Who would have expected to see this today? Not many of us, that's for sure...
Pinerolo - Risoul
Giro d'Italia - 27 May 2016
Giro d'Italia – Follow this cycling race live with Eurosport. The action starts at 11:45 on 27 May 2016. Our live coverage lets you follow all the key moments as they happen.
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Confirmation that the new maglia rosa is Esteban Chaves, who leads Vincenzo Nibali by 44 seconds, with Kruijswijk dropping to third place at 1:05.
Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) crosses the line 4:54 down, bloodied, bruised and a picture of pain. He's out of the maglia rosa and he's off to lick his wounds.
Riders arrive in dribs and drabs, and Kruijswijk will be out of the pink jersey. He still has 300m to go and needs to save every second possible because tomorrow's another day.
The Valverde/Majka/Uran group come over at 2:20. And now the tense wait for Kruijswijk...
Amazing scenes at the finish - Nibali is in floods of tears. The pressure was mounting and he delivered when he needed it most.
Diego Ulissi crosses the line for fourth place at 59 seconds. A super ride from the Lampre-Merida rider.
Third place for Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) at 50 seconds.
Mikel Nieve of Team Sky takes second place at 46 seconds.
Nibali points to the sky as he crosses the line - he needed that. What a win for the Italian national champion.
The Shark of Messina has refound his bite! Victory for Vincenzo Nibali of Astana - and he rides to the line for every single second...
Under the flamme rouge for Nibali, who has 45 seconds on the chasers now. His Giro is back on!
The last time Nibali rode up here he was wearing the Tour's yellow jersey in pursuit of Rafal Majka in stage 12 in 2014. Almost two years on, there's no yellow or even pink, but Majka's behind and he's on course for the stage win.
Mikel 'Sky Plan B' Nieve is riding back to the wheel of Chaves, who looks to be struggling a little.
It's looking good for Nibali, who is riding onto the podium via a stage win. But the gradient will soon ramp up to 10%. He has 20 seconds on Chaves and 1:35 on Valverde. Kruijswijk, who crashed on the descent of the Agnello, is now 3:35 down and will be out of the pink jersey tonight.
Nibali's acceleration has seen him increase the gap to 1:45 over the Valverde group. Slight ressurgence from Kruijswijk who is back to within three minutes. Chaves is only about 10 seconds down on Nibali.
ATTACK: Vincenzo Nibali rides clear of Chaves. He's heard that Valverde has returned to within 45 seconds and the Italian national champion powers clear.
Kruijswijk is riding with Simon Clarke of Cannondale. He looks a bit more chipper than he was at the beginning of this climb, but he doesn't have any sunglasses (they must have come off in the crash), it's a very bright day and he's a very fair-skinned Dutchman. Not the best scenario. And he's now 3:05 down so out of the virtual maglia rosa.
Blimey - Diego Ulissi has just ridden back alongside the leaders: Nibali, Chaves and Nieve. What a day the Lampre-Merida rider is having.
It's painful to watch Kruijswijk, whose face is a picture of pain, sadness, disbelief and just all-round general weariness. This stage has been so cruel for him.
Kruijswijk in crisis: the Dutchman has been dropped by Jungels and some of his other companions in this second chasing group. He woke up in control of this race, but may well go to sleep off the podium. He's 2:25 down now but that gap will continue growing and growing...
Nibali and Chaves have ridden clear with Nieve on the front of the race.
The Majka-Valverde-Uran group have caught and passed Stefan Denifl of IAM Cycling. They are 1:05 down on the leaders, and 1:02 ahead of Kruijswijk.
Scarponi is back with his leader, Nibali, and driving the pace in this chasing group. Scrap that - it's the lead group now because Montfort has been caught. What a story that would be - Scaponi winning after all. Not likely, mind. Chaves or Nibali will take the stage today.
It's worth adding that Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale) rides with Majka and Valverde. They're a minute down on the Nibali group. Majka's first win on the Tour de France, back in 2014, came at Risoul so he has good memories of this climb...
Monfort will be caught soon by the Chaves and Nibali group. Kruijswijk is 2:30 down on them and so he's almost out of the pink - and there are 10 bonus seconds for the winner today...
Here we go, the Cat.1 climb to Risoul (12.9km at 6.9%). This climb could well decide the Giro d'Italia.
