After 12 stages with little to say about the riders who would like to win this year’s Giro d’Italia, there was almost too much to talk about in Stage 13, which saw the first major reshuffling of the overall classification.
The race was won by Ilnur Zakarin, who was part of a group that had broken away from the peloton early in the race. He was joined by riders representing almost every team in the race, many of whom were sent into the break so that they would be available to help their team leaders further down the road. Zakarin was one of two riders in the break who have aspirations for the overall classification – the other being Bauke Mollema, who appeared to have ended up in the break almost by accident but whose team worked hard all day to take advantage of the opportunity.
With just under six kilometers left to go, and the imposing summit finish to Ceresole Reale looming, the group of overall contenders was almost within touching distance of the breakaway - -surely they were about to be caught. But as the break passed below the five-kilometers-to-go banner, Zakarin hupped is pace and left the others behind. He would later be joined by Mikel Nieve but would eventually finish alone, 35 seconds ahead of Nieve, in the process catapulting himself from 12th to 3rd place overall.
Mollema was unable to hang with Zakarin, but he still managed to finish over a minute ahead of race favorite Primoz Roglic, and to jump two spots from 6th to 4th place.
Meanwhile, there was plenty of action among the race favorites, and the strategy of putting teammates into the breakaway worked out especially well for Movistar, who dropped Hector Carretero and Andrey Amador out the back of the break to connect with a stampeding Mikel Landa, who managed to extricate himself from the bunch of favorites and finish almost a minute-and-a-half ahead of his rivals. His teammate, Richard Carapaz, also did well, finishing only about 20 seconds after Landa and moving into sixth place overall.
Despite all these moving pieces, all these teams pursuing their own interconnected objectives, Roglic and Vincenzo Nibali spent the day racing as though they were the only riders on the road – Roglic keeping a tight grip on Nibali’s back wheel and Nibali keeping a close eye on Roglic’s responses to all the other attacks. In the end, the two would cross the line together, but their mutual fixation meant they both lost time to other contenders.
They didn’t lose as much time as Simon Yates, though. The 26-year-old Brit, who led the Giro for 13 stages last year, was already losing his rivals’ wheels with 15 kilometers still to go. He would finish the stage more than two minutes after Nibali and Roglic.
Jan Polanc, who took over the lead in the overall classification yesterday, maintained enough of his four-minute advantage to hold onto the pink jersey going into Stage 14. He now leads the race by two minutes and 25 seconds, but he’s expected to relinquish the lead on tomorrow’s difficult mountain stage.