Giro d’Italia stage 16 was the hardest climbing stage in 2022 so far. The six hour epic was eventually won by Jan Hirt, who again found his Tour of Oman legs in the breakaway, crushing Thymen Arensman’s heart, who was very close to his first pro victory. Bahrain-Victorious paced hard for Mikel Landa, but he could not drop his main rivals, Jai Hindley and Richard Carapaz, all of them finishing in the same group. Joao Almeida paced himself very well on Santa Cristina after he was dropped, only losing 14 seconds to his rivals.
The Hardest Mountain Day In 2022
The stage overall was extremely difficult from start to finish. 202 kilometres and 5300 metres of elevation being at the top end of the range seen in stage racing each year. There will be some hard mountain stages in the alps in the Tour de France this year, but Giro stage 16 is a clear favourite to be the hardest mountain stage in 2022.
The best placed GC rider who uploaded power data on Strava was Emanuel Buchmann (59 kg). He was in the GC group until the last climb of the day, Santa Cristina (12.7 km, 8.1%). The whole day was raced at an insanely hard tempo. Before Santa Cristina, the riders in the GC group did 14.63 kj/kg/h for 5 hours and 20 minutes, which is especially high when considering that a GC rider like Buchmann was able to sit in the draft in the long valleys before the Mortirolo and Santa Cristina climbs.
For comparison, the queen stage of Tirreno-Adriatico 2022 was only 12.44 kj/kg/h for 5 hours before Monte Carpegna, where Tadej Pogačar did 6.50 w/kg for 19:29, while the closest riders, Mikel Landa, Richie Porte, Jonas Vingegaard and Enric Mas, could only produce 5.96 w/kg for 20:53, with less fatigue in the legs.
Today Thymen Arensman (69.5 kg) was very close to getting the first pro win of his career. Despite doing his best career performance, it was not enough as Jan Hirt caught and dropped him on the steep gradients of Santa Cristina. Arensman also was in the stage 15 breakaway but was dropped early, like due to the hot conditions that he stated was not to his liking.
Mega Watts On Santa Cristina
Before the Santa Cristina climb, the GC group was already really small, around 15 riders, after Bahrain-Victorious had paced the uncategorised Teglio climb with Domen Novak. Landa’s lieutenants were able to keep the tempo high on the slopes of Santa Cristana thanks to Santiago Buitrago and then Wout Poels, who was called back from the breakaway, pulling the group in the last part of the climb before Landa’s attack.
Richard Carapaz, Jai Hindley and Mikel Landa were the fastest on Santa Cristina, climbing it in 36 minutes and 15 seconds, breaking Marco Pantani’s record on the climb by 8 seconds.
The Italian rider set that record in stage 15 of the Giro d’Italia 1994, where he beat Miguel Indurain by 3 minutes and 30 seconds. Although, Pantani’s record was broken, the Italian’s performance was still more impressive as his bike was likely heavier and he was riding solo for a long time after attacking early. Before Santa Cristina, Pantani did 6.30 w/kg for 42:40 on Mortirolo. Nonetheless, despite the big fatigue of today’s stage, and it obviously being in the modern era, Almeida, Hindley, Carapaz and Landa were able to produce career-best level numbers according to our estimations.
GC Contenders at their Peak
Buchmann was in the group with the other GC favourites until the Santa Cristina climb. Assuming everyone’s w/kg on the earlier climbs were similar then Landa, Carapaz and Hindley’s power on the climbs looks like this.
- 5.25 w/kg for 72:20 – Goletto di Candino
- 5.56 w/kg for 45:50 – Passo del Mortirolo
- 6.20 w/kg for 16:01 – Teglio
- 6.20 w/kg for 36:15 – Santa Cristina
Below you can see how today’s performance on Santa Cristina stacks up against Richard Carapaz’ previous best performances. Even though it was a hard stage beforehand, at 28 years old the wearer of the Maglia Rosa did one of the best performances of his career.
Mikel Landa has many great performances but today he showed some of his best power, despite crashing in the middle of Santa Cristina, touching teammate Pello Bilbao’s wheel. Landa did similar numbers for a longer duration on Piancavallo in 2017, winning from a breakaway, but today’s stage was way harder before the climb than in 2017.
Almeida in the 2022 Giro has dropped on almost all major climbs but is pacing himself really well, in the style of Tom Dumoulin and Miguel Indurain. Today on Santa Cristina he did his best climbing performance since Piancavallo in the Giro 2020.
Speaking of Piancavallo 2020, Jai Hindley astonished the world that day with 6.41 w/kg for 37:54, and looks like he has regained a similar level in this Giro d’Italia, taking up the pacing at the end of Santa Cristina, with neither Landa nor Carapaz able to attack him.
Despite these career best numbers for many of the GC protagonists, and the extremely hard stage, the GC gaps were not too big by the end of the stage. Almeida lost only 14 seconds, while Nibali lost 42 seconds to Hindley, Carapaz and Landa. The GC riders who are fighting for Top 10 and were in the GC group, Domenico Pozzovivo (who crashed), Pello Bilbao, Emanuel Buchmann and Juan Pedro Lopez, could not stand the high tempo and lost multiple minutes.
Stage 17 will be hard, with two nasty climbs close to the finish, Valco del Vetriolo (11.8 km, 7.7%) and Monterovere (8 km, 9.6%). This is the 3rd week and after today there will be a lot of fatigue amongst the riders. It is always possible that someone in the Top 10 can crack completely like Simon Yates in 2018 and lose several minutes. That will depend on whether Bahrain-Victorious want to repeat their efforts of today or Bora-Hansgrohe apply Kelderman, Kämna and Buchmann solely as domestiques for Hindley, as they are the strongest overall climbing teams in this Giro d’Italia.