Extreme weather shortens stage and leaves viewers blind
It was like watching a pre-television Grand Tour, as the extreme weather which lopped 60km and two huge climbs off stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia and also meant neither the TV helicopters nor the high-altitude plane that beams the pictures around the world could take flight.
At the beginning of the race, moto images flicked up with the camera lens blighted by heavy rain before coverage was reduced to either blinking dots on a moving stage profile graphic or footage of cheery Italians waiting at the finish line.
What we did see, in snippets, was EF Education-Nippo trying to set things up for Hugh Carthy before Egan Bernal was spotted at various points jumping away from GC rivals before picking off remnants of the breakaway to take the stage.
Commentators were reduced to relaying information thrown up by intermittent on-screen timings as the riders passed over the top of the Passo Giau and sped down the descent towards the finish, Bernal flashing back into the picture and removing his rain jacket just in time to show off the maglia rosa before the finish line.
An epic stage by all accounts, let's just hope one day we'll get to see it.
Egan Bernal stamps authority on the Giro d'Italia, puts pro peloton on notice
How fickle cycling fans are.
After his Tour de France victory in 2019 it was simply a question of how many Grand Tours Egan Bernal would go on to win. Fast forward to 2020 and he was already written off as he struggled with injury throughout his yellow jersey defence, not making it to Paris.
2021 has seen the return of 2019 Bernal, however, and he's dominated the Giro thus far, winning two of the toughest stages in the race and building his general classification lead at every opportunity since we left Turin.
His post-race interview after stage 16 revealed, however, that this is about more than claiming a first maglia rosa.
"I wanted to do something special, I wanted to show I am back in the game," the Colombian announced.
Only disaster will take the pink jersey off his shoulders in this last week, and with each day that passes conversation will turn to what Bernal does next. Geraint Thomas is supposedly the Ineos Grenadiers chosen leader for this summer's Tour de France, but how can you say no to an Egan Bernal in this sort of form?
Romain Bardet is back
Even if we had been able to track his progress over the top of the Passo Giau and down to the finish in Cortina d'Ampezzo, it would still have been a shock to see Romain Bardet finish as the best of the rest on stage 16.
Leading Bahrain-Victorious' Damiano Caruso over the line 27 seconds after the Colombian had taken the stage, the Frenchman moved up two spots to seventh in the general classification, five minutes down on Bernal.
Of more interest is that Bardet is only 1-20 off a podium spot, and will have opportunities to take more time before the final stage 21 time trial.
The rider moved to DSM this season looking for a second wind to his career, and it looks like that rebirth is well underway.
Simon Yates slips from second place
Simon Yates had said before the stage that this Giro d'Italia was Bernal's to lose, but on stage 16 it was the BikeExchange who was the biggest loser of the day, dislodged on the Passo Giau and eventually losing not only two and a half minutes to Bernal, but well over a minute to the likes of Hugh Carthy and Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo).
Today's conditions will have proved more difficult for certain riders, and we'll have to see what Yates' explanation is after he looked strong on the Zoncolan, but the Brit has now slipped to fifth overall, still within 40 seconds of Carthy in third and less than two minutes to Caruso in second.
Caruso and Carthy move into podium places as Evenepoel plummets down the overall classification
Not many would have expected Damiano Caruso to be second on GC heading into the second rest day, but the Italian finds himself 2-24 down on Bernal and holding more than a minute's buffer over Carthy.
The Giro was looking bleak for Bahrain-Victorious, despite Gino Mäder's stage six win, after Mikel Landa crashed out on stage five but Caruso has taken his opportunity of a free role to ride himself well into contention for the final podium places.
Carthy, meanwhile, was a pre-race contender and lurked ominously on stage 16, his EF Education-Nippo making the race hard to the Brit's benefit to try and upstage the Ineos train.
The plan couldn't disrupt Bernal but was not totally in vain as Carthy gained time on most of his GC rivals and looks good for a second consecutive podium at a Grand Tour.
Remco Evenepoel, meanwhile, finished 24 minutes down on the stage and falls 12 places down to 19th in the general classification. This Italian Grand Tour will now be taken as a learning experience, and the Belgian is still performing remarkably well given how attritional this Giro has been, never mind the fact he's making his debut Grand Tour after being sidelined for nine months.
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