Giro d’Italia 2017
Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) showed true grit to bounce back from his crash at the foot of Blockhaus to post the second fastest time, 49 seconds slower than the untouchable Dumoulin. The Welshman, whose GC hopes were dented following a collision with a stationary police motorcycle on Sunday, looked on course for a surprise victory until Dumoulin rolled down the ramp and started his mesmerising ride.
Third place in sunny Umbria went to Luxembourg national champion Bob Jungels of Quick-Step Floors, who finished 56 seconds slower than Dumoulin. Veterans Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) and Vasil Kiryienka (Team Sky) completed the top five, while defending champion Vincenzo Nibali(Bahrain Merida) recovered from a slow start to post the sixth best time, 2:07 down.
But there was disappointment from Frenchman Thibaut Pinot (19th), Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk (20th) and Italy’s Domenico Pozzovivo (27th), who all drop down the overall standings. Meanwhile, American Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) finished in lowly 43rd place to concede the best part of five minutes.
Following visits to regions famed for Chianti, Prosecco and Barolo, this year’s opening time trial continued the recent trend for the Giro to celebrate Italy’s most famous wines – in this case the Sagrantino secco that is the calling card for the fertile area around Montefalco.
It was no surprise, then, that the 39.8km race against the clock was dubbed the “wine trial” from the media and fans, who were able to see Team Sky’s Kiryienka set a vintage early marker despite popping his cork by hitting the deck on a tight right-hand bend inside the final few hundred metres.
Former world champion Kiryienka seemingly put his team’s woes behind them with a promising ride – until Team Sky’s rotten luck continued when the Belarusian skidded on the corner before hitting the road with his shoulder and slamming into the barriers.
The 35-year-old remounted and was still able to set the provisional fastest time – until Sanchez came home 20 seconds quicker to take over the mantle before the big guns rolled down the ramp.
Kiryienka was not the only rider to come a cropper on the corrugated Umbrian road surface as Russian veteran Pavel Brutt (Gazprom-Rusvelo) and Colombian double stage winner Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) – among others – both hit the deck. Even Quintana was forced to bunny hop a traffic divider after a blind turn in Bevagna at the first intermediate time check, the Colombian acrobatically avoiding what could have been a far bigger disaster than his admittedly dear time deficit.
Although Thomas was bettered by Jungels and Andrey Amador (Movistar) at the first check, the Welshman soon got in his groove to set the provisional best time at the second check at the intriguingly named Bastardo. Team Sky’s leader then made light work of the final rise into Montefalco to topple Sanchez’s target time by a huge 51 seconds.
Jungels could only manage second best after trailing Thomas by seven seconds at Montefalco – but it was all to prove immaterial once Dumoulin’s times from the intermediate checks came through. The rangy Dutchman was 18 seconds clear of Jungels at Bevagna and 36 seconds ahead of Thomas at Bastardo – a gap which grew to 49 seconds at the finish.
Any disappointment at losing out on the stage win for Thomas will be tempered by his return up the overall standings, the Welshman up to 11th place at 5:33.
Trailing Quintana by 24 seconds over night – and the closest threat to the Colombian’s lead – Pinot flattered to deceive on the demanding course, coming home 2:42 down on Dumoulin and just 11 seconds faster than Quintana. The Frenchman dropped from second to fourth on GC, 2:40 down on the new Dutch leader and seven seconds ahead of defending champion Nibali.
Quintana toiled in both the early tailwind and late headwind, the pint-sized Colombian at times looking like he was playing a different sport than Dumoulin. With many mountain stages still to come – including the double ascent of the Stelvio in stage 16 – Quintana will not be too down on himself just now. But with the race concluding with a flat 29.3km time trial into Milan, today’s result will be proof that the 2014 champion will need a large cushion ahead of stage 21 if he wants to keep Dumoulin at bay.
An intriguing 161km stage 11 awaits the riders on Wednesday – one practically devoid of any flat roads. After an easy 15km ride out of Gino Bartali’s home town of Ponte a Ema, the first of four categorised climbs should provide the ideal launch pad for a break to form. The finish at Bagno di Romagna comes after a two-tiered descent from Monte Fumaiolo on a day that will suit a break, but will require the GC favourites to stay vigilant to the end.