Bob Jungles sprints to stage 15 victory – Giro d’Italia
Giro d’Italia 2017
Dumoulin (Team Sumweb) crossed the line on the same time in eighth to remain top of the general classification, but his lead over second-placed Quintana was cut to 2min 41sec after the Colombian received six bonus seconds.
Pinot is 3min 21sec down in third place, while defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) stays 3min 40sec adrift in fourth after finishing seventh on the day.
Quintana’s result was impressive not only because he cleverly used Jungels’ slipstream to take second place and bonus time, but also because he picked himself up from a crash on a descent with 36km to go.
Nibali was the day’s chief aggressor, attacking on both the ascent and descent of the final climb, but he was unable to pull away and now needs a remarkable final week if he is to win the Giro for a third time.
Stage 15 took the riders 199km from Valdengo to Bergamo on a route ending with two categorised climbs and then a steep 1.2km ramp in the last 5km.
The day looked well suited to a breakaway and teams consequently fought a long and high-paced battle to put men in the escape. After an initial five-rider group had failed to pull away, a subsequent 10-man group finally formed after 110km of exhausting racing and were allowed to build up a maximum lead of two minutes 30 seconds.
The breakaway were reduced to just three riders on the category-two first climb – Rudy Molard (FDJ.fr), Jacques Janse van Rensburg (Dimension Data) and Philip Deignan (Team Sky) – but their numbers swelled back to five when Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac) and Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) attacked out of the peloton and caught them up on the category-three second climb.
Although the quintet took a lead of 42 seconds over summit, they were unable to hold off the chasing peloton and were caught at the foot of the final climb, to Bergamo Alta, with just under 4km left.
After Quintana had rejoined the bunch following his earlier crash, the favourites started the decisive climb all together, but then Jungels ignited a frantic battle for victory by attacking with 4km to go.
Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Nibali launched counter-attacks to reel the Luxembourger in, and Pinot and Adam Yates (ORICA-SCOTT) both also caught up to form a leading group of five going over the summit.
Quintana and Dumoulin missed the selection, but despite Nibali attacking again on the descent, both latched back on to the group as the road flattened out and a reduced-bunch finish became inevitable.
Pozzovivo and Yates led out the sprint, but Jungels powered through to take the win by a bike length and dragged Quintana with him into second place.
The Giro pauses for a rest day tomorrow, but then resumes with a potentially spectacular 16th stage on Tuesday. It covers 222km from Rovetta to Bormio in the Alps and contains ascents of the Passo del Mortirolo, Passo dello Stelvio and Umbrailpass. Eye-wateringly beautiful scenery awaits.