Yates’ attacking instinct continues
Already holding a 41-second lead at the top of the general classification and with a technical uphill finish, received wisdom would have dictated that Simon Yates should play it safe in the Osimo finale.
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Instead, just as he did at Mount Etna and Gran Sasso d’Italia, Yates went on the attack and found himself picking up a second stage win and extending his overall lead to 47 seconds.
Given that Yates lost 20 seconds to Dumoulin in the opening 10km time trial in Jerusalem, even with his current gap he is likely to lose the lead to Dumoulin on stage 16’s 34.2km time trial, meaning that Yates needs to take any chance he can to gain time.
However given the way he’s climbing so far in the race then even if he is a minute back in the GC after stage 16 then you would back Yates to regain all that time loss in the mountainous final week.
Tom Dumoulin shows his climbing legs
His position in second place overall at the start of Wednesday’s stage belied the fact that Tom Dumoulin hasn’t really stood out with his performances in the race’s three summit finishes so far.
Two eighth places and one 11th place aren’t what have secured him his second place overall, which is entirely thanks to his victory in the opening time trial.
However today Dumoulin showed his climbing legs for the first time, accelerating away from the rest of the GC contenders in pursuit of Yates.
Of course a 1.5km climb like this has nothing on the beasts such as the Zoncolan and Finestre that are still to come, but it does show that the Dutchman could be in the mood to produce the sort of display that saw him win at Oropa 12 months ago.
Surely it’s game over for Froome
He may not have capitulated and lost 25 minutes like Esteban Chaves did yesterday, but there’s no avoiding the fact that Chris Froome is slipping further out of contention at the Giro.
Another day and another stage with lost time for the Brit as he conceded 40 seconds to Yates having been dropped on the first of the two climbs in the finale, and now once again finds himself outside the top 10 at 3-20.
Going for the Giro/Tour double was always going to be a step into the unknown for Froome, and he’s clearly not in good enough form to win this race.
Surely Froome and the Team Sky hierarchy have now got a bit of thinking to do about whether they continue chasing a lost cause, or cut their losses and pull out with an eye on the more familiar ground of the Tour de France in July.
Crazy final five kilometres
That was the sort of finale that the Giro d’Italia does so well with more twists and turns, quite literally, than entire flat stages of the Tour de France.
The peloton faced not one but two nasty climbs up into the hill-top town of Osimo, with Zdenek Stybar (Quick-Step Floors) launching a brutal attack on the first cobbled climb of 16 per cent.
Stybar was followed by Tim Wellens (Lotto FixAll) with the two taking a slender lead onto a short descent before they were caught as the road turned upwards again with two kilometres remaining to allow the GC contenders to battle it out for victory.
Unfortunately there aren’t any more days like this left in the race, although the next couple of days with their flat parcours interrupted by late climbs, should see a nice battle between attackers and the sprinters’ teams.
A fast start to the day
Looking at the profile at the start of the stage and this really was a day that had successful breakaway written all over it.
That meant a fast and frantic start to the stage as rider after rider tried to get up the road while Mitchelton-Scott and Team Sunweb patrolled the front of the bunch to ensure that no one threatening was able to get away.
Various groups were able to briefly enjoy some freedom with almost every team represented at one time or another, before Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) and Alessandro De Marchi (BMC Racing) on the first climb after 35km with the duo later joined by Fausto Masnada (Androni-Sidermec), Mirco Maestri (Bardiani CSF), Alex Turrin (Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia).
Unfortunately for those five riders the break was not destined to stick, but the opening hour of racing was fantastic to watch.