Steven Kruijswijk of LottoNL-Jumbo remains on course to become the first Dutch rider to win a Grand Tour since Joop Zoetemelk's 1980 Giro d'Italia victory, today stretching his lead on Stage 16 of the 99th edition of the race as he finished second behind Movistar's Alejandro Valverde in Andalo.
The 28-year-old hit the bottom of the final climb of the 132km stage from Bressanone with Katusha's Ilnur Zakarin and Valverde, the trio riding hard to distance their pursuers, the closest of whom was Orica-GreenEdge's Esteban Chaves.
The Colombian, second overall this morning, was 30 seconds down on the front three at the start of that final 6.1km climb and lost more time on the climb to finish 42 seconds down on the winner.
For the second stage running , pre-race favourite Vincenzo Nibali had a disaster, losing almost two minutes to the race leader.
The Astana rider had attacked earlier in the stage but was dropped on the penultimate climb when Valverde made his move, only Kruijswijk and Zakarin able to go with him.
With a stage win on his debut in the race at the age of 36, Valverde joins the club of riders who have won stages in all three Grand Tours.
He also leapfrogs Nibali, who finished 1 minute 47 behind him today, to occupy third place in the overall standings.
Valverde said: "It's a good day for me as I move up in the overall ranking, although I wanted a stage win as a gift for the mechanics, soigneurs, directors, my family... all the people who have helped me overcome the day I had on Saturday because of the altitude.
"It was only one bad day though. I rode the time trial as well as I could have hoped. We wanted to break the race up today. It's a great feeling to win for the first time at the Giro."
Chaves remains second, but Kruijswijk has extended his lead over the Orica-GreenEdge man to 3 minutes.
It's the third successive stage of the race in which the LottoNL-Jumbo rider has been runner-up.
After today's stage, Krujswijk said: "Second yet again! I wanted to give my team a win but it's an ideal situation for the Maglia Rosa as I'm now three minutes ahead of Esteban Chaves and the others.
"I was feeling really good so I had to make the best of this short but really hard stage. I had to follow Nibali when he attacked early in the stage. I didn't expect so much action the day after the rest day."
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.