Giro d’Italia Stage 16 as it happened - Jan Hirt wins as Jai Hindley closes gap to Richard Carapaz
Richard Carapaz continues in the race lead as we hit the business end of the Giro d’Italia but his lead is a slender one, with Jai Hindley on his heels. Stage 16 is a fascinating stint in the mountains, and perhaps most crucially of all, there could be rain. Carapaz leads the general classification by seven seconds from Hindley, with Joao Almeida in third at 30 seconds.
Nibali soars down Mortirolo to rip apart GC group on Stage 16
Three years after he came second when the Giro last came to the Mortirolo, Jan Hirt finally gets a win on the Giro - and a second for his Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert team after Biniam Girmay earlier in stage 10. Here's what Hirt had to say:
"For sure I wanted to do something nice today. Every time I’m on the Mortirolo I want to anticipate. I wanted to get in the breakaway today but there were some difficult moments today when the break split and we had to fight back. Then on the last climb I also had a problem with the bike – it wasn’t shifting well and the chain was jumping. I also had cramps on the descent. I was really suffering but I wanted to win so much I fought to the end."
Here's how Jan Hirt took his maiden Grand Tour stage win...
Hindley takes third
Confirmation that the Bora-Hansgrohe rider pipped his rival from Ineos Grenadiers for third place - so with those four bonus seconds Hindley cuts the gap to just three seconds in the battle for pink. They came in 1:24 down on the winner Jan Hirt, with Joao Almeida battling home at 1:38 there and Vincenzo Nibali at 2:06.
Photo finish for third place!
It's a sprint royale for the final bonus seconds as Jai Hindley surges clear before being pegged back by Richard Carapaz ahead of the line - and that was too close to call... Did the Australian close the gap a little or has the pink jersey from Ecuador extended his lead by four seconds?
Victory for Jan Hirt in Stage 16
The 31-year-old from Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert holds on for a maiden Grand Tour stage win at the age of 31 while 22-year-old Thymen Arensman of team DSM crosses the line eight seconds down for second place. The Dutchman bangs his handlebars in frustration... but it's all smiles for the Czech climber Hirt.
16:08 - Final kilometre for Hirt
The lone leader has completed the wet descent and he's on the final uphill segment that rises to the line in Aprica with Thymen Arensman chasing in vain behind...
16:05 - It's started to rain...
4km to go: And Jan Hirt almost loses it on a corner there as his back wheel slips... He has 10 seconds to play with and this is heart-in-mouth...
16:00 - Hirt soloes clear
6.5km to go: Jan Hirt missed out to Giuilio Ciccone the last time the Giro tackled the Mortirolo but he's now in a great position to win the stage on the race's return three years on. The Czech climber has dropped Arensman ahead of the summit and has a 15 second gap. Behind, the Carapaz group have caught Valverde while Almeida still hasn't given up a little further back...
The GC favourites trail Hirt by 1:15 going over the summit of Santa Cristina ahead of the final descent to Aprica...
15:52 - Kamna cracks! German caught and passed...
8.5km to go: Hirt and Arensman reel in Kamna before riding clear on a section where they're forced to weave their way up the steep slope. Behind, Almeida is digging in and doing his best to return to the big three of Carapaz, Hindley and Landa, who are tearing strips out of each other. Nibali is going backwards big time. The maglia rosa trio is just 1:35 down on the leaders and may soon catch Valverde and Carthy.
15:50 - Landa makes his move
9.5km to go: Bilbao had only just made it back on before teammate Poels came to the front for one last big pull ahead of Landa's acceleration. Bilbao appears to have cracked, ditto Nibali and Almeida, as Carapaz and Hindley go clear with the Basque climber.
15:45 - Bilbao hits the deck!
10.5km to go: Drama in the group of favourites after Mikel Landa swerves to avoid a photographer on the side of the road before inadvertently clipping the back wheel of Pello Bilbao, sending his teammate sprawling. Bilbao looks okay but that will have knocked the wind from his sails and disrupted whatever Bahrain Victorious were planning...
