Bob Jungels shows more strings to his bow
We know Bob Jungels as a top time trialist who can hold his own on the climbs, a combination that was enough to seal him sixth overall and the young rider classification at last year’s Giro.
Today, however, he demonstrated an impressive and hitherto unknown finishing sprint, to win his first ever Grand Tour stage.
He was not exactly up against the most illustrious of sprinters, with the lead group of twelve that contested the finish comprising mostly of skinny climbers, but his timing and strength was still impressive – especially considering the energy he had spent attacking in the last three kilometres.
If this sprint was not a fluke, it could prove a useful addition to his ever-growing armoury as a GC contender, as a means of gaining finish line bonus seconds.
Nario Quintana bounces back from crash to gain time
A day that had threatened to be a disaster for Nairo Quintana ended on a positive, as he sprinted for an impressive second place.
On the descent of the Miragolo San Salvatore, with just under 40km to go, Quintana fell off his bike going around a corner.
Although he was quickly back up and riding, a problem with his bike meant that he had to drop back from the peloton and chase back on, putting the Colombian in danger of losing time.
But Quintana did manage to catch up to the peloton without much hassle, and instead managed to gain time on Tom Dumoulin by gaining six bonus seconds on the line.
That he was able to sprint so well suggests he suffered no ill-effects from the crash, and remains very much in the fight for the pink jersey.
Cannondale still searching for stage win
It was a frenetic day’s racing from start to finish, with the peloton finishing before even the earlier expected arrival time.
Part of the reason for the breathless pace was the number of teams wanting to ensure that their riders placed in the definitive break, with Cannondale-Drapac in particular notable for their presence at the front of the chasing peloton early on having missed the original break.
Despite finally breaking their two-year drought of WorldTour wins via Andrew Talansky at the Tour of California, it has been a frustrating Giro for Cannondale, who have so far been unable to achieve their stated aim of winning a stage, despite their impressive line-up.
They did manage to send Pierre Rolland into the break once it had been brought back to within striking distance, and the Frenchman was the last survivor, but as he was swallowed up by the peloton with three kilometres to go, another decent chance for a win eluded them.
Tom Dumoulin shows great sportsmanship
There had been murmurs among pundits that Movistar may live to regret their decision to ride on in the aftermath of the motorbike-induced crash of stage nine, should they find themselves in a similar situation later on in the race and relying on other teams’ mercy.
But when Quintana did fall today, Tom Dumoulin used his authority as the pink jersey wearer to instruct his Sunweb teammates to drop the pace and allow his rival to catch back up.
At the finish line, Dumoulin explained his decision on the basis that it was ‘not nice’ to gain time that way.
It was heartening to see such good sportsmanship, and further evidence that Dumoulin is a class act.
Riders hurt in crashes
An unfortunate theme of stage 15 was the number of crashes that punctuated the day’s racing.
Although Quintana managed to recover from his fall with no injuries, other riders were less fortunate.
Team Sky’s Kenny Elissonde went down with Cannondale-Drapac’s white jersey contender Davide Formolo in an incident in the final 20km, and crossed the line with his lycra ripped, revealing several cuts and wounds.
Worst of all however was Tanel Kangert (Astana), who went flying over some road furniture, breaking his elbow in the process and abandoning immediately.
Having ridden so well to put himself in the top-10 overall, it was a cruel blow, especially to an Astana team that has ridden bravely under the shadow of Michele Scarponi’s death.