Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) will go into tomorrow’s final stage of the Giro d’Italia wearing the maglia rosa but the 2014 winner will face a massive task to try and hang on to win overall.
The Colombian tried to gain time on favourite Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) on today’s penultimate stage from Pordenone to Asiago but in the end was only able to gain fifteen seconds on the Dutchman. Quintana was one of five riders who broke clear on the final climb, with Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) taking the stage win ahead of Ilnur Zakarin (Team Katusha – Alpecin) and Vincenzo Nibali Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team
Quintana now leads Nibali by 38″, Pinot by 43″ and Dumoulin by 53″ ahead of tomorrow’s 29-km individual time-trial in Milan.
Nibali and Quintana tried a number of times to break Dumoulin but the Dutchman fought his way back. However, seven kilometres from the top of the final climb, the pair got away. They were subsequently joined by Pinot and he trio caught up with an earlier move from Pozzovivo and Zakarin.
Behind Dumoulin worked with Bob Jungels (Quick Step Floors) and Adam Yates (Orica-Scott) amongst others to try and limit their losses and for a time it looked like they might catch Quintana’s group. It wasn’t to be though, although they did limit their losses.
Nairo Quintana: “Better in this place than behind! We tried everything and this is what we got. It’s difficult in such situations to try and convince the whole group to work as hard as you in the finale, even if everyone inside that move was equally interested on pushing. The only important thing now is that we’ve got the Maglia Rosa, which was our initial goal heading into the final TT – though we’d of course have liked to enjoy a bigger margin – and we’ll give our best tomorrow with what’s left.
“Many times in a three-week stage race, you’re made of pure suffering, even if it doesn’t look so from the outside. It’s really difficult to either attack or defend yourself against top-quality riders. It was such a difficult day for me. Once we got ahead of the Dumoulin group I pushed with all that I had, trying to open a gap on him because he’s the biggest candidate for the win tomorrow. I wasn’t really thinking about the sprint, the day’s win or the bonus seconds, but just on distancing him as much as I could. He also had some people taking turns behind and the gap got quite smaller than we initially built after the top of the climb.
“Sunday’s TT will be much different to the first one in this Giro. It’s a pan-flat course, perfectly suited for specialists. I just hope to defend myself well. We haven’t got that much time on our rivals, but sometimes things turn out well for me on such courses, and obviously, I’ll do my best. The physical condition seems to be level within us, and I feel like gaps won’t be really big. Dumoulin is the most dangerous rival, and Nibali and Pinot also do well on TTs. However, should things go just normal tomorrow, I shouldn’t lose too much time. I also rely on fatigue: after 20 days of gruelling racing in this Giro, I should stand a little more of a chance against them.”