Carthy, meanwhile, drops Valverde - although the Spaniard doggedly digs deep to keep the Briton in his sights. Kamna has 20 seconds on Arensman and Hirt, who have joined forces as we near the summit.
15:40 - Hirt attacks, Pozzovivo struggles
11.5km to go: It's a bitter-sweet moment for Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert too as Jan Hirt kicks clear of Valverde and Carthy with a huge acceleration while, behind, his teammate Pozzovivo is being distanced by the favourites. Perhaps the Italian's crash on the descent of the Mortirolo is catching up with him - or he's just been found out as we tackle the hardest day of the Giro so far.
15:34 - Juanpe Lopez dropped, then Buchmann
14km to go: The Spaniard enjoyed 10 days in pink but could be dropping out the top 10 today after being shelled out of the group of GC favourites. Although, to be fair, he'd have to lose five minutes to drop out of the top 10 such is the gap between him in ninth and Martin in tenth. Martin, it's worth stressing, was in the break earlier but has been caught and already passed by the maglia rosa group. Poels, meanwhile, is back and helping out Buitrago pave the way for Bahrain teammates Landa and Bilbao.
Jai Hindley is now isolated because Emanuel Buchmann has been dropped. So, it's not all rosy for Bora despite Kamna being on course for a second stage win. He has 45 seconds over Arensman, who has dropped Valverde, Carthy and Hirt.
15:24 - Kamna the lone leader going onto final climb
18km to go: The German from Bora-Hansgrohe has a gap as he starts the Cat.1 Santa Cristina (13.5km at 8%). The second half of this climb is much harder than the first and includes a slew of double-digit pitches. A winner already on Mount Etna, Kamna has 30 seconds on Valverde, Carthy, Hirt and Arensman, with Poels dropped. It's not sure whether Poels has popped or if he's dropping back to link up with the Bahrain train behind, currently paving the way for their leaders Landa and Bilbao.
15:16 - Kamna pushes on the descent
25km to go: The German is now driving the pace on the descent from Teglio - and it's easy to see why: the gap over the pink jersey pack has come down to just over three minutes. It was Kamna who won the bonus sprint on that last climb ahead of Valverde and Arensman.
15:13 - Bahrain Victorious come to the fore
28km to go: Santiago Buitrago is now driving the pace of the main pack of favourites just ahead of his teammates Mikel Landa and Pello Bilbao, who have kept their powder dry so far today. Landa, who is fourth at 59 seconds on GC, was bullish about his chances on the rest day, saying:
"I worked hard to get this far. For me, the Giro starts for real now. There are some very hard stages during the final week. The form and the team are good. I'll use my experience and try to gain some time before the time trial."
Bahrain now have four riders on the front plus Wout Poels in the break ahead. Can we expect an ambush?
15:03 - Hamilton caught by main pack
32km to go: After putting in a shift and a half for Team DSM teammate Thymen Arensman, Chris Hamilton has been caught by the peloton. Check out the Tweet below to see the bunnyhop the Australian pulled going over a lip on the descent of the Mortirolo earlier.
Carthy, meanwhile, continues to apply the pressure on the front of the six-man move as they rise up through the trees towards the summit of this intermediate bonus second 'sprint'. They have 1:20 on Bouwman, 3:55 on Lorenzo Fortunato, who has zipped clear of the Yates chasing group, which in turn is about to be caught by the pink jersey group.
15:00 - Bouwman dropped on climb
33km to go: The Dutchman in blue finds himself distanced followed an acceleration from Arensman on the front of this break. Valverde and Carthy then take it up and Bouwman may not see the front of the race again. He's one of two riders in this move - along with Kamna - who has already won a stage on this Giro.
14:51 - Valverde could become oldest ever Giro stage winner
35km to go: It's a big ask given the calibre of this breakaway but should he win today, the Spanish veteran, at 42, will be the oldest ever stage winner in the Giro's history. The seven leaders are now onto the climb to the intermediate sprint at Teglio which plays out on narrow roads surrounded by Sforzato vineyards.
