Astana’s Vincenzo Nibali kept possession of the Giro d’Italia race leader’s pink jersey for another night after a strong showing in Tuesday’s 16th stage. Benat Intxausti of Spain, riding for the Movistar team, won the stage, a 238km ride from the French resort of Valloire, in 5:52:48. Intxausti beat Estonian Tanel Kangert into second in a sprint finish, with Nibali and his rivals in the general classification, Australian Cadel Evans and Colombian Rigoberto Uran, coming in as part of the same peloton 14 seconds behind. Evans stands 1:26 off Nibali, with Uran 2:46 off the Italian’s pace. The big loser of the day’s racing was Mauro Santambrogi, the Vini Fantini rider starting in fourth overall but losing more than two minutes.
A 22-rider breakaway formed several times in the ascent of Mont-Cenis mountain frontier between France and Italy, Nibali and his team content to hand them a lead that once stretched to almost five minutes. However, they were eventually reeled back in with 20km to race, with Astana taking up the lead Evans and Uran reeled in Nibali’s group 11.5km from the finish after the Italian had gone on the attack down a spectacular descent that featured a series of hairpin turns. Kangert then attacked and at the 6km mark took with him Intxausti, Lampre’s Polish rider Przemyslaw Niemiec and Dutchman Robert Gesink, who was later knocked out of the equation with a flat tire. Intxausti, competing in the Giro for a third time, took his moment perfectly for the a first-ever stage win on a Grand Tour.
The 17th stage on Wednesday sees the riders tackle a 214km course between Caravaggio and Vincenza, before three testing stages.