It was the longest day of the Giro today - a whopping 254 kilometers, or nearly the maximum length of race allowed by the UCI - and riders surely must have been thanking the cycling deities for sun and warm temperatures. The profile looked strikingly similar to Milan - Sanremo, a long flat stage with short, punchy climbs coming increasingly close to each other in the final 100 kilometers of the race. It was surely a stage intended for the sprinters but, in typical Italian style, with a few opportunities still available for the braver, attacking souls to steal a victory. At the least, teams of more hardy sprinters like Francisco Ventoso may try to put Mark Cavendish in difficulty and firmly out of the back of the race.
And so, hostilities initiated on the category 3 climb of Tre Cuni with 45 kilometers left to race. Stefano Garzelli jumped clear of the field and pulled out a group that swelled to seven riders, including Stefano Pirazzi and Luca Paolini, before being brought back into the fold by Movistar's efforts to control the race for Ventoso. Up the road, the day long break of three riders slowly languished, already whittled down from an initial seven rider group and clearly doomed with a gap of only 32 seconds with 41 kilometers left to race. The sprinters were clearly hungry for their last chance at victory until Stage 17, a number of mountainous days away.
A final rise with 6km to go provided a launch pad for Juan Paolo Caruso, but after 250 kilometers Omega Pharmacy and Liquigas were having none of his shenanigans and kept him on a short leash until he was swept up with under 3km to race. Cavendish was forced to jump very early but held off Radioshack's Nizzolo in a tight finish.
- Mark Cavendish, Omega Pharma - Quickstep 6:09:55
- Giacomo Nizzolo, Radioshack Leopard Trek, s.t.
- Luka Mezgec, Argos-Shimano, s.t.
- Brett Lancaster, Orica GreenEdge, s.t.
- Elia Viviani, Cannondale, s.t.
- Vincenzo Nibali, Astana
- Cadel Evans, BMC, at 0.41
- Rigoberto Uran, Sky, at 2:04
- Mark Cavendish, Omega Pharma - Quickstep, 108 pts
- Cadel Evans, BMC, 73 pts
- Elia Viviani, Cannondale, 72 pts