Sidi riders take five stage wins, the blue jersey and a spell in pink at the 2016 Giro d'Italia
Sidi has been the footwear choice for countless champions over the last 40 years and the first Grand Tour of 2016 provided another catalogue of wins for the brand's history books.
Following the peloton's ride past Sidi's headquarters in Maser during Stage 11, Team Sky's Mikel Nieve opened the brand's Giro account as the race got into the real mountains on Stage 13.
The route took riders from Palmanova to Cividale del Friuli, a 170km route including two category one climbs. With team leader Mikel Landa leaving the race due to health issues, it was Nieve's chance to break away to a solo victory – another stage win in the Dolomites for the Sidi-wearing Spaniard following his victory in Gardeccia in 2011.
Team Sky's Mikel Nieve wins Stage 13 of the Giro wearing Sidi Wire Carbon shoes
On the very next day, another wearer of Sidi's top-end Wire Carbon shoes was first over the line as rising Colombian star Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) overcame the challenges of this year's Tappa Regina to outsprint the competition on an uphill finish.
With this first pair of wins banked, Stages 17 and 18 provided further cause for celebration in Maser as Sidi riders bagged another two victories. On Stage 17, IAM Cycling's Roger Kluge jumped out of the pack in a gutsy last-minute attack before the real sprint could wind up. The German track sprinter powered over the final 500m, first closing the gap to Filippo Pozzato, then going on to take the win.
Stage 18 was the longest in the 2016 Giro at 240km and also featured a kick in the tail too. After a day in the saddle, the peloton had to pitch their efforts against a tough final 5km, which averaged at a 10 percent gradient including a leg-sapping steep cobbled ramp.
In the final, Matteo Trentin of Etixx - Quick-Step timed his effort perfectly to edge across the line ahead of Cannondale Pro Cycling's Moreno Moser, the duo providing Sidi with a one-two finish on the day.
Etixx - Quick-Step's Matteo Trentin wins Stage 18 of the Giro, with fellow Sidi rider Moreno Moser coming second
While Stage 19 didn't produce another victory, the outcome was arguably more valuable thanks to a shake-up of the general classification that would see Sidi in pink for the first time in the race.
The Italian crowds lining the route of the Alpine stage from Pinerolo to Risoul were given plenty to cheer on as a rejuvenated Vincenzo Nibali went on the attack on the climb of the Colle dell'Agnello, this year's highest point at 2,744m. With Nibali covered by Chaves and pink jersey wearer Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), the latter suffered a crash on the snow-lined descent, going on to haemorrhage time.
By the summit finish in Risoul, Nibali had proven himself the best rider on the day while Nieve struck again with a second place for Sidi. Chaves crossed the line in third with a 44-second buffer over Nibali and the chance to pull on the maglia rosa for the first time.
Esteban Chaves took the Pink Jersey after Stage 19
Nibali's onslaught continued the following day on Stage 20, the Italian sealing his fourth Grand Tour victory and second Giro win, but there was still plenty for Sidi to celebrate. The stage itself was won by Katusha's Rein Taaramae while Chaves secured his second-place spot on the podium. Mikel Nieve's consistency in the mountains meant the Team Sky rider also clinched the blue climber's jersey, rounding off a spectacular Giro for Sidi.
We will be looking forward to more extraordinary Grand Tour appearances from Sidi riders as the peloton gears up for next month's Tour de France, which begins in Mont-Saint-Michel on 2 July.
Photos: Bettini Photo