The rest day comes at the right time. On stage 16 of the Giro on Monday, the riders really had a painful day, despite a redesigned course skipping two major climbs due to the weather conditions. However, they still had to face the Passo Pordoi, where everything exploded, and where Attila Valter once again fought hard to keep a good position overall. While Egan Bernal secured even more his pink jersey in Cortina d’Ampezzo, the young Hungarian took twenty-first on the day and thus remains in the top 15 in the general classification (13th) with five stages still to go.
“In these situations, it’s every man for himself”, Philippe Mauduit
It was supposed to be the Queen stage of the Giro. With 212 kilometres on the menu including the “Passi” Fedaia, Pordoi and Giau in the second part of the race, stage 16 of the Giro d’Italia was expected to set off fireworks. However, on Monday, the course was not the only challenge as the very low temperatures and almost permanent rain could not sufficiently guarantee the riders’ safety. At the start of Sacile, the various stakeholders then got together and decided to reduce the stage to 153 kilometers, skipping the “Passi” Fedaia and Pordoi. “We were focused on the stage and not on the talks, as it was not up to us,” said Philippe Mauduit. “We were ready to race, although we didn’t know how many kilometers we would have to do one hour before the start. We asked the riders to stay calm, focused on the 212 kilometers, and we told them we would adjust the plan based on what would be decided. Then the news came. Everyone knew it was going to be an extremely difficult day, whether it was on 150 or 210 kilometers. Regardless of the length of the stage and climbs to tackle, you still had to start with a fighting spirit”.
“Fortunately, the organizers were able to adjust the route and I think they did well because it turned out to be a nice stage,” argued Rudy Molard. “If we had done it all, I also think that many guys would have gone home today”. Initially scheduled for 10:40 am, the start of the stage was finally given at 11:30 am, in driving rain. “We knew that with a slightly shorter route, it was going to be full-gas all day,” said Antoine Duchesne. After fifteen kilometres or so, the riders entered the first climb of the day and a group of about 20 men got away. Then, six of them went up the road but some were still too close on GC. Therefore, Egan Bernal’s Ineos did not let it go as they did the day before and the gap was only of two minutes starting the lone climb of the final: the Passo Giau (2225 meters above sea level). From the first slopes, the peloton blew into pieces and Attila Valter quickly found himself on his own in this ten-kilometer climb averaging 9.3%. “Pretty much all the leaders were in this situation,” said Philippe Mauduit. “There were riders one by one on the road. When the stage is hard, due to the course and the weather conditions, it often ends like that. It’s every man for himself and every one just does his best.”
“These days leave a mark”, Rudy Molard
In the final three kilometers of the climb, the pink jersey dropped all his rivals and then took the win in Cortina d’Ampezzo after the downhill, further consolidating his lead overall. The stage actually created huge gaps, as Attila Valter crossed the line eight minutes later… but still being 21st on the day. “It was a super hard day and I just did my best,” said the Hungarian, now thirteenth in the general classification. “It was a tough day for everyone,” said Rudy. “Fortunately, we expected it so we were mentally prepared. That said, even when you know what to expect, these days leave a mark and we do not experience many of them in a season. We went through it, but we are more than anything disappointed for Seb who left us today”. Suffering from knee pain since his crash on Sunday, Sébastien Reichenbach unfortunately had no choice but to abandon the race on Monday. “I’m disappointed to leave the race this way”, said the Swissman. “I was really looking forward to the third week, but I’ll be back!” His teammates will now enjoy a rest day before tackling the last five stages. “We will try to recover well tomorrow in order to finish this third week in a good way,” added Rudy. “The Giro is far from over,” concluded Philippe. “We will try to make the most of the rest day, then start fighting again on the hard next stages if we have the legs for it”.