BC-CYC--Giro d’Italia,1st Ld-Writethru
PONTE DI LEGNO, Italy (AP) — Giulio Ciccone of Italy won the toughest stage of the Giro d’Italia on Tuesday, while Richard Carapaz remained in the overall lead after another disappointing day for race favorite Primoz Roglic.
Ciccone, who rides for Trek-Segafredo, edged out Czech cyclist Jan Hirt at the end of the grueling mountain leg. The duo had been part of a large breakaway which escaped early on the 16th stage.
“I’ve been waiting for this second stage win for two years now,” said the 24-year-old Ciccone, who won a stage on his Giro debut in 2016. “So I yelled with joy on the finishing line because it’s been a complicated day with lots of rain and cold.
“Jan Hirt didn’t want to cooperate so it’s been a bit nervous between us but at the end I’m happy with everything.”
The route had to be altered because of heavy snow on the Passo Gavia and an avalanche risk but still included the daunting climb up the Mortirolo toward the end of a 194-kilometer (121-mile) ride from Lovere to Ponte di Legno.
Fausto Masnada was third, 1 minute, 20 seconds behind the front two and 21 seconds ahead of home favorite Vincenzo Nibali, who leapfrogged Roglic into second in the overall standings.
Nibali is 1:47 behind Carapaz. Roglic slipped to third, 2:09 behind the Ecuadorian cyclist, who rides for Movistar.
“The truth is that it’s been a very complicated day, especially because of the weather conditions and the climbs,” Carapaz said. “But as a team we’ve worked very well for Mikel Landa and myself. It’s another good day in terms of time gained.”
Roglic, who lost time after he was involved in a crash on Sunday’s 15th stage, had started the day 47 seconds behind Carapaz but was unable to follow when Nibali attacked shortly before the halfway stage of the Mortirolo climb, 34 kilometers from the finish line.
The fearsome climb is 11.9 kilometers long, with average gradients of 10.9 percent and with sustained ramps of 18 percent.
Roglic made up time on the rainy descent, cutting the deficit to 40 seconds, but Nibali and Carapaz responded.
“We wanted to try to do something and we succeeded, reversing the situation with Roglic,” said Alberto Volpi, who is sports director of Bahrain-Merida — the team Nibali rides for. “I have to congratulate the guys. ... Carapaz is becoming a tough opponent, but we have Nibali.”
The Giro continues in the mountains on Wednesday’s 17th stage, a 181-kilometer route from Commezzadura to Anterselva, near the Austrian border.
The three-week race finishes in Verona on Sunday.