Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) bettered all of his general classification rivals on the crucial mountain time trial stage of the 2016 Giro d’Italia on Sunday.
Having taken the race lead after the previous day’s stage, the Dutchman went into the day to try and defend his position. However, he did better than that – finishing a close second to surprise stage winner Alexander Foliforov (Gazprom-Rusvelo) and extending his lead at the top of the overall standing.
Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) had started the stage as Kruijswijk’s closest rival, 41 seconds adrift overall. However, disaster struck for the Italian favourite as he dropped his chain and his rear derailleur appeared to get snapped off the frame.
Despite a swift bike change from the Astana mechanic, Nibali was already off the pace. He then had an issue with a spectator getting too close, shoving the running fan to one side. He ended the stage in 25th place and 2-10 down on Kruijswijk.
Kruijswijk now leads the previous day’s stage winner Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) by a significant two minute and 12 second advantage overall, with Nibali slipping to third at 2-51.
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) put in a decent ride to keep hold of his fourth spot overall at 3-29.
One of the biggest losers of the day was Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale), who finished in 50th place, 3-18 down on Kruijswijk, and slipped out of the top 10.
Having made little impression on the Giro so far, the Gazprom-Rusvelo team not only won the stage with 24-year-old Russian Foliforov, but also got a fourth place with Sergey Firsanov.
With the entire route uphill at an average of around eight per cent, all of the riders elected to ride their normal road bikes with only a few adding short, clip-on aerobars – including Kruijswijk.
The riders have the third and final rest day of the 2016 Giro on Monday, before the action resumes on Tuesday with stage 16, back into the mountains with a 132km route from Bressanone to Andalo.
Giro d’Italia 2016, stage 15: Castelrotto to Alpe di Siusi, 10.8km
1. Alexander Foliforov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo in 28-39
2. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at same time
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 23 secs
4. Sergey Firsanov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo at 30 secs
5. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana at 36 secs
6. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge at 40 secs
7. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha at 47 secs
8. Joe Dombrowski (USA) Cannondale at 52 secs
9. Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx-QuickStep at 1-04
10. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff at 1-09
General classification after stage 15
1. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo in 60-41-22
2. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge at 2-12
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 2-51
4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 3-29
5. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff at 4-38
6. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha at 4-40
7. Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar at 5-27
8. Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx-QuickStep at 7-14
9. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Dimension Data at 7-37
10. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 7-55