Stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia 2021 was set to be the 'queen stage' of the entire race, but unfortunately two giant mountains had to be taken out due to extreme weather conditions.
This, however, didn't take away from the drama as live TV pictures of the race flickered in and out and we saw some of the more vital moments of the race, including the brutal attack of Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) halfway up the final climb of the Passo Giau on his way to stage victory.
After the day, we can shed some more light on what it was like on such a tough day on the bike for the riders, who have since shared their reactions.
Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) put in yet another surprisingly strong ride to take fourth on the day behind Bernal, Romain Bardet (DSM) and Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) to hold onto his sixth place overall.
After the stage, he said: "I didn’t give in to the instinct to follow whoever was attacking and to accelerate even though I felt good, but I climbed at my own pace, looking at the overall ranking now, it’s a choice that has paid off.
"Despite the changes in the course, I don't think there was a lack of spectacle. It was an epic ride.
"The new profile blew away any tactics we had from yesterday evening and made the day more explosive. The pace was strong from the start, but, of course, Passo Giau made the real difference.
"EF set an impressive pace, and from there it was a test of endurance, legs and head. I had good feelings all day, and this allowed me to manage my energy smartly."
His team-mate, Vincenzo Nibali, spent the day in the breakaway and managed to break away from a large bunch along with five other riders on the descent of the first climb but was the first to be dropped on the Giau.
"It was a stage with no time to breathe," said Nibali. "The absence of [Passo] Fedaia and [Passo] Pordoi made it less difficult in terms of altitude, but it was still very difficult. Such cold days, all day long in the rain, put everyone to the test."
Former Russian champion and white jersey wearer Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) had a tough day out in the final part of the stage with his jacket getting tangled with his bike as he got to the foothills of the Giau.
"When I tried to take off my raincoat, a sleeve somehow got stuck in my wheel. As a result, my wheel was immediately blocked, I had to stop to solve the problem, but luckily the support vehicle was not far away."
"Thanks to my team-mates, I tried to get back into the favourites group, but that didn't work because I had fallen far behind”
"That is very disappointing, but it is the way it is. There is nothing we can do about it anymore. I tried my best, but I lost time. I just don't give up yet and keep fighting in the third week."
Vlasov does remain in fourth place but at a distant 4-18 down on Bernal. The talented climber will be hoping to aim for a very possible podium from now on.
Second overall and third on the stage was the very impressive Caruso, another rider who has surprised with his form since his leader, Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) crashed out in the first week.
The 33-year-old finished just behind Bardet who caught the Italian on the descent of the Giau, 27 seconds down on Bernal in the finish town of Cortina d'Ampezzo.
"The race went like we expected. It's true it was shortened, but there was high intensity all day," said Caruso after the stage.
"I felt good in the last climb and I was looking at the faces of the other contenders and I understood in this moment I was almost the strongest, except for Bernal of course. I tried to follow him but I couldn't follow him, then I just do my own tempo and do the best until the end."
Luckily for the riders stage 16 was followed by the final rest day of the race, but the mountains return on stage 17 with a summit finish on the Sega di Ala.
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