Milan - Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk moved closer to a history-making Giro d'Italia triumph Tuesday after stretching his lead over Esteban Chaves and Vincenzo Nibali in a thrilling 16th stage won by Alejandro Valverde.
Kruijswijk, of the Lotto team, started the 132 km race from Bressanone to Andalo with a 2min 12sec lead on Colombian Chaves (Orica) and 2:51 on 2013 champion and pre-race favourite Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).
Kruijswijk didn't have enough in the tank to stop Movistar team leader Valverde from claiming the stage win after a two-up sprint at the finish.
But Chaves crossed the finish line 42secs in arrears, with Nibali finishing nearly two minutes behind alongside compatriot Domenico Pozzovivo.
Chaves remains second but is 3:00 behind Kruijswijk, with Valverde moving up to third at 3:23 and Nibali, the 2014 Tour de France champion dropping one place to fourth at 4:43.
Results from the 16th stage of the 2016 Giro d'Italia, held over 132 km between Bressanone and Andalo on Tuesday:
1. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) Movistar Team 2hr 58min 54sec, 2. Steven Kruijswijk (NED/LNL) same time, 3. Ilnur Zakarin (RUS/KAT) at 8secs, 4. Diego Ulissi (ITA/LAM) 37, 5. Bob Jungels (LUX/ETI) s.t., 6. David Lopez Garcia (ESP/SKY) 38, 7. Sergey Firsanov (RUS/GAZ) s.t., 8. Esteban Chaves (COL/ORI) 42, 9. Rafal Majka (POL/TIN) 50, 10. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/A2R) 1min 47sec
1. Steven Kruijswijk (NED/LNL) 63hr 40min 10sec, 2. Esteban Chaves (COL/ORI) at 3min 03sec, 3. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) 3:23, 4. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/AST) 4:43, 5. Ilnur Zakarin (RUS/KAT) 4:50, 6. Rafal Majka (POL/TIN) 5:34, 7. Bob Jungels (LUX/ETI) 7:57, 8. Andrey Amador (CRC/MOV) 6:53, 9. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/A2R) 10:05, 10. Kanstantsin Siutsou (BLR/DDA) 11:03