GIRO’17 St.16: Shark Success But Bad Day In The Saddle For Dumoulin!
Giro Stage Report: Vincenzo Nibali strode back into contention with a stunning ride on the Giro’s Queen stage as a natural break heavily penalized the pink jersey. Tom Dumoulin saved his overall lead, but a stomach upset may have upset his chances of the final win.
Tom Dumoulin had a day will want to forget
The weather was great, the stage was set, and what a day we had! More than 50km were ridden in the first hour and breaks went and were reeled back almost instantly. The break of the day formed on the lower slopes of the Mortirolo and it was a strong break for Quintana as he managed to throw plenty of team mates into it. Tom Dumoulin was isolated as the gradient slowly dislodged his team mates, leaving him with just Laurens Ten Dam in the end. The first two climbs were just shadow boxing for the GC contenders, it all kicked off on the Umbrailpass. Pink jersey holder, Dumoulin, stopped for a natural break at the foot of the climb and immediately found himself in the cars and away from the main group of favorites. The riders probably should have stopped, or at least waited, but Nibali was feeling good and he sent his men to the front. Dumoulin was closing the gap but he never got it within one minute and it was only a stunning descent that allowed him to keep his jersey. Meanwhile, the attacks were flying between Quintana and Nibali and the Italian took advantage of the descent to gain time on all his rivals and catch breakaway member, Mikel Landa, who he would out-sprint at the bottom.
Dumoulin lost almost all of his time trial advantage, but he didn’t lose the pink jersey and will now face a brutal final week, that everyone should be watching.
222km in the mountains? Sounds easy enough – 222km in the mountains with two ascents of the Stelvio and a climb of the Mortirolo thrown in there? This is the Queen stage of the race, and a day of hell for most of the climbers. That distance on the flat would be tough, but after 60km of gentle valley riding, the riders will turn off and face the dreaded Mortirolo, the baby of the day at just 1,854m of elevation.
After the climbing starts, there’s barely an inch of flat road for the next 160km. The next climb on the menu, is a whole 900m higher, at 2,758m, the Stelvio from the west side. There’s 22km of climbing from after the first passage through Bormio, to the highest point on the 100th edition of the Giro. That would be enough for most, but the riders will then descend to the north and loop back around for another ascent of the Stelvio, this time to the mercifully less high Umbrailpass 2,054m, where they will then descend down the same roads they used to climb the Stelvio, all the way back to Bormio.
It might come after a rest day, but this is a cruel stage which will break the will of many riders. It will also provide the first of the last week battles between the pure climbing likes of Nairo Quintana and Thibaut Pinot and the slugging Tom Dumoulin. Few Grand Tour’s in recent memory have been this perfectly poised going into the final week, this is something to savor.
It should have been a procession to the base of the Mortirolo, but instead it was a rampaging sprint. More than 50km were covered in the first hour as numerous breaks tried, and failed, to form on the valley roads. Even when the break did form, the pace didn’t relent and an already tired race hit the first climb with a 25 man leading group, containing, deep breath: Davide Villella & Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale-Drapac), Matej Mohoric & Marco Marcato (UAE Team Emirates), Quentin Jauregui (AG2R-La Mondiale), Pello Bilbao & Zhandros Bizhigitov (Astana), Manuel Senni (BMC), Jurgen Van den Broeck (LottoNL-Jumbo), Felix Grosschartner & Branislau Samoilau (CCC Sprandi Polkowice), Matthieu Ladagnous (FDJ), Jasper De Buyst (Lotto Soudal), Winner Anacona & Daniele Bennati (Movistar), Laurens de Plus & Pieter Serry (Quick-Step Floors), Natnael Berhane (Dimension Data), Maxim Belkov & Alberto Losada (Katusha-Alpecin), Vasil Kiryienka (Sky), Phil Bauhaus & Chad Haga (Sunweb), and, Mads Pedersen & Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo).
