Geraint Thomas, a seasoned champion known for his tenacity and resilience, managed to demonstrate the full extent of his abilities during this challenging stage. His strategic move of skipping past Roglič to join forces with Almeida on the Monte Bondone summit finish was a major turning point of the day, exhibiting Thomas’s knack for strategic gameplay. This move placed Roglič in a difficult situation as he tried to match the pace set by Thomas and Almeida.
Despite the pressure, Roglič managed to handle the situation with commendable poise. The three-time Vuelta winner kept up as best as he could, ensuring the gap wasn’t too wide in the final kilometres. This effort was thanks in no small part to the support of his teammate Sepp Kuss. However, despite the combined efforts of Kuss and Roglič, they still trailed by 25 seconds at the finish line. This situation inevitably led to a shift in momentum and a potential dent in Roglič’s confidence.
The race was particularly challenging as it marked the first real GC selection of the Giro. Eddie Dunbar (Jayco-AlUla) was the only other rider who managed to survive this cut, finishing in fourth place right behind Roglič. However, it was more devastating for other competitors such as Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious), who fell back more than a minute alongside Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe), Andreas Leknessund (Team DSM), and Hugh Carthy (EF Education-EasyPost).
Thomas’s ascension to the pink jersey was facilitated by the faltering of the then race leader Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ) on the final climb. This win meant that Thomas was now leading the Giro by 18 seconds over Almeida, who gained 10 bonus seconds for his win. As for Roglič, he found himself third at 29 seconds, a substantial gap from the top.
“I’m still recovering but I’m OK,” Roglič mentioned the two crashes he had to endure. “For sure you wish to be completely 100%. But on the other hand I’m still here, so I’m happy.”
While the stage’s events highlighted the intense competition between Thomas and Roglič, it is important to note that they are not the only contenders. Almeida’s stage win signals that he is not to be underestimated. The Giro d’Italia, as always, promises to be an unpredictable competition until the final stage. With the pink jersey up for grabs, the stage is set for an epic showdown in the final week.
Stage 16 results
1. João Almeida (POR) UAE Team Emirates, in 05:53:27
2. Geraint Thomas (GBR) INEOS Grenadiers, at same time
3. Primoz Roglič (SLO) Jumbo-Visma, + 25s
4. Edward Dunbar (IRL) Team Jayco-AlUla, + 25s
5. Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma, + 1m 03s
6. Ilan Van Wilder (BEL) Soudal Quick-Step, + 1m 16s
7. Damiano Caruso (ITA) Bahrain Victorious, + 1m 16s
8. Einer Rubio (COL) Movistar Team, + 1m 16s
9. Laurens De Plus (BEL) INEOS Grenadiers, + 1m 16s
10. Thymen Arensman (NED) INEOS Grenadiers, + 1m 16s
GC results after stage 16
1. Geraint Thomas (GBR) INEOS Grenadiers, in 67:32:35
2. João Almeida (POR) UAE Team Emirates, + 18s
3. Primoz Roglič (SLO) Jumbo-Visma, + 29s
4. Damiano Caruso (ITA) Bahrain Victorious, + 2m 50s
5. Edward Dunbar (IRL) Team Jayco-AlUla, + 3m 03s
6. Lennard Kämna (GER) BORA-hansgrohe, + 3m 20s
7. Bruno Armirail (FRA) Groupama-FDJ, + 3m 22s
8. Andreas Leknessund (NOR) Team DSM, + 3m 30s
9. Thymen Arensman (NED) INEOS Grenadiers, + 4m 09s
10. Laurens De Plus (BEL) INEOS Grenadiers, + 4m 32s