With Sky's Giro leader out of the race, Mikel Nieve was freed up for victory on the four-climb 170km stage from Palmanova to Cividale del Friuli. While Andrey Amador (Movistar) assumed the race lead, the overall standings remain unchanged. 

Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) crossed the line 43 seconds behind Nieve before Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) led home the main contenders.  

Nieve soloed for 33kms across the final two climbs after attacking the large lead group that had formed earlier. Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale) joined the Sky rider but was soon dropped. Visconti leapfrogged to Dombrowski, pulling clear on the final climb. 

"I'm very happy. It's been almost five years since I last won a stage at the Giro d'Italia. Today's attack was kind of planned," Nieve said. 

"To go on the attack for a stage victory was the only thing we could do after Mikel Landa abandoned. I went full gas. It's great that I've made it."

After 40kms raced, a 24-rider breakaway formed at the foot of the first category one climb. It included such riders as Damiano Cunego (Nippo-Vini Fantini), Alessandro De Marchi (BMC), Stefan Denifl (IAM), Moreno Moser (Cannondale), and Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida).  

Denifl attacked and crested the first summit alone but soon found himself at the back of the breakaway after inattention during a nature break. 

The overall contenders 

On the final climb, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) Rafal Majka (Tinkoff), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge), Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R) pulled clear from the other contenders, including race leader Bob Jungels (Etixx-Quickstep).

Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) and Andrey Amador (Movistar) rejoined the others after the final descent, but Jungels could not claw back the 50 seconds to Amador. 

Amador said after the stage he will do his best to enjoy his time in pink.  

"I'm delighted to have the Maglia Rosa. The truth is that Alejandro Valverde is very strong and my move to the top spot doesn't change anything. He's our captain and I'm racing for him. We have two very hard days ahead. Tomorrow it'll be one of the queen-stages. It's great to go into it with the Maglia Rosa."

Saturday 21 May 2016

After losing the Maglia Rosa to Andrey Amador (Movistar), Etixx-QuickStep's Bob Jungels will focus his efforts on claiming a different Grand Tour classification - the white jersey as the best young rider in the race.

He fought to hold his position and finished 17th on the stage while holding on to second place overall, but with even bigger mountains to come, he's adopted a reality based approach to the rest of the Giro.

"Everybody knew it would be a tough stage,” Jungles said. Right from the start, a big break went and we all suffered.

“The team did an awesome job until Astana decided to speed it up the third climb. I was able to follow, but I suffered and on the descent I tried to recover.

Then, on the last climb, I wasn't able to follow anymore, but still continued to fight, with the help of Gianluca (Brambilla), who came back on the downhill.

"The days spent in the pink jersey were the most beautiful in my career, but now I’ll turn my attention to the white jersey, as I have a nice cushion in the standings.

It’s going to be hard, but I’m ready to fight for it. There’s still eight stages to go and I’m sure that the team will have a lot of things to say in the upcoming days.”

Orica-GreenEdge's Esteban Chaves had another good day at the office as he held position along with the other key general classification contenders, like Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).

“It was full gas all day” Chaves said. “The important thing is not to lose any time and stay with the other favourites and we showed again today that we can do that.”

“I attacked once on the final climb to see how the other guys were and we were all together. The other guys did the same a bit later but it didn’t break up. Tomorrow is a really hard stage so we will see what happens.”

Chaves stays in eighth place on the general classification but gaining valuable time with the big mountain stages to come over the weekend.