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GIRO’16 St.15: Flying Foliforov!

Race Report: Alexander Foliforov pulled off the surprise of the Giro to take the stage win, behind there was a major GC reshuffle as Vincenzo Nibali’s charge was halted. Overall leader, Steven Kruijswijk now has a bigger lead on the other top men and Alejandro Valverde has closed a little on the podium. All change on the stage 15 mountain TT.

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The final time trial of the Giro was a brutal test for the GC contenders as they traded body blows with only Steven Kruijswijk appearing unscathed. The early times were set by Ian Boswell (Sky) and then Alexander Foliforov (Gazprom-RusVelo). The Russian destroyed the time set by the American and then just hung around at the top of the leaderboard as GC rider after GC rider came and went. Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNl-Jumbo) came within a second of taking the stage win but it wasn’t a disappointment for the Dutchman as he put significant time into every single one of his rivals including Vincenzo Nibali who had a terrible day on the mountain. The Italian national champion was losing time on the maglia rosa anyway, but a mechanical just 3km from the finish added to his woes. He drops down to third overall with a deficit of almost three minutes, with just one week left to ride.

Corvara - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - pictured during stage 14 of the 99th Giro d’Italia 2016 from Castelrotto to Alpe di Siusi a Mountain Time Trial individual - foto LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2016It was a very good day for Steven Kruijswijk

The third and final test against the clock in the 2016 Giro d’Italia came on the 10.8km mountain time trial to Alpe di Siusi. Located in the Italian South Tyrol, near the Austrian border, this was an unpleasant effort for the GC contenders who had been put through the wringer in yesterdays slog through the endless 2,000meter+ terrain. That stage may have been 210km but this test had the potential to have just as much effect on the final standings in a weeks time in Turin.


The riders set off from Castelrotto, 1060m, and finished just under 11km later at the mountain plateau, and ski resort, of Alpe di Siusi, 1844m. The first 1.8km are virtually flat and acted as an appetizer for the upcoming assault. The initial slopes of the climb, to the 4.5km intermediate time check, are gradual with an average slope of 7% but that time check marked the end of the ‘easy’ riding. From there the riders faced 2km above 9% before 3km of 8.5-9% climbing with sections of 11% thrown in for good measure. The ultimo chilometro is a merciful 6.4% but after 10km of extremely tough mountain riding, this was a very small mercy.


The Race for Survival
At this point in the race there’s a clear divide between those people who can still take a result out of the Giro and those who are just counting down the days until Turin. Jack Bobridge (Trek-Segafredo) is in the later camp, he has been sat at the back of the peloton for virtually the entire race so it’s not surprising that he started the day 167th on GC, 3:21:49 behind. He was the first to start the time trial though and he put in a time of 34:35. This was very quickly surpassed however and, with a little over half the field having finished, the quickest man at this point was Ian Boswell (Sky) with a time of 30:04.

The next riders to challenge the American’s time were, former king of the mountains jersey wearer, Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) and David Lopez (Sky). But, at the finish they were behind Boswell’s time by 11 and 27 seconds respectively. The same couldn’t be said for Alexander Foliforov (Gazprom-RusVelo) who flew in under the radar and set a blistering time of 28:39, the first sub 30 minute ride. Rein Taaramae (Katusha) was the next contender to hit the line, he’d set a blistering time for the first 4.5km but slowed considerably once the climb kicked up and he finished 1:17 down in second place. His position on the podium was quickly vacated however as first Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale) and then Sergey Firsanov (Gazprom-RusVelo) beat him into the second place. Foliforov retained the lead however in spite of the increasing competition at the head of the leaderboard.

Alpe di Siusi - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Sergey Firsanov (Gazprom - RusVelo) pictured during stage 14 of the 99th Giro d’Italia 2016 from Castelrotto to Alpe di Siusi a Mountain Time Trial individual - foto LB/RB//Cor Vos © 20164th Sergey Firsanov

The Battle for Pink
Bob Jungels (Etixx – Quick-Step) was the first of the GC contenders to start. The Luxemburger had had a brilliant first two weeks at the Giro. His overall hopes, that had grown throughout the race, had dissipated over the past two stages but he still had a top 10 and the white jersey up for grabs. He started with commitment, at the first time check he was in the lead by just one second. Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R-La Mondiale) had been expected to struggle until the first time check, on the flatter part of the course, but he came through the 4.5km mark with a gap of just 14 seconds on Jungels. Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) was flying from the start, he passed through the first intermediate gap with a 12 second lead. That put him 40 seconds ahead of the 9th place Kanstantin Siutsou (Dimension Data) and, shockingly, a whole minute into Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale). Rafa Majka (Tinkoff) was the next man through and he conceded just 13 seconds to the Russian.

Bob Jungels had started strongly but he’d slowed considerably once on the real mountain and he was only able to manage 5th, 1:04 behind the incumbent leader, Alexander Foliforov. That was the race situation as the Maglia Rosa, Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNl-Jumbo) rolled down the start ramp.

Pozzovivo had started strongly on the flatter part of the course but he’d faded fast once on the hill and he could only manage 19th, 2:12 behind the leader. Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) found himself thrust into the GC battle but he started the time trial slowly, losing 34 seconds to Zakarin at the opening time check. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) had tried a different pacing approach and he came through in second place, just three seconds behind the Russian. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) was through the time check in a reasonable time, just 21 seconds down on the Katusha rider.

