passo dello Stelvio, where visibility was restricted due to low cloud and fog.

At no point did Race Radio or the Directors of the Giro make reference to the possible neutralisation of any part of the descent.

Team Sky’s Dario Cataldo was the first rider across the top of the pass, at 2,758 metres designated the Cima Coppi as the highest point of this year’s race, and teased out more of an advantage on the way down.

Behind him, many riders stopped at the top of the climb to change rain jackets and put on dry jerseys, and incredibly, despite the conditions, many fans had ridden up to the top of the pass on their own bikes.

During yesterday’s rest day press conference, Quintana had spoken of the need for allies and specifically mentioned Rolland.

Possibly as a result of the confusion over whether or not the descent from the Stelvio was neutralised or not, both managed to get clear on it of the group containing the race leader.

Each had a team mate for company, Gorka Izagirre in Quintana’s case, while Rolland had Romain Sicard for support.

Also in the group was Nero Sottoli’s Marco Rabottini, and as they began the process of reeling in Cataldo, they picked up riders on the road in front of them including the AG2R-La Mondiale pair of Alexis Vuillermoz and Hubert Dupont, as well as Colombia’s Jarlinson Pantano.

Early on in the final climb, Cataldo was caught and now there were just four riders in front, though the Sky man was quickly dropped, leaving Quintana, Rolland and Hesjedal in contention.

With 7.5km left, Quintana attacked again on a difficult section and got away from Hesjedal and Rolland. Both would get back to him with 5km remaining but Rolland immediately fell back, and inside the final 2km Quintana rode away to claim a stunning victory and the race leader’s pink jersey.

Following the win that put him into the race lead, Quintana said: “When I came to look at the Giro stages, we couldn’t go very far up the Stelvio because it was covered in snow. After the climb, we looked at part of the descent, and then the climb to Val Martello.”

Speaking about today's stage, he went on: “The peloton was compact until the ascent of the Stelvio. Then the attacks started: there was a  rider with Team Colombia, two riders from of AG2R, one from Sky. They started to descend fast.

"I just stayed on a team-mate’s wheel. I didn’t hear anything about the descent being neutralised. Nor did my team-mates: we were just told to cover up well for the descent. We came down at some speed, and at the foot of the descent I realised that there were six of us in a group behind the breakaway. In any case, the time I gained on my rivals was mostly made on the final climb. I don’t see any grounds for controversy.”

The Colombian, who has been struggling with illness, went on: “I’ve been recovering from the flu. As you can see, I still get coughing fits, but I can feel my body getting better. I think my rivals will attack on the coming climbs, but I have a great team, as you saw on the Stelvio, where almost all of us rode together as a single unit. And I think they’ll help me control the race as far as Trieste.”

In July last year, Quintana finished runner-up to Sky's Chris Froome in Paris, and he added: “I’ve been confirming my 2nd place in the Tour de France all season. I won the Tour de San Luis at the start of the year, then finished 2nd in Tirreno-Adriatico, 5th in the Tour of Catalonia, just a few seconds behind the winner.

"So my 2nd place in the Tour last year wasn’t a fluke. I’ve worked hard and I continue to work hard for to be a Grand Tour contender. My objective here was to win the Maglia Rosa. Now I’m wearing it, despite the fact that many people had written me off because of my problems. But you don’t lose your class.”

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

16 comments

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anarchy [100 posts] 2 years ago
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a fantastic day's racing. Glad I had the day off work  1

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Fran The Man [81 posts] 2 years ago
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Seems like I missed a good 'un  2

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SteppenHerring [328 posts] 2 years ago
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Fantastic stage. Quintana showed such promise on his first TdF and it seems to be coming good. Horrible weather over the Stelvio, so glad that they came through it safely.

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madonepro [36 posts] 2 years ago
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I'm glad you all enjoyed the spectacle, just imagine how horrible it is to descend at speed, unsighted, cold and wet...

RCS cocked up, they admitted they cocked up. What are they doing about it? Nothing, riders lose time because of it, but that's ok, the sponsors got great coverage!