The Chaves and Nibali group have joined forces with the remnants of the break and are only 45 seconds down on the lone leader, Maxim Montfort, who is about to start the final climb of the day. Valverde group at 1:40 and the maglia rosa group at 2:50.
Kruijswijk is really grimacing as he tries his best to cut the deficit - but he's two minutes down on the Nibali/Chaves group, and he will have expended so much energy before the climb. Terrible, terrible scenes for the race leader.
The gaps keep on changing. Now it says that Nibali/Chaves are at 1:45, Valverde/Majka at 2:25 and Kruijswick at 3:30. All will become clearer on the final climb, which is coming right up.
It remains to be seen how Kruijswijk will tackle this final climb. The adreneline would have worn off by now, and his elbow looks pretty bashed up. It could have been worse - he was saved by the snow bank, but he may have got some ice burn too. If he's not out of pink tonight, he'll have a bad night's sleep and be under serious pressure tomorrow.
Right, so here are the time gaps. Montfort leads ahead of the remnants of the break. The Chaves/Nibali group is at 2:50, the Valverde/Majka group at 3:05, and the Kruijswijlk group at 3:50. So the maglia rosa has reduced the gap to just one minute ahead of the final climb.
The leader of the stage is Maxim Montfort now, the Lotto Soudal rider.
The time gaps keep on changing but it seems like Kruijswijk is over two minutes down on the Nibali/Chaves group, with Valverde and Majka in between. The Dutchman has caught a group of riders though, including Jungels, so that will help because he was very isolated on that early part of the descent.
Confirmation that Ilnur Zakarin has withdrawn from the race. He apparently broke his collarbone but is conscious - which is a bif relief.
News coming in that Michele Scarponi has been called back to help pace Nibali, whose Giro hopes have been reinvigorated by that crash involving Kruijswijk, the pink jersey.
So the Valverde group is actually ahead of Kruijswijk, who is now really fighting for his pink jersey. He's two minutes down on Chaves/Nibali for now, with Valverde/Majka in between... Zakarin, having crashed horrifically, is out of the race.
Some time checks to bring you. The Chaves and Nibali group is 3:50 down on Scarponi, the lone leader, while Kruijswijk is 5:10 down - so the Dutchman is over a minute down on his rivals.
Nibali and Chaves have caught Plaza. It's hard to know what's what at the moment, but we're hearing that Kruijswijk is about 40 seconds behind. He's still ahead of the group containing Valverde and Majka, we think.
We didn't see images of Zakarin's crash but the aerial views showed the Russian slumped on a grassy verge by a stream. His bike was nowhere to be seen and it looks like his race is over.
Bike change for Steven Kruijswijk. It's all happening in the Giro.
CRASH: Ilnur Zakarin is off the road and beside a mountain stream. That looks like it was a nasty one...
Here's a repeat of that crash by Kruijswijk - amazingly he was uninjured by his spill... Can he fight back on?
This is a real heart-in-mouth moment for the race leader. He needed a bike change, and it wasn't right so needed to stop again for alterations. No one is waiting for him because the race was already on, and Nibali and Chaves are zipping along. This could be a major turning point in the race.
The pink jersey misjudged a corner and slammed into the snow wall on a bend and went right over the handlebars, sending his bike spinning through the air.
CRASH: STEVEN KRUIJSWIJK IS DOWN!
Nibali found an ally in Astata team-mate Kozhatayev, who was in the break. The Kazakh buried himself on the final part of the climb and Nibali leds Kruijswijlk and Chaves over about 4:30 down.
Mikel Nieve (Team Sky) crosses the summit with a deficit of 1:27 over the lone leader, Michele Scarponi.
Scarponi is approaching the summit and the sun is trying to break through the mist. And that's it - the veteran Italian climber from Astana goes over the top to take the Cima Coppi. Time gaps coming up...
Nibali has been invogorated by that Valverde implosion - and it's the Italian who now drives the main favourites. He's with Chaves, Kruijswijk and Majka. Zakarin has been dropped from this group too.
VALVERDE HAS CRACKED! The Spaniard is dropped by the main favourites... his place on the podium could be under threat from Valverde.
Another big acceleration from Chaves. Kruijswijk follows with ease. Nibali, Zakarin, Valverde and Majka less so, but they're there now.
Ian Boswell of Team Sky is leading the chase for Nieve back with the escapees. Scarponi is still out ahead as he nears the summit.