14:44 - The winner to come from the group of seven
41km to go: With the chasers now three minutes down and the main pack over five minutes in arrears it's clear that our winner today will be one of Poels, Kamna, Carthy, Hirt, Bouwman, Valverde and Arensman. They're not far away from the next climb up to the intermediate sprint at Teglio which is uncategorised but a 5km ascent at a punchy 8,7%.
I should add that Domenico Pozzovivo is back in the main pack after his tumble on the descent - music to everyone's ears.
14:30 - Here comes the cavalry for Carapaz
52km to go: Jonathan Castroviejo, Jonathan Narvaez and Richie Porte are all back with the maglia rosa so Carapaz has four Ineos Grenadiers teammates with him now if you include Sivakov. It's looking good for the Ecuadorian ahead of the final two climbs today.
14:24 - Nibali brought to heel as Sivakov restores order
58km to go: It may be that the Sicilian decided to knock it off and wait for the chasers but either way he's forced a shake-up among the race favourites. Carapaz has Pavel Sivakov back on the front and leading the chase with the likes of Hindley, Buchmann, Landa, Bilbao and Almeida all present and correct.
Ciccone, meanwhile, has sat up and is waiting for the chase group of Yates, Kelderman, Martin, Fortunato and Hamilton... They're 1:25 down on the leaders and three minutes of the pink jersey group. Here was the moment Nibali went on the offensive:
Nibali soars down Mortirolo to rip apart GC group on Stage 16
14:18 - Shark attack! Nibali goes for it...
65km to go: Well, that was kind of inevitable... But it is still poetry in motion to watch Vincenzo Nibali doing his thing while throwing caution to the wind downhill. The veteran from Astana opens up a decent gap over the race favourites and it's Carapaz, the pink jersey, who is leading the chase on this narrow, twisting and highly technical descent.
14:15 - Carthy distanced on descent, Pozzovivo crashes
69km to go: Proof that Hugh Carthy isn't at his most comfortable when going downhill there as the EF rider loses touch on the descent. Meanwhile, behind it looks like Domenico Pozzovivo has left the road. It's not serious - he came down on the grass - but he'll have to fight back on now. The Italian veteran was fifth this morning at 1:01.
14:08 - Bouwman strengthens grip on blue jersey
72km to go: It's the Dutchman from Jumbo-Visma who darts clear to pocket the maximum 40pts over the Mortirolo at the head of the leading move of seven. Hamilton was dropped a couple of klicks from the summit after his big shift for Arensman and the Austrralian now rides with Ciccone around 50 seconds back.
Meanwhile, Astana have upped the tempo again to whittle down this group of GC favourites to a select group that doesn't seem to include the white jersey of Joao Almeida... Wait, he is there, but just right at the back. Richie Porte picks up a flat tyre at an inopportune time so that leaves Carapaz only with Pavel Sivakov. Will we see a Shark attack from Vincenzo Nibali on this descent?
14:00 - Duo catch leaders
75km to go: Hirt and Carthy have joined Poels, Kamna, Bouwman, Valverde, Arensman and Hamilton. They have 30 seconds on Ciccone and so it's looking good for the Dutchman Bouwman as he looks to extend his lead in the blue jersey classification. They have completed the gentle ledge two-thirds up this climb and are now on the steeper part to the summit of the Mortirolo. The Yates-Kelderman-Martin group is 1:05 back and the peloton at 5:10 with Carapaz still riding with five Ineos teammates.
13:53 - Ciccone starting to suffer
78km to go: The Italian is starting to pay for his efforts two days ago - he's been dropped by Carthy and Hirt, the rider who he beat a few years ago when the Giro last came up the Mortirolo, as they press on in pursuit of the six leaders.
