Rein Taaramäe of Katusha has won the penultimate stage of the Giro d’Italia, but the race for pink changed hands one final time; as Vincenzo Nibali of Astana wrestled pink from the shoulders of Esteban Chaves.  Nibali’s lead is likely to hold through tomorrow’s flat stage where he will be crowned Giro d’Italia champion for the second time.

Esteban Chaves, Sam Bewley and the Orica GreenEDGE team went into the final mountain stage of the Giro d’Italia knowing that if they could defend the maglia rosa today, the grand tour was almost certainly theirs.  The battle was also hot in the king of the mountains classification.  Damiano Cunego of Nippo-Vini Fantini was in the blue jersey but there were four principle contenders including himself in the form of Mikel Nieve of Team Sky, Darwin Atapuma of BMC Racing and Stefan Denifl of IAM Cycling.

Esteban Chaves did everything he could to keep hold of the pink jersey, but had to settle for second overall after a day of suffering, photo Sirotti
Esteban Chaves did everything he could to keep hold of the pink jersey, but had to settle for second overall after a day of suffering, photo Sirotti

The battleground for the maglia rosa would come down to the 134km from Guillestre to Sant-Anna di Vinadio.  What it lacked in distance it made up for in difficulty as the race went up from the beginning; over the Col de Vars, the Col de la Bonette and the Colle Della Lombarda before the finish.  The battle for pink may have been between a small handful, but that didn’t mean that there weren’t several others looking for a stage win.  On the opening climb of the day a large group went away up the road featuring the principle contenders in the KOM classification.  Mikel Nieve, Stefan Denifl, Darwin Atapuma, Giovanni Visconti of Movistar, Gianluca Brambilla of Etixx-Quick Step were all in attendance.  They were joined by Rein Taaramäe of Katusha and Aleksey Rybalkin of Gazprom RusVelo.

Denifl took maximum points at the top of the first climb, with Nieve second; with Nieve bridging the gap to Cunego to less than 25 points.  Meanwhile behind them Orica GreenEDGE led the main field with Astana in close attendance.  A little skirmish from Alejandro Valverde of Movistar had been quashed and all was together as the race for pink was set to hot up in the final climbs.

On the second major climb up the Col de la Bonette Mikel Nieve put in his major bid to seize the lead in the KOM classification.  He attacked on the lower slopes of the 20km climb and built a substantial lead as the gap to the main field nudged its way close to 10mins.  Meanwhile behind the breakaway action Movistar were beginning to heat things up on the road, with domestiques for others beginning to fall away.

Nieve crossed the summit of the Col de la Bonette first to move into the lead in the KOM classification.  Having done so he seemed quite happy to idle back to the breakaway that he’d escaped from.  That group of seven were still comfortably ahead of the peloton with the major contenders still very present.  Nibali, Valverde, Kruijswijk and the maglia rosa of Esteban Chaves were all there.

With 40km remaining it was still Orica GreenEDGE on the front of the race.  The deciding climbs would unfold as the race went from France and back into Italy over the Colle Della Lombarda.  The 19.8km climb averaged 7,5% in gradient, with a maximum gradient of 12%.  While the breakaway began to split up with an attack from Joe Dombrowski lighting things up, back in the bunch it was Astana who came to the fore. Jakob Fuglsang and Michele Scarponi were there on behalf of Vincenzo Nibali and they drilled the front of the bunch, whittling it down still further.

Darwin Atapuma up ahead was attacking and stretching the field, but a move by Rein Taaramäe with less than 15km to go went unmatched as the Katusha rider went away.  Behind them though a fuse was lit and the race exploded into life as Vincenzo Nibali attacked.  The Italian national champion went up the road with Alejandro Valverde and Esteban Chaves in tow.  It wasn’t long though before Chaves was dropped first from Nibali’s wheel and then from Valverde’s.

The maglia rosa was in trouble and it was clear to see that the strength of Nibali was a far cry from the forlorn figure of just days before.  The shark of Messina flew up the climb with a lead of 55 seconds to be the virtual maglia rosa, and then made the technical and tough descent look like child’s play.  Meanwhile Chaves, who had gone up the road ahead of Rafal Majka of Tinkoff, Bob Jungels of Etixx-Quick Step and Steven Kruijswijk of LottoNL-Jumbo; now fell back to their group as they tackled the descent together.

