Giro d'Italia stage 16 live: João Almeida wins on Monte Bondone; Geraint Thomas reclaims overall lead
Good morning and a warm welcome to today's Cycling Weekly live blog, where I, Tom Thewlis, will be bringing you all of the essential news from the Giro d'Italia.
I'll be taking you through stage 16, a brutal mountain stage with more than 5,000 metres of elevation gain from Sabbio Chiese to Monte Bondone in Trentino.
Before the riders reach the base of Monte Bondone, they'll have to tackle several categorised climbs. This includes the category one Passo di Santa Barbara and the category two Matassone and Serrada climbs.
Monte Bondone itself is a tough one, you can check out the stage 16 route in more detail in our Giro route analysis.
Are you planning on tuning into the Giro today? Find out how you can catch all the action in our how to watch guide.
KEY UPDATES (BST)
- 10:00 am - Three more riders out due to illness and injury
- 12:06pm - David Millar shares tribute to retiring Mark Cavendish
- 12:13 pm - Ben Healy first over the Passo di Santa Barbara. irishman virtual leader on the road in mountains classification
- 13:07 pm - Pavel Sivakov dropped from peloton
- 13:30 pm - Magnus Cort reported to be joining Uno-X
- 15:31 - Davide Formolo and UAE Emirates leading Maglia Rosa group on Monte Bondone
Three more riders out due to illness and injury
Prior to today's stage getting underway, three more riders have pulled out of the race.
Davide Ballerini (Soudal Quick-Step) and Simon Clarke (Israel-Premier Tech) did not start due to illness.
Due to injuries sustained in a crash earlier in the race, Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier (Trek-Segafredo) also didn't start.
Due to illness, @ballero_94 will not take to the start of today’s #Giro stage 16.We wish Davide a speedy recovery!Photo: @GettySport pic.twitter.com/3zN0ZNjezbMay 23, 2023
While we wait for the riders to officially get started today, here's a closer look at the stage 16 route profile courtesy of Soudal Quick-Step.
Huge day for the #Giro general classification!Five classified climbs, 5000 vertical meters and a finish atop the legendary Monte Bondone. pic.twitter.com/7iGfuwQvvwMay 23, 2023
204km to go: We're underway! Stefano Allocchio has just waved his flag out of the car in front of the riders, and we've got a mad dash to try and get up the road.
Here's the general classification going into today's stage:
1. Bruno Armirail (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, in 61-38-06
2. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, at 1-08
3. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, at 1-10
4. João Almeida (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 1-30
5. Andreas Leknessund (Nor) Team DSM, at 1-50
6. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious, at 2-36
7.Lennard Kämna (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 3-02
8.Eddie Dunbar (Irl) Jayco-AlUla, at 3-40
9. Thymen Arensman (Ned) Ineos Grenadiers, at 3-55
10. Laurens De Plus (Bel) Ineos Grenadiers, at 4-18
190km to go: We've got three guys up the road as we pass the beautiful Lake Garda.
Christian Scaroni (Astana Qazaqstan), Davide Gabburo (Green Project-Bardiani-CSF) and Kristian Sbaragli (Alpecin-Deceuninck).
They've got a gap of roughly 10 seconds on the Maglia Rosa group at the moment.
190km to go: We've just had a minor crash in the bunch, three riders went down.
Laurens De Plus (Ineos Grenadiers), Lorenzo Fortunato (EOLO-Kometa) and Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma).
The three riders look relatively unscathed and are moving back through the cars to the bunch.
185km to go: The trio of leaders have been swept up. That was always going to come to nothing.
178km to go: We've got a new breakaway up the road and it contains a certain rider who made a rather big announcement yesterday.... Mark Cavendish! We'll have the rest of the breakaway riders for you in a moment.
156km to go: We've had a pretty chaotic last 15 minutes, and there are various groups scattered all across the road.
A huge breakaway is now formed and it looks like we've got about 17 riders up the road.
It looks like Ben Healy (EF Education-EasyPost) is in amongst it once more along with Valentin Paret-Peintre (AG2R-Citroen). Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious) is also in there.