13:45 - Astana flock to the front
80km to go: The Astana-Qazaqstan teammates of Vincenzo Nibali have come to the front ahead of the Ineos Grenadiers train as the pack continues up the Mortirolo just over five minutes down on the six leaders - Poels, Kamna, Bouwman, Valverde, Arensman and Hamilton. Rota appears to have been dropped and passed by the chasing trio of CArthy, Hirt and Ciccone.
13:37 - Carthy strikes out with Ciccone
83km to go: The second part of the break has exploded under an acceleration from Carthy and Ciccone, who ride clear with Jan Hirt. Martin and Kelderman are in pursuit but Yates appears to be struggling. The seven leaders still have around 40 seconds and we have the first rain drops starting to fall...
13:30 - Poels leads break onto the Mortirolo
85km to go: The seven leaders have now started the Cat.1 Passo del Mortirolo (12.6km at 7.6%). It's the "easiest" of the three ways to the top of the iconic climb although it joins the hard final part near the top where the gradient hits its maximum tilt of 16% after the brief respite from a ledge in the ascent. It's Poels who swings onto the climb at the nose of this move, with Cataldo behind having helped to close the gap by 30-odd seconds since dropping back.
I wonder whether this Ciccone-Cataldo move was plotted in a paddling pool during the rest day...
13:25 - Cataldo sits up and waits for Ciccone
88km to go: The Italian has decided to wait for his Trek teammate ahead of the official start of the Mortirolo. The advantage for the seven leaders is now 1:10 and Ciccone clearly needs some support as he bids to reel in Bouwman before the summit.
13:20 - Gap continues to grow for leaders
90km to go: The eight leaders are approaching the intermediate sprint at Edolo, in which no one has any interest whatsoever. Their gap over the chasers is up to 50 seconds ahead of the Mortirolo with the peloton now at 4:25. Koen Bouwman is keep to press on here because his blue jersey rival Guilio Ciccone is not in the front group.
13:09 - Split in the break as eight go clear
100km to go: It's hard to know what happened here because the cameras were focused on the maglia rosa peloton behind... but we appear to have a big split in the break with eight riders going clear. It's Poels, Kamna, Rota, Bouwman, Valverde, Arensman, Hamilton and Cataldo who have a gap of 30 seconds over the 12 other escapees.
‘I was not expecting that!’ – Confusion reigns as Yates launches ‘interesting’ attack
13:00 - Kelderman and Bais back on
105km to go: The two chasers have managed to close the gap so we have 20 riders out ahead again with the mighty Mortirolo looming...
12:50 - Peloton eases up a little through feed zone
111km to go: Ineos Grenadiers take their foot off the gas as they pick up musettes and concentrate on their refuelling strategy on this long false flat to the foot of the Mortirolo. As such the gap grows to around three minutes for the 18 leaders. This will play into the hands of the chasing duo of Kelderman and Bais, who still need to close a gap of 45 seconds. Ineos are only without Salvatore Puccio.
A reminder of who the leaders are: Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious), Filippo Zana (Bardiani-CSF), Lennard Kamna (Bora-Hansgrohe), Guillaume Martin (Cofidis), Huge Carthy (EF Education-EasyPost), Lorenzo Fortunato (Eolo-Kometa), Jan Hirt and Lorenzo Rota (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert), Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma), Sylvain Moniquet (Lotto Soudal), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco), Thymen Arensman and Chris Hamilton (Team DSM), Giulio Ciccone and Dario Cataldo (Trek-Segafredo) and Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates).
In terms of GC, three of this break are within 10 minutes of the pink summit: Martin (+8:02), Valverde (+9:06) and Hirt (+9:16).
12:34 - Kelderman one minute behind
125km to go: The Dutchman has caught Mattia Bais but they still have one minute to close if they want to rejoin the breakaway, which is down to 18 riders and with a lead of 2:25 over the pack. Guillaume Martin, who clearly doesn't like descending, is on the rear of the break. Such a yo-yoing rider, the Frenchman - up the road one day, off the back the next... and now back up the road again.