Up ahead the battle for the stage was between Taaramäe and Atapuma as the two of them were the last men standing from the original breakaway.  Atapuma was closing on the Katusha rider but it was not enough as Taaramäe claimed the stage by 52 seconds from the Colombian.  Dombrowski crossed the line in third, with Nieve fourth; but the winner of the KOM classification.

Rein Taaramäe attacked valiantly to win the stage, and salvage the Giro for Katusha after losing Ilnur Zakarin, photo Sirotti
Rein Taaramäe attacked valiantly to win the stage, and salvage the Giro for Katusha after losing Ilnur Zakarin, photo Sirotti

The battle for the pink jersey was red hot though and still being fought as Nibali launched up the final climb to the finish.  As the metres kicked in, particularly in the final kilometre, the Italian began to appear as though he was struggling.  But buoyed by the crowd he carried on and crossed the line in 6th place, just ahead of Alejandro Valverde and Rigoberto Uran.  1.36 mins passed before the figure of Esteban Chaves came into view on the finish line, spent, exhausted, having done everything to keep pink; beside him a jubilant Michele Scarponi who had shepherded his leader into the maglia rosa when it looked obvious that Nibali couldn’t possibly be a serious contender any more.

Sam Bewley produced the ride of his life in stage 20; in an effort to defend Chaves’ lead.  Bewley would eventually finish in the upper half of the field, which is not customary on such a difficult mountain stage for a non-climber.  This gives some idea of the effort that he and Orica GreenEDGE put in today.  Bewley finished 60th on the stage just ahead of teammate Damien Howson, and just behind the blue jersey of the day’s KOM Damiano Cunego.  Bewley’s effort was such that he elevated himself up the GC standings several places.
With just one day remaining the Giro d’Italia podium looks set to have Nibali on top by 52 seconds from Esteban Chaves, and 1.17mins from Alejandro Valverde.  With Steven Kruijswijk and Rafal Majka completing the top 5.  Giacomo Nizzolo of Trek-Segafredo is in the lead of the points classisifcation, with Mikel Nieve leading the KOM, and Bob Jungels in the lead for best young rider;  while Astana hold the lead in the team classification.


Stage results:

