Has Tom Dumoulin monstered Nairo Quintana enough? | The Giro d’Italia rest day wrap
It’s been an eventful week. But what have those events been?
Well I’ll tell you. Let’s take a look at the crucial recent moments in the battle to win this year’s Giro d’Italia.
When I last updated you in my previous rest day wrap, Nairo Quintana had taken the lead, but Tom Dumoulin seemed poised to displace him…
As expected, the time trial saw Tom Dumoulin politely kick the shit out of everyone. He’s such a charming chap, you can imagine him smiling and apologising even as he’s administering the shoeing.
And what a shoeing it was, the kind that tears upper from sole. Geraint Thomas leapt up the general classification after finishing second on the day, but even he ceded 49 seconds to the Dutchman. Bob Jungels was the only other rider to finish within a minute.
Nairo Quintana’s stint in the leader’s jersey ended after he finished three minutes back. The mountains awaited with new leader Dumoulin pretty much just aiming to keep his rivals within sight on the climbs.
Second place in the time trial had encouraged the notion that Geraint Thomas might still have been capable of making the podium, but he lost time on the next couple of stages after knee pain started to reveal itself following that filthy crash.
Thomas is not by any measure a soft touch. He finished the 2013 Tour de France with a broken pelvis sustained in a crash on stage one (stage one!). Knee pain is different. The knee is not something you risk as a cyclist.
The Welshman’s departure continued Team Sky’s absolutely dog shit record at the Giro. The Tour is so all-consuming for them that the Italian race can at times seem little more than an afterthought with strong riders often reserved for support roles in July rather than being allowed to lead the team in May.
Sky are now left with their traditional Giro Plan B (which in some years actually serves as Plan A) of just sort of vaguely hoping for a stage win.
With 3km to go, it looked like the standard summit finish. Quintana was out ahead on his own and Dumoulin was churning along behind hoping to minimise his losses.
In the end, he limited his losses to minus 14 seconds after hauling in and then passing the Colombian to win the stage.
Ilnur Zakarin was second on the day and bubbled up the leaderboard. In contrast, Bauke Mollema did a passable impression of sediment and sank to sixth, having been going pretty well up until this point.
Stage 14 was unusual in that it was just one climb, so just one effort. The big question for Dumoulin (and his team) in this final week is how he will fare when stages deliver a few softeners first. On those days performance hinges as much on efficiency as anything else.
So gear up for the Queen stage (which includes the Mortirolo climb twice), followed by a mid-mountain stage, two summit finishes and then a non-summit finish mountain stage.
After that, there’s a bit of a boon for Dumoulin. The final stage is a time trial rather than the standard semi-processional sprint, so there’s everything to race for right up to the finish.
Also, he may be down in 10th place, but keep an eye on the broad angular shoulders of Steven Kruijswijk in the coming stages. Seemingly a super-efficient rider, Kruijswijk somehow always seems the least knackered in the final week of a Grand Tour.
You should be watching Domenico Pozzovivo too, obviously, because he’s hilarious.