Giro d’Italia 2017: Vincenzo Nibali wins controversial queen stage

Maglia rosa Tom Dumoulin sees overall advantage cut after rivals attack during ill-timed comfort break

Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) beat Mikel Landa (Team Sky) in a two-up sprint to win the queen stage of the Giro d’Italia on a hugely controversial day.

Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) retained the pink jersey, just, but only after seeing his GC rivals attack as he took an ill-timed comfort break at the foot of the Umbrail Pass.

Landa had attacked the breakaway to lead over the Stelvio and Umbrail Pass, but Nibali’s descending saw him bridge the gap and outsprint his former Astana team-mate to claim the first Italian stage win of this year’s race.

But the big controversy had come at the foot of the final climb, when Nibali – with Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) among those in tow – opted to push on with Dumoulin at the roadside.

The Dutchman was forced to climb the final pass alone and had, at one point on the descent, seemingly lost the maglia rosa but he fought back to stay in pink with a 31-second lead over Quintana.

Vincenzo Nibali claimed the first Italian stage win of the 2017 Giro d’Italia (pic – Sirotti)

With the climbs of the Mortirolo, Stelvio and Umbrail Pass on the cards, as well as some technical, dicey descents to throw into the mix too, stage 16 was always likely to be an explosive affair.

But few could have predicted what would unfold on the Umbrail Pass when scores of riders were making bids to get into the day’s breakaway.

The move that eventually stuck only did so on the lower slopes of the Mortirolo – the climb dedicated to the late Michele Scarponi.

Fittingly, Scarponi’s former Astana team-mate Luis Leon Sanchez was allowed to take the Cima Scarponi points, with Omar Fraile sitting second wheel to reclaim the King of the Mountains lead.

The breakaway contained four Team Sky riders – Landa, Kiryienka, Philip Deignan and Sebastian Henao – while Movistar planted three of Quintana’s team-mates in the front group, in the form of Andrey Amador, Winner Anacona and Gorka Izaguirre.

Maglia rosa Dumoulin boasted just one team-mate up the road in Laurens ten Dam, with Amador and Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) the biggest GC threats in the front group.

Kiryienka set the pace on the run-in to the Stelvio, while Amador’s presence up the road meant Trek-Segafredo and FDJ came forward to help Team Sunweb drive the peloton.

It was a timely intervention, as Dumoulin rapidly ran out of team-mates on the hairpins of the Stelvio.

Up the road, meanwhile, an eight-man leading group had formed on the climb with Landa, Deignan, Sanchez, Amador, Izaguirre, Kruijswijk, Igor Anton (Dimension Data) and Jan Hirt (CCC Sprandi Polowice) getting a gap.

Tom Dumoulin kept the pink jersey despite his GC rivals attacking while he took a comfort break (pic – Sirotti)

Tensions were clearly running high in the peloton, as Dumoulin and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) lashed out at a fan trying to give Quintana a push on the Stelvio.

At the summit, meanwhile, it was Landa who claimed the Cima Coppi by crossing the summit first.

At the front, Amador, Kruijswijk and finally Landa were attacking the break on the run-in to the Umbrail Pass, but the real drama was to unfold further back in the reduced GC group.

Dumoulin pulled over for a clearly unscheduled comfort break at the foot of the climb, but his GC rivals showed little sign of letting up the pace.

Zakarin attacked first, and just as it looked like Bahrain-Merida and Movistar would be easing up, the pace was pushed on and Dumoulin was in big trouble.

Nibali and Quintana push on, with Dumoulin on his own down the road (pic – Sirotti)

Landa led the way over the top – taking the KOM lead for himself – but by that point Nibali, Quintana, Zakarin and Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r-La Mondiale) were closing in fast.

And Nibali delivered another descending masterclass to catch the Spaniard, and got the better line on the final corner to claim victory.

Nibali’s descending, regardless of what had come before, was a masterclass, and his victory a fitting tribute to Scarponi.

But what had come before was still having an impact, and when Nairo Quintana (Movistar) claimed third place all eyes turned to the clock and Tom Dumoulin.

In between, the battle for the white jersey was unfolding – Davide Formolo (Cannondale-Drapac) gaining a small amount time on Bob Jungels (QuickStep Floors) and Adam Yates (Orica-Scott) – the latter two having finished together.

Dumoulin had to climb and descend the Umbrail Pass alone, but dug deep to retain the maglia rosa (pic – Sirotti)

Dumoulin, meanwhile, having at one point seemingly lost the maglia rosa on the road, had recovered well to finish 2’16” behind Nibali, and 2’04” back from Quintana.

The Dutchman – who could not hide his disappointment and frustration post-race, particularly having been praised for waiting for Nairo Quintana when the Colombian crashed during the second week – remains the race leader, but with his advantage now 31 seconds.

Giro d’Italia 2017: stage 16 – result

1) Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) – Bahrain-Merida – 6.24.22hrs
2) Mikel Landa (ESP) – Team Sky – ST
3) Nairo Quintana (COL) – Movistar +12”
4) Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +24”
5) Ilnur Zakarin (RUS) – Katusha +34”
6) Davide Formolo (ITA) – Cannondale-Drapac +1.26
7) Bauke Mollema (NED) – Trek-Segafredo +1.35
8) Bob Jungels (LUX) – QuickStep Floors – ST
9) Adam Yates (GBR) – Orica-Scott
10) Thibaut Pinot (FRA) – FDJ

General classification

1) Tom Dumoulin (NED) – Team Sunweb – 70.14.48hrs
2) Nairo Quintana (COL) – Movistar +31”
3) Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) – Bahrain-Merida +1.12
4) Thibaut Pinot (FRA) – FDJ +2.38
5) Ilnur Zakarin (RUS) – Katusha-Alpecin +2.40
6) Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +3.05
7) Bauke Mollema (NED) – Trek-Segafredo +3.49
8) Bob Jungels (LUX) – QuickStep Floors +4.35
9) Steven Kruijswijk (NED) – LottoNL-Jumbo +6.20
10) Adam Yates (GBR) – Orica-Scott +7.00

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