I have finally had it with RCS, it may have some awesome climbs, but too often the health and safety of riders is put at risk.

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Beaufort [270 posts] 2 years ago
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The racers themselves are the real race directors on the road, if things were beyond the pale they would've neutralised things themselves. The result at the front of the race would not have changed at all.

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madonepro [36 posts] 2 years ago
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Beaufort wrote:

The racers themselves are the real race directors on the road, if things were beyond the pale they would've neutralised things themselves. The result at the front of the race would not have changed at all.

Nonsense! Pro riders have in the past neutralised stages or parts thereof, however none of them have ever been in conditions such as these, nor in the situation of GC that entailed.

Can you imagine England ever walking off the pitch when Maradona handled the ball to score? Of course not.

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CXR94Di2 [1154 posts] 2 years ago
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I've been up and down the Stelvio, it was bad enough on a motorcycle:) cooked the rear disc .

Fantastic race today, this is what professional road cycling should have more of, rain, snow incredibly long steep climbs and decents. Quintana demonstrated his climbing prowess and deserved claim to the Giro.

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stefv [211 posts] 2 years ago
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The internet crapped out just as I was about to watch highlights on Eurosport without knowing what happened...  2 doh

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Colin Peyresourde [1724 posts] 2 years ago
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Same thing here. Poor weather affected our transmission. Though I got to see the final twenty this morning. Annoying as it seems the deciding point was the Stelvio.

Anyone else seem to enjoy watching Evans struggle? He's quite annoying.

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Gkam84 [9086 posts] 2 years ago
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I like BMC moaning about people not respecting it in light of their descressions this Giro.

Quote:

The BMC Racing Team has issued a statement in response to several incidents which occurred on Tuesday during Stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia.
Tuesday's stage of the Giro d'Italia was a complete travesty, as teams were given an official communication at the top of Stelvio Pass that the race would be controlled for safety reasons on the downhill due to road safety and other factors.

All but two teams respected this official communication. The UCI and the race organization have a responsibility to see that the rules are respected. In addition to disrespecting the race instructions regarding race neutrality, several teams pre-determined that they alone would be allowed to have more than the designated two follow cars in the peloton, which showed complete disrespect for the other 20 teams in the race.

We take no position against the three riders that rode together to the finish. However, the UCI and race organizer RCS have a responsibility to maintain fair racing conditions, which we believe did not take place. We also believe that teams which disregarded the caravan follow car rules acted in an unsportsmanlike and totally unacceptable manner.

Respectfully,

Jim Ochowicz
President/General Manager, BMC Racing Team

http://bit.ly/1lPPrHG

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robthehungrymonkey [152 posts] 2 years ago
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ANywhere free online to watch highlights of this years Giro? I don't have Eurosport anymore  2

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john wells [32 posts] 2 years ago
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Try Steephill TV

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john wells [32 posts] 2 years ago
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I was out for 61 miles in the p-----g rain yesterday and missed the action!

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Colin Peyresourde [1724 posts] 2 years ago
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Same for some of the competitors it seems too!

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stefv [211 posts] 2 years ago
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john wells wrote:

Try Steephill TV

cyclingtorrents.nl

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pwake [376 posts] 2 years ago
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madonepro wrote:
Beaufort wrote:

The racers themselves are the real race directors on the road, if things were beyond the pale they would've neutralised things themselves. The result at the front of the race would not have changed at all.

Nonsense! Pro riders have in the past neutralised stages or parts thereof, however none of them have ever been in conditions such as these, nor in the situation of GC that entailed.

Can you imagine England ever walking off the pitch when Maradona handled the ball to score? Of course not.

You're misinformed if you think those conditions were exceptional. I think you'll find those weather conditions quite common for the Giro and there have been much worse days ridden in the past. As for affecting the GC, stages run in these conditions usually do; it's racing and clearly the best rider won out on the day.
If you need an illustration from the not too distant past of my points, just Google; Andy Hampsten, Gavia, 1988. Classic!