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GIRO’23 Stage 16: Thomas In Pink – Almeida Wins Mountainous Stage!

The Giro starts at last

Stage Report: Stage 16 of the Giro d’Italia, an important mountain stage with more than 5,000 metres climbing, was won by João Almeida. After a proper battle on Monte Bondone, the Portuguese rider attacked and was joined by Geraint Thomas. The British rider took back the pink jersey from Bruno Armirail. Primož Roglič lost nearly 30 seconds to his two biggest competitors for the overall victory.

Giro d’Italia 2023 | Stage 16 | Last KM

The stage 16 route
The first part of the stage runs along the shore of Lake Garda, with over 30 well lit and well paved tunnels of different lengths. Past Riva del Garda, the route takes in a brace of climbs accumulating over 5,000m in vertical elevation. Riders will take on the Passo di Santa Barbara (12km, avg. gradient over 8%) and the Passo di Bordala (4.5km around 7%), entering the Adige Valley and, past Rovereto, the Vallarsa. After the consecutive ascents of Matassone (approx. 13km at 5%) and Serrada (17km at 5.5%), the route passes through Folgaria, heading back to the Adige. Last comes the climb to Monte Bondone from the Aldeno side (20km, avg. gradient 6.8%, topping out at 15%). The roads are well paved and moderately wide.

Stage 16 profile

Final kilometres
The final kilometres are slightly uphill (avg. gradient around 4%). The road is in excellent condition, and it opens up past Viote (around 2km). The home straight (approx. 300 m) is on 7m wide tarmac.

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Will Bruno Armirail still be in pink at the end of the day?

The question was: Would the Giro d’Italia finally start today? At least the weather at the start was dry and sunny, so many riders went on the attack. In the end a leading group of 26 riders got together. With Ben Healy, Aurélien Paret-Peintre, Jack Haig, Patrick Konrad, Filippo Zana, Ben Swift, Carlos Verona, Toms Skujiņš and Diego Ulissi, the leading group had a lot of quality.

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Mark Cavendish announced his retirement at the end of 2023, still popular with the public

The lead group was: Aurélien Paret-Peintre and Valentin Paret-Peintre (AG2R Citroën), Christian Scaroni and Vadim Pronskiy (Astana Qazaqstan), Jack Haig and Jonathan Milan (Bahrain Victorious), Cesare Benedetti and Patrick Konrad (BORA-hansgrohe), Thomas Champion and Jonathan Lastra (Cofidis), Nicolas Dalla Valle and Veljko Stojnic (Corratec), Ben Healy (EF Education-EasyPost), Mattia Bais (EOLO-Kometa), Davide Gabburo, Filippo Magli, Martin Marcellusi and Alessandro Tonelli (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè), Salvatore Puccio and Ben Swift (INEOS Grenadiers), Derek Gee (Israel-Premier Tech), Michael Hepburn and Filippo Zana (Jayco AlUla), Carlos Verona (Movistar), Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo) and Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates).

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Is stage 16 where we will see Primoz Roglič make a move?

Paret-Peintre of AG2R Citroën, stage winner in Lago Laceno, was the best placed rider on GC in the leading group at more than 4 minutes. He was a danger and so the leading group didn’t get too much time from the men of Groupama-FDJ. The French team took responsibility for pink jersey wearer Bruno Armirail in the peloton and received help from Jumbo-Visma sent Edoardo Affini to the front. It was clear that Primož Roglič had plans.

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The leader’s jerseys at the start

Affini took care of most of the climb of the Passo di Santa Barbara and managed to keep the difference to the leading group within 3 minutes. INEOS Grenadiers had Ben Swift and Salvatore Puccio in the break, so didn’t work in the peloton. The front riders reached the top of the Passo di Santa Barbara and Healy took 40 KOM points and passed Thibaut Pinot, Einer Rubio and Davide Bais in the KOM classification.

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203 kilometres and 5,000 metres of climbing to come

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Through the tunnels on the shores of Lake Garda

On the next climb, the Passo Bordala, Healy took more points, but was worked over by the Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè riders. Davide Gabburo took advantage of the teams dominance and took the 9 mountain points at the top, ahead of Healy, who had to settle for 5 points. The leading group split on the second category climb.

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The peloton riding away from the lake and into the hills

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The ‘break of the day’ was big to start with

Astana Qazaqstan went for it with Vadim Pronskiy first, then he was joined by his teammate Christian Scaroni. The Kazakh and Italian soon had almost 2 minutes. The pair started the penultimate climb, the almost 18 kilometre climb to Serrada, with a nice lead. The pace increased considerably on this climb, in the leading group and in the peloton. Affini was finished and it was now up to Sam Oomen to set the pace.

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Armirail wasn’t going to give up the pink jersey without a fight

With Oomen on the front, the peloton thinned out considerably and the lesser climbers were dropped. In the leading group, Haig felt his moment had come and started chasing the Astana Qazaqstan. Healy, Gee, the Paret-Peintre brothers, Verona, Konrad, Skujins, Swift, Ulissi, Lastra and Zana followed Haig and these twelve riders managed to catch the two Astana attackers before the top of the climb to Serrada. The group of favourites were still at 4 minutes.

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The start of the climbing

With this lead, the twelve remaining leaders started at the Monte Bondone. In the peloton, a strong Michel Hessmann (Jumbo-Visma) was able to cut into the lead, but the better climbers in the leading group might still dream of the stage victory. Verona and Zana put in an early first attack and this was the death knell for Healy and Gee. Zana and Verona were joined by Haig, Pronskiy, Konrad, Aurélien Paret-Peintre and Swift.