The group built a lead of just over a minute as they hit the lower slopes of the first climb, but behind Nibali’s Bahrain-Merida team were cranking up the pace. There was a chance of some serious beef in the break. Branislau Samoilau is perhaps best known, or only known, for an incident of racial abuse at the 2015 Tour of Austria. The person he abused? Natnael Berhane, the Eritrean who was also present in the break.
Astana’s Luis Leon Sanchez took the Scarponi prize on the Mortirolo for his old teammate
The early pace had claimed some early victims. After his hard crash on Sunday’s stage, Kenny Elissonde (Sky) called it quits before he really got a chance to take advantage of his preferred terrain, the high mountains. Ben Hermans (BMC) also waved goodbye to Italy as he added more negatives to, what has been so far, a pretty rubbish race for the Swiss/American team.
It wasn’t to be for the break and under sustained Bahrain-Merida pressure, they were brought back as they ascended the first challenge. The race was back to the high speed attacks which populated the opening stages of the day, but that was swiftly ended as yet another large group went clear: Jose Herrada, Andrey Amador & Gorka Izagirre (Movistar), Laurens Ten Dam (Sunweb), Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNl-Jumbo), Mikel Landa, Sebastian Henao, Vasil Kiryienka & Philip Deignan (Sky), Luis Leon Sanchez & Pello Bilbao (Astana), Omar Fraile, Natnael Berhane & Igor Anton (Dimension Data), Pierre Rolland, Michael Woods & Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale-Drapac), Rui Costa & Edward Ravasi (UAE Team Emirates), Laurens De Plus (Quick-Step Floors), Jose Costa-Mendes (Bora-Hansgrohe), Manuel Senni (BMC), Alexander Foliforov (Gazprom-RusVelo), Jan Hirt & Felix Grosschartner (CCC Sprandi Polkowice).
Once the break had formed, the action paused and the break were able to crest the top of the climb together. Luis Leon Sanchez was given the honor of being the first to the summit, in memory of Michele Scarponi. Omar Fraile was the next man over however to add to his total and temporarily overtake Tom Dumoulin in the standings, however Sanchez had leapfrogged them both to be virtual blue jersey leader.
Into the Valley
Movistar and Sky were dominating the break and they were putting Sunweb under serious pressure as they tried to chase hard in behind. Dumoulin had Laurens Ten Dam in the break but the Dutchman was outmatched by Quintana’s lieutenants.
As the rider’s began their second climb, the gap had settled at 2.30 with granite jawed Belarusian Kiriyenka leading the break and Julien Bernard (Trek-Segafredo) doing the work behind. Sunweb and Dumoulin were keeping a tight hold on the stage so far, but with so many Movistar riders up ahead, there was a constant risk of an ambush.
That risk was increased as the Sunweb riders began to very quickly fade away from the front of the peloton. With each passing kilometer, Dumoulin became more and more isolated as Sebastian Reichenbach (FDJ) took up the pace setting duties for Pinot.
In the lead group, Kiriyenka had done his work for the day and fell out the back of the group. That almost immediately led to an increase in pace as Deignan took control of the front and began to make people suffer. The Irishman’s pace left just ten riders at the front; Deignan, Landa, Rolland, Hirt, Kruijswijk, Amador, Izagirre, Sanchez, Fraile and Anton. The pace was too much for the blue jersey wearer, but not holder, and Fraile was the next to accept his fate and peel off the back. It was now advantage Sanchez in the mountain jersey competition.
The pace was also too much for Pierre Rolland, who also had to say goodbye to the front of the race as the eight leaders powered into the snow covered finale of the Stelvio.
Once again though, the climb held false promise and none of the GC contenders wanted to go clear quite yet. The action was left to the guys at the front, Landa stormed clear, avoiding minimal resistance from Igor Anton, to take full points and begin the very long and difficult descent in the lead. The Sky rider was joined by Andrey Amador as they continued their lonely effort to move away from the chasing group. Meanwhile, behind, Laurens Ten Dam had made his way back to Dumoulin to give him just one team mate as they approached the final climb. Vincenzo Nibali was also left with just one team mate. His colleagues had been tailed off at regular intervals as they rode the Stelvio.
