The Giro d’Italia in pictures

A pictorial look back at the first Grand Tour of 2016, a dramatic edition of the Giro d’Italia.

All photos supplied by RCS, courtesy of ANSA, Claudio Peri, Alessandro Di Meo, Luca Zennaro and Matteo Bazzi.

The crowd during the presentation of Giro d'Italia 2016 at Alpedoorn, 5 May 2016. ANSA/MATTEO BAZZI
Big crowds welcomed the Giro d’Italia for the race presentation in Appeldoorn
Madrina Giorgia Palmas with Trofeo Senza Fine Award on the podium on occasion of the presentation of Giro d'Italia 2016 at Alpedoorn, 5 May 2016. ANSA/CLAUDIO PERI
Madrina of the Giro Giorgia Palmas poses with the Trofeo Senza Fine at the race presentation
A runner during the start of the TTT first stage Giro d’Italia cycling race in Apeldoorn, Nederland, 6 May 2016.ANSA/ALESSANDRO DI MEO
The start of three weeks of racing – a rider heads off on the opening time trial in Appeldoorn
Tom Dumoulin from the Netherlands of Team Giant Alpecin win the first stage of the Giro d'Italia 2016 at Apeldoorn, Netherlands, 06 May 2016, an individual time trial over 9.8km through Apeldoorn. ANSA/LUCA ZENNARO
Home favourite Tom Dumoulin won the time trial, taking the first pink jersey of the race
Giro d'Italia 2016. ANSA/ALESSANDRO DI MEO
A fan takes in the action on the second day of the race, from Arnhem to Nijmegen
GIRO ST2 KITTEL
Etixx-QuickStep’s Marcel Kittel was dominant in the sprint, easily winning in Nijmegen
Dutch rider Maarten Tjallingii of the team Lotto Nl Jumbo wears the overall Blu jersey as he celebrates with his son on the podium after the third stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race over 190km between Nijmegen and Arnhem, Netherlands, 08 May 2016. ANSA/LUCA ZENNARO
There was more home success on stage three as LottoNL-Jumbo’s Maarten Tjallingii took the blue mountain jersey after starring in the day’s breakaway
German rider Marcel Kittel (C) of the Etixx–Quick-Step team celebrates after winning the third stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race over 190km between Nijmegen and Arnhem, Netherlands, 08 May 2016 ANSA/LUCA ZENNARO
While Marcel Kittel won once again in Arnhem, the third and final stage held in the Netherlands
Italian rider Diego Ussi (C) of the Lampre Merida team celebrates after crossing the finish line and win the fourth stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race over 200 km between Catanzaro and Praia a Mare, Italy 2016. ANSA/ALESSANDRO DI MEO
Upon the race’s return to Italy in the coastal town of Praia a Mare, Lampre-Merida’s Diego Ulissi won his fifth stage of the Giro
The pack is on the way of the fifth stage of Giro dÕItalia cycling race from Praia a Mare to Benevento, 11 May 2016. ANSA/CLAUDIO PERI
Schoolchildren cheer on the peloton on stage five
Arrivo quinta tappa  ANSA / MATTEO BAZZI
With Kittel gone, it was André Greipel’s turn to dominate, winning in Benevento on stage five
Dutch rider Tom Dumoulin of Team Giant wearing Pink Jersey in the pack on the way of the seventh stage of Giro dÕItalia cycling race from Sulmona to Foligno, 13 May 2016. ANSA/CLAUDIO PERI
Pink jersey Dumoulin rides among the peloton
The pack is on the way of the seventh stage of Giro dÕItalia cycling race from Sulmona to Foligno, 13 May 2016. ANSA/CLAUDIO PERI
The peloton descending on the road to Foligno, stage seven
Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde of Movistar Team rides on the gravel on the way of the 8th stage of Giro dÕItalia cycling race from Foligno to Arezzo, 14 May 2016. ANSA/CLAUDIO PERI
Stage eight’s strade bianche climb of Alpe di Poti. Here, Tom Dumoulin would lose the pink jersey to stage winner Gianluca Brambilla
Italian rider Gianluca Brambilla of the Etixx - Quick Step team, celebrates after crossing the finish line to win the 8th stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race over 186km from Foligno to Arezzo, Italy, 14 May 2016. Brambilla took the overall leader's pink jersey.   ANSA/ALESSANDRO DI MEO
Brambilla soloed to victory in Arezzo, attacking from the breakaway
Slovenian rider Primoz Roglic of Lotto Jumbo on the way of the TTT 9th stage of Giro d’Italia cycling race from Radda in Chiantie to Greve in Chianti, 15 May 2016. ANSA/CLAUDIO PERI
Primož Roglič of LottoNL-Jumbo surprised everyone to win the wet Chianti time trial
Italian singer and songwriter, Francesco Guccini, looks the  10th stage of Giro dÕItalia cycling race from Campi Bisenzio to Sestola, 17 May 2016. ANSA/CLAUDIO PERI
Italian singer Francesco Guccini greets the peloton on stage ten to Sestola
Italian rider Giulio Ciccone of the Bardiani CSF team jubilates with Mario Cipollini (L) after crossing the finish line to win the 10th stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race over 219km from Campi Bisenzio to Sestola, Italy, 17 May 2016.  ANSA/ALESSANDRO DI MEO
Bardiani-CSF’s neo-pro Giulio Ciccone celebrates with Mario Cipollini after winning stage ten with a late attack
