Jon Izagirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi) beat his breakaway companions to win the 16th stage of the 2012 Giro d’Italia between Limone sul Garda and the mountain town of Falzes.
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The powerful Basque climber struck halfway up a steep ramp a few kilometres from the finish, leaving his fellow fugitives behind.
It was a classic transition stage. Following the race’s second rest day on Monday, most of the bunch was still in recovery mode, trying to regain vital energies ahead of the race’s crucial days in the Dolomites.
A ten-man break went up the road, containing stage 12 winner Lars Bak (Lotto-Belisol), Matthias Frank (BMC Racing), Luca Mazzanti (Farnese Vini), Jesus Herrada (Movistar), Stef Clement (Rabobank), Manuele Boaro (Saxo Bank-Sungard), Nikolas Maes (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Alessandro De Marchi (Androni Giocattoli), Jon Izagirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Matthias Brandle (Team NetApp).
As the road drifted north, slowly uphill into German-speaking Tyrol, the breakaway’s lead headed the same way, up to a dozen minutes over the bunch.
Izagirre ramps it up
The fight for victory came down to the steep two-kilometre ramp, two kilometres from Pfalzes. After surges from Herrada and Frank, Izagirre took his chance to go it alone.
As the road flattened out, the 23 year old pushed home his advantage to take a valuable win for dayglo orange-clad Euskaltel. It’s the second of his fledgling career, a month after claiming a Tour of Asturias time-trial stage.
Behind, Alessandro De Marchi outsprinted Stef Clement for second, as the break finished in ones and twos.
Nine minutes down the road, the bunch had halved in size on the steep ramp, but the favourites kept their powder dry, minds firmly on the tough stages to come.
The Giro enters its endgame with tomorrow’s seventeenth stage, covering 187 kilometres from Falzes to Cortina d’Ampezzo.
It goes over four tough climbs in the Dolomites: the last, the storied Passo Giau, comes eighteen kilometres from the stage end before a rapid drop to the ski town finish.
Giro d’Italia 2012, stage 16: Limone sul Garda-Falzes, 173km
1. Jon Izagirre (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 4-02-00
2. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli at 16secs
3. Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank
4. Matthias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing at 19secs
5. Jesus Herrada (Spa) Movistar at 21secs
6. Manuele Boaro (Ita) Saxo Bank-Sungard at 37secs
7. Matthias Brandle (Aut) Team NetApp at 43secs
8. Nikolas Maes (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 45secs
9. Lars Bak (Den) Lotto-Belisol
10. Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Farnese Vini at 48secs
Overall classification after stage 16
1. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha in 69-13-07
2. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Barracuda at 30 secs
3. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 1-22
4. Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana at 1-26
5. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana at 1-27
6. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-ISD at 1-36
7. Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar at 1-42
8. Sergio Henao (Col) Sky at 1-55
9. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 2-12
10. Sandy Casar (Fra) FDJ-BigMat at 2-13
11. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Sky at 2-56
Jon Izagirre wins stage 16
Joaquin Rodriguez still safely in pink
Cycling Weekly’s Giro d’Italia section