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Quintana takes pink jersey amid controversy

ESPN staff
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Nairo Quintana leads the overall standings by one minute and 41 seconds © AP
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Nairo Quintana took hold of the race leader's pink jersey after winning a controversial 16th stage of the Giro d'Italia in treacherous conditions.

The Colombian producing a climbing masterclass in the snow, fog and rain to take the lead away from Rigoberto Uran and open up a gap of one minute and 41 seconds on his compatriot.

Quintana left his general classification rivals in the dust on a tricky descent off the Passo dello Stelvio before powering up the ascent to the summit finish at Val Martello.

Ryder Hesjedal trailed Quintana in second place, eight seconds back, with Pierre Rolland in third, while Uran was a distant four minutes and 11 seconds adrift in ninth.

Cadel Evans drops to third in the overall standings after falling three minutes and 21 seconds behind Quintana.

However the race was mired in controversy with organisers tweeting that the descent off the Stelvio was to be neutralised with riders not allowed to compete, due to the dangerous conditions.

Confusion reigned though when the tweet was later deleted with teams not officially instructed to stop racing and an unaware Quintana took advantage by bursting down in a small group.

He then extended his gap on his rivals with a powerful display on the 22.3km climb to Val Martello.

Quintana said afterwards: "At the descent, Europcar and Hesjedal started going strong and [Gorka] Izagirre and myself followed their wheels. It wasn't an attack, by any means, nor did I hear anything about the race getting neutralised, neither from the organisers nor from the team radio.

"I don't understand why there is an argument. I made up more time on the climb, we didn't make so much on the descent.

"I did the last climb at my own rhythm but I gave it everything I had.

"Since the start of the season, I think I've shown my runner-up place at the Tour de France [in 2013] was no fluke.

"In this Giro I've encountered a few problems but I've never lost hope. The team have been right behind me and kept my confidence intact."

The peloton made its way up the Stelvio Pass in treacherous conditions during the 16th stage of the Giro d'Italia © Getty Images
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