The last stage of the Giro d'Italia provided a tense finale
Tom Dumoulin a worthy winner
Any Grand Tour is a story of ups and downs, but Tom Dumoulin’s Giro d’Italia victory has been more turbulent than most.
The final time trial into Milan was always going to play into the Team Sunweb rider’s hands, especially as he had gained nearly three minutes over Quintana in the time trial on stage 10.
However, this was a much shorter test, giving less opportunity to gain time, and after suffering through a punishing last week in the mountains, there was plenty of uncertainty about how Dumoulin would fare.
In the end the Dutch fans needn’t have worried as Dumoulin looked smooth and powerful on his bike from the very start, eliminating all of Quintana’s advantage by the second time check, and riding smoothly to the line to take a famous victory.
Quintana can’t hang on
Going into today’s stage, Nairo Quintana admitted that he would have to produce the time trial of his life to win the pink jersey, and it was not to be.
The Colombian had lost nearly three minutes on stage 10, and always faced an uphill battle on a flat course that was much more suited to powerful time trial specialists.
By the first time check he was already on the back foot, and come the second he was already out of the virtual maglia rosa.
Over the last few kilometres he tried everything to claw back a few seconds – and hold off Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) for the second spot on the podium – coming close to overcooking it on a couple of tight corners.
Despite his fight it was not to be, and the wait for the first Giro/Tour double since 1998 will continue for another year.
Thibaut Pinot falls apart
Coming into the stage many were tipping Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) for overall victory, but it wasn’t the Frenchman’s day as he eventually finished off the podium.
Pinot had arguably looked the strongest of any of the GC contenders in the last few days of the race, bringing himself into contention for the overall win after attacking and gaining time on stage 19, then crossing the line first to take victory on stage 20.
Historically Pinot has some half-decent time trial performances on his palmarès, as shown by the colour of the French champion on his back, but was on the back foot from the first time check.
The FDJ rider really fell away in the final few kilometres, eventually finishing three seconds behind Quintana, a time that meant that he missed out on the podium by 37 seconds to Nibali.
Adam Yates misses out on white
Going into the stage just 28 seconds ahead of Jungels, one of the favourites for the stage win, it was always going to be a tough ask for Yates to hold onto the prize for best young rider.
On that stage Yates lost nearly four minutes to stage winner Quintana, and 1-09 to Jungels, meaning that the incident arguably cost him white in Milan.
Still, at just 24, Yates is still a very young rider, and surely would have learnt more from the trials and tribulations of this race than he did from his relatively smooth ride to fourth in last year’s Tour de France.
After a slow start, the Giro provides fireworks
After a opening week largely consisting of, let’s be honest, slightly tedious sprint stages and an uneventful summit finish up Mount Etna, the Giro d’Italia really got going on stage nine and ten.
On stage nine, the summit finish to Blockhaus, Nairo Quintana looked head and shoulders above the rest with a commanding stage win, albeit in slightly controversial circumstances as a crash with a police motorbike scuppered the chances of Geraint Thomas and Mikel Landa.
However, after the rest day, we saw the emergence of Tom Dumoulin in the stage 10 time trial, putting in a dominant time trial performance to take the pink jersey which he would only lose on stage 19.
But after that, the pattern of the race was set, with the final few stages consisting of watching Quintana, Nibali and Pinot attack while Dumoulin tried to limit his losses, providing an intriguing end to a superb race.