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.”

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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.