Richard Carapaz closes in on Giro d’Italia win after gruelling day
Ecuadorian rider holds off Vincenzo Nibali as Primoz Roglic loses more ground
Team Movistar’s Richard Carapaz, wearing the overall leader’s pink jersey, climbs followed by team-mate Mikel Landa and Team Bahrain rider Vincenzo Nibali during stage 16 of the Giro d’Italia from Lovere to Ponte Di Legno. Photograph: Luk Benies/AFP/Getty Images
The Movistar rider regained contact with Team Bahrain Merida’s Nibali in the ascent up the Mortirolo pass, an 11.9-km climb at an average gradient of 10.9 per cent, as favourite Roglic was dropped and eventually lost more than a minute.
Overall, Carapaz retained the pink jersey with a one minute 47 second lead on Nibali, who leapfrogged Roglic into second place in the general classification. Roglic is now two minutes and nine seconds behind the leader.
“The truth is that it’s been a very complicated day, especially because of the weather conditions and the climbs,” said Carapaz.
“But as a team we’ve worked very well for Mikel Landa and myself. It’s another good day in terms of time gained on GC.”
The final part of the brutal Mortirolo climb took place with the only light coming from the TV motorbikes’ headlights as rain further reduced visibility.
Italian Giulio Ciccone won the 194-km stage from Lovere at the end of a long breakaway after the race organisers decided that the route would avoid the much-feared, snow-covered Gavia pass due to the risk of avalanches.
The win helped Ciccone increase his lead in the mountains classification as the main favourites had shown no interest in the stage victory.
Among the top three contenders, only Nibali had already climbed the Mortirolo in race conditions, and he looked to take advantage of that when he attacked early on, hoping to then increase a potential lead in the descent.
But while the move was damaging to Roglic, Carapaz was well protected by his team-mates, including Mikel Landa, and the Ecuadorian eventually clawed his way back.
Ireland’s Eddie Dunbar dropped one place in he general classification to 22nd after coming home in 42nd position on the stage, 10 minutes and 45 seconds behind the winner, while Conor Dunne is 137th on GC.