What a humdinger of a stage! Trash-talking revenge dished out by Vinceno Nibali and Nairo Quintana in the GC and tearful joy for Mikel Landa who took a well-deserved stage victory after being thwarted twice this week, attacking from the break on the final climb to solo across the line and into the waiting arms of his soigneur. Meanwhile, well back down the road, the GC contenders distanced Tom Dumoulin by just enough for him to lose the maglia rosa to Quintana.
Rider of the Race
If you don’t at first succeed, try, try again. After losing out to Vincenzo Nibali in Bormio and Tejay van Garderen yesterday, my Rider of the Race is stage winner Mikel Landa (Sky). He joined the second break of the day, an 18-strong group that had formed mid-stage and established a significant advantage over the GC contenders. As the group approached the final climb, Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) attacked, dragging Rudy Molard (FDJ) with him.
Landa’s teammate Sebastian Henao came to the front of the remaining riders and the leading group was swiftly reduced to six as they hit the steepest part of the climb. Rui Costa (UAE) struck out next and quickly overhauled the two riders up front only to be chased down by Landa who, with 10km remaining, quickly settled into a rhythm to build an unassailable lead. Costa was joined by Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac), Wednesday’s stage winner, but despite working together they couldn’t reel in the man who has made the maglia azzurra his own. Such was his margin of victory that Landa could afford to start celebrating 100m before the line.
Post-stage, Landa paid tribute to his team:
I’ve been fighting the last three or four days along with my teammates who have been doing really nice work. Finally today we got the win. It’s been difficult moments for the last month at the Giro. We started well, then we had the crash. We had to regroup. I feel very happy and emotional, especially as my family were here today.
War of words turns to action
After Thursday’s controversial statements, Tom Dumoulin appeared to make up with both Vincenzo Nibali and Nairo Quintana before the race start. But that notion was quickly disabused when Movistar and Bahrain Merida attacked on the descent of the second climb of the day. (There were rumours of attacks during a comfort break which turned out to be just a rumour.) Dumoulin found himself on the wrong side of a split in the peloton in the first 60km, at one point climbing to more than a minute of advantage to the attackers. With assistance from Orica-Scott, Trek-Segafredo, and LottoNL-Jumbo, Dumoulin and his Sunwebbers clawed their way back and with the peloton all together, the race calmed down, in anticipation for the final climb to Piancavallo, where all hell would break loose.
With the stage victory being fought out 10min up the road, Movistar hit the lower, steep, slopes of the last climb at speed, immediately putting Dumoulin under pressure. He was yo-yoing off the back of the group as he struggled to remain with the other GC contenders. For the first time in this Giro, Dumoulin was in real trouble, despite the presence of teammate Simon Geschke. The gap continued to grow, Geschke cracked, Dumoulin bravely continued, managing initially to keep the gap to around 20secs. Then Thibaut Pinot, one of the few contenders with fresh legs, attacked up front and the gap started to widen and yawn.
In the end, Dumoulin lost over a minute, and his leader’s jersey to Quintana, and the Giro GC is wide open – 38sec between Quintana and Dumoulin; only 5sec between Dumoulin and Nibali; 10sec between Nibali and Pinot; and only 28sec between Pinot and Zakarin. One big climbing stage tomorrow – if anyone has a particularly great day, they could put the Giro out of reach. However, the final stage in Milan is an individual time trial, and with Dumoulin’s TTing prowess, it could all flip back into his favour. So all is not lost. Could this race get any more exciting?
1 Mikel Landa (Sky) 4:53:00
2 Rui Costa (UAE Emirates) +1:49
3 Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac) +1:54
4 Pello Bilbao (Astana) +2:12
5 Sebastian Henao (Sky) +3:06
GC Top 5
1 Nairo Quintana (Movistar) 85:02:40
2 Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) +0:38
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) +0:43
4 Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) +0:53
5 Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) +1:21
All the jerseys
Leader’s jersey: Nairo Quintana (Movistar)
Points jersey: Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors)
KOM jersey: Mikel Landa (Sky)
Best young rider: Adam Yates (Orica-Scott)
For full review of the stage, go to Cycling News
Header Image: Mikel Landa ©GETTY / Corbis Sport / KT