12:27 - Mechanical for Kelderman
130km to go: The Dutchman picks up a flat tyre on the descent and he needs to take a replacement wheel from the neutral Shimano support vehicle. That won't do his confidence any good - especially given the issues he had with his disc brakes on the descent ahead of the Blockhaus climb the weekend before last. Kelderman is now chasing back on and has Bais in his sights.
12:20 - Mattia Bais almost goes off the mountain
138km to go: The Italian misjudges a bend on the descent while trying to chase back to the break and almost goes off the edge and into the trees. Thankfully for the Drone Hopper rider there was a gravel path which he could over-run onto instead of a sheer drop or the barriers.
12:15 - Ciccone takes 40pts over the top, Bouwman second
143km to go: Having won Sunday's stage, the Italian is clearly targetting the maglia azzurra now. It's Ciccone who zips clear of the break to hold off Koen Bouwman and pocket the 40pts over the top of the Cat.1 Goletto di Cadino. That puts him up to 98pts in the KOM standings which puts him in second place. The Dutchman adds 18pts to his tally as he moves onto 137pts. We definitely have a race on our hand in the battle for blue.
12:12 - Gap grows above two minutes
144km to go: Dario Cataldo is getting distanced now for his earlier efforts in paving the way for teammate Guilio Ciccone as the remaining riders in this break prepare for the sprint at the summit. The likes of Bouwman, Ciccone and Kamna will all be eyeing up the KOM points here...
12:05 - Peters and Juul-Jensen feeling the pinch
148km to go: Nans Peters managed to claw his way back into the break but he's now off the back along with Chris Juul-Jensen following the latest huge acceleration from Dario Cataldo on the front. Pascal Eenkhoorn - who, with Peters, was in the original six-man move - has been dropped as well. In fact, it looks like this Trek offensive has caused a major split in the break. The elastic has snapped for Filippo Zana, too.
11:50 - Bora Hansgrohe vs Ineos Grenadiers
151km to go: Jai Hindley's Bora team have certainly set out their stall today by placing two men in the break in Lennard Kamna and Wilco Kelderman. But that means Hindley is relatively isolated behind with just Emanuel Buchmann and, I think, Ben Zwiehoff with him for now. Richard Carapaz, however, has six Ineos teammates around him on the nose of the peloton, which trails the break by 1:20. I appreciate it's horses for courses but should Hindley have a problem on the descent, he could be in a bit of a pickle - especially given Buchmann is also riding for GC.
We've just heard that Natnael Tesfatsion (Drone Hopper) has withdrawn from the race. He tried his luck earlier on to get into the move but he's clearly been struggling since that high-speed crash on the descent last week. So, just one Eritrean rider left in Merhawi Kudus as Tesfatsion joins Stage 10 winner Biniam Girmay on the sidelines.
11:40 - Splits forming in break
156km to go: Cataldo is setting a hefty tempo and the Intermarche duo of Hirt and Rota has let a gap form after losing the wheel. Atilla Valter (Groupama-FDJ) and Mattia Bais (Drone Hopper-Androni Giacattoli) managed to join the leaders, so it's 24 clear now. Diego Camargo is doing his best to join but he's struggling to close the gap and may soon be joined by Peters and Valter, who appear to have already been dropped. Martijn Tusveld (Team DSM) tried and failed to get across.
Ineos Grenadiers control things in the pack, which has regrouped after that early chaos and now trails the leaders by one minute.
11:32 - De Gendt and Van der Poel dropped, 22 clear
158km to go: We're on the Cat.1 Goletto di Cadino (19,9km at 6.2%) and Ineos Grenadiers have come to the front of the peloton to restore some order for Richard Carapaz, the man in pink. The huge 22-man move has dropped De Gendt and Van der Poel, who were in the original six-man break, and, while dangerous, only has 40 seconds to play with.
