We rounded up opinion on whether the big Dutchman could hold pink all the way to Milan
Insider experts say “yes” that the 26-year-old Dutchman can win in Milan, where the Giro ends with a 29-3km time trial.
Dumoulin took nearly three minutes on Quintana on the stage 10 time trial through the Sagrantino vineyards and when tested on a summit finish two days beforehand, he held his rival close. He then held off attacks from Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) on stage 11 to maintain his overall lead.
Dumoulin leads the race by 2-23 over Quintana, 2-38 over Pinot, 2-40 on Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and 2-47 to Nibali.
“Yeah, he can win now, he went strong in the time trial and there’s another one where he can gain more time,” Team Sky sports director Dario Cioni said.
“It’s not just Quintana that he needs to watch. Nibali is still in the game. On a stage like Stelvio, he could gain more time. But Tom’s likely to win now. He’s my favourite and my pick.”
Cioni is directing Geraint Thomas and Mikel Landa, who are recovering after crashing in the Blockhaus stage. Nibali remains in the classification fight, at 2-47 back from Dumoulin, but his Bahrain-Merida team are impressed by their rival.
“He can win now, I don’t know if he will, but he has a good advantage and there’s still the time trial in Milan,” said Bahrain-Merida coach and sports director, Paolo Slongo.
“If someone wants to win they need to drop him and gain around three minutes before the time trial in Milan to be calm.
“I saw how he raced in the 2015 Vuelta that Fabio Aru won, and you see he and the team know how to manage the race well. He doesn’t go into panic when he’s dropped. If he loses, he’ll lose small here and there, not going into crisis.”
Dumoulin began racing for Grand Tour overalls by chance midway through the 2015 Vuelta a España.
He nearly won, only cracking in the final mountain stage to Astana’s Fabio Aru. After a year off focusing on stages in the Giro and Tour de France, and the Olympic time trial, this is the first time that he prepared specially to win a Grand Tour.
“If he doesn’t have a crisis like he did in the 2015 Vuelta, he’s the number one favourite, especially with the time trial on the final day,” Astana sports director Alexandr Shefer said.
“Movistar will need to hope that he has an off day, because otherwise, he’s shown how to manage himself well.
“They are not going to be relaxed with just one minute on him ahead of the final time trial, they will need two minutes. He lost little on Blockhaus, so that means that he’s going well. Even on the Stelvio stage, that’s a long climb that’s more adapted to him.
“I’ve seen him in the other Grand Tours, and he can pace himself on the climbs and knows his limits, he doesn’t go into crisis mode easily.”
BMC Racing’s leader Tejay van Garderen already had his bad days and fell out of overall contention. Sports director Max Sciandri knows how fast the situation can change.
“He has a long way to go, and there are strong teams with Quintana and Nibali, who’ll attack in every turn,” Sciandri said.
“He’s good at climbing, solid, good at time trialling, maybe his only weak point is his team after losing Wilco Kelderman. But Dumoulin can find an ally with Nibali or Thomas.
“Quintana has realised that he needs to gain more time on Dumoulin before Milan. He did an amazing time trial and the Milan stage will be Dumoulin’s safety net.”