Healy rode into the (virtual) KOM lead

Jumbo-Visma was responsible for thinning out the favourite’s group. Hessmann provided the first serious selection in the elite group and then it was up to Rohan Dennis to do even more damage. The Australian had fifteen riders on his wheel, but the first ten riders in the general classification were all still there. Bruno Armirail was one of these riders, although the pink jersey was in trouble. With 15 kilometres to climb, Dennis pulled over and UAE Team Emirates to took over.

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Well over 5,000 metres of climbing on stage 16

The group of GC riders was now only 1:30 behind the front riders and a battle on two fronts thus became unlikely. We now had to wait for a first real attack from one of the favourites. Jay Vine led-out an attack for his leader Almeida. The Australian pushed on the pedals and this was the end for Armirail: the tough Frenchman was able to hold on for a long time, but had to pass with 10 kilometres to go. Soon after, Groupama-FDJ 10th placed Thibaut Pinot, was also dropped.

Danger-man Jack Haig was in the break

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Astana Qazaqstan duo of Vadim Pronskiy and Christian Scaroni escaped from the break

And it wasn’t just Armirail and Pinot, because it was too fast for Hugh Carthy, Ilan Van Wilder, Thymen Arensman and Damiano Caruso. This was the moment for Almeida to attack. Thomas, Roglič, Sepp Kuss and the surprisingly strong Eddie Dunbar followed. Almeida caught the last escapees, but did not want to continue his effort too long and left it to the Jayco AlUla men. Dunbar saw an opportunity to move further up on the overall and put his teammate Zana, who had just been caught, on the front.

Jumbo-Visma must have had a plan

Zana, Dunbar, Kuss, Roglič, Almeida and Thomas started the last 7 uphill kilometres together. A second group, including Caruso, Arensman, Kämna and Van Wilder, followed at 30 seconds. After a last effort from Zana, Almeida put in another jump, but the Portuguese couldn’t get his rivals off his wheel. Thomas and Roglič followed, but for the time being kept back. However, Almeida did not stop there and so a third attack by the Portuguese followed. This time, the UAE Team Emirates leader made a small gap, and it was up to Kuss to chase him down.

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Zana worked hard for Dunbar in the favourites group

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At last the battle was on

It wasn’t Kuss who pulled in Almeida, but Thomas. The INEOS rider put in a big jump about 5 kilometres from the top and crossed to Almeida in one go and had Roglič in trouble. The Slovenian was unable to follow the pace of the Welshman, but still had the help of Kuss. The American rode himself into the ground for his leader, but the Jumbo-Visma riders still had to watch as Thomas and Almeida rode further and further away. Under the arc of the last 2 kilometres, the difference was already almost 30 seconds.

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Geraint Thomas jumped across to João Almeida in the last kilometres

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Thomas and Almeida fought to hold Roglič off

Almeida and Thomas couldn’t shake each other off in the last kilometre and had to sprint it out for the stage victory. It was the Portuguese rider who crossed the line first for his first stage victory in a Grand Tour. Thomas had to settle for second place, but takes over the pink leader’s jersey from Armirail. Roglič managed to limit the damage in the final kilometre, but lost 25 seconds on Almeida and Thomas at the finish. Thomas, with 4 bonus seconds, is 27 seconds ahead of the Slovenian overall.

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Roglič had Kuss to help him, but lost 27 seconds to Thomas and Almeida

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Big win for Almeida and pink for Thomas

Stage winner and 2nd overall, João Pedro Gonçalves Almeida (UAE Team Emirates): “A special victory, a dream come true. I was feeling well and the whole team was extraordinary. I worked together with Thomas to put seconds between us and Roglič, but then my main goal was the stage win. I try to improve day by day to become the best version of myself.”

Geraint Thomas back in pink

The Maglia Rosa and 2nd on the stage, Geraint Thomas (INEOS Grenadiers): “It was a very tough day, a lot of climbs, I am happy with how it went. I found myself in front with Almeida, he was better in the sprint. I am not surprised by him, he is a very strong rider and a strong pretender for the Maglia Rosa.”

Armirail fought hard, but…

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Giro d’Italia Stage 16 Result:
1. João Almeida (Por) UAE Team Emirates in 5:53:27
2. Geraint Thomas (GB) INEOS Grenadiers
3. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma at 0:25
4. Eddie Dunbar (Irl) Jayco AlUla
5. Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma at 1:03
6. Ilan Van Wilder (Bel) Soudal Quick-Step at 1:16
7. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious
8. Einer Augusto Rubio (Col) Movistar
9. Laurens De Plus (Bel) INEOS Grenadiers
10. Thymen Arensman (Ned) INEOS Grenadiers.

Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 16:
1. Geraint Thomas (GB) INEOS Grenadiers in 67:32:35
2. João Almeida (Por) UAE Team Emirates at 0:18
3. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma at 0:29
4. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious at 2:50
5. Eddie Dunbar (Irl) Jayco AlUla at 3:03
6. Lennard Kämna (Ger) BORA-hansgrohe at 3:20
7. Bruno Armirail (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 3:22
8. Andreas Leknessund (Nor) DSM at 3:30
9. Thymen Arensman (Ned) INEOS Grenadiers at 4:09
10. Laurens De Plus (Bel) INEOS Grenadiers at 4:32.

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