Vincenzo Nibali 2nd at the Giro d’Italia
Vincenzo Nibali entered the Giro d’Italia with the clear goal of getting a third overall victory. In the end the Sicilian only got beaten by Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz. But with his 2nd place in the overall standings and a 3rd place for the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM in the team classification, the first Grand Tour of the season can be considered a success.
On the second rest day of the Giro d’Italia Vincenzo Nibali was in 3rd place in the overall standings - one minute behind Primoz Roglic and 1.47 minutes behind Richard Carapaz. But the third week of the race served up plenty of opportunities to upend the overall standings, and with Damiano Caruso and Domenico Pozzovivo Nibali could rely on the assistance of two strong riders far into the finale of mountain stages. Despite the fact that the Gavia as the highest pass of the race had to be scrapped, stage 16 turned out as a real test of strength due to incessant rain and low temperatures that made for tough conditions on the Mortirolo. Here the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM set to work to test overall leader Richard Carapaz. While the latter would show no weakness, Vincenzo Nibali managed to distance another strong rival with Primoz Roglic, putting 1.20 minutes into the rider from Slovenia and moving up into 2nd in the overall standings. The race for the stage win in Ponte di Legno was contested by early attackers who were no threat in the overall standings.
This pattern persisted the next day on the way to Antholz - as did the wet and cold weather. Mikel Landa accelerated away on the final climb, and on the last kilometer Vincenzo Nibali could not stay on the wheel of Richard Carapaz anymore. Thanks to the help of his team mate Domenico Pozzovivo he managed to limit the loss to seven seconds. The 18th stage was the last chance for the remaining sprinters to shine, but one early attacker managed to narrowly stay ahead in a dramatic finale. The BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM focussed its efforts on getting its leader to the finish safely, and this worked out without any issues. All that was left were three stages, two of those in the mountains. Finishing in San Martino di Castrozza, the 19th stage offered plenty of jaw-dropping scenery but the course was not hard enough to enforce a selection. Both Vincenzo Nibali and Primoz Roglic tried to attack on the upper slopes of the final climb but could not shake off their rivals.
The penultimate day of racing served up more than 5’500 vertical meters of climbing . And for a moment Vincenzo Nibali’s podium position was in serious danger: When Miguel Lopez attacked hard on the Passo Manghen, only Carapaz and Landa managed to stay on the Colombian’s wheel. To make matters worse, this trio caught up with the early attackers before the summit, getting additional help from team mates. This made the alarm bells ring, and Nibali and Roglic lost 20 seconds on the way to the summit. From there, Vincenzo Nibali made good use of his descending skills, quickly closing the gap to his rivals. As a consequence, the pace eased off and some groups merged in the valley while the overall contenders called for a ceasefire until the final two climbs of the race. There Mikel Landa attacked again, forcing Roglic and Nibali to chase. The two could not get back to the rider from the Basque country before the summit, but Vincenzo Nibali bolted away on the following descent and closed the gap to Landa. In doing so he also dropped Roglic, but not Carapaz. The Ecuadorian was too strong to be dropped on the final climb, so Nibali crossed the finish line on his wheel in 5th.
Before the Giro’s conclusive individual time trial Vincenzo Nibali was still trailing Richard Carapaz by 1.54 minutes - a margin too big to make up over a distance of 17 kilometers. The captain of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM was the second-to-last rider to roll off the start ramp. With one last all-out effort, he scored another top10 result by finishing in 9th - one place ahead of Primoz Roglic who had won the first two time trials of this Giro. But he only managed to cut down his deficit to Carapaz to 1.05 minutes. Finishing the stage race in 2nd, Vincenzo Nibali scored the 11th career podium result in a Grand Tour - an impressive performance in its own right. Damiano Caruso capped off his Giro with an even stronger performance: Finishing in 4th, he scored another top5 result. And he managed to do so despite his hard duties as a key domestique throughout the third week. And since Domenico Pozzovivo punched way over his weight category in the conclusive time trial as well, the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM handsomely secured 3rd place in the team classification.
102ND GIRO D’ITALIA, FINAL OVERALL STANDINGS
1. Richard Carapaz, ECU, in 90:01.47 hours
2. Vincenzo Nibali, ITA/BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, + 1.05
3. Primoz Roglic, SVN, +2.30
1. Movistar Team in 270:44.14 hours
2. Astana Pro Team, + 17.36
3. BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, + 18.31