It was heartbreak for Darwin Atapuma (BMC) and elation for Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), who moved into pink on a decisive queen stage at the Giro d’Italia as Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) won the stage.
Kruijswijk attacked with Chaves on the climb of Passo Valparola, distancing Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) before contesting the finish with Georg Preidler (Giant-Alpecin).
With Nibali finishing 36 seconds down, Kruijswijk moves into the maglia rosa, with its holder on the stage – Andrey Amador (Movistar) – unable to hold the pace on a brutal day in the Dolomites.
Breakaway rider Atapuma was caught with three kilometres to go to the finish line and Chaves came round Preidler in the final metres to take the stage win.
The 37-man breakaway did not last much past the halfway mark, with the group splintering and Orica-GreenEdge’s Ruben Plaza going out on his own.
The Spaniard, who won stages at the Tour de France and Vuelta a España, was chased down and eventually overtaken by Kanstantin Siutsou (Dimension Data) and Atapuma, but it was the Colombian who was to go out on his own.
Behind, the general classification battle was in full swing, with Nibali launching an attack on the Passo Valparola, immediately distancing pink jersey holder Andrey Amador – who had also been dropped on the Passo Giau – and his Movistar teammate Alejandro Valverde, who had no answer to the attacks up front.
It was then Nibali’s turn to be dropped as Chaves and Kruijswijk upped the pace. The duo eased away from the Italian and worked into the lead of the riders up the road.
The game was up for Valverde and Amador, though, who saw their time gap to the leaders keep extending in the final 30km, with the Movistar leader dropping three minutes to Chaves.
At the business end of the race, though, it looked as if Atapuma would ride away with the solo win, but the chasing riders of Kruijswijk, Chaves and Preidler reeled him in and left him behind.
Preidler then looked to ease to the finish line, but Chaves held enough in reserve to sprint past the Austrian, who made his move too early.
Kruijswijk now leads from Nibali by 41 seconds, with Chaves moving up to third. The gap to Valverde now sits at over three minutes.
Read more at Cycling Weekly.