Rank Name Nat. Team Result
1 Rein TAARAMAE EST KAT 4:22:43
3 Joseph Lloyd DOMBROWSKI USA CPT +1:17
5 Alexander FOLIFOROV RUS GAZ +4:36
6 Vincenzo NIBALI ITA AST +6:44
8 Rigoberto URAN URAN COL CPT +6:57
9 Giovanni VISCONTI ITA MOV +7:47
10 Rafal MAJKA POL TNK +8:06
11 Bob JUNGELS LUX EQS +8:06
12 Gianluca BRAMBILLA ITA EQS +8:13
13 Steven KRUIJSWIJK NED TLJ +8:13
14 Johan Esteban CHAVES RUBIO COL OGE +8:20
15 Michele SCARPONI ITA AST +8:20
16 Tanel KANGERT EST AST +8:51
17 Sergey FIRSANOV RUS GAZ +10:29
18 Andre Fernando S. Martins CARDOSO POR CPT +10:29
19 Kanstantsin SIUTSOU BLR DDD +10:29
20 Hubert DUPONT FRA ALM +10:29
22 Riccardo ZOIDL AUT TFS +11:55
24 Maxime MONFORT BEL LTS +12:09
25 Jakob FUGLSANG DEN AST +13:46
26 Stefano PIRAZZI ITA BAR +14:58
27 Matteo MONTAGUTI ITA ALM +15:35
28 Sebastian HENAO GOMEZ COL SKY +15:35
29 Pavel KOCHETKOV RUS KAT +15:35
30 Egor SILIN RUS KAT +15:35
31 Primož ROGLIC SLO TLJ +15:35
32 Stefan DENIFL AUT IAM +16:02
33 Joseph ROSSKOPF USA BMC +17:19
35 Tobias LUDVIGSSON SWE TGA +17:42
36 Ruben PLAZA MOLINA ESP OGE +18:28
37 Diego ULISSI ITA LAM +18:51
38 Ilia KOSHEVOY BLR LAM +18:51
39 Valerio CONTI ITA LAM +18:51
40 Adam HANSEN AUS LTS +19:23
41 Nathan BROWN USA CPT +20:17
42 Aleksey RYBALKIN RUS GAZ +20:17
43 Vegard Stake LAENGEN NOR IAM +20:17
44 Pawel POLJANSKI POL TNK +22:09
45 Georg PREIDLER AUT TGA +22:54
46 Marcel WYSS SUI IAM +24:05
47 Manuele BOARO ITA TNK +24:10
48 Amets TXURRUKA ESP OGE +24:16
49 Axel DOMONT FRA ALM +24:16
50 Davide FORMOLO ITA CPT +24:54
51 Andrey ZEITS KAZ AST +30:04
52 Eros CAPECCHI ITA AST +30:04
53 Guillaume BONNAFOND FRA ALM +30:04
54 Nicolas ROCHE IRL SKY +30:04
55 Laurent DIDIER LUX TFS +30:04
57 Damiano CUNEGO ITA NIP +30:04
58 Benoît VAUGRENARD FRA FDJ +30:04
59 Evgeny PETROV RUS TNK +30:04
60 Sam BEWLEY NZL OGE +30:25
61 Damien HOWSON AUS OGE +30:40
62 Alessandro DE MARCHI ITA BMC +30:48
63 Alessandro BISOLTI ITA NIP +34:31
64 Moreno MOSER ITA CPT +34:31
65 Ivan ROVNY RUS TNK +34:31
66 Ian BOSWELL USA SKY +34:31
67 Anton VOROBYEV RUS KAT +34:49
68 Jose Joaquin ROJAS GIL ESP MOV +35:05
69 Manuele MORI ITA LAM +35:05
70 Daniel MARTÍNEZ COL WIL +35:05
71 Alexander KOLOBNEV RUS GAZ +35:05
72 Martijn KEIZER NED TLJ +35:05
73 Chad HAGA USA TGA +35:05
74 Jelle VANENDERT BEL LTS +35:05
76 Bakhtiyar KOZHATAYEV KAZ AST +35:09
78 Albert TIMMER NED TGA +44:17
79 Nikias ARNDT GER TGA +44:17
80 Filippo POZZATO ITA WIL +45:06
81 Manuel QUINZIATO ITA BMC +45:06
82 Jos VAN EMDEN NED TLJ +45:06
