Colombia’s Nairo Quintana and Italian Vincenzo Nibali tipped their hat to rival Tom Dumoulin after he raced to a sensational, final-day victory to make history as the first Dutch winner of the 100th Giro d’Italia Sunday.
Dumoulin, the Olympic time trial silver medallist in Rio, trailed 2014 champion Quintana by 53sec after both he and Nibali turned the screw on a final, thrilling day in the mountains on Saturday won by Frenchman Thibaut Pinot (FDJ).
But with a 29.3km time trial set to decide the race, Dumoulin — who beat Quintana by nearly three minutes in a longer, hillier race against the clock on stage 10 — seized the day.
Although finishing 15sec behind compatriot and close friend Jos van Emden (Lotto NL) in front of thousands of waving fans at Milan’s landmark Duomo cathedral, the flying Dutchman did enough on the 21st and final stage to claim his maiden grand tour triumph.
Quintana, who finished 31sec behind in second overall, said he could have no complaints.
“I’m not disappointed at all really,” said the Colombian. “I don’t know if I could have done something better or worse during the Giro, but with Tom Dumoulin being so strong in the time trial, I think I deserve to be where I am.”
A two-time runner-up at the Tour de France, Quintana will now target the world’s most famous bike race in July, adding: “As usual, I’ll be going there to give it my all and try to win it.”
Nibali, who finished a disappointing 13th on the stage at 1:09 behind Van Emden to finish third overall at 40sec behind, became a key ally of Quintana’s in the mountains as they both tried to shake off the stubborn Dutchman in the final week.
But despite Dumoulin suffering “bad legs” on stage 19 to hand the pink jersey to Quintana, he would soon take it back after Nibali and Quintana’s combined efforts on Saturday ultimately failed.
“I couldn’t do any more than this, my energy was spent,” said Nibali, the 2015 Tour de France champion who won the race in 2013 and 2016.
Nibali, though, claimed the inclusion of two time trials in the 100th edition — totalling 69.1 km — had favoured Dumoulin.
“It was the time trials that really tipped the balance in this Giro,” added the Italian, who won a thrilling stage 16 into Bormio in which Dumoulin was forced to chase frantically over the last climb of the Stelvio after suffering an embarrassing, unscheduled toilet stop.
Dumoulin, who wore the pink jersey on his maiden Giro d’Italia last year after winning the opening stage time trial in his native Apeldoorn, saw his hopes take flight with his 10th stage time trial victory in Montefalcone.
A day after Quintana had taken the pink jersey with a great win atop Blockhaus, the Colombian tumbled to second overall at nearly three minutes behind — and Dumoulin’s dream began to take shape.
“It was only stage nine, the Giro had really just started, but Quintana showed he was very strong,” Dumoulin said Sunday.
“I started to think about the podium then, but I didn’t really think about going for overall victory.”
Veteran teammate Laurens ten Dam, however, revealed their victory ambitions started months ago.
“I was in the US in the winter and I saw the Giro course and I was immediately texting with Tom about time trials, and I said, ‘you have to do the Giro’,” said Ten Dam.
“Then I was beginning to doubt because every week there was another contender, Quintana was going to do it, Nibali, Aru all those guys. I thought maybe it was better to do the Tour de France.
“In the end we had a big discussion and we said that we have to go for it to try for the GC (general classification) first time.
“He impressed me so much in the mountains this year.”
UAE Team Emirates’ Rui Costa continued his dream run as he secured another second-place finish during Stage 19 of the Giro d’Italia.
It was Rui’s third such finish in the race having finished second in Stage 11 and 17.
Team Sky rider Mikel Landa soloed over the finish in triumph following a 191km ride from San Candido to the summit finish at Piancavallo.
The Spaniard attacked Costa 10 km from the summit, going solo for most of the climb to finish nearly two minutes ahead of his Portuguese rival.
It was a commendable performance nonetheless from Costa, who said: “I had circled today’s stage on my calendar, it was a good course for me and the first part of the race was going to plan.
“Then the situation changed when the top rider group bridged the gap from the breakaway meaning we had to start all over again to pull away from them.”
Costa tried to keep up with Landa but admitted it was too steep a challenge.
“I managed to attack once again and stayed with Landa when he counter-attacked on the final climb. I tried to stay with him, but today he was stronger,” he told UAE Team Emirates’ website.
There is still one more stage that’s suitable for attacks and although I spent a lot of energy today and yesterday, I’ll try to do my best“.
Colombia’s Nairo Quintana took possession of the Giro d’Italia pink jersey a day after Dutch rival Tom Dumoulin laughed off the Movistar climber’s tactics to “make me lose the race”.
Quintana, the 2014 champion who rides for Movistar, finished nearly eight and a half minutes behind Team Sky rider Mikel Landa after the Spaniard soloed over the finish in triumph following a 191km ride from San Candido to the summit finish at Piancavallo.
But it was enough to give the 2014 pink jersey winner, who saw Dumoulin make a “rookie mistake” and struggle throughout the fourth of five days in the mountains, the race lead two days before the 100th edition finishes in Milan.
Dumoulin, bidding to become the Giro’s first Dutch champion, dropped to second overall at 38secs with Italy’s two-time champion Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain) now third at 43, 10 secs ahead of Frenchman Thibaut Pinot (FDJ).
With one final day in the mountains on Saturday’s 20th and penultimate stage from Pordenone to Asiago, Quintana now has his work cut out.
The 21st and final stage Sunday is a mainly flat time trial over 29.3 km from Monza to Milan — and Dumoulin was over two minutes faster than the Colombian on the 10th stage time trial last week.
“We have to try and take more time tomorrow,” said Quintana. “The time trial will be decisive.”
Sunweb team leader Dumoulin has produced some valiant efforts trying to save his pink jersey this week, including a brave solo climb over the formidable Stelvio climb following an embarrassing, unscheduled toilet stop.
But a day after sparking a spat with Quintana and Nibali, the Dutchman was given payback.
He shook hands with Nibali before the stage started, but Italy’s two-time winner was quickly involved when Movistar put the pedal to the metal on the descent of the first climb.
It caught Dumoulin cold, and he admitted: “I had bad legs from the start and I made a rookie mistake at the beginning, sitting at the back of the bunch on the downhill.
“Then Bahrain and Movistar split the bunch and I was in the second group and needed, with my bad legs, to go to the maximum to come back, in the middle of the stage. So that was really unnecessary.”
Throughout the stage, Dumoulin was in danger of losing the race lead after being isolated prior to the final, 15.4 km climb to Piancavallo.
Landa, who had been part of an earlier breakaway that built a lead of nearly 10 minutes, finished second to Tejay Van Garderen on Thursday.
But the Spaniard made no mistake when he attacked Rui Costa of Team UAE Emirates 10 km from the summit, going solo for most of the climb to finish nearly two minutes ahead of his Portuguese rival.
With a little over 8km to race, Dumoulin was left trailing as he struggled to match the pace being set by Nibali’s teammate Franco Pellizotti.
Pinot, who boosted his chances of a podium finish on Thursday, than attacked Nibali and Quintana’s group to close to within 10secs of the Italian.