Luxembourg's rider Bob Jungels of the Etixx - Quick Step team, celebrates on the podium wearing the overall leader's pink jersey after the 11th stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race over 227 km from Modena to Asolo, Italy, 18 May 2016.  ANSA/ALESSANDRO DI MEO
Bob Jungels became the first Luxembourgish rider to wear pink since Charly Gaul in 1959
Giro d’Italia 2016 - 99a Edizione - 12a tappa Noale - Bibione 182 km - 19/05/2016 -  - foto Luca Bettini/BettiniPhoto©2016
Trek-Segafredo riders pass a villa on the road to Bibione, stage twelve
Blue Jersey, Italian rider Damiano Cunego of Nippo Vini Fantini on the podium of the 12th stage of Giro d'Italia from Noale to Bibione, 19 May 2016. ANSA/CLAUDIO PERI
Nippo-Vini Fantini’s Damiano Cunego experienced a mini-renaissance during the Giro, leading the mountains classification for much of the race
The pack is on the way of te 13th stage of Giro d'Italia 2016 from Palmanova to Cividale del Friuli, 20 May 2016. ANSA/CLAUDIO PERI
The peloton rides through an well-decorated town on stage thirteen to Cividale del Friuli
Giro d'Italia 2016. ANSA/ALESSANDRO DI MEO
Mikel Nieve won the day while Movistar’s Andrey Amador became the first Costa Rican to ever wear pink
Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde of Movistar Team (L) and Italian rider Vincenzo Nibali of Astana Pro Team on the way of the 14th stage of Giro dÕItalia cycling race from Alpago to Corvara, 21 May 2016. ANSA/CLAUDIO PERI
Alejandro Valverde and Vincenzo Nibali ride the mammoth Dolomite stage fourteen. Both would lose major time on the road to Corvara
The pack is on the way of the 14th stage of Giro dÕItalia cycling race from Alpago to Corvara, 21 May 2016. ANSA/CLAUDIO PERI
The peloton riding the high, scenic Dolomites
Colombian rider Esteban Chaves (R) of Orica Greenedge team, celebrates after crossing the finish line to win the 14th stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race over 210 km from Alpago to Corvara, Italy, 21 May 2016. ANSA/ALESSANDRO DI MEO
Orica-GreenEdge’s Esteban Chaves won the day, after he and Steven Kruijswijk dropped Nibali on the Passo Valparola
Dutch rider Steven Kruijswijk of  Team Lotto Jumbo, celebrates on the podium wearing the overall leader's pink jersey after the 14th stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race over 210 km from Alpago to Corvara, Italy, 21 May 2016. ANSA/ALESSANDRO DI MEO
Meanwhile Kruijswijk took the pink jersey, and a 41 second lead over Nibali
Italian rider Vincenzo Nibali of Astana Pro Team changes his bike on the way of the 15th stage of Giro dÕItalia cycling race from Castelrotto to Alpe di Siusi, 22 May 2016. ANSA/CLAUDIO PERI
Nibali was in more trouble on stage fifteen, changing his bike and losing minutes in the Alpe di Siusi mountain time trial
Russian rider Foliforov Alexander of Gazporm team celebrates on the podium after winnig the fifteenth stage of the Giro d'Italia 2016, long individual time trial from Castelrotto to Alpe di Susi 10,8 km, Italy, 22 May 2016 ANSA/LUCA ZENNARO
Gazprom-Rusvelo’s Alexander Foliforov was the surprise victor, edging out Kruijswijk by fractions of a second
Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde of Moviestar team celebrates on the podium after winning the sixteenth stage of the Giro d'Italia 2016, from Bressanone to Andalo 132 km, Italy, 24 May 2016 ANSA/LUCA ZENNARO
Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde won the next stage to Andalo, moving up to third overall at his first-ever Giro as Nibali floundered
German rider Roger Kluge of IAM Cycling team wins the seventeenth stage of the Giro d'Italia 2016, from Molveno to Cassano D'adda 196 km, Italy, 25 May 2016. ANSA/LUCA ZENNARO
Roger Kluge can’t believe his victory on stage seventeen, coming as it did two days after IAM announced the team would fold after 2016. The German held off the peloton with a late attack
Dutch rider Steven Kruijswijk of Team Lotto Jumbo wearing Maglia Rosa (L), Italian rider Giovanni Visconti of Movistar Team, Russian rider Ilnur Zarkarin of Team Kastusha and Colombian rider Esteban Chaves of Orica GreenEdge during the 18th stage of Giro d'Italia 2016 from Muggi˜ to Pinerolo del Friuli, 26 May 2016. ANSA/CLAUDIO PERI
The peloton struggle up the steep cobbled Via Principi d’Acaja in Pinerolo on stage eighteen
Italian rider Matteo Trentin (L) of Etixx Quick Step team, celebrates after crossing the finish line to win the 18th stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race over 240 km from Muggio' to Pinerolo, Italy, 26 May 2016. ANSA/ALESSANDRO DI MEO
Meanwhile, Etixx-QuickStep continued their great race as Matteo Trentin came from behind to surprise Cannondale’s Moreno Moser
GIRO ST19 KRUIJSWIJK
Stage nineteen saw the race’s big turning point as Kruijwsijk crashed trying to follow Nibali down the Colle d’Agnello

