photo credits @ RCS
João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) claimed stage 16 of the Giro d’Italia today, beating Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) in a two-up sprint for the line atop the Monte Bondone.
However, despite losing to his Portuguese rival, Thomas took over the maglia rosa, putting 25-seconds into Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), the British rider’s biggest adversary.
Almeida launched off the front on Monte Bondone with 5.5 kilometers remaining and quickly opened up a slight gap, with only Roglič’s teammate Sepp Kuss able to mark the attack. But, Thomas soon bridged across to Almeida as Roglič wilted behind.
Thomas did the majority of the work, with Almeida offering occasional pulls, as the pair chiseled time into Roglič, who was being guided up the final climb by Kuss as Eddie Dunbar (Jayco–AlUla) hung as well.
In the end, Almeida comfortably saw off Thomas in the sprint finale to take a memorable victory and maximum bonus seconds, but it was the Ineos rider who moved into the pink jersey.
Thomas, who has just four support riders after Pavel Sivakov became the latest Ineos star to abandon, leads Almeida by 18 seconds in the general classification. Roglič came home 25 seconds down in third and now trails Thomas by 29 seconds in the race for pink.
Meanwhile, overnight leader Bruno Armirail (Groupama–FDJ) lost contact with the GC group with 10 kilometers remaining as UAE wound up the pace for an Almeida attack.
Earlier, a large breakaway group of 26 riders escaped the peloton, later building up a modest advantage of around five minutes.
It wasn’t long before the Astana duo of Vadim Pronskiy and Simone Velasco decided to jettison the group, eventually opening up a gap of two minutes over their former breakaway companions.
Back in the break, Ben Healy accumulated enough points to move into the KOM lead, before he and Aurélien Paret-Peintre, Derek Gee, Filippo Zana, Carlos Verona, Valentin Paret-Peintre, Patrick Konrad, Jack Haig, Ben Swift, Jonathan Lastra and Diego Ulissi went clear, later reeling in Pronskiy and Velasco along the penultimate ascent to Serrada.
Meanwhile, Jumbo-Visma kept the pace high back in the peloton, limiting the lead group to a three minute margin before reining them in with 9 kilometers to go.
In the meantime, Armirail was dropped from the reduced group, with UAE gradually ramping up as Formolo, McNulty and Jay Vine upped the space, causing the group the splinter.
Almeida was the next to attack, a move that was quickly marked by Thomas, Roglič, Kuss and Dunbar. But, the UAE rider attacked again, with only Thomas able to follow this time.
Thomas would initiate a final attack, but Almeida was there to respond to his aggressions, and ultimately seize the stage honors in a final drag race to the finish.
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