16:46. Thank you for joining us for today's exciting stage. Check back tomorrow for more of Vavel’s live coverage of the Giro d’Italia, as the fast men come out to play once more, if there are any left after today's brutal stage.
16:45. Quintana leads the race ahead of Uran (+1:41) and Evans (+3:21). Short of a collapse in form it's hard to see Quintana losing from here, however the podium places are tight, with little separating Evans from Ryder Hesjedal, who is +4:16 back in 9th place.
16:40. The top ten on the stage are
1: Nairo Quintana - Movistar: 4:42:35
2: Ryder Hesjedal - Garmin-Sharp: +8"
3: Pierre Rolland - Team Europcar: +1:13
4: Wilco Kelderman - Bekin Pro Cycling: +3:32
5: Domenico Pozzovivo - AG2R La Mondiale: + 3:37
6: Fabio Aru - Astana: +3:40
7: Rafal Majka - Tinkoff-Saxo: +4:08.
8: Sebastian Henao - Team Sky: +4:11
9: Rigoberto Uran - Omega Pharma-Quick Step: 4:11
10: Cadel Evans - BMC Racing Team: 4:48
16:35. Evans and Kiserlovski cross the line after Uran, the Croat practically coming to a stop as soon as he crossed the line.
16:34. Henao leads Uran over the line, 4:12 down on Quintana. A bad day for Uran, but a good one for young Henao.
16:33. Kelderman, Pozzovivo and Aru are closing on the line now, with the Maglia Rosa further back, Quintana is definitely in the Pink Jersey.
16:31. Hesjedal finished 2nd, 10 seconds down on Quintana, the final 14% ramp cost him in the end, but a great ride for the Canadian. Rolland claims 3rd, finishing over one minute down.
16:30. A wonderful victory for Nairo Quintana, it has almost certainly given him the race lead.
16:29. Quintana into the final 250m and Ryder Hesjedal is bearing down behind.
16:28. Quintana is into the final 500m, Henao leads the Maglia Rosa group now, he likes the steeper gradients.
16:27. Kelderman continues to work away, he has distanced the Majka led chasing group. Hesjedal keeps Quintana in sight ahead, great effort from him.
16:26. Quintana kicks with 1.1km to go, Hesjedal can only grimace and look, this is just too steep for the big Canadian, though he gives everything in an effort to hold on.
16:25. Quintana and Hesjedal reach the steep finale and the gap is 3:18. Uran and Majka attack behind.
16:24. It's Kelderman who makes an attack from the chasing group.
16:23. Kelderman, Majka and Uran lead the six chasers, but more attacks must come soon. 2km to go for the leaders and the nightmare section is coming up soon.
16:22. Hesjedal comes through and helps Quintana, and the gap is again growing, it's 3:15 now.
16:21. Aru and Sebastian Henao have rejoined the four chasers. Evans and Pantano chase behind. It's a strong ride from Pantano who has been on the attack all day.
16:20. The gap has dropped below 3:00 as the pace has risen behind.
16:19. Majka and Kelderman again create a gap behind, Pozzovivo and Uran bridge over but the others are struggling. Aru looks the strongest of the rest but he can't match the pace of the attacks.
16:18. Quintanais now 5km from the top, he is 3:18 ahead and firmly in the virtual Maglia Rosa, unless something impressive happens behind.
16:17. Quintana kicks again, Hesjedal tries to chase him down but Rolland looks to be cooked now.
16:16. Things are back together behind, Cataldo has been shed, but the rest of the Maglia Rosa group appears to be as before. Uran is back on the front and the gap is now 3:18.
16:15. I can't help thinking it's such a pity that Purito Rodriguez isn't here, he could have given Quintana a real fight on this climb.
16:14. Majka gives a kick, Uran, Kelderman and Pozzovio follow but the others are taking longer to follow.
16:13. Uran still isn't going flat out, the gap is up to 3:00 and Cataldo is still with the Maglia Rosa group, having been in the break Cataldo would struggle to follow the pace if it was high enough.
16:12. Uran has taken the lead of the chasing group, while Rolland and Hesjedal have rejoined Quintana on a shallower section of the climb.
16:11. Quintana raises the pace once again and the others struggle to cope, in fairness they aren't helping them so why pull them to the top. Perhaps the Maglia Rosa group are hoping he runs out of steam and they can pull him back towards the top, but we've seen no indication that he is tiring at all.
16:10. Pierre Rolland and Ryder Hesjedal will both be significant beneficiaries of this.
16:09. Quintana's lead is now up to 2:37 according to the gps signals, there must be a response to this, otherwise all the other contenders are looking their GC hopes ride away from them.
