The final mountain stage in this Giro100 and it was not a disappointment. With Katusha busting the peloton apart on Monte Grappa, by the final climb even the strongest riders looked on their knees. With five of the top six GC putting time into Tom Dumoulin, Thibaut Pinot sprinted for the stage win and valuable bonus seconds to set up a final stage ITT with less than a minute between the top step and 4th. Nairo Quintana will be the last rider out of the start house tomorrow, in the pink skinsuit.
Rider(s) of the Race
I cannot possibly choose between the these two – both did more to animate this stage than anyone else. My riders of the race are Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin).
Everyone said that the GC contenders would need to gain time on Tom Dumoulin to safeguard their positions after the time trial tomorrow. And everyone thought that they would make a move on Monte Grappa – a long and arduous climb in the middle of the stage. Bizarrely, it didn’t look like that was going to happen as the maglia rosa group followed the Movistar tempo – hard but not selective – up the climb. Then Katusha put their men at the front and rode at a furious pace, which quickly whittled down the group and left most of the big men, including Quintana, with only one or two teammates. And they weren’t even halfway up the climb. Katusha took a break, Movistar took over and the pace slowed and guys caught back up. Katusha went back to the front and guys started dropping off the back almost immediately. Full gas on Grappa was a hell of a softening up process, all done by Katusha.
Fast forward to the final climb and Zakarin attacks the select group of Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida), Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r), Adam Yates (Orica Scott), Bob Jungels (QuickStep), Quintana, Dumoulin and Pinot. Zaka gets away with Pozzovivo with no response, until Quintana tried his legs, with Nibali right on his wheel. This five-man group worked together well for the most part as Dumoulin’s group lost second after second, at one point behind about 30sec back. However, once over the climb, Dumoulin’s group (by this time joined by Trek’s Bauke Mollema) were able to claw back half of that through hard work and some time trialling technique from Jungels and Dumoulin.
Once under the flamme rouge, Pozzovivo jumped, followed by Zakarin and Pinot. With a superhuman effort, Pinot stomped on the pedals and sprinted to a clear victory with Zakarin and Nibali coming in second and third (and all getting precious bonus seconds). The Dumoulin group limited their losses to 15sec, leaving the Giro perfectly poised for an exciting final TT.
The Anti-Rider (again)
I named him Anti-Rider on Thursday (which seems so long ago now) and he’s stayed my Anti-Rider. Nairo Quintana is so incredibly frustrating. Earlier this Giro, he said he wanted to be the new Marco Pantani. Now, I wasn’t watching cycling in the era of Pantani but there are enough people in my timeline to know that Pantani was a very explosive, aggressive, intuitive rider – one who would not sit in wheels and wait for someone else to take up the attack or sit in wheels and wait for someone to crack of their own volition. After today, it actually seems like Q doesn’t like pulling – he only helped the other guys in the last kilometres today by going to the front for a split second and then flicking the elbow. All the other guys in that group rode like they wanted the maglia rosa. He didn’t.
Oh, and just a little reminder: he won the 2014 Giro with a controversial move on the Stelvio when the race had been neutralised and he won the 2016 Vuelta only because he followed Contador in a thrilling break that put paid to Chris Froome’s dreams of glory. So don’t give me any of this ‘I am Pantani’ malarkey.
I’ve seen the future
1 Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) 4:57:58
2 Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) same time
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) s/t
4 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r-La Mondiale) s/t
5 Nairo Quintana (Movistar) s/t
GC Top 5
1 Nairo Quintana (Movistar) 90:00:38
2 Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) +0:39
3 Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) +0:43
4 Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) +0:53
5 Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) +1:15
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: A satisfied Thibaut Pinot