Rohan Dennis has won stage 16 of the Giro d’Italia. The Australian moved up the general classification with a convincing win that saw him beat Tony Martin and Tom Dumoulin. There were many changes overall, including George Bennett dropping to 10th overall; but Simon Yates maintained a now much narrower advantage overall.
Heading into stage 16, the 34.2km from Trento to Rovereto, Simon Yates of Mitchelton-Scott had a solid but not insurmountable 2.11min lead over Tom Dumoulin of Team Sunweb. The course was not a climber’s course, with much of the race largely flat; although a couple of cobbled sections were along the route.
The early pace in the stage was set by Ryan Mullen of Trek-Segafredo, with the Irishman stopping the clock in 41.09mins. He was quickly succeeded by Victor Campenaerts of Lotto Fix All, before first Vasil Kiryienka of Team Sky and then Jos van Emden of LottoNL-Jumbo took over. But it was the performance of Tony Martin of Katusha-Alpecin that truly set the benchmark. The multiple world time trial champion performed brilliantly to stop the clock in 40.14mins; the first rider to average more than 51kph. He would occupy the top spot for a big chunk of the stage.
Sam Bewley of Mitchelton-Scott rode a conservative race, with his focus over the final section of this year’s race set to be the defence of Yates’ maglia rosa. Bewley crossed the line waving to the crowd, stopping the clock in a provisional 24th place in 45.31mins. He would eventually finish 146th.
GC battles were intense, with plenty of chopping and changing amongst the top ten overall. Among those to have a particularly good race against the clock were Chris Froome of Team Sky and Tom Dumoulin of Team Sunweb. The former stopped the clock in 40.35mins, not enough for the win, but certainly enough to leap up from 7th to 4th and within touching distance of the top three. The latter was unable to back up his win in the opening time trial in Jerusalem, but he closed the gap to Simon Yates dramatically to a very manageable 56 seconds; returning firmly into contention for the maglia rosa with five stages remaining.
Simon Yates did enough to hold onto mink, and as a non-time trial specialist that has to be considered a success; given that he has shown so much power in the mountains. He will be able to enter the final stretch of the race confident in his ability to climb his way to safety; and hope that no sickness, crashes or mechanicals blight him.
George Bennett was another one looking less to challenge for a win and more to limit his losses. The New Zealander dropped 2 places from 8th to 10th and is now 7.01mins behind Yates. His race was hampered by technical problems en route to the finish; an unforeseen issue which the team acknowledged no mechanic or manufacturer could be held responsible for. It is not the first time Bennett has suffered bad luck in the race, with the Kiwi needing mechanical assistance at the bottom of Monte Zoncolan. Crucially for Bennett he could well make up those two places over the next days in the mountains; with just under a minute separating him from Pello Bilbao and Richard Carapaz. We hope that the bad luck for him is over.
Starting to re-think my approach to passing the salt. Still everything to play for and lots of mountains to play in. https://t.co/PyCic9NaeH
— George Bennett? (@georgenbennett) May 22, 2018
🇮🇹#Giro101 @georgenbennett has experienced technical problems along the way. Problems arised due to a hole or threshold. Pure bad luck, which neither a constructor nor mechanic can be held responsible for.
— LottoNLJumbo Cycling (@LottoJumbo_road) May 22, 2018
Star of the show though was Rohan Dennis, with the BMC Racing rider easily head and shoulders above everybody, taking the win from Tony Martin and in doing so also leaping from 11th to 6th overall. The Australian moved to within 5.04mins of Yates and 1.53mins away from the podium, still occupied by Yates, Dumoulin and Domenico Pozzovivo who kept his third place overall.
The climbers will now have a respite as the sprinters take centre stage tomorrow, but the summit finishes return in stage 18 to Prato Nevoso.