 

 

Italian riderVincenzo Nibali of Astana team wins the ninethteenth stage of the Giro d'Italia 2016, from Pinerolo to Risoul (FR) 162 km, Italy, 27 May 2016. ANSA/LUCA ZENNARO
Kruijswijk would end up losing five minutes to stage winner Nibali. He dedicated his victory to a rider from his youth team who was killed a week earlier 
GIRO ST19 CHAVES
Chaves took pink but lost 53 seconds to Nibali on the day’s final climb. Kruijswijk ended the day 1:05 down
The pack is on the way of the 20th stage of Giro d'Italia 2016 from Guillestre to Sant'Anna di Vinadio. ANSA/CLAUDIO PERI
The peloton on the penultimate stage of the Giro, from Guillestre to Sant’Anna di Vinadio
Italian rider Vincenzo Nibali (C) and his teammates of Astana Pro Team go to win the PinkJersey on the way of the 20th stage of Giro d'Italia 2016 from Guillestre to Sant'Anna di Vinadio. ANSA/CLAUDIO PERI
Nibali and his Astana teammates played the stage to perfection. Here, they prepare to mount an assault on Chaves’ 52 second advantage
(L-R) Italian rider Vincenzo Nibali of Astana Pro Team goes to win the Pink Jersey on Colombian rider Esteban Chaves of Orica GreenEdge and Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde during the 20th stage of Giro d'Italia 2016 from Guillestre to Sant'Anna di Vinadio. ANSA/CLAUDIO PERI
Nibali made his move on the Colle della Lombarda, dropping Chaves and eventually taking the race lead in the most dramatic way
Vincenzo Nibali (C) vince il Giro d'Italia 2016, secondo classificato Esteban Chaves (S) e terzo Alejandro Valverde (d) Torino, 29 maggio 2016.  ANSA/ALESSANDRO DI MEO
The final podium in Turin. 1st – Nibali, 2nd – Chaves, 3rd – Valverde
Giro d'Italia 2016. ANSA/ALESSANDRO DI MEO
Sky’s Mikel Nieve won the mountains jersey thanks to his Dolomite breakaways
Giro d'Italia 2016. ANSA/ALESSANDRO DI MEO
Consistent finishes from Trek’s Giacomo Nizzolo saw him win the points jersey, though a stage win would still elude him after he was demoted on the final stage due to irregular sprinting
Giro d'Italia 2016. ANSA/ALESSANDRO DI MEO
Jungels was a revelation, taking the young rider’s jersey and finishing sixth overall
Vincenzo Nibali wearing Pink Jersey holds the Trofeo Senza Fine Award with his teammates of Astana Pro Team on the final podium of the 99th Giro dÕItalia cycling race. Torino, 29 May 2016. ANSA/CLAUDIO PERi
Nibali is hoisted aloft by his team as he clings onto the Trofeo Senza Fine, his for a second time

Scheldeprijs: Clash of the sprint titans

 

Kittel Cavendish Greipel Scheldeprijs 2016 sprint COR VOS
The big three faced off for the first time this season at Scheldeprijs (Cor Vos)

Not everybody love Scheldeprijs. It’s a flat windy race, stuck mid-week between two races of much greater prestige, a time when most fans are either basking in the afterglow of De Ronde or looking ahead to Paris-Roubaix.

The race is 200km long and part of the Flanders Classics organisation group, but it stands apart from its stablemate – races like Gent-Wevelgem and the Ronde Van Vlaanderen. Scheldeprijs lacks the hills and the cobbles that make those races selective.