83 Mickael DELAGE FRA FDJ +45:06
84 Pim LIGTHART NED LTS +45:06
85 Sean DE BIE BEL LTS +45:06
86 Murilo Antonio FISCHER BRA FDJ +45:06
87 Alberto BETTIOL ITA CPT +45:06
88 Tim WELLENS BEL LTS +45:06
89 Davide MALACARNE ITA AST +45:06
90 Maarten TJALLINGII NED TLJ +45:06
91 Viacheslav KUZNETSOV RUS KAT +45:06
92 Marco COLEDAN ITA TFS +45:06
93 Jay Robert THOMSON RSA DDD +45:06
94 Simon CLARKE AUS CPT +45:06
95 Eugert ZHUPA ALB WIL +45:06
96 Johann VAN ZYL RSA DDD +45:06
97 Hugo HOULE CAN ALM +45:06
98 Manuel SENNI ITA BMC +45:06
99 Jasha SÜTTERLIN GER MOV +45:06
100 Cristian RODRIGUEZ MARTIN ESP WIL +45:06
102 Stefan KUENG SUI BMC +45:06
103 Rick ZABEL GER BMC +45:06
104 Julen AMEZQUETA ESP WIL +45:06
105 Matteo BUSATO ITA WIL +45:06
106 Pieter SERRY BEL EQS +45:06
107 Kristian SBARAGLI ITA DDD +45:06
108 Jay MCCARTHY AUS TNK +45:06
109 Paolo SIMION ITA BAR +45:06
110 Sonny COLBRELLI ITA BAR +45:06
111 Pavel BRUTT RUS TNK +45:06
112 Francesco Manuel BONGIORNO ITA BAR +45:06
113 Olivier LE GAC FRA FDJ +45:06
114 Domenico POZZOVIVO ITA ALM +45:06
115 Matteo TOSATTO ITA TNK +45:06
116 Mirco MAESTRI ITA BAR +45:06
117 Enrico BATTAGLIN ITA TLJ +45:06
119 Twan CASTELIJNS NED TLJ +45:06
120 Bram TANKINK NED TLJ +45:06
121 Lars Ytting BAK DEN LTS +45:06
122 Daniel OSS ITA BMC +45:06
123 Christian KNEES GER SKY +45:06
124 Matej MOHORIC SLO LAM +45:06
125 Heinrich HAUSSLER AUS IAM +45:06
126 Simone PETILLI ITA LAM +45:06
127 Biel KADRI FRA ALM +45:06
128 Matteo TRENTIN ITA EQS +45:06
129 Andrei SOLOMENNIKOV RUS GAZ +45:06
130 Ramunas NAVARDAUSKAS LTU CPT +45:06
131 Ignatas KONOVALOVAS LTU FDJ +45:06
132 Artem OVECHKIN RUS GAZ +45:06
133 Jaco VENTER RSA DDD +45:06
134 Alexander SEROV RUS GAZ +45:06
135 Gianfranco ZILIOLI ITA NIP +45:06
136 Lukasz WISNIOWSKI POL EQS +45:06
137 Grega BOLE SLO NIP +45:06
138 David LOPEZ GARCIA ESP SKY +45:06
139 Arnaud COURTEILLE FRA FDJ +45:06
140 Genki YAMAMOTO JPN NIP +45:06
141 Svein TUFT CAN OGE +45:06
142 Eugenio ALAFACI ITA TFS +45:06
143 Maxim BELKOV RUS KAT +45:06
144 Cheng JI CHN TGA +45:06
145 Jack BOBRIDGE AUS TFS +45:06
146 Roberto FERRARI ITA LAM +45:06
147 Roger KLUGE GER IAM +45:06
148 Giacomo NIZZOLO ITA TFS +45:06
149 Alexander PORSEV RUS KAT +45:06
150 Michael HEPBURN AUS OGE +45:06
151 Sacha MODOLO ITA LAM +45:06
152 Simone ANDREETTA ITA BAR +45:06
153 Nicola BOEM ITA BAR +45:06
154 Ivan SAVITSKIY RUS GAZ +45:06
155 Songezo JIM RSA DDD +45:42
156 Riccardo STACCHIOTTI ITA NIP +47:50
157 Eduard Michael GROSU ROU NIP +47:50


