GIRO’16 St.19: Shark Attack As Kruijswijk Crashes!
Race Report: Stage 19 was a day of high mountains and high drama as the race passed over the Cima Coppi. Unable to lose Kruijswijk on the climb, it was an unfortunate crash on the descent that saw the Dutchman chasing and losing time all the way into France. Nibali could smell victory for both the stage and the overall and set about re-establishing his enviable reputation as a Grand Tour winner!
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This might not have been the Queen stage of this year’s Giro but it was definitely one of the most difficult, especially with chances running out for the GC contenders to try and wrest the jersey from Steven Kruijswijk’s shoulders. It was also the day of the Cima Coppi, the highest point of this year’s race, as they passed over the Colle dell’Agnello at 2744m on the way to Risoul in France…and two of the main men had form into Risoul with Majka winning the Tour stage in 2014 while Nibali was wearing yellow.
The profile was pretty straight forward…a gentle uphill ride towards the foot of the Agnello getting both intermediate sprints out of the way early on and a full-on ascent of the mountain followed by a long steep descent straight to the foot of the Risoul where they would rise another 1000m in 12km up to the ski station. If Astana, or any of the other teams, were going to try something today would certainly see lots of action on the climbs.
From the Flag
Astana sent Kangert up the road right from the off but he was brought back straight away. Attack after attack came to nothing until 13 riders got away and held a handful of seconds. But the peloton was in no mood to let anyone go and all 13 were soon back in the fold.
With the race hurtling towards the foot of the Agnello 40km had been covered in well under an hour so it could only spell carnage on the climb as some riders were struggling to stay in touch already. It looked like the plan for the other teams was to get LottoNL-Jumbo to use up their riders and leave Kruijswijk isolated when the sparks started to fly.
Attack after attack went and were pulled back taking the bunch through both sprints where, at the second one at Sampeyre, it was Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) who took maximum points.
And all of a sudden the break had formed with 27 riders forging off the front of the bunch. There were some big names and they were just beginning to filter through to the pressroom.
They included: Hubert Dupont, Matteo Montaguti, Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev, Michele Scarponi, Stefano Pirazzi, André Cardoso, Moreno Moser, Johann Van Zyl, Carlos Verona, Stefan Denifl, Marcel Wyss, Diego Ulissi, Tim Wellens, Maxime Monfort, José Herrada, José Joaquin Rojas, Rory Sutherland, Ruben Plaza, Georg Preidler Vyacheslav Kuznetsov, Egor Silin, Ian Boswell, David Lopez Garcia, Mikel Nieve, Nicolas Roche, Jesus Hernandez and Evgeny Petrov.
As fast as the peloton had been traveling through the first half of this stage, this was now mirrored by how quickly they switched off and the group had a lead of 4 minutes with 73km to go.
The scene was set: any GC attacks would most likely come on the steep ramp to Risoul rather than a do-or-die attempt on the Cima Coppi. With riders up the road the big teams were laying the groundwork for the latter part of the stage.
The break wasn’t exactly pushing but they were still going away so the LottoNL-Jumbo led bunch had really slowed down. One man slipping out the back of the break was yesterday’s biggest loser Moreno Moser (Cannondale) no doubt suffering from tired legs and the telling-off in the Italian press from this morning, accused by Paulo Bettini no less of messing up the finish.
The other big name to miss this move, and all of the points at the top of the Agnello, was Damiano Cunego (Nippo-Vini Fantini) currently leading the KOM classification. With Stefan Denifl (IAM Cycling) present he’d have to rely on the other riders stopping the Austrian taking the points.
On the serious part of the climb and Ulissi and Egor Silin (Katusha) surged clear of the group. Michele Scarponi (Astana) was alert to the move and crossed the gap to make it three in front. Scarponi was looking in fine form and pushed away from the other two and suddenly we had one Astana rider on his own leading the race towards the summit of the Cima Coppi.
Scarponi was heading into the mist near the summit where the temperatures were plummeting, snow now visible at the side of the road. Ulissi hadn’t given up and was chasing a short way behind the Astana rider. Team Sky was heading the break which was now down to 11 men and with the main bunch now almost 6 minutes back they could have been thinking of a stage win.
One moment LottoNl-Jumbo was in control of the peloton and the next it was blown apart as Orica put the move on. Suddenly we had Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) at the front and the only riders who could live with him were Kruijswijk and Valverde (Movistar). Majka (Tinkoff), Nibali (Astana) and Zakarin (Katusha) had been dropped and were the next group on the road but they slowly clawed their way back to the Maglia Rosa group.
Some other riders made it into this select group while up ahead Scarponi was pushing through the hairpins towards the summit pursued by Ulissi. This mountain was destined to go to Scarponi as Ulissi was now at 1:08 and rapidly being overhauled by Boswell and Nieve (Team Sky) leading the chasers.
Once again Chaves punched on the pedals and the only man to live with him was Kruijswijk. The others slowly moved back to the wheel but Valverde was no longer there and was slipping off the back of the group. Nibali had seen this and came to the front to try and claw back some time on the Spaniard who was now 30 seconds down but had joined up with Majka and Zakarin (Katusha).
Showing the Italian colors the man from Messina was driving the group as up ahead Scarponi wrote his name into the Cima Coppi history books as he crossed over into France. Nieve followed him over 1:30 down as all eyes were watching to see how much time Nibali could put into Valverde on the climb.
