Thibaut Pinot of FDJ took a sprint victory in Asiago over an improbable escape of Giro d’Italia general classification riders including overnight leader Nairo Quintana of Movistar, who bumped up his chances of final victory a bit by scoring a 15 second advantage over Tom Dumoulin of Sunweb heading into tomorrow’s race-ending time trial. Pinot pressed the lead group on the final climb to get a gap on Dumoulin, the former race leader whose time trial prowess looms over all his rivals, and eventually the Frenchman teamed up with Quintana and defending Giro champ Vincenzo Nibali of Bahrain Merida to distance Dumoulin. The trio caught AG2R’s Domenico Pozzovivo and Katusha’s Ilnur Zakarin on the descent to Asiago, and the quintet just did manage to hold a decent gap on Dumoulin and his compatriots Bob Jungels of Quick Step, Bauke Mollema of Trek Segafredo, and others.
Coming into the line, Quintana led the charge all out through the bends in the road, preventing any sprint-jockeying even at the cost of a time bonus. Pozzovivo, who had skipped plenty of pulls in the group, attacked on the left for the win, but Pinot was ready, jumped on the Italian’s wheel, and powered home ahead of Zakarin and Nibali.
Dries Devenyns of Quick Step and and Dylan Teuns of BMC livened up the racing at the front of the stage, along with a larger group that had splintered on the climb of Monte Grappa. The pair hit the final climb of the Giro d’Italia with close to three minutes on the peloton. Devenyns popped after a few km and Teuns soldiered on alone til the 20km mark, when the first of the GC riders — Pozzovivo and Zakharin — arrived.
Quintana accelerated with 21km remaining (and roughly 7 on the climb) with Nibali for company. The pair got only a small advantage as Dumoulin tried to organize the chase back. Thibaut Pinot bridged up to the pair but he half-dragged Dumoulin back and the Dutchman finished the job a couple minutes later. Still, the urgency remained high and Dumoulin could do little to prevent another gap from opening when Pinot forced matters (by which time Zakarin and Pozzovivo had already flown).
Over the top it seemed highly unlikely that the group could stay away, as the Giro switched into time trial mode til its conclusion in Milan tomorrow. Up front, five riders who aren’t regarded as strong in the discipline, though Pinot is decent and anything can happen in a final stage. Still, Dumoulin the specialist and Jungels the Luxembourg powerhouse seemed like the favorites over the last 15km, sitting only 25 seconds back (roughly). The gap shrank to maybe seven seconds, but the leaders’ group improved their organization in the last 8km and made the edge stick.
Now it’s simply a numbers crunch. Dumoulin’s power would give him a clear edge if he’s on a good day, but after three weeks people aren’t necessarily themselves. Same goes for Quintana and Nibali, who might be a bit stronger on a final day of racing against the watch for their lives. Pinot himself could profit too, with ten seconds on Dumoulin and a small 43-second gap to the Colombian. It should be Dumoulin, and Quintana’s manager Unzue stamped down expectations by saying he expects Dumoulin to win now. But it’s not over til it is.
That Yates-Jungels battle is another one where a jersey could easily flip, as Yates carries the best young rider lead into the final stage over a superior cronoman. A mere 28 seconds probably won’t save the Brit from his rampaging challenger. The KOM and Points jerseys are now officially the final property of Mikel Landa of Sky and Fernando Gaviria of Quick Step, respectively.
- Thibaut Pinot, FDJ
- Ilnur Zakarin, Katusha, s.t.
- Vincenzo Nibali, Bahrain Merida, s.t.
- Domenico Pozzovivo, AG2R, s.t.
- Nairo Quintana, Movistar, s.t.
- Bob Jungels, Quick Step, at 0.15
- Adam Yates, Orica, s.t.
- Sebastian Reichenbach, FDJ, s.t.
- Bauke Mollema, Trek-Segafredo, s.t.
- Tom Dumoulin, Sunweb, s.t.
- Nibali, at 0.39
- Pinot, at 0.43
- Dumoulin, at 0.53
- Zakarin, at 1.15
- Pozzovivo, at 1.30
- Mollema, at 3.03
- Yates, at 6.50
- Jungels, at 7.18
- Formolo, at 12.55