Etixx-Quick Step continued to make a strong impression on the 2016 Giro d'Italia as Gianluca Brambilla and Matteo Trentin executed some brilliant teamwork to give Trentin the sprint win over Cannondale's Moreno Moser in Pinerolo. Brambilla and Moser had led the race for the final 20km, but Trentin bridged to the front group from a small set of chasing riders and came past to steal the victory, while Brambilla sat on Moser's wheel looking like he was going to deliver the coup de grace. Moser, focused on Brambilla, clearly didn't expect a second rival to come into play, let alone overtake him, and was caught preparing to launch his sprint against Brambilla when Trentin came by at full speed. At that point, it was game over. Brambilla was content to stay behind Moser and celebrate his teammate's sudden victory.
Overall leader Steven Kruijswijk of LottoNL-Jumbo survived the longest stage of the Giro with no dents in his armor. He rode over the final climbs in the company of his main rivals, and even sprinted to the line to prevent any one-second gaps from opening up. The peloton conceded over 13 minutes to the stage winners, which is of no consequence. The stage is set for the next two days where he will be tested over the race's highest mountain passes in the French and Italian Alps.
Brambilla and Moser escaped on the Pramartino climb, a 4km test 20km from the finish, as what had been a 24-rider breakaway early in the day -- gaining some 20 minutes on the peloton -- shrunk as the road finally turned upward after a long, flat march across the Po Valley. Giant-Alpecin's Nikias Arndt chased Brambilla and Moser alone initially, but was joined first by Tinkoff's Ivan Rovny, then by Trentin and Lampre's Sacha Modolo. Trentin did an effective job of keeping an eye on the chasers for his teammate Brambilla, who looked like a likely winner if the front two were left to sprint it out in Pinerolo. On the flat spaces between the final two climbs they maintained a 17 second gap as the final climb approached.
There, Brambilla and Moser matched pedalstrokes over the cobbled maximum-20% ascent, while behind the four chasers lost Rovny, who overcooked the turn to the base of the climb and came to a brief stop. Cameras did not catch where in the final 2km from the top of the climb that Trentin lost his chasing group, focusing instead on the presumed two-man sprint, but the delay in the sprint was enough to allow Trentin to make it across the small gap for his stage success.
For Etixx-Quick Step, the win was their fourth stage, to go along with six days in pink (among three riders), plus ownership of the white jersey on the shoulders of Bob Jungels, who was strong again today and looks primed to win the classification.