This article originally appeared on VeloNews.com
Riding off the front of a 28-man break, Jan Tratnik (Bahrain-McLaren) soloed to a win in stage 16 win at the 2020 Giro d’Italia.
Ben O’Connor (NTT Pro Cycling) bridged up from a chase group, and the two were clear of the remains of the break in the final 12km. But the young Australian was unable to match Tratnik in the final 800m, over two short, punchy climbs.
“We are close to the Slovenian border, today my brother and my girlfriend were here. At 500 meters I saw my girlfriend and I found a little extra energy that allowed me to win,” said the Slovenian.
This is Tratnik’s most prestigious professional result.
How stage 16 unfolded
On a 180.6km stage which featured three ascents of the Monte di Ragogne before encountering two final punchy climbs in the final 2km, a sizeable break of nearly 30 men established itself and continued to gain time throughout the stage.
Ruben Guerreiro (EF Pro Cycling) attacked the front bunch at 69km to go. Giovanni Visconti (Vini Zabù–KTM), in the climber’s jersey, gave chase but was late to react.
This attack was for naught, as Tratnik bridged up with Manuele Boaro (Astana) at 65km to ride down Guerreiro.
For a moment, it appeared that Boaro would get away from Tratnik, but he could not sustain the pace on the following climb, Tratnik continued solo at 40km remaining.
The break had fractured into a bunch of pieces as attacks and attempts to bring back the escapees were attempted. Ben Swift (Ineos Grenadiers) and Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates) went after lead two with 45km to go.
At 22km to go, it was 12 riders chasing after 7 men up the road who are chasing Tratnik.
Back in the chase, O’Connor did most of the work to try to bring back Tratnik. Ben Swift (Ineos Grenadiers) and Enrico Battaglin (Bahrain–McLaren) pressed on the final climb, taking 10 sec from Tratnik, however, O’Connor and Swift were able to dislodge Battaglin.
O’Connor then distanced Swift on this climb, and eats into Tratnik’s advantage, now just 15 seconds.
Making the catch at the summit of the final ascent up Monte di Ragogne, with 13km to go, Tratnik was joined by O’Connor, and the two had a 48-second advantage on their pursuers.
Into the final 4km, the two leaders appeared confident and relaxed and worked together to hold off the remnants of the chase group.
Tratnik let O’Connor lead most of the final closing kilometers.
O’Connor launched a move on the just inside of the red kite when Tratnik appeared to momentarily struggle.
Quickly countering, Tratnik took over the attack, quickly getting a gap at 800m to go, never looking back over the two, short and steep humps.
Tratnik came across the line solo to take top honors on the stage, seven seconds up on O’Connor.
Some 15 minutes behind the stage winner, João Almeida attacked the main bunch containing his GC rivals inside of the final kilometer, taking two more seconds from Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) and Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo).
“Sometimes the best defense is offense. I felt good and so I decided to leave. I did it for me, only for me, because I wanted to see how far I can go,” said the race leader.
This is Almeida’s 14th day in the overall lead.