The pace has slowed because some other riders have joined this maglia rosa group, including Joe Dombrowski of Cannondale, who has two team-mates there, perhaps Moser and Cardoso from the break, and Domenico Pozzovivo is back too for Ag2R-La Mondiale. Darwin Atapuma (BMC) attacked from this group, but has been reeled in. Bob Jungels, the white jersey from Etixx-QuickStep, is there as well.
The Nibali group has managed to return to the Kruijswijk group, so all the big guns are back together. Meanwhile, Scarponi rides on in the lead - 5:40 further up the road.
NIBALI DROPPED! The Italian can't keep up with Kruijswijk, Chaves and Valverde - the top three riders of this race - and he's dropping back to the chasing duo of Zakarin and Majka...
Amets Txurruka is pulling hard for Chaves - and this has blown the race apart. The Spaniard peels off, his work done, and there's just Chaves, Kruijswijk, Nibali and Valverde there together. The others have been distanced.
Movistar (Valverde), Astana (Nibali) and Tinkoff (Majka) all have men on the front behind the LottoNL-Jumbo train - and then Esteban Chaves comes through with two Orica-GreenEdge men and they isolate Kruijswijk in one fell swoop!
Stven Kruijswijk, the Dutch maglia rosa, still has four LottoNL-Jumbo team-mates with him and so he's looking very assured and confident.
First signs of snow for Scarponi as he heads into the mist above the tree line. He has 5:50 over the pack and about 20 seconds over Ulissi, who is climbing extraordinarily well for a man who is not supposed to be an out-and-out climber.
Scarponi has now ridden clear of Ulissi and Silin as he soloes ahead in pursuit of the Cima Coppi. Great stuff from the comedic Italian veteran. Frankii the parrot will be with him in spirit. The Astana man has 5:10 over the pack now, and Ulissi dancing away about 10 seconds behind him.
Back with the other escapees and it's Mikel Nieve who sets the tempo. The Spaniard has already won a stage in the Dolomites for Team Sky and he'll be a good bet to repeat that today.
Michele Scarponi has managed to join the two leaders as the climb hits double digits at its steepest section through the pine trees.
ATTACK: Diego Ulissi edges ahead of the break and takes Egor Silin of Katusha with him.
They've passed through the feedzone, which reminds me to give you the latest installment of Eurosport's Jono Harris Bass' Giro food blog...
LottoNL-Jumbo lead the peloton as they pass the lake at Castello. So far so good for Steven Kruijswick, the maglia rosa. The gap is 4:30 for the leaders.
Some of the escapees cannot keep up with the pace of the driving lights of this break and they drop back. They are Kozhatayev, Wellens, Cunego, Kuznetsov, Roche and Petrov. That's not good for the Italian veteran Cunego, who's after the points to ensure his graps on the blue jersey which could be under threat by Denifl today. Cunego has 134 points and Denifl is on 72 but there's 45 up for grabs on the Agnello...
The full composition of the break is as follows: Hubert Dupont and Matteo Montaguti (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev and Michele Scarponi (Astana), Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani), André Cardoso and Moreno Moser (Cannondale), Johann Van Zyl (Dimension Data), Carlos Verona (Etixx-QuickStep), Stefan Denifl and Marcel Wyss (IAM Cycling), Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida), Tim Wellens and Maxime Monfort (Lotto Soudal), José Herrada, José Joaquin Rojas and Rory Sutherland (Movistar), Damiano Cunego (Nippo-Fantini), Ruben Plaza (Orica-GreenEdge), Georg Preidler (Giant-Alpecin), Vyacheslav Kuznetsov and Egor Silin (Katusha), Ian Boswell, David Lopez Garcia, Mikel Nieve and Nicolas Roche (Team Sky), Jesus Hernandez and Evgeny Petrov (Tinkoff). The gap is up to over three minutes.
The break passes through the town of Casteldelfino, which marks the official start of this HC Cima Coppi climb of the Colle dell'Agnello (20.7km at 7%). They have 2:10 to play with.
The 28 leaders include the likes of Matteo Montaguti, Michele Scarponi, Stefano Pirazzi, Moreno Moser, Diego Ulissi, Stefan Denifl, Damiano Cunego, Georg Preidler, Mikel Nieve, Nicolas Roche, David Lopez, Ruben Plaza... so it's quite a strong group containing some big name climbers.
A group of around 30 riders has opened up a small gap as they near the start of this long ascent of the Colle dell'Agnello. Finally, we have some action...
