LottoNL's Steven Kruijswijk benefited from his fantastic run of form and from some luck as well to widen his overall lead in the Giro d'Italia, barely missing out on the stage victory by the slimmest of margins while his rivals all slipped further down the standings. Using aero bars to start quickly, Kruijsjwijk smashed the early intermediate time of Alexander Foliforov of Gazprom, and only conceded a second to the Russian at the line. For the 23-year-old Foliforov, it's his greatest moment so far as a pro. For Kruijswijk, it's looking like his chance to achieve Giro greatness.
Second-placed Vincenzo Nibali of Astana was not looking fantastic, conceding 30 seconds to Kruijswijk at the early time check and more as the stage went on. But as poor as it already was, things got worse in the final 3km as disaster struck and he needed a bike change. His chain was malfunctioning, and in fixing it Nibali dislodged his rear derailleur, and hopped off this bike, pushing it off the road and standing nakedly by while he waited for a new one. He remounted, and surrounded by fans coming too close, a frustrated Nibali lashed out at them and his bike to try to limit his misery, but his rhythm was gone and the road simply couldn't run out fast enough. Nibali conceded 2.09 to Kruijswijk on the stage and now sits in third place, 2.51 behind the Dutchman.
Esteban Chaves of Orica-GreenEdge profited from Nibali's troubles and his own good riding, taking over second place after finishing sixth on the day. Chaves started slowly, but limited his deficit and came in just off the pace of Alejandro Valverde of Movistar, who was third on the stage and best among the GC guys until Kruijswijk came along. Foliforov's stunning ride came early in the day, setting an intermediate split mark that stood until the top riders got started and his countryman Ilnur Zakarin of Katusha surpassed it, but his final time was more durable. By 16 thousandths of a second, in the end -- LottoNL's second near-miss in a time trial of this Giro, after Primoz Roglic lost stage one by a similar margin to Tom Dumoulin.
Kruijswijk enters the rest day in full control of this Giro, after surgery to repair a constricted artery restored his career. He is well on pace to destroy his previous best Giro finish of eighth overall, but more importantly he has looked like the strongest and most aggressive rider so far when the road has turned uphill. The stages to come will test his patience before the peloton hits the French Alps later next week, but if he remains calm and on form, he should be positioned to put this one away.
|3.||VALVERDE BELMONTE Alejandro||MOV||00:00:23|
|6.||CHAVES RUBIO Johan Esteban||OGE||00:00:40|
|8.||DOMBROWSKI Joseph Lloyd||CPT||00:00:52|
|16.||DE LA CRUZ MELGAREJO David||EQS||00:01:30|
|18.||HENAO GOMEZ Sebastian||SKY||00:01:36|
|19.||LOPEZ GARCIA David||SKY||00:01:52|
|2.||CHAVES RUBIO Johan Esteban||OGE||00:02:12|
|4.||VALVERDE BELMONTE Alejandro||MOV||00:03:29|
|7.||AMADOR BIKKAZAKOVA Andrey||MOV||00:05:27|