It was an eventful day in the Giro d’Italia as Mikel Nieve (Sky) salvaged his team’s 2016 Giro with a win in stage 13, while race leader Bob Jungels (Etixx-QuickStep) was dropped on the final climb and lost his race lead to André Amador (Movistar). Nieve won the stage solo after dropping the rest of his breakaway companions on the penultimate climb of the day, with fellow breakaway member Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) hanging on for second. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) won the sprint for third for a reduced group of race favourites, with Jungels limiting his losses to the rest of the race favourites to 50 seconds.
The 170 kilometre stage from Palmanova to Cividale del Friuli started with a fairly flat first 40 kilometres before the ascent of the category one Montemaggiore, followed shortly thereafter by another category two climb. From there it was either downhill or flat for around 50 kilometres before the penultimate climb up the category one Cima Porzus, followed by another category two climb, which the riders crested some 14 kilometres from the finish.
With the stage potentially suiting a breakaway rather than the pure climbers, many riders were keen on getting away early, which led to a fast start. The race broke up somewhat at the intermediate sprint point, which came after 38 kilometres of racing, causing a fairly diverse group of riders to go off the front. However, with the group containing around 30 riders, including general classification threat Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida), the Etixx-QuickStep team of race leader Jungels was not keen on seeing this move stay clear, and had to work hard at the head of the peloton to limit the damage.
At the front of the race, Stefan Denifl (IAM) went off the front to claim maximum points over the category one climb, well up on the rest of the break, and he managed to hold onto his lead to the top of the second climb of the day to take maximum points there as well.
The break worked hard to stay clear of the peloton as they worked their way toward the foot of the next climb, the category one Cima Porzus, but with the gap to the peloton being slashed to just two minutes by the time they hit the foot of the climb, it was time for someone to shake things up at the front.
Nieve decided this was his time, and he attacked, with Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale) the only rider able to follow him, if not for very long, while the break disintegrated behind. Visconti jumped across to Dombrowski, while Nieve forged ahead alone, cresting the penultimate climb more than 30 seconds in hand over the two chasers. On the final climb, Visconti decided to go it alone if he wanted to catch Nieve, but the Sky rider was not fading at all, cresting the final climb with a lead of some 45 seconds, although he still faced the descent and subsequent seven kilometre flat run in to the finish.
Visconti could to little but watch as Nieve held on for the stage win, with Visconti having to settle for second. Behind the break, things were getting interesting in the battle for the pink jersey. On the category on Cima Porzus, Astana opened the hostilities as they upped the pace in an attempt to get rid of as many of Jungels’ team mates as early as possible, and in doing so, isolating the pink jersey. The play succeeded as Astana, itself now down to three men, crested the climb with Jungels barely clinging to the back.
On the final climb, Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) was the first to try his luck, but he was brought back by most of the favourites. However, Jungels found himself off the back and having to chase hard if he wanted to salvage his race lead. That was not to be however, as first Valverde, and then Nibali, launched attacks of their own. A number of the race favourites were dropped this time, including André Amadar (Movistar), Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale), and Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha), but they made their way back up to the front.
Jungels was still struggling to get back on to the lead group, working with a couple of other dropped riders, but yet another attack from Nibali put the final nail in his coffin, and both Amador and Zakarin found themselves dropped from the front group yet again. Zakarin, and eventually Amador as well, managed to get back onto the group of favourites on the descent, while Jungels kept chasing furiously behind.
However, as Nibali sprinted to third on the stage at the head of the group of favourites, Jungles was still well behind, crossing the line 50 seconds down on Nibali and surrendering the pink jersey to Amador. Jungels now finds himself in second overall, 26 seconds behind Amador, with Nibali moving up to third on 41 seconds, thanks to the four second time bonus he claimed on the line, pushing Valverde down to fourth.
|1||Mikel NIEVE ITURALDE||ESP||SKY||4:31:49|
|4||Alejandro VALVERDE BELMONTE||ESP||MOV||+1:17|
|8||Rigoberto URAN URAN||COL||CPT||+1:17|