Giulio Ciccone celebrates after winning the 16th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Tuesday. Photo: Alessandro di Meo/ANSA via AP

PONTE DI LEGNO – Italy’s Giulio Ciccone won the rain-lashed 16th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Tuesday, as race favourite Primoz Roglic lost 1min 20sec to his main rivals in pink jersey-wearer Richard Carapaz and two-time winner Vincenzo Nibali.

The veteran Italian Nibali sparked a highly aggressive day of racing when attacking from distance, and while he was unable to drop Ecuador’s Carapaz, Roglic, isolated from his teammates, was no match for the attack, even if Roglic wouldn’t admit it.

“This Giro isn’t over yet, anything can happen,” he warned.

The 2013 and 2016 Giro winner Nibali launched his assault on the day’s final challenging climb, some 8km from the summit, which he crossed around 90sec ahead of the flailing former ski-jumper Roglic.

Overall leader Carapaz, aided by his powerful Movistar team captain Mikel Landa, caught Nibali before the summit and formed the group that powered over the final rolling kilometres in blustery rain.

“To beat Carapaz, I’ll have to work out a new plan,” Nibali said afterwards. “Today, we worked together to take out Roglic.”

Carapaz said he was feeling relaxed, now that Roglic had finally let go after a long struggle.

“This was a perfect day for us, we did very well and we can relax a bit now,” he said.

Ahead of them was the day’s escaping pair of eventual winner Ciccone and the man he beat to the line, the Czech Jan Hirt, who finished 1min 41sec ahead of Nibali’s group.

Some three minutes off the pace were Britain’s Simon Yates and Dutch outside hope Bauke Mollema, who also lost ground on the mountainous run as they crossed the line with Roglic.

Jumbo director Addy Engels admitted his rider Roglic had suffered on Tuesday.

“This time you saw a difference in level between Roglic and riders like Nibali, Carapaz and Landa. When they went, he was unable to follow,” Engels admitted. “And there’s more climbing to come.”

Nibali thereby moves up to second place 1min 47sec behind Carapaz, with Roglic at 2min 09sec in third and Landa fourth at 3min 15sec.

Stage winner Ciccone was seen shivering after the race, and had stuffed newspapers into his shirt on the descent of the main climb.

“I couldn’t put my top on at the Mortirolo. The sleeves were too narrow, and my gloves were wet,” said a smiling Ciccone, who is top of the climb points standings for the blue jersey.

Wednesday’s run offers relative respite to the peloton as there are no real mountains to climb, even if there is very little flat terrain on the 181km run near the Austrian border that finishes in a 5km ascent.

AFP