Nibali tried to bridge to Astana team-mate Jakob Fuglsang but could not. Instead, race leader Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) countered, joined Fuglsang and gained 21 seconds on Nibali doing so. Dumoulin now leads the race by 26 seconds on Dane Fuglsang, who moved ahead nine seconds, and by 47 seconds on Nibali in ninth overall.
“We thought that we could hook him up with Fuglsang, that would have been a good position for him to be in, but it was very windy and he was stuck,” Giuseppe Martinelli, Astana’s team manager said.
“Anyway, I don’t think that this will change much about this Giro, but today, the tactic was a little mistaken in my opinion.”
The tactic in the morning on Thursday was for Fuglsang to attack and Nibali to follow the others on the gentle grades to the Aremogna ski station at 1572 metres. Instead, Astana thought there was a chance to join Nibali with Fuglsang and to gain time.
“Nibali was good as always today, but this climb wasn’t one for pure climbers. But I’m sorry that he lost time. We needed to limit damage today, but we lost some instead,” Martinelli added.
“It was more the orders from the team car than his error. When you order him to take off instead of staying in the wheels of others and maybe not losing time.
“I told him if he felt good to try in that moment. But then he ends up paying [to Dumoulin and Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge)]. We will talk about it tonight.”
Astana has clearly decided to run a parallel race with Nibali, winner of all three grand tours including the 2013 Giro, and with Fuglsang. Now sitting second, it is clear to see that Fuglsang is Astana’s plan B should Nibali stumble.
“It’d be good for us if Fuglsang also won the Giro, we are all in Astana and so it’s not a problem,” Nibali’s trainer and team sports director, Paolo Slongo explained.
“In fact, we want to have Fuglsang in the overall because having two riders in the there allows us to play more cards in the final week. For us it’s good, also for Jakob.”
“Fuglsang is our rider, so it’s great that he’s up there, but Nibali has the captain title,” added Martinelli.
“When that happens, when you lose some time, Nibali’s not in a great mood, but it’s not that the first mountain finish that makes the difference.”