In recent years the race’s main obstacle has seemingly been the pile-ups that decimate the field as riders fight for places before the finish in the town of Schoten, north-east of Antwerp. Things were changed this year, with an alternate route designed to prevent a repeat of last year’s mass crash in the final kilometre.

Other than that, it’s the lack of obstacles that make the race notable. Aside from adverse weather conditions and the usual bad luck of ill-timed mechanicals or crashes, Scheldeprijs is almost always destined to end in a sprint – in fact the race is informally known as the ‘Sprinter’s World Championships’.

And today it did. Whether it was down to the redesign, good luck, or just a more careful peloton, there were no major crashes on the run-in, so we saw a clean sprint. A clean sprint featuring the generation’s top three sprinters – Mark Cavendish, André Greipel, and Marcel Kittel.

Cavendish Greipel 2011 Tour de France Lavaur COR VOS
Ex-teammates Cavendish and Greipel embrace after the Brit wins in Lavaur at the 2011 Tour (Cor Vos)

Six years may separate them, but Cavendish and Greipel came to prominence at the same time, battling to be top dog at HTC-Columbia between 2008 and 2010. Cavendish, armed with his low-profile aero style, came out on top, taking 15 Tour de France stage wins as the German was consigned to “shitty small races” (Cav’s words, not mine).

During that time Greipel won the Tour Down Under twice, along with four stages of the Vuelta a España and two at the Giro d’Italia. 2011’s move to Omega Pharma-Lotto saw him ride the Tour, finally. He won a stage, but Cavendish was better, taking three and later winning gold to Greipel’s bronze at the World Championships in Copenhagen.

Meanwhile, ProContinental team Argos-Shimano were nurturing their own sprinting talent. Kittel, another big tall German (both are 10cm taller than Cavendish), was busy winning a variety of Europe Tour races, also tasting victory at his Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta.

At the 2012 Tour it was a draw as both Greipel and Cavendish won three stages, while Kittel left the race after five stages due to illness. The next two years would see him usurp the title of ‘World’s Best Sprinter’ though.

In 2013 he took four stages including Paris, a stage which Cavendish had claimed ownership of, having won it four years in a row before. The Brit won two stages that year, Greipel just one.

Kittel Greipel Cavendish Tour de France 2013 2 COR VOS
Kittel beats his rivals to the line in Paris at the 2013 Tour (Cor Vos)

2014 saw Kittel win another four, including Paris once again. Cav crashed out early and Greipel took another solitary win. It was also the final year of his Scheldeprijs three-peat, though none of those races saw the all of the ‘big three’ take the start.

Of course we all know what happened last season. It was Kittel’s annus horribilis, as he was plagued by a virus which saw him take only one win all year. Cavendish took Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne and a host of stages at the smaller races he had once derided Greipel for having to ride.

Meanwhile Greipel, at the age of 32, took advantage to win four Tour stages to Cavendish’s one. The tables had finally turned.

While Kittel may have won this race three times, he had never before faced off against his two great sprint rivals here before. That has been something of an oddity, but you can file it alongside the fact that the trio only have one Tour de France green jersey between them.

Back to today though, and it was Kittel who triumphed, taking a record fourth win at the race. He sprinted from the front, and was unassailable. Cavendish, hidden behind him, was able to draw alongside him but couldn’t move ahead. Meanwhile Greipel came in behind the duo, unable to get near either of them. On the line Kittel took it by just half a wheel.

Today’s race was the first time that the calendars of the three men have lined up so far this season. The next, should all go to plan, will be in July. The last meeting of the year, most probably, will be at the actual World Championships, in pan-flat Qatar.

In 2016 it’s round one to Kittel, just.

The sprint, in their own words

Cavendish – “I was a little bit late to go actually. When I saw 150 metres to go I thought there was still 50 more metres so I thought I better go now.”

Greipel – “Because of the tailwind in the final road to the finish line I’d planned to take the initiative.”

Kittel – “I started my sprint with around 200 meters to go. I made a small mistake, sprinting in a gear which was too big at first, so I had to shift up. It wasn’t easy, but I gave my all.”

Cavendish – “When I came alongside Kittel I thought I had the better of him. He was just able to pull that little bit more out; it was something I used to be able to do but not anymore. I’ve lost by closer this year – it is how it is.”

Kittel – “I saw Cavendish come around and tried to shift down again, but it didn’t work. Suddenly my legs got really soft and I just tried to hold it as good as possible to the finish. I managed to keep my advantage.”

Greipel – “But then [when it came to the sprint] it became clear that I can’t compete with Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel at the moment. I know I can sprint better than I did but today is today and the best rider won.”

Kittel Cavendish Greipel Scheldeprijs 2016 podium COR VOS
On the podium earlier today (Cor Vos)