Giro d'Italia (st. 16)
Richard Carapaz -6th in Ponte di Legno-, supported by Mikel Landa (7th) and extraordinary Blue train, gets through Mortirolo’s exam with an A+ as he gains another 1’23” on Roglic, now 3rd overall behind Nibali (TBM).
The Movistar Team took a very significant step forward -even if only one of six required in this final week- in its aspirations to claim overall success in the 2019 Giro d’Italia. The first Grand Tour of the year, which saved for stage 16 -194km from Lovere to Ponte di Legno- the grueling ascent to the legendary Passo del Mortirolo, witnessed another strong performance by Richard Carapaz, who, supported by an extraordinary Blue outfit, finished inside the first group of favourite and put another 1’23” on his nearest rival, Primoz Roglic (TJV).
Richie’s seven team-mates completed an outstanding job. Lluís Mas and Jasha Sütterlin stayed for more than hundred kilometers at the front of the bunch, keeping under control a 21-man breakaway which included stage winner Giulio Ciccone (TFS). In turn, José Joaquín Rojas, the Blues’ road captain in this race, and Héctor Carretero -celebrating his 24th birthday-, covered with Carapaz on their wheels the approach to the Mortirolo and the first half of the climb.
A superb Antonio Pedrero controlled Nibali’s (TBM) acceleration, staying with Landa and Carapaz even as Roglic already lost contact; and Andrey Amador, part of the early break, took some strong relays early into the final climb and kept alive a final selection which helped both ‘Richie’ -still 1’47” ahead of Nibali; now 2’09” over Roglic- and Mikel Landa, now in 4th (+3’15”), remain in a coveted position overall.
The peloton of the Giro d’Italia will not leave the mountains on Wednesday’s stage 17, as the riders tackle another uphill finish -Anterselva (Cat-3; 5.5km at 7%)- at the end of a 181km trek from Commezzadura, which features another two rated climbs in the second half of its route.
REACTION / Richard Carapaz:
“It’s been a pretty hard day, especially because of the weather and the huge elevation gain over today’s climbs. We’ve proven again we’re a very strong team, and my team-mates were excellent keeping everything under control. At the Mortirolo, when Nibali attacked, we tried to keep him at a relatively short distance, more or less at reach, while trying to keep our group together, since we were three against one. The team’s job was superb, and those precious seconds we gained are a good result. We’re calmer now, yet there’s still quite a lot of work to do. When I race, I always try to remain calm – it helps when you’ve got such great team-mates -, it was something that I learnt in my youth career: if you don’t get too anxious, things end up coming your way.”
Cover picture (c): BettiniPhoto