They are: Peters (Ag2R-Citroen), Poels (Bahrain Victorious), Zana (Bardiani-CSF), Kelderman and Kamna (Bora-Hansgpohe), Martin (Cofidis), Carthy (EF Education-EasyPost), Fortunato (Eolo-Kometa), Hirt and Rota (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert), Bouwman and Eenkhoorn (Jumbo-Visma), Moniquet (Lotto Soudal), Valverde (Movistar), Vansevenant (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), Yates and Juul-Jensen (BikeExchange-Jayco), Arensman and Hamilton (Team DSM), Ciccone and Cataldo (Trek-Segafredo) and Formolo (UAE Team Emirates).
11:28 - Yates and Kelderman bridge over
160km to go: More riders have managed to join this large gap - and Bora mean business by sending Kelderman up the road with Kamna, while Yates is there pushing for his third stage win. Fascinating - with the official start of the climb only just passed.
11:22 - Peloton completely blown apart before first climb
162km to go: It's fair to say that a GC group has already formed after all that action. At one point, the pink jersey only seemed to have Pavel Sivakov with him. The two moves off the front have come together although Cavendish has - perhaps unsurprisingly - been dropped whiel Juul-Jensen has tried his luck going clear on his own. From the aerial cameras it appears that we have around 18 riders on the front with a gap of 30 seconds over the "peloton".
11:18 - Trek-Segafredo with the kitchen sink
166km to go: Poels and then Vanhoucke were reeled in before Jacopo Mosca came to the front to help launch his Trek teammate Giulio Ciccone. The Italian Stage 15 winner surged clear with another Trek teammate - Dario Cataldo, and all of a sudden we have quite a dangerous chase group that has formed. Nine riders in total including Valverde, Arensman, Vansevenent, Rota, Fortunato, Kamna, Carthy and that Trek duo. They will soon catch the six leaders - and they have sparked a flurry of interest behind from the likes of Martin, Taaramae, Bouwman, Oomen, Howson and Formolo.
11:10 - Poels and Vanhoucke in pursuit
170km to go: The duo have managed to open up a small gap on the pack. But Ben Swift has come to the front for Ineos Grenadiers to set a decent tempo. You have to feel for Thomas Gendt, who got himself into the break but it's a move that lacks any established climbers - except Peters - and it's hard to see this one even lasting the first climb, let alone competing for the stage. They still have 58 seconds but that really isn't enough - especially if Ineos are already coming to the front.
Earlier, Bradley Wiggins delivered his first missive from the moto...
'There's a nervousness amongst the peloton' - Wiggins updates from Brad on a Bike
11:05 - Pace high as Valter tries his luck
173km to go: While the road has been going steadily uphill, there's a tailwind and that has helped contribute to an average pace of 49kmph. Atilla Valter (Groupama-FDJ) accerates and is joined by Harold Tejeda (Astana-Qazaqstan). The likes of Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious), Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto Soudal) and Tobias Foss (Jumbo-Visma) are all pretty active. The six leaders still have 55 seconds to play with ahead of the first climb.
10:55 - 10 riders go clear in pursuit of leaders
180km to go: It didn't come to anything but EF Education-EasyPost and Bora-Hansgrohe were in the mix there after Eritrea's Natnael Tesfatsion (Drone Hopper-Androni Giacattoli) upped the tempo to create a momentary split off the front.
10:48 - Valverde sniffing around the front
185km to go: The Spanish veteran is clearly motivated today after dropping out of the top 10 over the weekend. Valverde is just over nine minutes down on GC and it remains to be seen if a rider of his experience and calibre would be allowed to get in a break on such a key stage. The road is going uphill now but the official start to the climb isn't for another 20km. But the gap has come down to 50 seconds.
10:42 - Diego Rosa tries to bridge over
188km to go: Numerous riders have tried their luck on this false flat ahead of the first climb. The latest is the Italian Diego Rosa, who trails blue jersey Koen Bouwman by 17pts in the KOM standings. It's no surprise to see him on the offensive. It comes to nothing as his back wheel is swamped and the advantage of this break is now pushing one minute.
