GIRO’17 St.20: Perfect Pinot!

Giro Stage Report: Stage 20 of the 2017 Giro d’Italia was the last chance for Tom Dumoulin to save his race hopes and for Nairo Quintana, Vincenzo Nibali and Thibaut Pinot to distance them selves from the TT specialist. It may have worked, but the race is still wide open for the win on Sunday.

The main men in this Giro d’Italia came to the fore for a battle royal and in a nail biting, cat and mouse finalé, Thibaut Pinot took the stage win and Nairo Quintana and Vincenzo Nibali added 15 seconds to their ‘Dumoulin Buffer Zone’ for the final time trial in Milan. The early break gave us some entertainment, but everyone knew there would be fireworks when the race hit the last climb to Foza. The leaders split and was chase for important seconds.

Stage 20 Route
This is how the Giro road book describes the day ahead: “The first 100km are on relatively flat roads, at the foot of the Prealps in the province of Treviso, with a categorized summit at Muro di Ca’ del Poggio and an intermediate sprint in Feltre. The route then climbs up Monte Grappa (24km), on narrowed roadway. The climb is steep and sharp at first, then the gradient declines, with a few changes in slopes before the categorized summit.”

“A very long (26km) and technical descent follows, with several hairpins and on moderately wide roads. The route then takes in the last climb in Foza (rising steadily at a 7% gradient, with a number of hairpins). The final 15km are rolling and wavy. The route descends slightly over the last 5km, as far as 400m before the finish. The roads are wide and well paved outside the city centers. When entering Asiago, the peloton will encounter roundabouts and traffic dividers. There is a last bend 450m before the finish line, and the home stretch, on a 7m wide asphalt road, has a mild uphill gradient.” Simple enough, but can Tom Dumoulin save his position and time or will the combined strength of Nairo Quintana, Vincenzo Nibali and Thibaut Pinot drop the better man against the clock?

The Start
Nice warm weather greeted the riders in Pordenone, except 10th placed Steven Kruijswijk, the LottoNl-Jumbo rider was hit by stomach problems last night and has had to pull out with only two stages to go. His 10th spot will be taken by Cannondale-Drapac’s Davide Formolo who is 8:37 down on overall leader, Nairo Quintana of Movistar.

It didn’t take long for the first break to launch its self up the road, this didn’t go down well and a hard chase ensued which split the main peloton in two. Eventually a truce was called and the six escapees had nearly 6 minutes after 70 kilometers of racing. The riders were: Dylan Teuns (BMC), Tom-Jelte Slagter (Cannondale-Drapac), Matthieu Ladagnous (FDJ), Dries Devenyns (Quick-Step Floors), Maxim Belkov (Katusha-Alpecin) and Filipo Pozzato (Willier Triestina). Between the leaders and the main bunch was Simone Andreetta (Bardiani-CSF) and Gregor Mühlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe), they got within 1:23 of the break, but that was it and they were caught by the peloton before the climb of the Monte Grappa. The break had well over 7 minutes.

Monte Grappa
The climb of the Monte Grappa is long at 24 kilometers, the descent is 2 kilometers longer and quite technical. Movistar were in control of the bunch with Rory Sutherland leading at the base of the climb, Sunweb were in-line behind the Spanish team, Dumoulin will be hoping he has no more inopportune stomach problem today. The riders in the break had Ladagnous on the front to set the pace.

Bahrain-Merida, CCC Sprandi and Trek-Segafredo started to move riders to the front and the gap to the leaders immediately drops to 6 minutes as Pozzato is dropped by the break and was soon followed by Maxime Belkov. Belkov’s Katusha-Alpecin team put three riders on the front of the Maglia Rosa group to lift the pace, it looked like Ilnur Zakarin had a plan to lift himself from 5th place at 1:21 down on Quintana.

At the back of the GC group it was the attacking Pierre Rolland who was having trouble holding on to the Katusha speed.

Katusha burnt all its men out and Movistar moved to the front again as the pink jersey group looked to have around 30 riders left. Quintana, Dumoulin, Nibali, Yates, Pinot, Pozzovivo and Zakarin were all there. The gap to leaders was now down to nearly 4 minutes with 79 kilometers to go and about 10K to the summit of the Monte Grappa. Katusha-Alpecin had rallied their troops for another go on the front and the lead dropped to under 4 minutes.

Zakarin played his card and what was left of the bunch disintegrated leaving around 12 riders in the pink jersey group. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Adam Yates (Orica-Scott) missed the Katusha bus at first, but a small group took them back to the front for a group of 20 riders chasing the escape… and glory.

At the front; Devenyns and Teuns were on their own with a 3 minute lead. As they neared the summit Devenyns jumped away from Teuns for the KOM on Monte Grappa. In the chase group with Quintana was: Amador, Cataldo, Zakarin, Belkov, Kiserlovski, Jungels, Mollema, Pinot, Reichenbach, Pozzovivo, Nibali, Landa, Yates, Henao, Konrad, Fraile (read the PEZ interview HERE), Dupont and Hirt. Devenyns had been rejoined by Teuns for the descent, but their lead was down to 2:12 with 57 kilometers still to race.

50K To Go
The race was still coming down from the Monte Grappa and some of the dropped riders were catching the Quintana group, including Tejay van Garderen and Simone Pettili. This went to Pettili’s head and he attacked, although his move came to nothing.

Into the valley with 40 kilometers remaining and Devenyns and Teuns had 2 minutes with Tom Jelte Slagter and Cataldo soloing behind, both a handful of seconds on the chasers.

