The Giro d'Italia's fireworks continue without a break for the riders to catch their breath. Stage 16 to Ivrea, in the country's northwest, blew up on a small climb outside of town.
"That's the problem in this Giro, there's never a calm moment," Astana's team manager, Giuseppe Martinelli told Cycling Weekly. "Today, we thought the escape was gone, but then RadioShack and Katusha pulled it back and it all blew to bits."
Astana's Vincenzo Nibali leads the race by 1-26 minutes over Cadel Evans (BMC Racing). He took the race lead in Saltara just over a week ago, but has had to deal with the Giro's punches since the start in Naples.
"The Giro is always like this. It's a race for technical guys, guys that want to go on the attack," BMC Racing's sports director, Fabio Baldato added. "It suits classics riders, like Nibali, who is good in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Amstel Gold. You need to be able to handle the bike and always be at the front on the narrow roads."
Once Astana and RadioShack captured the early escape, which shot free while the stage travelled out of France, chaos reigned. Classification rider, Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) attacked on the small category 3, Andrate climb. He started a round of attacks by other GC riders, including race leader Nibali, Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida) and Robert Gesink (Blanco).
Martinelli said that Nibali was just trying to ride safely with a clear trajectory.
"We knew the descent was difficult by looking on Google, etc," he added. "It's better he does that instead of someone being at front and leaving a gap or something."
The aggressive riding and weather are taking its toll, however. One by one, riders are slipping away. Bradley Wiggins and Ryder Hesjedal abandoned last week. Hesjedal commented the Giro is so hard that he does not know how he won it last year.
Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia), who was fourth overall, lost time and slipped to sixth place in the standings today.
"But at the Tour or the Giro, it's always like this: anything can happen on any given day," Nibali said today in the winner's press conference. "It could, as you say, have been an easy stage today, but it wasn't."
Only once a three-man move, with eventual winner Beñat Intxausti (Movistar) shot free in the final four kilometres did the favourites lay down their arms. The three took up the bonus seconds and allowed everyone else to have a moment's rest.
"These are supposed to be 'easy days' today and tomorrow," added Martinelli. "There's a million ways to race them, and it makes it complicated. But, maybe the fans at home are having fun watching this!?"
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