Van Zyl was reeled back in ahead of the intermediate sprint at Sampeyre, which was won by Diego Ulissi of Lampre-Merida.
The summit of the Colle delle'Agnello, at 2744m, is the Cima Coppi of this year's Giro d'Italia. But what does that mean? Let Eurosport's Giro Extra presenter explain to you...
Attack from Johann Van Zyl of Dimension Data, who opens up a small gap ahead of the pack. He really needs some riders to go with him or this will be another thwarted attempt. They're approaching the town of Sampeyre, where the gradient picks up a little before the climb starts proper.
And still the peloton rides as one as they make their way towards the foot of the Colle dell'Agnello, where the race will no doubt blow apart.
The road is edging up but it has yet to get really steep. The last time a Grand Tour came up the Agnello from the Italian side Andy Schleck went over the top en route to winning a Tour stage on the Galibier, if I recall correctly. Some more background on the climb in the blog post below...
Still no break off the front - and that may have something to do with the riders having covered an astounding 50.3km in the first hour of racing today...
Carlos Verona (Etixx-QuickStep) won the intermediate sprint at Piasco ahead of Stefan Denifl (IAM Cycling).
Maxim Belkov (Katusha) is the latest rider to try his luck going away but the Russia can only open up a gap of five seconds before being swallowed up. Here's some more details about the Cima Coppi - the highest point of the race - coming up...
The finish in the French ski resort of Risoul is, however, snow-free and sunny today. It really should be a spectacular stage, that's for sure...
If there are patches of snow on the Italian side then there's loads of the white stuff on the north side in France, where the climb is called the Col Agnel.
Here's the Italian side of the Colle dell'Agnello near the summit - as you can see, there's still some patches of snow lingering from the winter... In the distance, Monte Viso looms.
Yet another break is doomed after a dozen riders managed to edge ahead before being reeled in. The pace is fast but they're still someway short of the start of this huge opening climb up and over and into France.
Another 20-odd riders try their luck, but again it's no-can-do from the peloton.
Lars Bak (Lotto Soudal) is the next rider to try something, but his move is thwarted despite the Danish powerhouse being joined by a few others.
Astana have yet to win a stage in this year's race having put everything in the basket marked Nibali, and been let down by the Sicilian. With Nibali's chances of a podium still alive, they have everything to play for - plus they'll hope to pick up a stage win too. To that end, they send Tanel Kangert up the road - but the Estonian's attack comes to nothing.
It's a huge day for Steven Kruijswijk and his LottoNL-Jumbo team. The Dutchman has been flawless so far in this race and holds a three-minute advantage over Chaves on GC, with Valverde in third at 3:23, Vincenzo Nibali in fourth at 4:43 and Ilnur Zakarin in fifth at 4:50. Unless one of his rivals can attack today and take some serious time off the flame-haired Kruijswijk, then the Dutchman will be all but assured on his first Grand Tour triumph.
One non-starter today: Giulio Ciccone, the stage 10 winner from Bardiani-CSF, has withdrawn, leaving 160 riders in the race as they rolled out of Pinerolo this morning.
Here's what's on the agenda today... with pretty much 50 kilometres of climbing for the Cima Coppi over the Agnello to kick things off.
Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) finished safely with the main favourites more than 13 minutes in arrears to retain the maglia rosa ahead of two decisive days in the high Alps. Spanish veteran Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) led the main pack over the line as Kruijswijk retained his three-minute lead over Colombian Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) on GC.
In a thrilling finale yesterday, Italian rouleur Matteo Trentin fought back to round compatriots Moreno Moser and Gianluca Brambilla on the home straight in Pinerolo to win stage 18 of the Giro d'Italia in some style. Etixx-QuickStep used their numerical advantage in the break perfectly as the returning Trentin took Cannondale's Moser completely by surprise at the conclusion of the longest stage of the race – a 240-kilometre slog from Muggio in northern Italy. A beaming Brambilla – who wore the leader’s pink jersey for two days after his own emphatic stage eight victory in Arezzo earlier in the race – settled for third place having led Moser over the decisive second-category climb of Pramartino inside the final 20 kilometres.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of stage 19 of the Giro d'Italia - the first of two massive days in the high Alps: a 162km ride from Pinerolo to the French ski resort of Risoul, via the highest point of this year's Giro, the fearsome snow-capped Colle dell'Agnello.