Alpe di Siusi - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL - Jumbo) pictured during stage 14 of the 99th Giro d’Italia 2016 from Castelrotto to Alpe di Siusi a Mountain Time Trial individual - foto LB/RB//Cor Vos © 2016Overall leader Steven Kruijswijk: “I really wanted to win the stage as well. I finished second yesterday as well. I heard towards the end that I was close to the victory but most importantly I gained time over my rivals on GC. I did everything for that and I’m confident that I’ll be able to defend the Maglia Rosa during the last week.”

Steven Kruijswijk wasn’t looking quick but he had blitzed the early time check, leading the race with a 9 seconds advantage over the Russian and a 30 second advantage over Nibali.

Rigoberto Uran was the next rider to hit the finish line but he was having a horrible day, he could just manage 43rd place on the day, 3:13 behind Foliforov. That was game over for the Columbian who had come into the race with such high expectations. Zakarin had almost caught the Cannondale rider but he faded towards the end and came home 47 seconds down in 4th place. He was the benchmark for the other GC contenders. Rafa Majka was the next in, he’d had a decent day but he wasn’t able to overtake the Katusha rider and he had to settle for 7th, 22 seconds down on his GC rival. Andrey Amador (Movistar) had started yesterday’s stage in pink but he had faded significantly and could only manage 23rd, 2:12 down.

Alejandro Valverde had gone untroubled by the cameras on the climb up but he was the first man to trouble Foliforov, he arrived just 23 seconds down in 2nd place to finish best of the GC riders so far.

giro 16 stage 15 nibali bikeThings didn’t go so well for Nibali

The time trial had been straight forward up until this point but then suddenly, drama!! Nibali dropped his chain and then broke off his rear derailleur and had to change bikes. The Italian was already on the back foot but he now had to pick himself up from the canvas. In the meantime, Chaves lost 40 seconds to the Russian leader and just 17 seconds to Valverde. There were now only two riders left to finish, Nibali and then Kruijswijk.

Alpe di Siusi - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Johan Esteban Chaves (Orica GreenEdge) pictured during stage 14 of the 99th Giro d’Italia 2016 from Castelrotto to Alpe di Siusi a Mountain Time Trial individual - foto LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2016Esteban Chaves moved into 2nd overall with an average ride

A Battle of Two
Nibali was tearing through the huge crowds but, despite looking much quicker than the Dutch rider he continued to lose more and more time. Nibali was fading with ever pedal stroke and with 300m still to go he had no chance of taking the stage. He finished 2:10 down at the finish, barely beating Pozzovivo’s very ordinary time.

The pink jersey was flying as he made his way towards the line. Kruijswijk sprinted into the final 100m but he just couldn’t quite find the time to beat Foliforov, who had spent the past two hours in the hot seat, and he managed 2nd by tenths of a second.

Despite the lack of a win it was still a brilliant day for the LottoNl rider who put time into all of his rivals in the GC race and is now firmly in the driving seat as we enter the final week of the Giro.

giro16st15-foliforov-podium-920.jpgSurprise winner Alexander Foliforov

Stage winner Alexander Foliforov (Gazprom-RusVelo): “This is unbelievable. It’s like a dream to win this stage. I came to the Giro well prepared for this stage in particular because uphill time trials have always been my forte. I did my best but I didn’t expect to win. However, this is not going to be my last victory.”

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Giro d’Italia Stage 15 Result:
1. Alexander Foliforov (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo at 28:39
2. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:23
4. Sergey Firsanov (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo at 0:30
5. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana at 0:36
6. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEDGE at 0:40
7. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha at 0:47
8. Joe Dombrowski (USA) Cannondale at 0:52
9. Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx – Quick-Step at 1:04
10. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff at 1:09
11. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre – Merida 0:01:12
12. Rein Taaramae (Est) Katusha at 1:17
13. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar at 1:21
14. Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana
15. Ian Boswell (USA) Sky at 1:25
16. David De La Cruz (Spa) Etixx – Quick-Step at 1:30
17. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 1:36
18. Sebastian Henao (Col) Sky
19. David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Sky at 1:52
20. Simone Petilli (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 1:55
21. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Sky at 1:57
22. Aleksey Rybalkin (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo
23. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Dimension Data at 1:59
24. Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Bardiani-CSF at 2:05
25. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 2:10.

Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 15:
1. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo in 60:41:22
2. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEDGE at 2:12
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 2:51
4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 3:29
5. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff at 4:38
6. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha at 4:40
7. Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar at 5:27
8. Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx – Quick-Step at 7:14
9. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Dimension Data at 7:37
10. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 7:55
11. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale at 8:12
12. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale at 8:19
13. Stefano Pirazzi (Ita) Bardiani-CSF at 17:03
14. Darwin Atapuma (Col) BMC at 17:21
15. Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 17:37
16. Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 17:37
17. Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 18:47
18. Sebastian Henao (Col) Sky at 18:48
19. Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale at 25:18
20. Andre Cardoso (Por) Cannondale at 26:02
21. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana at 28:54
22. Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana at 30:46
23. Georg Preidler (Aut) Giant-Alpecin at 31:31
24. Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale at 36:34
25. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 37:13.

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