16:07. Jarlinson Pantano and Dario Cataldo have been caught by the Michael Rogers led Maglia Rosa group.
16:06. It seems there are GPS issues as the gap suddenly jumped out to 2:29 again.
16:05. There are no attacks behind but they have either upped the pace, or the leaders have eased up as the gap is down to 2:08.
16:03. 10km to go for Nibali with an advantage of 2:15.
16:02. Quintana's advantage is 2:20 now.
16:01. The gradient has risen again and immediately Hesjedal struggles to stay with Quintana, yet the Colombian is in little obvious difficulty.
16:00. 2:11 now for Quintana, he is really going for this, is it too soon though? The hardest part of the climb comes at the top.
15:59. Quintana isn't receiving help from his companions, but he is stretchng the lead, it's 1:57 now with 11.3km to go. How long before a real response comes from behind, the Maglia Rosa cannot afford to let this lead grow and grow.
15:57. Quintana's group is now 1:50 ahead with 12.1km remaining.
15:56. If Quintana and Rolland do have an accord, does it mean that the Colombian will agree to the Frenchman winning the stage in exchange for a huge move on the GC?
15:55. Quintana is doing most of the work ahead, with some help from Rolland, but Hesjedal isn't contributing. Is he on the limit, or being cagey?
15:54. AG2R and Tinkoff-Saxo work well together, but to little avail as Quintana is still 1:40 ahead.
15:53. Pozzovivo is certainly looking stronger than he did on the Stelvio, he sits behind Vuillermoz. Behind him are Uran, Kelderman, Majka, Aru, Evans, Kiserlovski and Henao.
15:52. Evans, Kiserlovski and young Sebastian Henao are struggling to stay in touch with the Maglia Rosa group.
15:51. Vuillermoz and Dupont join the Mgalia Rosa group but they lost a little ground in the process. Quintana is now 1:40 ahead.
15:49. This was been a strong turn on the front from Mikel Landa, he had slowly eaten into Quintana's advantage. However his job is done and it's Michael Rogers turn, though he showed a little too much gusto and caused some splits.
15:48. Quintana, Rolland and Hesjedal continue to lead, but their advantage has dropped to 1:39.
15:46. The Maglia Rosa group is 10 strong, but only Astana and Tinkof-Saxo have any support for their leaders in Landa and Michael Rogers.
15:45. Rabottini has now been passed by the Maglia Rosa group, his GC hopes are well and truly done.
15:44. Hesjedal has rejoined the leaders, which once again prompts an attack from Quintana. Clearly Quintana and Rolland have formed a club and they aren't keen to accept new members.
15:43. The Maglia Rosa group is 1:53 behind, with 17.3km to go to the top of the climb. MIkel Landa (Astana) is setting the pace.
15:42. Cataldo has been swept up by the two attacking riders, as Rolland takes his turn on the front. Cataldo hangs on for now but the next dig will likely shake him from their wheels.
15:41. Hesjedal almost makes contact with Quintana and Rolland, but the Colombian just raises the pace again. Uran and the others must respond behind.
15:40. Actually it's Pantano following, not Rabottini.
15:39. Quintana has dispatched with his team mate and takes up the pace himself, Rolland follows but Hesjedal and Rabottini struggle to remain in touch. The gap immediately dropped blow 30 seconds.
15:38. Cataldo's lead continues to drop, the chasers are now just 0:49 behind, while the mgalia Rosa group is at +2:27.
15:37. Evans, Pozzovivo and Kiserlovski are all in the Maglia Rosa group.
15:36. 19km to go for Cataldo, 1:04 ahead of the chasers, 2:50 to the Mgalia Rosa.
15:35. Jarlinson Pantano is leading the chasing group, he can still a way to get a stage win out of this.
15:34. 20km to go for Cataldo, 1:18 to the chasers, and 2:58 to the Maglia Rosa.
15:33. Cataldo continues to work away at the front, it's a real shame that his lead wasn't greater, on another day he'd have claimed a terrific win with his attack over the Stelvio.
15:31. Cataldo is on the climb, he is 1:27 ahead of the Quintana group, and 3:08 ahead of the Maglia Rosa.
15:28. The Maglia Rosa group is 3:17 behind Cataldo, they have pulled back about 15 seconds on the Quintana group.
15:27. Quintana's group is 1:27 behind Cataldo, and as strong as the Italian is it is hard to see him holding off Quintana on this final climb.
15:25. 25km remaining for Cataldo.
15:24. The two chasing groups have joined together, but the two AG2R riders and the Team Colombia one are unlikely to assist Quintana.