General classification after stage 20:

Rank Name Nat. Team Result
1 Vincenzo NIBALI Italy AST 82:44:31
2 Jhoan Esteban CHAVES RUBIO Colombia OGE +52
3 Alejandro VALVERDE BELMONTE Spain MOV +1:17
4 Steven KRUIJSWIJK Netherlands TLJ +1:50
5 Rafal MAJKA Poland TNK +4:37
6 Bob JUNGELS Luxembourg EQS +8:31
7 Rigoberto URAN URAN Colombia CPT +11:47
8 Andrey AMADOR BIKKAZAKOVA Costa Rica MOV +13:21
9 Darwin ATAPUMA HURTADO Colombia BMC +14:09
10 Kanstantsin SIUTSOU Belarus DDD +16:20
11 Hubert DUPONT France ALM +24:33
12 Jakob FUGLSANG Denmark AST +24:59
13 Giovanni VISCONTI Italy MOV +31:38
14 Andre Fernando S. Martins CARDOSO Portugal CPT +34:12
15 Maxime MONFORT Belgium LTS +34:34
16 Michele SCARPONI Italy AST +38:09
17 Sebastian HENAO GOMEZ Colombia SKY +38:09
18 Stefano PIRAZZI Italy BAR +41:00
19 Matteo MONTAGUTI Italy ALM +43:49
20 Domenico POZZOVIVO Italy ALM +51:49
21 Diego ULISSI Italy LAM +56:59
22 Gianluca BRAMBILLA Italy EQS +57:08
23 Tanel KANGERT Estonia AST +59:30
24 Nicolas ROCHE Ireland SKY +1:04:44
25 Mikel NIEVE ITURALDE Spain SKY +1:05:22
26 Georg PREIDLER Austria TGA +1:08:05
27 Valerio CONTI Italy LAM +1:18:38
28 Igor ANTON HERNANDEZ Spain DDD +1:22:43
29 Rein TAARAMAE Estonia KAT +1:23:22
30 Sergey FIRSANOV Russia GAZ +1:24:38
31 Davide FORMOLO Italy CPT +1:27:19
32 Pavel KOCHETKOV Russia KAT +1:28:35
33 Andrey ZEITS Kazakhstan AST +1:32:53
34 Joseph Lloyd DOMBROWSKI United States CPT +1:32:56
35 Pawel POLJANSKI Poland TNK +1:50:37
36 Ivan ROVNY Russia TNK +1:51:10
37 Merhawi KUDUS GHEBREMEDHIN Eritrea DDD +1:54:34
38 Egor SILIN Russia KAT +1:56:08
39 Riccardo ZOIDL Austria TFS +1:57:12
40 Marcel WYSS Switzerland IAM +2:00:13
41 Moreno MOSER Italy CPT +2:01:27
42 Enrico BATTAGLIN Italy TLJ +2:02:23
43 Carlos VERONA QUINTANILLA Spain EQS +2:05:57
44 Damiano CUNEGO Italy NIP +2:06:37
45 Alexander FOLIFOROV Russia GAZ +2:06:37
46 Manuele BOARO Italy TNK +2:10:55
47 Davide MALACARNE Italy AST +2:13:24
48 Nathan BROWN United States CPT +2:15:18
49 Jose Joaquin ROJAS GIL Spain MOV +2:17:44
50 Axel DOMONT France ALM +2:20:53
51 Tobias LUDVIGSSON Sweden TGA +2:21:13
52 Stefan DENIFL Austria IAM +2:21:34
53 Damien HOWSON Australia OGE +2:25:44
54 Guillaume BONNAFOND France ALM +2:32:28
55 Amets TXURRUKA Spain OGE +2:39:42
56 Ruben PLAZA MOLINA Spain OGE +2:40:39
57 Matteo BUSATO Italy WIL +2:43:03
58 Primož ROGLIC Slovenia TLJ +2:43:25
59 Jesus HERNANDEZ BLAZQUEZ Spain TNK +2:44:44
60 Stefan KUENG Switzerland BMC +2:52:25
61 Bram TANKINK Netherlands TLJ +2:55:43
62 José HERRADA LOPEZ Spain MOV +3:03:04
63 Manuele MORI Italy LAM +3:03:47
64 Laurent DIDIER Luxembourg TFS +3:07:17
65 Bakhtiyar KOZHATAYEV Kazakhstan AST +3:08:06
66 Christian KNEES Germany SKY +3:09:06
67 Simon CLARKE Australia CPT +3:13:04
68 Adam HANSEN Australia LTS +3:13:19
69 David LOPEZ GARCIA Spain SKY +3:18:34
70 Pieter SERRY Belgium EQS +3:19:25
71 Ian BOSWELL United States SKY +3:19:42
72 Hugo HOULE Canada ALM +3:20:38
73 Alexander KOLOBNEV Russia GAZ +3:20:39
74 Matteo TRENTIN Italy EQS +3:21:00
75 Evgeny PETROV Russia TNK +3:21:36
76 Manuel SENNI Italy BMC +3:22:42
77 Simone PETILLI Italy LAM +3:23:08
78 Chad HAGA United States TGA +3:25:49
79 Johann VAN ZYL South Africa DDD +3:28:27
