Almeida Wins Stage 16 of Giro d’Italia 2023
Following Monday’s rest day two of Giro d’Italia 2023, race action was back on the menu with Tuesday’s stage 16. Mark Cavendish had used the rest day to announce his retirement from professional cycling at the end of the season.
Multiple cycling magazines took advantage of the rest day opportunity to absurdly propose this year’s Giro d’Italia should be cancelled because of bad weather conditions, crashes, and illness in the peloton. Bad weather and crashes are part of professional road cycling and if races must be cancelled when crashes or bad weather strikes, it is difficult to imagine a future for outdoor road cycling as a sport.
Maybe the next absurd proposal will be the Giro d’Italia should be cancelled because general classification favorites made week two racing so boring because they are too afraid to launch attacks before the final few days? This immature and undaring way of racing generates many disappointed viewers at home in front of their televisions. But applause is well-deserved for the many breakaway hopefuls who took advantage of the opportunities that arose during week two.
Tuesday’s stage 16 of Giro d’Italia 2023 was on and the challenging route chosen by race organizer RCS Sport called for serious racing action. Stage 16 was a 203-kilometer mountainous ride from Sabbio Chiese to Monte Bondone near Lake Garda.
The route included more than 5800 vertical meters and featured two Category 1 climbs (the Passo Santa Barbara and the Monte Bondone), two Category 2 climbs (Matassone and Serrada), and the Category 3 Passo Bordala. It would be interesting to see if the general classification favorites would treat the many VIPs living near Lake Garda to some interesting racing action or decide to wait even further, while disappointing George Clooney and friends.
Many riders were well-rested following yesterday’s rest day two, so it did not take long for attacks and breakaway attempts to form from the front of the peloton. Eventually, a group of approximately 25 riders joined forces. The main peloton only allowed the front group to build a small gap, so apparently the general classification favorites were hungry for personal success on the day.
The riders in the front group included Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Hansgrohe), Vadim Pronskiy (Astana), Christian Scaroni (Astana), Jack Haig (Bahrain-Victorious), Jonathan Milan (Bahrain-Victorious), Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe), Thomas Champion (Cofidis), Jonathan Lastra (Cofidis), Ben Healy (EF Education-EasyPost), Mattia Bais (Eolo-Kometa), Salvatore Puccio (Ineos-Grenadiers), Ben Swift (Ineos-Grenadiers), Derek Gee (Israel-Premiertech), Carlos Verona (Movistar Team), Nicolas Dalla Valle (Team Corratec-Selle Italia), Michael Hepburn (Jayco-Alula), Filippo Zana (Jayco-Alula), Toms Skuijns (Trek-Segafredo), Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates), Veljko Stojnic (Team Corratec-Selle Italia), the AG2R-Citroen brothers Aurelien Paret-Peintre and Valentin Paret-Peintre, and the Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizane quartet Davide Gabburo, Filippo Magli, Martin Marcellusi, and Alessandro Tonelli.
Chasing points for the mountain classification, Healy was first across the Category 1 Passo di Santa Barbara. Shortly thereafter, Gabburo was first across the Category 3 Passo Bordala, while Stojnic was dropped from the front group.
While Jumbo-Visma was setting a fast pace at the front of the main peloton, Pavel Sivakov (Ineos-Grenadiers) was dropped on the Category 2 Matassone climb. Meanwhile, at the front, the Pronskiy-Scaroni Astana duo had launched an attack.
Pronskiy was first across the Matassone climb and gained valuable points for the mountains classification. He was followed by teammate Scaroni, plus Gabburo and Healy.
On the descent, Pronskiy and Scaroni were in front, while Healy tried to catch up together with a duo from the rolling frogs team Green Project-Faizane CSF-Faizane. Pronskiy and Scaroni pedalled on in front, while Healy and frogs did not make the leap and rejoined the chase group.
Meanwhile, the gap between the front duo and the main peloton had increased to 05:40 minutes, causing some to ponder if the general classification favorites had now changed their minds and decided to forget any previous plans of attacking in today’s stage to try to gain valuable time on their competitors. Clooney and many spectators at home would certainly be disappointed if this was the case.
Benedetti attacked solo from the chase group to try to catch the Astana front duo on the descent, but his attempt failed.
Pronskiy and Scaroni continued up the Category 2 Serrada climb (9.9 kilometers, 6.6% average gradient) 49 seconds ahead of the chase group that had been reduced to tweve riders. Meanwhile, Jumbo-Visma had increased the pace at the front of the main peloton.
With 52 kilometers left of stage 16, the front duo was caught by the chase group. Verona won the sprint across the top of Serrada and Healy followed shortly thereafter.
As the Giro peloton approached the final climb of the day – the Category 1 Monte Bondone – the front group featured 12 riders that had a 04:23 minute advantage over the main peloton led by Jumbo-Visma.
Zana, Verona and Lastra accelerated from the front group, but it did not take long before they were reeled in by the chase group. In the main peloton group, UAE Team Emirates were setting a grinding pace to reel in the breakaway hopefuls. Their advantage was only 33 seconds with nine kilometers left.
Joao Almeida moved to the front of the GC favorites group and accelerated. He was followed by Geraint Thomas (Ineos-Grenadiers), Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma), and Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma). Zana took over the lead to set a fast pace for teammate Dunbar in their chase for the stage victory.
Zana was dropped. Almeida took to the front followed by Kuss, Roglic, Thomas and Dunbar.
Almeida attacked solo. Kuss tried to close the gap while leading the favorites.
Thomas launched a powerful attack with 4.6 kilometers to go and passed Almeida. Almeida glued himself to Thomas’ rear wheel. Kuss, Roglic and Dunbar were dropped. Thomas built a 16 second lead over Kuss, Roglic and Dunbar. When Almeida joined the front, the two riders increased the lead to 30 seconds.
The Almeida-Thomas duo pressed on, and it looked as if a stage winner would be found between the two riders. Almeida launched his sprint with 150 meters left. Thomas was unable to follow the Portuguese. Thomas finished behind Almeida. Roglic completed the stage podium.
“It would have been nice to win the stage, obviously. Almeida made a jump at me and won the sprint. We gained some time. Almeida showed how strong he is and his team as well,” Thomas told Roadcycling.com shortly after the finish.
In the general classification Thomas is the new leader of Giro d’Italia 2023. Almeida is 18 seconds behind Thomas, while Roglic is battling a 29 second deficit. Damiano Caruso is fourth for Bahrain-Victorious.
Visit Roadcycling.com for complete coverage from Giro d’Italia 2023.
Visit Sundried.com to buy ethically produced cycling and fitness clothing.