15:23. The Maglia Rosa group is pretty large right now, Tinkoff-Saxo, Astana and Omega Pharma-Quick Step are working hard to recoup as much time as they can before the climb.
15:16. 32.4km remaining for Cataldo, he reaches the climb in 10km.
15:15. Cataldo has stretched his lead to the first chase group (+1:00), but the Quintana group is closing them all down (+1:50).
15:13. This stage is shaping up to be the sort of epic that will remain in cycling folklore for years to come. Brutal parcours, hideous weather, potential shenanigans on a "neutralised" descent, groups of riders all over the road, and a terrific summit finish yet to be tackled.
15:11. Gianluca Brambilla (OPQS) is leading Uran's group, with Fabio Duarte (Team Colombia) on the wheels of the Maglia Rosa.
15:10. Matteo Rabottini (Neri Sottoli) is also in the Quintana group, the other two riders are Gorka Izagirre (Movistar) and Romain Sicard (Europcar), who are working for their team leaders.
15:08. Quintana, Rolland and Ryder Hesjedal are reportedly in the second chasing group, 2:05 down on Cataldo, but 4:05 ahead of Uran.
15:06. Dupont, Vuillermoz and Pantano are only 44 seconds behind Cataldo, with Dupont setting the pace for Vuillermoz who could well strike out for a stage victory if they are far enough ahead.
15:04. Quintana and Rolland are in a small Movistar led group, quite where they are in relation to the rest of the race is unknown.
15:03. Cataldo continues to lead and is giving a huge effort to maximise his advantage, he is reportedly 4 minutes ahead of Uran now.
15:02. We are not really going to know how things stand until the riders are finished with the descent, but there are a lot of gaps and if any riders took it easy because they were told of a neutralisation, then they have been hugely disadvantaged.
14:59. The Giro organisation is denying that there was ever going to be a neutralisation on this descent, but that seems to conflict with earlier reports. The question is whether any of the riders took the descent easier because they thought it was neutralised.
14:57. Having first seen the parcours for this stage last year, I was delighted to finally get the chance to see the riders tackle it. But it clearly hasn't been fit for purpose today. The alternate route never touched the extreme altitude of this one and would have offered a safer parcours for the riders.
14:56. This "neutralisation" is as chaotic and ineffective as expected. Whatever happens from here on, the rumblings about this stage are going to last for quite some time.
14:54. Cataldo is now 2:55 ahead of the peloton.
14:51. Once again there are plenty of small gaps appearing on the descent, but the short almost flat section after the descent gives the riders a chance to come together again.
14:48. The Maglia Rosa is safely within the peloton on the descent, the jersey itself isn't visible, but the pink tape on the handlebars is a giveaway.
14:46. Cataldo has really opened his lead on the descent, he is 1:06 ahead of the chasing group, with te peloton further back.
14:41. Cataldo continues to lead the race, his advantage doesn't look like a winning one, but he is a strong rider so I wouldn't rule him out either.
14:40. Ivan Basso 4:30 down on the Maglia Rosa at the top of the Stelvio. It's been a tough race for the veteran Italian.
14:39. It's hard to see any sign of neutralisation on this descent.
14:35. Chalapud was 2nd over the climb, and Dupont 3rd.
14:33. Dario Cataldo is the first rider over the top of the Stelvio, Chapeau Sir!
14:32. Cataldo was getting some strong support from a brave Basque fan, his beard appeared to be half frozen.
14:30. 1km of climbing remaining for Cataldo, he looks good for the Cima Coppi.
14:29. The four chasers are Niemiec, Pantano, Pellizotti and Vuillermoz.
14:28. Cataldo has an advantage of more than one minute over the peloton now, though it didn't look big enough for that a short while ago. There are four riders between Cataldo and peloton.
14:25. The Tinkoff-Saxo led peloton is starting to sweep up members of the break. Cataldo remains out in front and there are a couple of riders trying to chase across to him.
14:23. If there is good news for the riders, it's that the Val Martello doesn't reach the same sort of altitude as the Stelvio, so the conditions shouldn't be as brutal.
14:21. The first attack comes from Dario Cataldo, as he seeks to be the first rider across the Stelvio.
14:20. Although anything that makes the descent safe can only be a good thing.
14:19. It's being reported that the descent may be neutralised, though I'm not sure how that will work exactly, the riders won't all be going over this climb in one bunch.
14:18. 4km of climbing left on the Stelvio and the gap is down to 30 seconds, attacks are sure to come in search of the Cima Coppi
14:15. 5km remaining on the ascent of the Stelvio, the peloton is really closing fast on the ten leaders.