With 48km left to ride, the pace making that had been done by Kruijswijk paid dividends and he was able to haul the chasing group back up to Amador and Landa to create a single leading group as the Umbrailpass loomed near.
Under my Umbrail
The gap between the pink jersey and the leaders was holding steady at two minutes. But that was no thanks to Dumoulin and his team. All the workload was being done Orica-Scott and Katusha as the flew into Switzerland to loop back around and begin the final climb. The race leader was somehow able to sit back and, despite all the work done by Movistar to get into the break to isolate the Dutchman, he wasn’t yet getting punished for his poor team.
In the lead group, Kruijswijk pushed on as the road began to rise and he was joined by Landa and Hirt as they seemed to confirm that they were the strongest riders in the break. Meanwhile, Amador and Ancona were happy to sit up and wait for their team leader as the gap fell to within two minutes.
Meanwhile, there was drama back in the pink jersey group as Dumoulin stopped for what appeared to be a bike change. However he then took off his helmet and peeled off his jersey and, with the racing going flat out, the race leader was forced to answer a more solid call of nature. Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) almost immediately attacked but he was hauled back by a group who weren’t sure whether they should be waiting and whether the leader was on his way back. Quintana looked keen to hold things up, but Franco Pellizotti (Bahrain-Merida) was driving the pace instead. Ten Dam had dropped back to help out but he was quickly dropped and Dumoulin was all alone, almost a minute behind the other GC contenders.
Dumoulin was holding the gap but it wasn’t getting any closer as Pellizotti continued to drive the pace on the climb. Movistar hadn’t attacked, but they weren’t making their feelings known to Nibali either, especially after Dumoulin had waited for Quintana when he’d crashed into Bergamo.
The pink jersey continued to nibble into the time gap but he was still more than a minute back and there was still no signs of the GC group easing up. Meanwhile, in the lead, the three leaders continued to plough on, away from the focus which was now firmly on Tom Dumoulin as he began to slow for the first time.
It was a sensational ride by Jan Hirt, the CCC Sprandi Polkowice rider was looking easy in the company of Landa and Kruijswijk as they continued the meander up the tortuous climb. Their lead was barely a minute though, largely thanks to Amador, who had been sent to the front to ride for Quintana. The Colombian was now well and truly turning his back on the unwritten rules of cycling.
In front, Landa was turning the screw and was beginning to open a gap up over the two chasers. Nibali had had enough and he hit the front of the chasing group. He was immediately followed by Quintana. Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) couldn’t hold it and he was unhitched. Nibali went again and was jumped by Quintana, the second placed GC rider was flying and he was pulling an elite group containing just Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R-La Mondiale), Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) and Nibali clear. They were being chased by Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Adam Yates (Orica-Scott), Davide Formolo (Cannondale-Drapac), and Jungels. The Luxembourg rider had refound some form and was leading the chase. Despite all that was going on in the Quintana group, Dumoulin was still the provisional race leader. His deficit was 1.30 and the climb was creeping to a close.
The Zakarin led Quintana group had seen, and then caught Kruijswijk to leave just Hirt and Landa ahead. The gap was one minute to Landa but the thickening crowds were telling him that he was almost at the end of this immense physical exertion. The gap was falling though as the four chasers continued to work together. Jan Hirt was the next man to come back, leaving just Landa, his gap was fading very fast though and it was creeping towards the 30 second mark. If he looked down over one of the many switchbacks he would see the five man chase group down below.
Nibali was the next man to attack, a blistering effort from the back of the group that only Quintana could follow. Zakarin and Pozzovivo weren’t out of it yet though, they were within spitting distance of the two attackers. Landa was the first man over the summit but he was very quickly followed by Nibali and Quintana and then Zakarin and Pozzovivo. Nibali is a renowned descender and he was beginning to drop Quintana and catch Landa. In fact, he had caught Landa and Quintana was losing tens of meters out the back. Dumoulin was also having a good descent, he was creeping back towards his rivals, although he was more than two minutes in arrears.
