The Giro Queen stage served up a piquant dish of the day redolent with rich drama and spiced with controversy. It’s fair to say the antipasta was a little bland, but boy did the last course on the Umbrailpass deliver. Vincenzo Nibali attacked on the last climb and rode the descent like all the beasts of hell had been released and were on his back wheel to catch long time leader Mikel Landa and out-sprint him to the line. Tom Dumoulin had an unexpected toilet trip in the bushes before the last ascent. As the GC contenders rode away without a backward glance he rode alone to save his maglia rosa – albeit with his lead slashed from 2:41 to 31secs. The Giro is NEVER over until the last stage is finished!
Rider of the Race
Goodness me, who to pick? I mean the Shark’s descent was so seat-of-the-pants risky I had to watch it through my fingers. Tom D deserves plaudits galore for the way he gritted his teeth, limited his losses and then remained so classy post-stage when he must have been boiling with anger. Landa climbed supremely well, took the Cima Coppi atop the Stelvio, rode into the maglia azzurra and was oh-so-close to a stage win for Team Sky. All of them deserve a shot at the award, but I’m going left field and giving it to LottoNL Jumbo’s Steven Kruijswijk. Why? Well simply because of this…
The Dutchman attacked when so many other GC riders didn’t, wouldn’t or couldn’t. With only a little over 4 minutes between 2nd and 10th place at the start of the stage there was everything to ride for. This was the Queen Stage of the Giro, for goodness sake, and I wanted more than some tempo riding and a few little niggling testers! Yet, it was only the man with the widest shoulders in the pro peloton who grabbed the race by the scruff of the neck and displayed the courage to risk it all. He attacked early on the Mortirolo and drove the break on the Stelvio. Landa and Andrey Amador (Movistar) dropped him on the descent but he clawed his way back to attack again on the Umbrail Pass.
You know it’s possible on such a day. It’s not the case that the favourites give you 15 minutes of a lead, but you can often get away. I have yet to win a Giro stage in my career and I would like to. On such a day, as today, it is possible. Certainly after last week, I wanted to try to gain some places. If you do not belong to the best five or six riders, you know that you have to try it differently
He couldn’t quite take Landa’s wheel when he went solo and perhaps 12th on the day and a move from 10th to 9th on GC weren’t quite the reward he may have hoped for. But we at VeloVoices will always salute this effort.
Respect for the Maglia Rosa?
You have to say the Giro has had its fair share of controversy this year.
We certainly were not expecting this to happen to race leader Tom Dumoulin, but when you have to go, you have to go.
The debate about whether the group of favourites should have waited for the maglia rosa raged over social media and will no doubt rumble on for the next few days.
There are arguments put forward for both sides and it highlights again a grey area within the sport. On one hand, if they had waited, how long should they have waited for? Would that have cost Nibali and the Italian fans their victory? On the other, the sportsmanship is part of the sport we love to see and rightfully applaud. It’s tricky and I’m sure many of us are with Koen on this one.
At the end of the day perhaps we should leave the last word to Tom himself and his Sunweb team. He really is #OneClassAct.
The summit of the Mortirolo was designated the Cima Scarponi in honour of the late Michele Scarponi. In a wonderful show of camaraderie the riders in the breakaway, and in particular Omar Fraile (Dimension Data), gave Astana’s Luis Leon Sanchez the honour of being first man over the top.
The team also rode with new these beautiful bidons to honour the occasion.
1 Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) 6:24:22
2 Mikel Landa (Sky) same time
3 Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +0:21
4 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale) +0:24
5 Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) +0.34
GC Top 5
1 Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) 70:14:48
2 Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +0:31
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) +1:12
4 Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) +2:38
5 Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) +2:40
All the jerseys
Leader’s jersey: Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb)
Points jersey: Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors)
KOM jersey: Mikel Landa (Sky)
Best young rider: Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors)
For full review of the stage, go to Cycling News
Header Image: Nibali versus Landa LUK BENIES/AFP/Getty Images