A short, mountainous stage in the Giro d'Italia made for a difficult day for the sprinters and domestiques trying to finish within the time limit

The Giro d’Italia‘s short 132-kilometre stage to Andalo in Italy’s north today was not so sweet for the sprinters and other riders in the gruppetto. Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) increased his pink jersey lead, but others struggled to finish within the time limit.

A group of around 45 riders raced to Andalo, not for the win, simply to continue in the Giro. Based on their calculations, they had to make it home within 18 minutes of the winner’s time.

“We all knew today that we had to go full gas,” said Jack Bobridge (Trek-Segafredo), who sits last in the general classification. “Some other days we have more time, but today was short. We knew from the start it was going to be tough.”

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The stage through the valley from Bressanone, following the Giro’s rest day, went faster thanks to a tailwind. Spaniard Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) won the race in two hours, 58 minutes and 54 seconds. On a mid-mountain stage, the race jury says that all riders must finish within 10 per cent of the winner’s time, or around 18 minutes in this case.

Steven Kruijswijk

The fast pace set by lead trio Steven Kruijswijk, Alejandro Valverde and Ilnur Zakarin on stage 16 made it hard work for those behind them

The majority of the gruppetto finished in 18-05 minutes. Sam Bewley (Orica-GreenEdge) and Carlos Betancur (Movistar) came home 18-19 minutes behind Valverde.

“We did the race at a good pace, the climbs, too,” Matteo Trentin (Etixx–QuickStep) said. “We were going hard on that last climb into Andalo because you never know. You don’t know their time exactly, so you have to calculate with experience. We were inside the limit by a hair.”

>>> Alejandro Valverde: ‘Steven Kruijswijk will win the Giro d’Italia’

Up front, Valverde and Kruijswijk attacked to put time on their rivals. Their moves only increased the pace, with Valverde averaging 44.27kph on the day.

“The short stages are nice to see, yes, but that’s hardly the case for us behind,” Trentin said. “The time limit is small, and you are always going hard.”

“Today was harder than the others, more than the big mountain stage to Corvara [on Saturday] for example because it was short and 10 per cent is different than the 16 per cent [for a mountain day],” added Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo).

“To stay within 10 per cent in a stage this short, where the GC men are going all out, is not simple. I told my team-mates to pull and we arrived in the time limit, that was important.”

Team Sky sprinter Elia Viviani fell foul of the time cut on stage eight, and had to leave the race early.

The sprinters will have a chance to shine tomorrow as the Giro programmed a flat stage into Lombardy to finish in Cassano d’Adda.

  • Sutton Atkins

    Have to agree with you there.

    But I don’t wish for more stages like yesterday. I just wish for professional cyclists to get on with it without complaining that there job is hard. 1. They chose it. 2. They are lucky to have their ‘passion’ as their job. 3. They make a lot more money for themselves and their family than I do. 4. They get all that cool kit for free. 5. Yes, I’m jealous. 6. They don’t have to get up every day at 6am and go to a crappy office job for 9 hours.

  • Derek Biggerstaff

    Be careful what you wish for. Yesterday’s stage was one of the best for many a year but if they tried to race like that every day in a grand tour they’d all be on their knees before the end of the first week.

  • Sutton Atkins

    Is it just me, or does anyone else find it absolutely normal that a bike race should be hard and fast?

  • ridein

    A hard day for pro racers in a grand tour. What a concept, maybe they could plan on doing this again.

  • J M

    For the last two weeks we have heard how fast the peloton is moving. Now the last time that that happened …