Quintana wasn’t going to win the stage but he was at least keeping the gap between himself and Nibali manageable. Landa was sticking with Nibali though, despite throwing so much into the stage beforehand. The Dumoulin charge was fading though, once again he was handing over time and this time it looked like the pink would be torn from him.
With 3km left to go, the stage win was going to come from someone in the leading two riders. Nibali had tried, and failed, to drop his Spanish companion and the Sky rider was beginning to open up a very slight advantage. He was brought back as they entered Bormio and Landa was pushed to the front. The Spaniard had prime position on the twisting finale but he wasn’t creating a gap, Nibali was glued to his wheel. Into the final chicane and Nibali took the inside line, but Landa wasn’t done, it was neck and neck but Nibali just had enough to take the win on the line. Quintana came home a handful of seconds behind but he’d taken a serious step towards yet another Giro title.
Davide Formolo had a strong descent to finish behind both Pozzovivo and Zakarin, but it was a terrible day for Mollema and Pinot who gave away stacks of time to finish 1.30 behind. It looked certain that Dumoulin would hand over the jersey but he had descended well and looked very strong on the flat finale to keep his pink jersey by just over half a minute. The gap between Nibali, Dumoulin and Quintana spreads just over one minute – what a final week we have!
Stage winner Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida): “It’s the victory of a complete rider. I had to be consistent from start to finish in a long and difficult stage. At the end I had to be an aggressive climber, a good downhill rider and a sprinter. I wasn’t thinking of delivering the first stage win for Italy. I knew it would be very difficult to make it. I’m very happy I won with the help of the team. I arrived really tired. I’m closer to Dumoulin on GC now. There are more difficult stages to come but Dumoulin also has a time trial to his advantage in Milan.”
Race leader Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb): “I just had some problems. I needed to take a dump. I started to feel it in the downhill of the Stelvio and I had to stop. Back on the bike I decided to fight and draw conclusions after the finish. I’m still in the Maglia Rosa but I’m above all very disappointed.”
The excitement of the final week has started with a bang, keep it PEZ for everything pink.
Giro d’Italia Stage 16 Result:
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida in 6:24:22
2. Mikel Landa (Spa) Sky
3. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 0:12
4. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:24
5. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin at 0:32
6. Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac at 1:26
7. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo at 1:35
8. Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors
9. Adam Yates (GB) Orica-Scott
10. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ
11. Jan Hirt (Cze) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
12. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo
13. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Sunweb at 2:18
14. Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team Emirates at 5:10
15. Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 5:17
16. Simone Petilli (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 5:19
17. Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) FDJ at 6:07
18. Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe at 6:41
19. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
20. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana at 7:30
21. Winner Anacona (Col) Movistar at 7:46
22. Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar
23. Igor Anton (Spa) Dimension Data
24. Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Movistar
25. Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida.
Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 16:
1. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Sunweb in 70:14:48
2. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 0:31
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida at 1:12
4. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 2:38
5. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin at 2:40
6. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale at 3:05
7. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo at 3:49
8. Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors at 4:35
9. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo at 6:20
10. Adam Yates (GB) Orica-Scott at 7:00
11. Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac at 07:17
12. Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar at 11:29
13. Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team Emirates at 12:13
14. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana at 13:26
15. Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 14:46
16. Jan Hirt (Cze) CCC Sprandi Polkowice at 19:02
17. Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) FDJ at 25:20
18. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe at 26:50
19. Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 28:27
20. Simone Petilli (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 29:07
21. Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida at 30:15
22. Stef Clement (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo at 36:51
23. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates at 39:07
24. Mikel Landa (Spa) Sky at 41:58
25. Laurens De Plus (Bel) Quick-Step Floors at 42:40.