Here they all are:
Aurelien Paret-Peintre (AG2R Citroen)
Valentin Paret-Peintre (AG2R Citroen)
Christian Scaroni (Astana Qazaqstan)
Jack Haig and Jonathan Milan (Bahrain Victorious)
Jonathan Lastra (Cofidis)
Ben Healy (EF Education-EasyPost)
Pavel Sivakov and Ben Swift (Ineos Grenadiers)
Derek Gee (Israel-Premier Tech)
Carlos Verona (Movistar)
Michael hepburn (Jayco-AIUla)
Filippo Zana (Jayco-AIUla)
Tom Skuijns (Trek-Segafredo)
Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates)
Martin Marcellusi and Alessandro Tonelli (Green Project–Bardiani)
150km to go: Looks like there's a counter attacking group of nine riders trying to reach the breakaway too.
138km to go: Those nine riders have joined up with the 17 outfront, so now we have a group of 26 up the road.
The 26 leaders have a group of 3-38 and are onto the first climb of the day.
The new riders in the lead group are Vadim Pronskiy (Astana Qazaqstan), Cesare Benedetti and Patrick Konrad (Bora), Salvatore Puccio (Ineos Grenadiers), Nicolas Dalla Valle, Veljko Stojnic (Green project-Bardiani), Thomas Champion (Cofidis) and a couple of others.
Trentino looks absolutely glorious today! We've just had a cracking view of the Castello Di Arco perched dramatically on a mountain side.
The riders will be delighted to have a day in the sun once more.
135km to go: We're onto the Passo di Santa Barbara now. Looks like pronsky from Astana has just made a little dig off the front of the lead group trying to force a little gap.
133km to go: The breakaway's gap has gone out slightly, and looks like it's relatively quiet in the peloton.
Eduardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) and Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ) are driving the pace on the front of the peloton, but it's a tough ask without much help to control that gap.
If you were keeping well away from any cycling related news yesterday, you'll have missed the announcement from Mark Cavendish that he plans to retire at the end of the current season.
David Millar shared this lovely tribute to Cavendish over on Twitter earlier today.
Well worth a read.
I know it shouldn’t have been a surprise, but @MarkCavendish announcing his retirement caught me off guard all the same. He’s going to be missed, end of an era in more ways than one. So many memories…https://t.co/sSo6b0Z6GtMay 23, 2023
127km to go: There's no major change as things stand with the situation out on the road.
The breakaway are slowly clawing their way to the summit of this climb where there will be 40 points on offer in the mountains classification.
If Ben Healy grabs those points, he'll jump up several places in that classification.
126km to go: ATTACK!
We've just had a massive attack out of the break as the summit approaches. It was one of the riders from Green project-Bardiani.
Healy doesn't hang about though, he's straight onto the attackers wheel and over the top of him.
Healy takes the 40 points at the summit and is now the virtual leader in the mountains classification.
122km to go: That move from healy at the top of the climb has forced a bit of a split in the break.
Meanwhile Derek Gee has just had to have a bike change in the lead group due to some kind of mechanical.
Here we go! The clarification of the results of the Passo di Santa Barbara are in.
The top five over the top of that climb looks like this:
1. Ben Healy (Ire) EF Education-EasyPost, at 40 points
2. Davide Gabburo (Ita) Green Project-Bardiani-CSF, 18 points
3. Martin Marcellusi (Ita) Green project-Bardiani-CSF, 12 points
4. Nicolas Dalla Valle (Ita) Corratec, 9 points
5. Toms Skuiins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo, 6 points
So that means the mountains classification now looks like this with Healy at the top of the leader board:
1. Ben Healy (Ire) EF Education-EasyPost, 148 points
2. Davide Bais (Ita) EOLO-Kometa, 144 points
3. Einer Rubio 9Col) Movistar, 116 points
4. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, 114 points
5. Toms Skuijns (Lat) Trek-Segafredo, 48 points.
Here's a lovely shot from Tim De Waele of Getty Images.
Jake Stewart is back on the front of the main field and putting in another big turn in support of his team leader and wearer of the pink jersey, Bruno Armirail.
It was just a short descent from the Passo di Santa Barbara before the leaders reached the next climb that they're currently on, the category three Passo Bordala.