14:13. The snow clad slopes of the Passo del Stelvio are beautiful to look at, less so to ride through.
14:11. The pace in the peloton is currently being set by Nicolas Roche for Tinkoff-Saxo, it's hurting a lot of riders.
14:10. The leaders advantage has dropped below 2 minutes, the peloton is really moving well behind.
14:04. Geniez didn't just cridge over to the leaders, he hit the front in an effort to widen the gap back to the peloton.
14:03. Europcar up the pace in the peloton, with Pierre Rolland in second wheel for now.
14:02. The Maglia Rosa group comprises roughly 45-50 riders, there must be a large grupetto further down the road.
13:59. Geniez has reached the cars behind the leaders, he will join them soon. The French rider is clearly reprising his climbing form from the 2013 Vuelta.
13:55. They are close to half way up the Stelvio.
13:54. The nine leaders have an advantage of 2:34, with Geniez roughly 30 seconds behind the leading group.
13:50. Alexandre Geniez (FDJ) is currently in no-mans land between the peloton and the leading group.
13:46. Both Pozzovivo and Evans are struggling to stay close to the peloton, it's not a good sign if riders struggle with two huge climbs still to be tackled.
13:43. Of course with Kiserlovski at 5:44, Vuillermoz at 10:45 and Pelizotti at 11:02, there is no way the peloton will let them get out of reach.
13:41. Robinson Chalapud has alslo joined the leading group to make it nine strong. A good size for a break on this sort of day, but they are being given little leeway, the gap is hovering around the 2:30 mark.
13:36. The leading group is now Pellizotti, Cataldo, Vuillermoz and Hubert Dupont (AG2R), Diego Rosa (Androni), Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida), Kiserlovski (Trek) and Pantano (Team Colombia). They have a 2:27 advantage with 84.4km remaining
13:28. The three leaders have a 2:40 advantage on the lower slopes of the Stelvio.
13:27. Footage from the top of the Stelvio suggests that more grim weather awaits the riders.
13:24. Further down the road Movistar continue to lead a much reduced peloton. It will be a long day for the many riders who were dropped on the Gavia.
13:23. Vuillermoz has been kept on a tight leash to aid Pozzovivo until this point, does his presence in the attack indicate that Pozzovivo really isn't feeling good, or that the rumours off his illness are overstated and he is going to try to bridge over later in the race?
13:22. Pellizotti (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela), Dario Cataldo (Team Sky) and Alexis Vuillermoz (AG2R La Mondiale) are at the head of the race, with five riders working to join them.
13:14. One thing that can be said for sure is thet Androni leader Franco Pellizotti is all on his own. He seems to be at the head of the race as well.
13:11. I've given up trying to speculate about which riders are where on he descent. However the conditions really are awful.
13:07. It's hard to work out what exactly is happening, there are riders in groups of 1-4 all over the road on this descent.
13:05. Trek Factory Racing leader Robert Kiserlovski has had to stop for a wheel change, he had a flat tyre.
13:04. Losada is indeed with Pantano and Arredondo in the second group on the road. There is a group of four behind them that includes the Team Sky rider.
12:59. Live footage is intermittent, and that's no surprise given the weather conditions. This descent is no place for attacks.
12:54. There is some snow/sleet falling and condisions are sure to be dangerous on this descent. It was a tricky one to start with so the riders need to be extra careful.
12:53. Arredondo and Pantano have been joined by another rider but it's not Losada, rather it's one of Team Sky
12:50. Chalapud takes maximum points on the Gavia, Arredondo crosses second and Pantano third, 49" adrift of Chalapud.
12:47. Arredondo and Pantano look like they are about to be joined by Alberto Losada (Team Katusha)
12:45. Arredondo has made his move as he attempts to bridge across to Chalapud, it looks like Jarlinson Pantano (Team Colombia) has wwent with him
12:43. In other news Taylor Phinney (BMC) has been ruled out of the Tour de France, and potentially the remainder of the season after breaking his leg on a descent in the United States road race championship yesterday. Lucas Euser (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team was involved in the same incident, and there is a suggestion it was caused after they were forced to take evasive manoeuvres to avoid a race vehicle.
12:39. Team Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen failed to start this morning, the team have pulled him from the race citing back pains, cuts and bruises. While all of tha is undoubtedly true it may also be about resting the Norwegian ahead of the Tour de France, where he would make a capable replacement for Ian Stannard.
12:36. Chalapud has a 35 second lead but it is slowly dropping, the conditions look fairly miserable.
12:35. No further attacks from the peloton, but Andrey Amador keeps the bunch moving swiftly along for Movistar, perhaps the reports of Quintana's health have been a tad exaggerated, otherwise why would Movistar set the pace so early?
