Pogacar wins chaotic Giro stage 16 as organisers are called 'dinosaurs'

Tadej Pogacar in the rain
Tadej Pogacar is well on course to win his third Grand Tour [Getty Images]

Australia's Ben O'Connor called the race organisers "dinosaurs" after a delayed and chaotic start to a shortened stage 16 at the Giro d'Italia, which was eventually won by race leader Tadej Pogacar.

Slovenia's Pogacar extended his huge lead at the top of the general classification with his fifth stage victory.

However, it came after a three-hour delay to the start as riders and teams collectively refused to take the scheduled 202km route from Livigno to Santa Cristina Valgardena.

That was because of safety concerns over the planned ascent and descent of the Umbrail Pass – itself a diversion from the Stelvio because of the risk of avalanches.

"It's probably one of the worst organised races I think and I'm just being honest. This would never happen in 99% of other situations," O’Connor, who is fourth overall, told Eurosport.

Ineos Grenadiers' sporting director Zak Dempster added: "It's a bit of a farce to be honest. Safety is one of the most important things for us.

"I didn't want to put the guys through what the RCS were proposing. How we got to the right decision was an absolute total mess."

RCS Sport, which organises the Giro d'Italia, had expected the peloton to roll out of the ski resort start and ride neutralised through the Munt la Schera tunnel - but instead the race eventually began in Lasa/Laas with the stage reduced to 118.7km.

O’Connor criticised Giro race director Mauro Vegni, adding: "I'd like to see him in our position, go outside on the bike and do the start of the stage and see what his answer is after those couple of hours.

"I wish he could experience it because then he would have a bit of a sense of what it's actually really like rather than turning on the climate in his car and saying this is great for people to watch."

Pogacar underlines his dominance

Tadej Pogacar
Tadej Pogacar has won 19 stages in Grand Tours [Getty Images]

It looked almost too easy for Pogacar, who attacked late on and won by 16 seconds from Italy's Giulio Pellizzari.

As he crossed the finishing line, the two-time Tour de France champion counted up his Giro stage wins on his fingers after once again powering clear of his general classification rivals.

Daniel Martinez briefly tried to close the gap to Pogacar but came home with Pellizzari.

The Colombian is now seven minutes 40 seconds down on Pogacar but climbs up to second overall, 22 seconds ahead of Welshman Geraint Thomas, who was distanced in the final two kilometres.

"The day started really on and off, we didn't know what to do but when we started racing it was fine," Pogacar said.

"In the final two kilometres we tried to control it, Rafal Majka had enough and then we pushed on and tried to make some gaps. I'm super happy."

Stage 16 result

1. Tadej Pogacar (Slo/UAE Team Emirates) 2hrs 49mins 37secs

2. Giulio Pelilizzari (Ita/VF Group-Bardiani CSF-Faizane) +016 secs

3. Daniel Martinez (Col/Bora-Hansgrohe) Same time

4. Christian Scaroni (Ita/Astana Qazaqstan) +31secs

5. Antonio Tiberi (Ita/Bahrain Victorious) +33secs

6. Thymen Arensman (Ned/Ineos Grenadiers) +38secs

7. Damiano Caruso (Ita/Bahrain Victorious)) +39secs

8. Michael Storer (Aus/Tudor Pro Cycling) +42secs

9. Ewen Costiou (Fra/Arkea - B&B Hotels) Same time

10. Valentin Paret-Peintre (Fra/Decathlon-AG2R La Mondialel) +45secs

General classification after stage 16

1. Tadej Pogacar (Slo/UAE Team Emirates) 59hrs 01mins 02secs

2. Daniel Martinez (Col/Bora-Hansgrohe) +7mins 18secs

3. Geraint Thomas (GB/Ineos Grenadiers) +7mins 40secs

4. Ben O'Connor (Aus/Decathlon-AG2R La Mondiale) +8mins 42secs

5. Antonio Tiberi (Ita/Bahrain Victorious) +10mins 09secs

6. Thymen Arensman (Ned/Ineos Grenadiers) +10mins 33secs

7. Romain Bardet (Fra/DSM-Firmenich PostNL) +12mins 18secs

8. Filippo Zana (Ita/Jayco-AlUla) +12mins 43secs

9. Einer Rubio (Col/Movistar) +13mins 09secs

10. Jan Hirt (Cze/Soudal Quick-Step) +14mins 07secs