This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.
Jon Izagirre soloed in to the finish line of the sixteenth stage of the Giro d'Italia, bringing in the victory for Euskaltel-Euskadi. The 23-year-old Basque rider had escaped out of a 10-man breakaway group on the final climb, and finished 16 seconds ahead of Alessandro De Marchi (Androni Giacattoli-Venezuela) and Stef Clement (Rabobank).
The peloton took the day off, more or less, and let the 10-man escape group carve out a nearly 13 minute gap. After a comfortable final climb, the field with the favourites ambled across the line nearly nine minutes after the rejoicing Izagirre. There were no changes in the top of the GC as Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) continues to lead the Giro d'Italia.
It was the second win of the year – and the second pro win – for the second year pro Izagirre. At the end of last month he won the time trial at the Vuelta a Asturias.
Another successful escape group
It took a while for the day's break to establish itself, but once again, the group came through to the end. After eighty-some kilometers, Alessandro De Marchi (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela), Mathias Frank (BMC Racing Team), Jon Izagirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Luca Mazzanti (Farnese Vini-Sella Italia), Lars Ytting Bak (Lotto Belisol), Nicolas Maes (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), José Herrada Lopez (Movistar), Stef Clement (Rabobank), Matthias Brändle (NetApp) and Manuele Boaro (Saxo Bank) finally got away and moved quickly to a big lead.
With Herrada as the top ranked rider, at more than 32 minutes down, the field was happy to let them go and give themselves a quiet day to transition back into racing before facing the upcoming brutal mountain stages.
Fans come in all shapes and sizes
The race had started out very fast – which is why no group could come about – but once the break went, the peloton put the brakes on. The gap grew and grew, climbing all the way up to 12 and a half minutes before slowing coming down in the final 20km.
The attacks out of the group started almost as soon as they started the final climb to the finish. A cobblestone passage near the beginning of the climb didn't bring any changes, as Herrada led the way up. Izagirre was the next to try, and then Frank. Those two built up a small lead over Herrara with another gap back to the rest with 4km to go.
Izagirre took the lead, followed by De Marchi, as Frank and Herrada chased. The Basque rider ground his way up the climb, slowly building up his lead. He continued to pull away as the course flattened out near the end, as the three chasers, later joined by Clement, played for position.
The Euskaltel-Euskadi rider rejoiced as he crossed the finish line, and 16 seconds later De Marchi and Clement came in to fill out the podium.
The rest of the field was still to come, and it was a smaller group which tackled the final climb – but one which included all the favourites. They stayed together riding comfortably up to the finish. Liquigas-Cannondale and Garmin-Barracuda were most often at the front.
But then a Colnago-CSF Inox rider shot out of the of the field with about 1200 meters to go. Stefano Pirazzi was soon joined by Sky's Juan Antonio Flecha, and Flecha zipped around him at the end to take the eleventh place, nearly nine minutes after Izagirre, with the field almost directly behind.