Dutch rider Steven Kruijswijk of Team LottoNL-Jumbo has a stranglehold on the maglia rosa heading into the final week of the 2016 Giro d’Italia.
After a conservative first week, the major general classification contenders showed their cards across three consecutive mountain stages ahead of the third and final rest day which takes place this evening.
Kruijswijk was the biggest winner after the trio of challenges, sitting pretty with a two-minute 12second lead after consecutive second places over the last two stages.
Colombian Esteban Chaves (ORICA-GreenEDGE) also enjoyed a successful few days winning the Queen stage and moving up from eighth to second position overall.
Pre-race favourite Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Pro Team) lost time on the queen stage and suffered an untimely mechanical on last night’s race against the clock but still remains on the podium in third place, two-minutes 51seconds behind Kruijswijk.
Despite wearing the pink jersey for a stage courtesy of Andrey Amador, Team Movistar were the biggest losers in week two.
Their two contenders, Alejandro Valverde and Amador, dropped to fourth and seventh overall and looked to be a step behind the current podium who declared themselves as the strongest this Giro.
The final week of racing comprises three serious mountain stages.
Challenging Kruijswijk would seem to be a difficult task, but established stars Nibali and Valverde are guaranteed to throw everything at these days to remind us why they are the best.
After a fifth at last year’s Vuelta a Espana, second overall would be another significant step up for Chaves. Will it be enough for the ever-smiling Colombian who has given Australian’s something to cheer for, or will he risk his first Grand Tour podium to go on the attack for victory?