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Giro d’Italia, Stage 16. Aleksandr Vlasov takes seventh on the queen stage, remains fourth in the GC

With three climbs all over 2000 metres above sea level, the 16th stage of the Giro d’Italia had been positioned as the queen stage of the race but extreme weather conditions on two out of three climbs, Passo Fedaia and Passo Pordoi, forced the race organizers to exclude them from the route. The revised stage profile featured just 153 out of 212 kilometres with only La Crosetta climb at the start and Passo Giau as the Cima Coppi (2233 metres above sea level) in the final before the descent to Cortina d’Ampezzo.

The rain and cold all day long still made this stage challenging for all the riders, impacting the General Classification of the race significantly.

After multiple attacks, a group of 24 riders went away on La Crosetta, while later a new leading group of six counterattacked, finally, to create the breakaway of the day with Gorka Izagirre being one of the most aggressive riders up there. The group of Izagirre opened a six-minute gap, while Astana – Premier Tech leader Aleksandr Vlasov stayed well protected in the peloton, surrounded by his teammates.

At the bottom of Passo Giau, Vlasov suffered a mechanical incident when a jacket was caught in his wheel, forcing him to stop and lose time at a crucial point in the race. Vlasov tried to come back to the significantly-reduced GC favourites group, supported by Matteo Sobrero and then by Gorka Izagirre, who dropped back from the breakaway to help his leader.

“The team worked really well all day long. Despite last-minute change in the stage route we prepared a good plan both for the staff and the riders, so everything went in the right way. Gorka Izagirre was in the breakaway, while Aleksandr Vlasov was well protected by the teammates. Then, bad luck impacted us a lot when Vlasov got a jacket in his wheel at the bottom of Passa Giau. Matteo Sobrero gave his all to bring Aleksandr back to the group and they missed just a little to bridge to the front before the decisive attack of Egan Bernal. And also Gorka Izagirre did a phenomenal job coming back from the breakaway to lead Vlasov to the top of the climb trying to minimize our loses. At the end of the day, we lost two minutes to Bernal and around a minute and a half to the others. It is a lot, but we still saved our day and despite bad luck we are still in the mix for the podium. Let’s see what happens after the second rest day,” – said Giuseppe Martinelli, Sports Director of Astana – Premier Tech.

Bernal attacked from the GC favourites group, at the end of the day taking a solo victory in Cortina d’Ampezzo and increasing his lead in the overall standings.

Vlasov finished seventh, 2 minutes and 11 seconds behind Bernal while Gorka Izagirre was eighth.

Going into the second rest day, Bernal leads the race with a 2’24” advantage on Damiano Caruso and 3’40” on Hugh Carthy. Vlasov maintains fourth overall, 4 minutes 18 seconds behind the race leader.

“When I started to take off my jacket, somehow a sleeve touched my wheel, immediately blocking it. I had to stop to solve the problem but fortunately our car was not far behind, so I got help from our mechanic. Well, with support of my teammates I tried to come back to the group, but it did not work out because I was quite far behind. It’s a disappointing moment, but it was how it was, nothing I can do about it. We did our best to the finish line but I still lost time to my rivals. I felt really good today and my teammates did a great job for me, but the luck was not on our side today. However I am not going to give up and I will keep on fighting in the third week”, – said Aleksandr Vlasov.

Giro d’Italia, Stage 16, Sacile – Cortina d’Ampezzo, 153 km.

Stage Top-3: 1. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers); 2. Romain Bardet (Team DSM); 3. Damiano Caruso (Barhain – Victorious).

Astana – Premier Tech stage Top-3: 7. Aleksandr Vlasov; 8. Gorka Izagirre. 26. Matteo Sobrero.

Photo credit: @Getty Images