Disaster on the Descent
Overcooking a corner the pink jersey Steven Kruijswijk crashed into the snowbank, his bike somersaulting high into the air. He was up quickly with Neutral Service helping him get going again but he had to stop a couple of times to sort his machine out.
Nibali, who has crossed the summit over a minute up on Valverde, was not hanging around as he and Chaves sped down the mountain. Kruijswijk was now in between Nibali and Valverde and chasing hard 30 seconds behind his GC opponents.
Crash, crash! Ilnur Zakarin went off the road and crashed heavily. He was quickly attended to by the medical staff but it looked as if his race was over. He was conscious but he’d joined the collarbone club.
The time gaps were coming in and Kruijswijk, having made a bike change, was actually behind Valverde on the road by 1:20 with the Spaniard close to catching Nibali and Chaves.
With only 35km of the stage left that was a fortuitous crash for Nibali, Valverde and Chaves.
Kruijswijk was now 2 minutes down on Chaves who had started the day 3 minutes behind the Dutchman. Scarponi had dropped off the head of the race and was back with the Nibali group intent on helping his leader up the climb. This had left Montford (Lotto Soudal) at the head of the race by just over 2 minutes with the Valverde group chasing the 45-second gap to the Nibali/Chaves bunch. Kruijswijk was another 65 seconds back and trying to close it down.
If he survived this threat to his victory hopes we could only think what the chase would have cost him, especially as he had no teammates to help him now.
Climbing to Risoul…and into the Jersey!
The riders were now onto the climb to the ski station and the Chaves group was only 15 seconds behind Monfort. More importantly they had 1 minute over Valverde and 2:20 over Kruijswijk so there was every chance Chaves would be in pink by the end of the day.
Scarponi was doing all the work while Nibali and Chaves were saving themselves. Majka, Uran (Cannondale) and Valverde were also working to get back on terms and Kruijswijk was doing all the work behind.
And now Nibali applied the pressure taking Chaves and Nieve with him. Would Nibali be content with the stage win and let Chaves take the jersey? At almost the same moment Kruijswijk began to slip away from the group containing Jungels (Trek-Sagafredo).
Steven Kruijswijk, the young Dutchman who had shown such courage in this Giro, was cooked and was losing time, Chaves now the virtual leader on the road.
Five kilometers to run and Nibali put in a series of attacks. Chaves went with him at first but then the elastic snapped as the Italian shot through the hairpins towards the summit. Question answered…he wanted the stage and the Giro now 1:40 minutes up on Valverde and over 3 minutes on Kruijswijk.
Just over 1km to run and Chaves was with Nieve but they were 40 seconds behind Nibali as the Italian headed towards the finish line. There would be a new leader of the Giro tonight but Nibali was climbing right back into contention.
Putting time into everyone Nibali was streaking towards the line, reputation once again intact for the Italian road champion as he crossed the line and took the stage. Nieve climbed away from Chaves who would take the jersey tonight but has looked vulnerable when compared with the Astana leader who took 51 seconds from him.
Over 2 minutes back to the Valverde group with Kruijswijk coming home 4:54 down on Nibali and handing the jersey to Chaves.
Stage hilights from RCS – in Italian. Kruisjwijk’s crash is at the 50 second mark.
All change at the top with Nibali only 44 seconds off the lead of the Giro and all to ride for tomorrow on what will be a harder stage.
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Giro d’Italia Stage 19 Result:
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana in 4:19:54
2. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Sky at 0:51
3. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEDGE at 0:53
4. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 1:02
5. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff at 2:14
6. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar
7. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale
8. Georg Preidler (Aut) Giant-Alpecin at 2:43
9. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Sky at 2:51
10. Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
11. Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 3:00
12. Andre Cardoso (Por) Cannondale at 3:07
13. Darwin Atapuma (Col) BMC at 3:36
14. Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx – Quick-Step at 3:45
15. Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar at 4:30
16. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo at 4:54
17. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Dimension Data at 5:53
18. Marcel Wyss (Swi) IAM Cycling at 5:59
19. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana at 6:21
20. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 6:22
21. Simon Clarke (Aus) Cannondale at 6:49
22. Stefano Pirazzi (Ita) Bardiani-CSF at 7:26
23. Stefan Denifl (Aut) IAM Cycling
24. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale at 7:55
25. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar at 7:56.
Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 19:
1. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEDGE in 78:14:20
2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 0:40
3. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo at 1:05
4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 1:48
5. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff at 3:59
6. Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx – Quick-Step at 7:53
7. Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar at 9:34
8. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale at 12:18
9. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Dimension Data at 13:19
10. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale at 14:11
11. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 18:41
12. Darwin Atapuma (Col) BMC at 20:51
13. Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 21:32
14. Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 29:53
15. Sebastian Henao (Col) Sky at 30:02
16. Andre Cardoso (Por) Cannondale at 31:11
17. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar at 31:22
18. Stefano Pirazzi (Ita) Bardiani-CSF at 33:30
19. Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale at 35:42
20. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana at 37:17
21. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Sky at 42:08
22. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 45:36
23. Georg Preidler (Aut) Giant-Alpecin at 52:39
24. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx – Quick-Step at 56:23
25. Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana at 58:09.