They're reaching the summit now and yet again, it's the double act of the Green Project-Bardiani duo Gabburo and Marcellusi who have hit Ben Healy with a two up attack there.
Just as Healy clawed his way back to Marcellusi, Gabburo went straight over the top of him to claim the nine points on offer there.
Healy took four, and clearly is hoping to save energy for later in the day.
114km to go: Healy now has a gap of eight points in the break over Bais in the mountains classification.
This is turning into yet another outstanding day for the EF rider.
108km to go: Sounds like Mark Cavendish is struggling at the back of the race with this series of tough climbs.
It's a big day for the Astana rider tomorrow and on paper, it's his final opportunity to grab a stage win at the Giro d'Italia.
Gianni Moscon is reportedly with Cavendish along with Joe Dombrowski.
On the descent from the Bordola, it looks like Benedetti from Bora-Hansgrohe has pushed on.
Meanwhile at the back of the break Jack Haig has had a mechanical issue and just swapped bikes.
100km to go: Haig is nearly back in the lead group.
They're into the valley now and heading towards the first intermediate sprint point at Rovereto. After that, it's the category two Matassone climb that's next.
99km to go: Milan takes the 12 points on offer in the intermediate sprint! He had no ocmpetition there, it was too easy.
Skuijns gets second with Derek Gee in third.
94km to go: We're onto the Matassone now at the head of the race. A few riders have been swept up from the break since then including Dalla Valle of Corratec.
Pronsky and Scaroni of Astana have both just attacked together, although it's still of course a long way to go to the finish today.
The gap to the leading group is at 2-58 at the moment, although thats far from enough time to fend off the peloton on the Monte Bondone later today.
93km to go: Poor old Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) is out the back of the main field.
Not good at all for the Ineos man. We know he hit the ground pretty hard in a crash last week.
Hopefully he can recover later in the day, although with several categorised climbs still to come, that's not likely.
Here's some rather lovely shots of Monte Bondone where we'll finish today.
Whether the win comes from the breakaway or the main field, it's bound to be entertaining.
Menwhile, Monte Bondone#Giro #GirodItalia pic.twitter.com/GToSl8cIwXMay 23, 2023
87km to go: The Astana duo have opened up a gap of 1-36 to the second group on the road which contains the likes of Haig. Pretty impressive!
There seems to be a bit of disharmony in the remnants of the initial breakaway behind them. They'll need to get on top of that pretty sharpish if they want to stand a chance of staying away today.
The Astana duo are 5-14 up the road from the pink jersey group.
85km to go: As they reach the top of the Matassone climb, the Astana duo took maxium points before we were treated to yet another scrap between Ben Healy and the Green Project duo for what was left at the top.
83km to go: Looks like Pronskiy for Astana was first over the summit with his teammate Scaroni in second.
Gabburo for Green-Project was third with healy in fourth.
So Healy adds another four points to his total in the mountains competition.
Healy now leads the mountains classification with 156 points.
Davide Bais in second place will be absolutely kicking himself for missing out on the break today. The Italian is on 144 points, behind Healy.
There's rain on the descent of the Matassone now, just what the riders needed! The weather can be so unpredictable in this part of Italy.
Magnus Cort to Uno-X?
According to La Gazetta dello Sport, Magnus Cort will join Uno-X this winter.
The Danish rider's contract at EF Education-EasyPost is up later this year and sounds like he could be joining former wearer of the maglia rosa, Andreas Leknessund, at the Norwegian team.
Cort won stage 10 of this year's Giro, and now has stage wins at all three Grand Tours to his name.
With Leknessund joining Uno-X, another potential good signing. Team has been hunting a co-sponsor to help grow the budget, at this rate half-expecting them to announce the Norwegian Central Bank as the new backer https://t.co/Rec2WyXxi1May 23, 2023
77km to go: The main field are approaching the summit of the Mattasone. It looks like its still dry there, so the weather is very changeable out on the road today.
Adam Becket here, taking over from Tom as he takes his lunch.
66km to go: The two Astana riders out front are on the climb to Serrada, with the break 2-39 back, and the peloton 6-07 behind.