12:31. The race continues as it was, but the blue jersey of Julian Arredondo has appeared with the Movistar riders at the front, he has KoM points on his mind. Arredondo is very kindly wearing a matching blue gillet to help us pick him out, rather than the usual identical black ones favoured by most of the peloton.
12:26. The lone attacker is Robinson Chalapud of Team Colombia, while Movistar are leading the peloton behind.
12:25. Live coverage flickered on momentarily, most riders were together with a solo rider clear. It may have been a Team Colombia rider.
12:22. The race is underway and the peloton is currently on the Gavia but no attacks are reported. Live footage has been delayed and we are currently getting footage from a rather misty looking finish line at Val Martello.
12:00. The race for the Maglia Bianca is extremely tight, with the leading four riders, Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo), Aru, Quintana and Wilco Kelderman (Belkin Pro Cycling) separated by just 1:14. Majka is climbing very well, but holding off the challenge of Quintana may be beyond him, provided Quintana is fit to race properly.
11:57. Julian Arredondo (Trek Factory Racing) continues to wear the climber’s Maglia Azzurra, but in order to continue to do so he will have to slip into the break today and take plenty of the KoM points on offer. The Colombian is a superb climber but he faded late on both stages this past weekend, and needs to hope he can hold his form into the third week. This is his first Grand Tour and it wouldn’t be a shock if he is running on empty before it’s over.
11:55. Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) continues to wear red point’s jersey as the battle for the Maglia Rossa has been put on hold until Wednesday’s stage into Vittorio Veneto. As always there is an intermediate sprint point today, but coming on the flat after the Stelvio it is of zero use to the sprinters.
11:53. Rigoberto Uran remains in control of the Maglia Rosa, 1:03 ahead of Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team) and 2:40 ahead of the more menacing Quintana. If Uran can continue to limit his losses to 20-30 second margins, then he will be content, however this stage is challenging enough to cause much larger time gaps, if anyone is strong enough to force the issue.
11:50. Fabio Aru gained time on all his rivals, moving himself up to 4th overall, though still 2:24 behind race leader Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step). He wasn’t the only rider to have a good day on the Plan di Montecampione as Fabio Duarte (Team Colombia), Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Pierre Rolland (Team Europcar) all showed the form to attack. Duarte looks increasingly like a potential stage winner in this final week, while Rolland has consistently been to the fore in the mountains. Quintana is beginning to look like the rider who was the prerace favourite, but there are rumours of his health declining again on the rest day.
11:47. Stage Fifteen finished at Plan di Montecampione and was pretty spectacular in its own right. After a relatively flat stage approach to the climb, there were fireworks as soon as the peloton hit the lower slopes. Julian Arredondo (Trek Factory Racing) went on the attack immediately, but was unable to sustain it all the way to the top. Behind him the favourites where whittled down by attacks and counter attacks. The race wasn’t a controlled grinding procession towards the top, rather it was a glorious chaos as riders were spread over along in the climb in ones and twos. A chaos from which Fabio Aru (Astana) arose to claim a terrific victory and place his name firmly into the new firmament of Italian stars.
11:44. The race concludes atop the Val Martello, 22.35km long with an average gradient of 6.3%, and ramps of up to 14%. The final 1,300m are almost entirely in excess of 10%, including the final14% ramp, a nasty sting in the tail on a monstrous stage.
11:41. After a difficult descent the riders are immediately onto the lower slopes of the Stelvio, a 21.7km and 7.2% leg breaker of a climb. With 40 KoM points on offer at the top, many riders will be desperate to be the first over the top, however the GC riders will likely save their efforts for the final climb. The descent from the Stelvio is another awkward one and if followed the lone almost flat section of the day, all 5km of it.
11:38. The ascent of the Passo di Gavia begins less than 6km into the stage and will see a host of riders trying to escape the peloton. As a result the speed will be very fast and the peloton likely ripped apart on the steep lower slopes of the climb. The Gavia is a 16.5km climb at 8%, with the steepest section reaching 16%, an extremely difficult way to start a race.
11:34. Those three mountain passes are the Passo di Gavia, the Passo del Stelvio and the Val Martello. All of them reach altitudes in excess of 2,000m, and the Stelvio, at 2,758m is the Cima Coppi, which is the highest point of the race.
11:32. Today the peloton has to traverse 139km of extremely mountainous terrain from Ponte di Legno to Val Martello, via three huge alpine passes.
11:30. Hello and welcome to Vavel's live coverage of Stage Sixteen of the Giro d'Italia.;