10:35 - Cavendish among the early attackers
195km to go: The Dutchman has been joined by compatriot Pascal Eenkhoorn (Jumbo-Visma), the Frenchman Nans Peters (Ag2R-Citroen), Belgium's Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Denmark's Chris Juul-Jensen (BikeExchange-Jayco) and - would you believe it - Britain's Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl). They open up a gap of around 15 seconds but behind there is much movement...
10:30 - Stage 16 under way!
202km to go: After a slight delay - you can't blame them for taking that neutralised climb slowly, to be fair - the flag goes down and the attacks start in earnest. And wouldn't you know... it's that man Mathieu van der Poel of Alpecin-Fenix who is the first to have a pop.
Sonny Colbrelli at the official start
The riders have stopped in Vobarno ahead of the official start today - and it's nice to see Italy's Sonny Colbrelli among the fans and VIPs on the side of the road in his hometown. The Italian, who is currently taking a break from competing after his heart complications from the Volta a Catalunya, apparently went for a two-hour ride with his Bahrain Victorious teammates yesterday.
Jai Hindley: "I'm 100% ready"
Runner-up in the 2020 Giro d'Italia, Jai Hindley is currently seven seconds down in the general classification and his Bora-Hansgroge team will be looking to put the pressure on pink jersey Richard Carapaz today - as they did on Saturday, isolating the Ecuadorian and forcing him to go from distance on his own.
Asked by journalist Sophie Smith if he intended to become the first Australian to win the Giro d'Italia, Hindley came up with this gem: "For sure and 100 per cent. I’m not here to put socks on centipedes, Sophie! … I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think that the team could win."
I think "putting socks on centipedes" has just become my new favourite expression...
Richard Carapaz and Jai Hindley
Image credit: Getty Images
Mortirolo on the menu in Stage 16
Today's 202km schlep features three Cat.1 climbs and an uphill bonus sprint which, to be fair, should be worth at least Cat.3 status. All in all there are 120pts up for grabs in the KOM classification and over 5,000m of climbing in total. That doesn't include the 200m of vertical ascent that takes place during this 9km neutral zone... The big-name climb today is the iconic Mortirolo, although it must be stressed that they're going up the "easier" side from Nonno...
Stage 16 profile, Giro d'Italia 2022
Image credit: Eurosport
Remaining 157 riders in the neutral zone
Just one withdrawal to bring you up to date with: Jonathan Caicedo pulled out over the rest day, which leaves his EF Education-EasyPost team with just five riders - the fewest in this race. Those riders who are still here are currently rolling through the 9km neutral zone after the town of Salo. There's a bit of sunshine piercing through the clouds but rain is forecast - although the big thunderstorms are not expected until after the finish...
Blazin’ Saddles: Can Bora hunt down Carapaz? - Things to look out for in Giro final week
What started over two weeks ago in Hungary is now just six days from completion, with the 2019 champion Richard Carapaz in the pink jersey by a slender seven seconds on Jai Hindley.
Will the Australian do better coming from behind than he did trying to hold on to pink in 2020?
Can Mikel Landa come to the boil? Will Mark Cavendish win another sprint? Felix Lowe with all the big questions here.
Richard Carapaz of Ecuador and Team INEOS Grenadiers Pink Leader Jersey competes during the 105th Giro d'Italia 2022, Stage 15
Image credit: Getty Images
HOW CAN I WATCH THE GIRO ON TV AND LIVE STREAM?
Each and every stage will be broadcast in its entirety on Eurosport, discovery+ and GCN+, bookended by The Breakaway, presented by Orla Chennaoui and Dan Lloyd. Rob Hatch and Hannah Walker will be in the commentary box with regular contributions from pundits Robbie McEwen, Sean Kelly and Adam Blythe, with Bradley Wiggins doing his thing on the back of a motorbike.
WHEN IS STAGE 15?
Tune in from 11:00-16:45 BST to watch Stage 15 of the Giro d'Italia. Watch uninterrupted coverage on discovery+, or watch from 12:00 on Eurosport 2.
Stream the Giro d'Italia live and on-demand on discovery+. You can also watch all the action live on eurosport.co.uk.