Confusion over how race leader misses split

Movistar and Bahrain-Merida forced a split on a descent on stage 19 of the Giro d’Italia while race leader Tom Dumoulin was returning to the peloton after natural break, a Team Sunweb sports director has claimed.

The teams of Nairo Quintana and Vincenzo Nibali moved to the front of the peloton on a descent around 50km into Friday’s 191km stage, catching the pink jersey on the wrong side of a split.

According to Italian television this acceleration took place while Dumoulin was urinating. However Team Sunweb DS, Luke Roberts,provided clarification to Danish television, saying that Dumoulin was making his back to the peloton after a natural break, and had just made contact when the hammer went down.

>>> Giro d’Italia LIVE: Stage 19 summit finish to Piancavallo

Dumoulin was caught on the wrong side of the split together with Steven Kruiswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), and Adam Yates (Orica-Scott), but the combined firepower of those riders and their teams was enough to eventually close the gap after a frantic 45km chase.

The incident came the day after a war of words between Dumoulin and Nibali, with the Team Sunweb rider saying that he would be happy to see Nibali and Quintana losing their podium positions due to their negative riding, while Nibali responded by saying that Dumoulin “needs to pay attention”.

On stage 16 of the Giro d’Italia Dumoulin lost more than two minutes after stopping for a natural break with just over 30km to go, with Nibali winning the stage.

Dumoulin came into the stage with a 31 second lead over Quintana, with the Colombian rider looking to gain significant time as the final time trial to Milan does not play to his strengths.