The final climb in Foza
The last climb of the 2017 Giro d’Italia started just short of 30 kilometers from the finish in Asiago. The two leaders had 2:30 on the GC group, but the top men are were watching each other which allowed some more riders to rejoin from behind. Up front: Tuens attacks Devenyns on the narrow twisting climb. Quintana had put two of his men on the front to keep the pace high, but it was not blistering and no one was in trouble… yet.

As the Movistar riders hammered on the lead was dropping and then with 23.5K to go Vincenzo Nibali attacks. Quintana, Pozzovivo, Pinot and Zakarin react and Dumoulin slowly works his way across to them as they catch and pass Devenyns. With Dumoulin there, the other ease up and the other riders regroup.

Next to go is Zakarin, Pozzovivo joins him and its Hirt of CCC Sprandi who tries to close the gap. Enough waiting and Nibali jumps and Quintana goes with him. With 20 kilometers to go, Zakarin and Pozzovivo pass Teuns and are in the lead on the road. The chase is being headed by the FDJ pair and Dumoulin, but they were losing seconds. Zakarin/Pozzovivo have 25 seconds, Nibali/Quintana 15.

Pinot is the first to make contact with the pink jersey as Dumoulin fights to cross the gap of only a few tough meters to the three of Quintana/Nibali/Pinot, but it’s taking a long time. Quintana makes a jump and the gap is back again, Dumoulin is helped by Jungels. The speed dropped slightly and Dumoulin got with the pink jersey as Zakarin and Pozzovivo have 17 seconds in hand with 17 kilometers to go. Another Colombian jump and its Nibali and Pinot with him again and the Frenchman piles on the pressure, but they won’t work together and Pinot has to do the donkey’s share.

Jungels and Dumoulin ride hard to close the small gap, but again they are struggling to make it over. At the summit, with 15 kilometers to go to the stage finish line, Pozzovivo and Zakarin have 11 seconds on Quintana, Nibali and Pinot and 30 on Dumoulin and company.

Dumoulin and Jungels ride to limit their loss as Yates, Reichenbach, Hirt and Mollema sit on.

10 kilometers out and the two front groups get together with a lead of 27 seconds on the Dumoulin group.

The leaders start to attack each other as the others start to work with Dumoulin and Jungels and the lead drops from 30 to 14 seconds in less that 2 kilometers. 6 kilometers out and the lead is down to 10 seconds. 5K and it’s 8 seconds. Nibali gets the message and puts in a long, hard effort and at 4K the lead is back out to 15 seconds and Pozzovivo was in trouble. 2 to go and they have 20 seconds on the big Dutchman.

The streets of Asiago were lined with fans to see the exciting finalé, and it was Pozzovivo who jumped first, but with more bravado than strength. Pinot came past him with Zakarin and Nibali on his wheel, Quintana sat up and watched the Frenchman take the stage win, but wanted to know how much time he had taken from Tom Dumoulin.


Has Dumoulin done enough?

Jungels led out the sprint from the chase group as Dumoulin could only hang his head, the Dutchman was wasted, but he had only lost 15 seconds to Quintana, Nibali, Pinot, Zakarin and Pozzovivo.

Does Quintana have enough time to hold off Dumoulin? 53 seconds isn’t much, Nibali only has 14 and Pinot 10. A Dutch Giro win? All will be known tomorrow – Keep it PEZ for the answer.

Stage winner Thibaut Pinot (FDJ): “Until 3km to go I only thought of gaining time, but in the last 3km I really had the stage win in mind. It’s not easy to win a stage when racing for GC and this was my last opportunity. However it’s not enough to have gained 25 seconds on Tom Dumoulin. Tomorrow’s time trial suits him really well but I’ll do my best to limit the losses and get the best possible final result.”

Race leader Nairo Quintana (Movistar): “I’m happy with today’s stage. We have had a good fight with the other rivals. It was important not to lose any time on them but I also wanted to gain some. I didn’t gain as much as I wanted onto Tom (Dumoulin) but there was nothing more we could do today. Now we’ll play all our cards flat out tomorrow.”

Giro d’Italia Stage 20 Result:
1. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ in 4:57:58
2. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
4. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale
5. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
6. Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors at 0:15
7. Adam Yates (GB) Orica-Scott
8. Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) FDJ
9. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
10. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Sunweb
11. Jan Hirt (Cze) CCC Sprandi Polkowice at 0:20
12. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe at 2:35
13. Omar Fraile (Spa) Dimension Data
14. Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
15. Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
16. Philip Deignan (Irl) Sky
17. Enrico Battaglin (Ita) LottoNl-Jumbo at 4:17
18. Jesper Hansen (Den) Astana at 4:18
19. Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac
20. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana
21. José Mendes (Por) Bora-Hansgrohe
22. Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar
23. Mikel Landa (Spa) Sky
24. Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 6:41
25. Simone Petilli (Ita) UAE Team Emirates.

Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 20:
1. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar in 90:00:38
2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida at 0:39
3. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 0:43
4. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb at 0:53
5. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin at 1:15
6. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale at 1:30
7. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo at 3:03
8. Adam Yates (GB) Orica-Scott at 6:50
9. Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors at 7:18
10. Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac at 12:55
11. Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team Emirates at 16:58
12. Jan Hirt (Cze) CCC Sprandi Polkowice at 17:58
13. Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 21:13
14. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana at 23:33
15. Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) FDJ at 26:19
16. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe at 35:14
17. Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 35:57
18. Mikel Landa (Spa) Sky at 36:02
19. Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar at 37:55
20. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC at 57:00
21. Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida at 57:41
22. Pierre Rolland (Fra) Cannondale-Drapac at 1:08:36
23. Stef Clement (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo at 1:13:54
24. Laurens De Plus (Bel) Quick-Step Floors at 1:17:53
25. Winner Anacona (Col) Movistar at 1:23:32.

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