Damiano Caruso displayed his resilience in harsh conditions that saw the Queen Stage shortened by 60 kilometres, removing the epic climbs up the Passo Fedaia and the Passo Pordoi. The conditions were so poor that spectators were left with no coverage of the riders for most of the race as helicopters could not take off.
The race eventually started 30 minutes later than planned, and on the descent of the first categorised climb, La Crosetta, a breakaway of six strong riders formed. The gap was just over five minutes to the peloton but was closed down by the key contenders in the GC on the Passo Giau.
As the gap came down to the breakaway, the race leader Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) put in an attack that dropped the rest of the contenders, which saw him win the stage. However, Damiano Caruso managed his losses best and moved up against the rest of the field, finishing third and moving into second in the GC.
After Stage 16, Caruso now sits 2:24 off the Maglia Rosa, with third place Hugh Carthy(EF Education Nippo) 3:40 down.
Damiano Caruso was excited with his performance and shared his thoughts on the eve of a deserved rest day: “Although the race was shortened, the intensity was high all day long, as we expected.
I felt good on the last climb. I was looking at the faces of other contenders, and I could understand at that moment that I was almost the strongest, except for Bernal, of course. I tried to follow the Maglia Rosa but I couldn’t. So I focussed only on my tempo and doing my best until the end. The morale now is high, for sure.
I want to say thank you to my teammates because they did a great job also today and to all the staff that helped provide extra clothing during the race, and with such bad weather, it’s something vital. Now, we will enjoy the rest day, and then after tomorrow, we will start again with the last fight.”
Gorazd Štangelj, Head Sports Director praised Damiano Caruso and the team: “Damiano did an amazing job today. He raced using his head and legs. We get out of these days at the maximum. Tomorrow is the rest day, and I wish that our guys have a quality rest. They faced difficult stages and bad weather, fast racing every day. It will be fundamental to recover well ahead of the last week of the Giro, which will be very brutal”.
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