Nibali or Kruijswijk – choose your story

2016 Giro, stage 19Remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books where you’d have a choice to make at the end of every passage? “If you choose to drink the potion, turn to page 110. If you choose to throw the potion in the angry hippopotamus’s face, turn to page 83.”

This is nothing like that. There are only two passages so you might as well read them both.

The Kruijswijk passage

Steven, the morning’s race leader, crashed badly. He was with Vincenzo Nibali and Esteban Chaves on the descent before the final climb when he misjudged a corner, hit a bank of snow and somersaulted off.

Somersaulting slows cyclists down.

He stopped twice more on that descent – once to get a new bike – and by the finish, he was almost five minutes down on Nibali.

The Nibali passage

A couple of days ago, they were supposedly doing tests on little Vincenzo in a bid to try and work out what was wrong with him. Whatever it was, nothing’s ailing him any more.

The press have been on Nibali’s back for not winning this Giro, but now it looks reasonably likely that he might. If he dislodged Kruijswijk inadvertently, it was his legs, heart and lungs that did for Chaves as he dropped him on the final climb to claim the stage win.

Other stuff

The dust’s still settling at the time of writing, but Ilnur Zakarin’s abandoned after a separate crash. His team say he flew 20 or 30 metres and he’s almost certainly broken his collarbone.

Esteban Chaves meanwhile, moves into the race lead. That’s quite signficant, I suppose. (Perhaps there were three passages today.) The Colombian finished third, 53 seconds behind Nibali and two seconds behind Mikel Nieve. This leaves him with a 40 second lead over Nibbles who’s now moved into second place. With another fiendish day tomorrow (Saturday), that lead is precarious.

Let’s have a top four

  1. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge, 78:14:20
  2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team, +40s
  3. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo, +1m05s
  4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team, 1m48s

Stage 20

Last of the mountains, but boy what mountains. These mountains are tough enough to make a middle-aged man use an exclamation like ‘boy’.

The first climb’s moderate, but still 18km long. The second’s tougher and 22km long. The third’s tougher still and 20km long. All three take the riders above 2,000m.

My favourite translation from the specialties of this region is “native lamb meat.”

2016 Giro, Stage 20