80 Rory SUTHERLAND Australia MOV +3:28:37
81 Alessandro BISOLTI Italy NIP +3:29:23
82 Eros CAPECCHI Italy AST +3:29:48
83 Vegard Stake LAENGEN Norway IAM +3:30:44
84 Sacha MODOLO Italy LAM +3:31:30
85 Joseph ROSSKOPF United States BMC +3:31:50
86 Alberto BETTIOL Italy CPT +3:33:33
87 Nikias ARNDT Germany TGA +3:34:14
88 Jay MCCARTHY Australia TNK +3:35:37
89 Daniel MARTÍNEZ Colombia WIL +3:36:41
90 Pavel BRUTT Russia TNK +3:38:02
91 Lars Ytting BAK Denmark LTS +3:39:13
92 Benoît VAUGRENARD France FDJ +3:40:01
93 Jelle VANENDERT Belgium LTS +3:42:29
94 Kristian SBARAGLI Italy DDD +3:44:49
95 Alessandro DE MARCHI Italy BMC +3:44:56
96 Sonny COLBRELLI Italy BAR +3:48:07
97 Tim WELLENS Belgium LTS +3:48:24
98 Ilia KOSHEVOY Belarus LAM +3:48:40
99 Matej MOHORIC Slovenia LAM +3:49:14
100 Heinrich HAUSSLER Australia IAM +3:49:24
101 Anton VOROBYEV Russia KAT +3:50:10
102 Jaco VENTER South Africa DDD +3:51:01
103 Martijn KEIZER Netherlands TLJ +3:52:57
104 Cristian RODRIGUEZ MARTIN Spain WIL +3:53:15
105 Ivan SAVITSKIY Russia GAZ +3:54:08
106 Eugenio ALAFACI Italy TFS +3:56:18
107 Aleksey RYBALKIN Russia GAZ +3:58:02
108 Matteo TOSATTO Italy TNK +3:58:47
109 Sean DE BIE Belgium LTS +3:58:53
110 Francesco Manuel BONGIORNO Italy BAR +3:59:07
111 Giacomo NIZZOLO Italy TFS +4:03:51
112 Daniel OSS Italy BMC +4:06:35
113 Julen AMEZQUETA Spain WIL +4:07:22
114 Jasha SÜTTERLIN Germany MOV +4:07:36
115 Twan CASTELIJNS Netherlands TLJ +4:08:24
116 Filippo POZZATO Italy WIL +4:08:54
117 Maxim BELKOV Russia KAT +4:10:44
118 Manuel QUINZIATO Italy BMC +4:11:33
119 Gianfranco ZILIOLI Italy NIP +4:12:52
120 Mirco MAESTRI Italy BAR +4:14:10
121 Jos VAN EMDEN Netherlands TLJ +4:16:03
122 Albert TIMMER Netherlands TGA +4:16:19
123 Ramunas NAVARDAUSKAS Lithuania CPT +4:16:34
124 Viacheslav KUZNETSOV Russia KAT +4:18:19
125 Maarten TJALLINGII Netherlands TLJ +4:18:59
126 Sam BEWLEY New Zealand OGE +4:19:37
127 Pim LIGTHART Netherlands LTS +4:19:46
128 Andrei SOLOMENNIKOV Russia GAZ +4:20:08
129 Alexander SEROV Russia GAZ +4:21:37
130 Marco COLEDAN Italy TFS +4:22:05
131 Eugert ZHUPA Albania WIL +4:23:15
132 Paolo SIMION Italy BAR +4:23:26
133 Roberto FERRARI Italy LAM +4:28:08
134 Olivier LE GAC France FDJ +4:29:26
135 Ignatas KONOVALOVAS Lithuania FDJ +4:31:38
136 Grega BOLE Slovenia NIP +4:32:04
137 Arnaud COURTEILLE France FDJ +4:33:09
138 Roger KLUGE Germany IAM +4:33:28
139 Lukasz WISNIOWSKI Poland EQS +4:35:16
140 Nicola BOEM Italy BAR +4:35:56
141 Rick ZABEL Germany BMC +4:36:19
142 Simone ANDREETTA Italy BAR +4:36:25
143 Artem OVECHKIN Russia GAZ +4:36:45
144 Tom STAMSNIJDER Netherlands TGA +4:38:30
145 Songezo JIM South Africa DDD +4:40:38
146 Alexander PORSEV Russia KAT +4:41:38
147 Svein TUFT Canada OGE +4:43:04
148 Biel KADRI France ALM +4:43:48
149 Mickael DELAGE France FDJ +4:45:40
150 Jay Robert THOMSON South Africa DDD +4:47:03
151 Michael HEPBURN Australia OGE +4:47:59
152 Genki YAMAMOTO Japan NIP +4:49:05
153 Murilo Antonio FISCHER Brazil FDJ +4:49:59
154 Eduard Michael GROSU Romania NIP +4:53:53
155 Cheng JI China TGA +5:03:42
156 Riccardo STACCHIOTTI Italy NIP +5:08:00
157 Jack BOBRIDGE Australia TFS +5:08:51


Photos: Sirotti


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here