64km to go: Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Hansgrohe) has been caught by the main group of the breakaway. Actually, he has gone straight out the back as Jack Haig (Bahrain-Victorious) puts the pressure on the front. Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) has also been dropped. The break is 1-41 behind the Astana leaders. The peloton is four minutes-ish back behind the break.
63km to go: Riders are dropping out of the peloton now, too. Among them is Tom Gloag (Jumbo-Visma), so Roglič has lost a helper. Edoardo Affini is on the front of the bunch.
62km to go: I spoke too soon, Affini is done. There are five Jumbo-Visma riders plus Roglič left in the bunch, while Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) just has two teammates, but then two more up the road too.
There's a gap of 5-07 between the front of the race and the peloton.
58km to go: Interesting goings-on in the main body of the break, where they seem to be attacking each other a bit, but with nothing concrete happening. They have three and a half minutes on the bunch. The peloton looks very small, with two climbs still to come.
61km to go: 10 riders have been dropped from the break, which means there are 12 left. Benedetti, Lastra, Bais, Gabburo, Magli, Marcellusi, Tonelli, Puccio and Hepburn have all headed out the back.
55km to go: It's Aurélien and Valentin Paret-Peintre who are eating into the gap of the Astana pair up front, which is now below 50 seconds.
52km to go: It looks like the Astana two-up time trial out front is soon to end, with the gap just about 20 seconds between Pronskiy and Scaroni and the 12 men of the remaining break.
52km to go: The Astana pair have been caught. Scaroni went straight out the back. It's a much more simple situation now, with the break having 4-25 on the peloton. Still a little way to the top of the Serrada, this climb.
50km to go: The break has 50km to go - simple, right? Sadly for the riders, they have a 22.7km climb to come, at an average of 6.4%. The peloton is 4-19 further down the mountain.
48km to go: According to the Giro d'Italia's official Twitter account, Pavel Sivakov has abandoned. Bad news for Ineos Grenadiers and Geraint Thomas.
40km to go: The break is on the descent as the "peloton" is just approaching the crest of the climb.
The break is now riding the valley floor towards the final climb, riders getting a bunch of fuel in in preparation.
Tom Thewlis here, back in the hotseat and ready to take you through to the top of Monte Bondone.
26km to go: The slopes of Bondone are fast approaching. Interesting to see several riders in the breakaway put in little attacks looking to force a bit of a split.
It's 4-20 back to the maglia rosa group, although you can expect that to shoot right down when they start climbing.
Jack Haig is still there. He's definitely got a point to prove at this Giro and will be really hungry for a stage win.
21km to go: Haig takes the extra bonus seconds at the final sprint point of the day. He seems really up for this.... they're onto the final climb of the day now and a potential shoot out for the stage win.
20km to go: Things are breaking up a little in the lead group.
Pronsky has gone again. He's been constantly on the attack this afternoon.
The peloton have started the climb and are still being led by a flying Jumbo-Visma
19km to go: Rohan Dennis is second in line for Jumbo. Koen Bouwman is glued in his wheel. Roglic looks more than comfortable.
19km to go: Filippo Zana (Jayco-AIUla) and Carlos Verona (Movistar) are leading the race as the breakaway shatters on the slopes of Bondone.
Ben Swift is still there in the second group on the road for Ineos. That's an absolutely huge ride from him.
A perfect satellite rider for Geraint Thomas as the climb gradually begins to bite later on.
18km to go: Michael Hessman has just finished his turn on the front of the Jumbo-Visma led maglia rosa group. It's Dennis who takes over, after the Aussie it will be Bouwman.
Meanwhile Jack Haig and Paret-Peintre have made it across to Zana and Verona at the head of the race. Patrick Konrad has joined him and looks like Pronsky from Astana is there still too.
17km to go: Kind of feels like everything is setting itself up nicely for a huge attack from Primož Roglič.
The Slovenian has Sepp Kuss, Bouwman and Dennis left in that pink jersey group of favourites. He looks ominous indeed.
Here's Primož Roglič.
We've got 17km to go and looks like Swift has made to back up to the lead group whereas Ben Healy may have dropped away.
Here's a little look at what the riders are tackling right now... it's a brutal one.
