What's Cool In Road Cycling

Cadel Gets Pink, Perez Wins Day: Giro Stage 16

Cadel Gets Pink, Perez Wins Day: Giro Stage 16
Conegliano-Corvara in Badia 163 km

Do you feel like we’re yo-yoing off the back of a serpentine paceline trying to keep up with all the action – both political and racing – that has distinguished this Giro? Just when you get used to the idea that two English-speaking riders could be duking it out for the pink jersey in Milan, …boom – the top Italian gets ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct! (And fair enough –there’s about as much room in bike racing for bad behavior as there is for drugs…)

If I’m running Fassa – I’m definitely wondering how my star rider can throw away his best chance at big-time glory with such a cheap move… perhaps you’re star rider is now reflecting on the same thing…

So at today’s start it was a line up of Cadel Evans (Map) Tyler Hamilton (CSC), and Dario Frigo (Tac) who looked like the three “new” riders set to save this Giro by giving us a clean battle for the GC. And what day ahead – 163km over 5 big passes in the steepest Dolomites – the sun was shining and it’s a great day for a bike race.

The action really started on the Passo di Fedaia, the 3rd climb of the day to 2057 meters, Mexico’s new sensation Julio Perez (Panaria) put in his expected attack and was followed by Evans. They reeled in passed an early breakaway, and went over the top together. Hamilton got dropped and went over the to a minute down.

No probs though, as the CSC boys pulled Tyler back into the leaders bunch by the bottom. Up at the front, Perez accelerated again at the bottom of the 20km Passo Pordoi and dropped Evans. As Perez rode away, Allessio’s Pietro Caucchioli took off from the chasers and set off in pursuit of the pink jersey for himself. He had been lurking in 6th overall at the beginning of the day, and in the space of this climb, stepped into the ring, pulled on the 16oz gloves, and came out swingin’.

Nearer the top, Perez went over alone, followed about a minute back by Caucchioli. Evans and Frigo began trading places at the front of the chase group, keeping the pace high squeezing Hamilton out the back. Meanwhile, Heppener was steadily losing time and was saying “Ciao” to the pink jersey he’s worn for 10 days.

Down the other side, Paulo Salvodelli (Alexia) – a fearless descender – emerged and set off in pursuit of the two leaders, dropping like a stone and closing on Caucchioli and the overall lead.

Starting the 4km 7% Passo di Campolongo – the day’s final climb – it was Perez, followed by Salvodelli at about a minute, then Salvodelli 20 seconds later. Not far behind was the re-group containing 5 riders including Evans, Frigo, and Hamilton. One climb, one descent to go.

By the top, things had closed right down, as the chase group went over the top within seconds of the two chasers ahead. It was shaping up to be a battle for seconds gained on the stage, as Caucchioli was just far enough up the road to claim the pink jersey by the end of the day.

But it’s not over! The last descent saw Salvodelli pass Caucchioli, who then got caught by the leading chasers. Perez took the biggest win of his career

This shapes up tomorrow’s stage from Corvara to Folgaria of 222km and 5 more climbs could either blow things apart as one rider goes for a commanding lead, or everyone plays poker and waits for Friday’s time trial. So things are looking up for the Giro!

Stage 16 results
1. Julio Perez 4:54.54
2. Paulo Salvodelli +.53
3. Dario Frigo +.55
4. Juan Garate
5. Aitor Gonzalez -st

GC Overall Standings
1. Cadel Evans (Map) 73.09.16
2. Dario Frigo +.16
3. Tyler Hamilton +.18
4. Aitor Gonzalez +.24
5. Pietro Caucchioli +.32

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