Nieve wins stage 13 in Giro, Amador is the new race leader

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After the disappointment of losing team leader Mikel Landa earlier in the week, Team Sky celebrated success with Mikel Nieve winning stage 13 of the Giro d’Italia. The Spaniard rode alone to victory after attacking on the penultimate categorized climb of a tough, 170km day from Palmanova to Cividale del Friuli. Movistar’s Giovanni Visconti rode solo to second place, and Astana’s Vincenzo Nibali sprinted to third.

Stage thirteen moved the focus away from the sprinters and shifted attention back towards the general classification. The first of three consecutive mountain stages and including four categorised climbs over 170kilometres and 4,000metres of elevation.

Attacks began to form as soon as the flagged dropped but none of them escaped the attention of the watchful peloton. The attacks kept coming due to the first 45kilometres of the stage being predominantly flat before tackling the brutal climb of Montemaggiore.

A group of six managed to gain a slight advantage before being quickly joined by another twenty or more riders led by Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) which reinforced the groups efforts to escape. Thirty riders now formed the breakaway developing a lead of over one minute on the bunch as they reached the Montemaggiore climb.

The size of the breakaway began to shrink on the climb as the gradient reached ramps of 10% – 15% with the Lampre-Merida led breakaway beginning to accelerate away from the pink jersey group of Bob Jungels (Etixx-Quickstep). The race was beginning to split from front to back as Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) went on the attack from the main bunch and was immediately followed by more riders.

After 50kilometres Stefan Denfil (IAM-Cycling) had broken clear from the front of the lead group and had two minutes 39seconds on the pink jersey group. The breakaway group of Damiano Cunego (Nippo-Vini-Fantini) and Ulissi were in the middle one-minute behind Denfil.

Team Cannondale were also represented in the breakaway group and were now rotating off the front with Lampre-Merida with a steady lead of two minutes 30seconds on the Chaves bunch going into the last 70kilometres.

The leaders passed the finish for the first time with 57kilometres to go and a lead back up to three minute on the peloton. Etixx-Quickstep were strung out in a line at the front of the bunch working for race leader Jungels as the race swung away from Cividale del Friuli and back towards the mountains for a second helping of 2,000metres of elevation over the final two climbs.

The leaders still had a three-minute advantage when they hit the first slopes of the climb but this soon began to fall away as Astana upped the pace from the chasing group of favourites.

Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale) and Nieve were the first to attack from the now fragmenting breakaway group along with Giovanni Visconti (Movistar). The favourites were all together as Astana continued to keep the pace high with the group now severely reduced to around twenty riders. Nieve dropped Dombrowski halfway up the climb and traversed the summit alone two minutes ahead of the chasers with Visconti just 30seconds behind the Sky rider.

Nieve had two minutes on the Valverde/Nibali group at the start of the final climb to Valle with Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) the first to up the ante with an injection of speed at the front that instantly caused problems for race leader Jungels. Attacks followed from Valverde and Nibali with splits now forming within the group as Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale) and Amador were also dropped.

Only 40seconds now separated the chasers and Nieve with 15kilometres to go, Nibali, Chaves and Valverde were all together with two of Nibali’s Astana teammates also present. Nibali attacked with 13kilometres to go but was closely followed by Rafal Majka (Tinkoff), Valverde, Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNl – Jumbo) and Chaves. Visconti was trying to make contact with Nieve before the final descent to the finish some 40seconds ahead of the GC riders group.

The favourites group just about came back together on the descent with Uran and Amador both regaining contact. The group were two minutes down on Nieve with six kilometres to go with the pink jersey of Jungels a further 40seconds back as the race hit the flat road to the finish in Cividale del Friuli

Nieve crossed the line completely alone to take the stage win with Visconti claiming second and Nibali sprinting to third place and the bonus seconds. Amador moves into the race lead as Jungels lost time on his rivals after failing to regain contact on the final descent.

Stage fourteen takes place tomorrow and covers 210kilometres from Alpago to Corvara. Arguably the mother of all mountain stages this is without doubt the toughest day of the race. The ‘QueenStage’ traverses some of the most brutal climbs of the Dolomite mountain range including the infamous Passo Giau and Passo Pordoi. The parcours inclines steadily from the start and eventually covers six categorised climbs with over 5,000metres elevation.

Giro d’Italia 2016 – stage 13 results (Palmanova  ›  Cividale del Friuli):

1 Mikel Nieve (Sky)

4:31:49

2 Giovanni Visconti (Movistar)

+43”

3 Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)

+01’17”

4 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)

,,

5 Rafal Majka (Tinkoff)

,,

6 Stefan Denifl (IAM)

,,

7 Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNl-Jumbo)

,,

8 Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale)

,,

9 Matteo Montaguti (AG2R)

,,

10 Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R)

,,

 

General classification after stage 13:

1 Andrey Amador (Movistar)

54:05:50

2 Bob Jungels (Etixx – Quick-Step)

+26”

3 Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)

+41”

4 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)

+43”

5 Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNl-Jumbo)

,,

6 Rafal Majka (Tinkoff)

+01’37”

7 Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha)

+02’01”

8 Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge)

+02’19”

9 Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale)

+02’48”

10 Jakob Fuglsang (Astana)

+03’15”

 

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