🔥 NEXT ➡️ Monte Bondone #Giro #GirodItalia pic.twitter.com/YIlIvU7ztcMay 23, 2023
16km to go: We've just seen Healy drop back past the Rohan Dennis led maglia rosa group.
Slightly surprisingly, Bouwman has just been dropped by the Dennis group. Clearly the pace being set by the Aussie is too much for his teammate.
15km to go: Dennis has absolutely destroyed the breakaways gap and it now stands at just under two minutes.
You can see the pain etched on Haig and Konrad's faces, I think they'll be starting to realise that it's game over unless they make a move soon.
14km to go: Here's a nice shot of the breakaway just now being led by Haig.
Their gap stands at 1-34 and is tumbling.
Dennis has just dropped off the front of the bunch after a huge huge turn. UAE take over for their man João Almeida.
12km to go: Davide Formolo has taken one look at Rohan Dennis and said anything you can do, I can do better!
The Italian climber is in absolute agony trying to shred this group of favourites some more. Almeida is third in line for UAE, locked into Jay Vine's back wheel.
10km to go: The break have just gone under 10km to go to the line as Jay Vine takes over on the front of the group of favourites.
The gap is just 33 seconds now, so we'll almost certainly have a stage winner from the group of favourites.
9.5km to go: it's game over for Bruno Armirail! He's just been dropped from the group of favourites.
We'll almost certainly have a new rider in the pink leaders jersey tonight too.
9km to go: Thibaut Pinot is being distanced from that second group.
Ben Swift is entering the group at the front end after being caught by Vine. Can he contribute to a potential effort from Geraint Thomas?
8.6km to go: It's all over for Haig, Verona and Zana, the last men standing of the days break.
Vine is grimacing and has just pulled them straight past Haig and co.
Vine has just flicked his elbow and said he's done! It's all down to Almeida and the big guns now!
8km to go: Hugh Carthy has been jettisoned from the front.
We've got Almeida leading the GC favourites up the climb with Thomas behind him and Roglic sat just behind the Welshman.
Roglic has Kuss still with him and Eddie Dunbar (Jayco-AIUla) is present too.
7.8km to go: Thomas just briefly pulled and has now looked over at the others.
Thomas looks absolutely fantastic here and perfectly in control.
Zana has managed to stick around in the group and is currently lulling on the front for his teammate Dunbar.
7.2km to go: As things stand, Thomas is the virtual race leader on the road.
It's just two seconds between him and Roglic though.
6.8km to go: Looks like Zana is done! Almeida is back on the front. He looks superb.
It's just Almeida, Kuss, Roglic, Thomas and DUnbar at the head of the race now.
5.8km to go: Almeida has gone! That's a huge attack from the Portugese climber.
He's disappeared around one of the hairpins and Kuss is trying to reel him back in.
5.2km to go: Almeida is really making Kuss work here. They're nearly back on the Portugese climbers wheel, but this could spell the end for Kuss today.
5km to go: Dunbar is grimacing on the back of this lead group.
He's doing everything he can to stay with Thomas and co.
Roglic looks calm and collected as always. It's rare you see the Slovenian suffer.
4.5km to go: Wow! Here goes Geraint Thomas!
The Welshman powers across to Almeida with a seated acceleration and they've pulled away from Roglic and Kuss.
4km to go: Thomas looks so so good. He's asking Almeida to work with him. It makes sense for them to pull away together here if they can.
3.4 km to go: Turn the clock back! This is incredible to see. Thomas is absolutely flying with Almeida.
This is arguably the best performance we've seen from the Welshman for years.
2km to go: Thomas has taken off those big white sunglasses as they approach the final kilometre.
Fair play to both of them, they've really taken this race to Jumbo-Visma today.
They're into the final kilometre! Who wins this, Thomas or Almeida?! They're neck and neck.
Roglic has dropped Kuss and is clawing himself back. Perhaps his time loss won't be as big as first feared.
200 metres to go....
They're sprinting for it!
João Almeida wins the sprint for the line! What a stage win for the Portugese man.
We'll have a report on the site shortly.... what a day of action at the Giro d'Italia!