PONTE DI LEGNO, Italy – 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 121-mile ride from Lovere to Ponte di Legno.
Roglic’s Jumbo-Visma teammate Sepp Kuss of Durango had targeted Stage 16 as the day he most looked forward to during his debut ride of the Giro. He had dreamed of climbing the Gavia but will have to wait at least another year before getting the opportunity after the route was changed over the weekend because of the avalanche danger.
Still, Kuss was strong on the Mortirolo and finished 38th on a stage that instead of the Gavia featured a climb of the Cevo that hit maximum grades of 10 percent. In all, the route featured roughly 15,750 feet of climbing.
Kuss’ stage time was 10 minutes, 45 seconds behind Ciccone. In the general classification, he is now 55th overall, 1:35:00 behind the lead of Carpaz. He ranks 13th in the best young rider classification out of 36 men.
Fausto Masnada was third, 1:20 behind the front two and 21 seconds ahead of home favorite Vincenzo Nibali, who leapfrogged Roglic into second in the overall standings.
“It was a tough day, especially with the cold at the end,” Roglic said. “I gave everything on the Mortirolo. Today was an important stage in the battle for the pink jersey, but the Giro is not over yet and anything can happen.”
Nibali is 1:47 behind Carapaz. Roglic slipped to third, 2:09 behind the Ecuadorian cyclist, who rides for Movistar.
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, 21 miles from the finish line.
The Giro continues in the mountains on Wednesday’s 17th stage, a 112.5 mile route from Commezzadura to Anterselva, near the Austrian border.
The three-week race will finish Sunday in Verona.
The Durango Herald contributed to this report.
Tuesday at Ponte di Legno, Italy
Note: A 120.5-mile, weather-altered Alpine ride from Lovere to Ponte di Legno, with a Category 1 climb following a pair of Category 3s
1. Giulio Ciccone, Italy, Trek-Segafredo, 5:36:24.
2. Jan Hirt, Czech Republic, Astana, same time.
3. Fausto Masnada, Italy, Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, 1:20 behind.
4. Vincenzo Nibali, Italy, Bahrain-Merida, 1:41.
5. Hugh John Carthy, Britain, EF Education First, same time.
6. Richard Carapaz, Ecuador, Movistar, same time.
7. Mikel Landa, Spain, Movistar, same time.
8. Joe Dombrowski, United States, EF Education First, same time.
9. Damiano Caruso, Italy, Bahrain-Merida, 1:49.
10. Mattia Cattaneo, Italy, Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, 2:03.
38. Sepp Kuss, United States, Jumbo-Visma, 10:45.
43. Nathan Brown, United States, EF Education First, 11:25
55. Larry Warbasse, United States, AG2R La Mondiale, 18:07.
108. Chad Haga, United States, Sunweb, 29:13.
124. Sean Bennett, United States, EF Education First, 32:47.
(After 16 of 21 stages)
1. Richard Carapaz, Ecuador, Movistar, 70:02:05.
2. Vincenzo Nibali, Italy, Bahrain-Merida, 1:47.
3. Primoz Roglic, Slovenia, Jumbo-Visma, 2:09.
4. Mikel Landa, Spain, Movistar, 3:15.
5. Bauke Mollema, Netherlands, Trek-Segafredo, 5:00.
6. Rafal Majka, Poland, Bora-Hansgrohe, 5:40.
7. Miguel Lopez, Colombia, Astana, 6:17.
8. Simon Yates, Britain, Mitchelton-Scott, 6:46.
9. Pavel Sivakov, Russia, Ineos, 7:51.
10. Jan Polanc, Slovenia, UAE Team Emirates, 8:06.
14. Joe Dombrowski, United States, EF Education First, 14:52.
55. Sepp Kuss, United States, Jumbo-Visma, 1:35:00.
59. Larry Warbasse, United States, AG2R La Mondiale, 1:42:53.
78. Nathan Brown, United States, EF Education First, 2:15:28.
99. Chad Haga, United States, Sunweb, 2:53:53.
111. Sean Bennett, United States, EF Education First, 3:06:03.