“I never expected to win the Giro… maybe somewhere in the future, maybe one time with a lot of luck… but not this year.” – Tom Dumoulin, winner of the 2017 Giro d’Italia.
A Dutch cyclist had never won the Giro d’Italia. Out of 99 editions, the majority – unsurprisingly – had been won by Italians. Kruijswijk came close in 2016, then along came the 100th edition.
The favourites had been mapped out long before the peloton reached the start line in Sardina, with 3572.2km awaiting them. Quintana (Movistar), the 2014 Giro d’Italia and 2016 Vuelta winner, and Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), the man racing on home grounds with a Tour de France, Vuelta and two Giro d’Italia GC wins under his belt, managed to generate a lot of fanfare. Sky had employed a Thomas/Landa joint leadership to tackle the 21 stage route to Milan, with arguably less drama than a Froome/Wiggins or Quintana/Valverde pairing, while Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) was back again, determined after his crash ending Giro last year.
Yet he wasn’t the Dutchman in the spotlight this year. The time trial technician Tom Dumoulin found himself isolated, attacked and caught short, but relented to give up and claimed the pink jersey with a storming time trial in Milan, taking the maglia rosa and a first Giro win for the Dutch.
The Vuelta, 2015. Stage 20. One day to go until the final stage in Madrid.
Clawing his way back to the top after losing the jersey to Aru after stage 11, with a storming time trial taking 1 minute and 52 sections out of the Italian, Dumoulin was once again in the race lead. The finish line was in sight, Madrid the next and final stage in the Grand Tour, when Dumoulin began going backwards. The Astana packed main group controlling the pace combined with continuously working his way up after being dropped proved too much that day, and he lost almost 4 minutes on the stage.
Fast forward to the Giro in 2017, and Dumoulin faced a different type of problem. A needed natural break before the Umbrailpass on stage 16 while Zakarin (Katusha) attacked from the peloton, which Movistar and Bahrain-Merida had to shut down, provided drama on the queen stage. A high pace was set and Dumoulin was quickly losing time; eventually his lead of 2’41 on Quintana before the stage was slashed – excuse the pun – to just 31 seconds.
“I still made history by s***ting in the wood but now in a positive way. I will go down in the history books for winning the Giro after pooping in the woods, it’s quite amazing.” – Tom Dumoulin.
How did he react? By stating that if they continued to ride in that fashion, he hoped these actions would cost them their podium places; with Pinot (FDJ) and Pozzovivo (AG2R) close behind, this was looking possible. Of course, this was not well received by Nibali, who branded Dumoulin as “cocky”.
A win on time trial stage 10 by 49 seconds ahead of Thomas (Sky) saw the maglia rosa pass from Quintana to Dumoulin, who wore it with a 2’23 lead on the Colombian. The jersey swapped shoulders again by the end of stage 19, after Quintana took over a minute in the Dolomites over Dumoulin, which he had to. There was another time trial to come.
Crossing the line with a time of 33’23, Dumoulin had not won the stage. That honour went to fellow countryman Jos Van Emden (LottoNL-Jumbo), in tears before he would step up to the podium. While Quintana was still on the course, it seemed everyone except the Sunweb rider was already celebrating his victory in the Giro while Dumoulin continuously watched the screen. The seconds were counting down with the gap between himself and Quintana, who admitted he would need the “time trial of his life” to win this Grand Tour. This never arrived, and Dumoulin raised his arms in joy before celebrating his first Giro d’Italia win with his teammates.
Gaviria the Great
With so much drama focused on the battle for GC, it’s easy to forget what happened before the final harsh mountain-packed week. Fernando Gaviria of Quick-Step Floors produced the greatest debut in a Grand Tour in 39 years. The 22-year-old won four stages and the points jersey on his first ever Grand Tour, with the most impressive victory coming from stage 13 after a huge acceleration saw him overtake 6 riders competing for the win. Overtaking teammate Richeze and 2nd placed Bennett (Bora), Gaviria had appeared out of nowhere to raise his arms in celebrating before crossing the line.
Fight for White
The battle for the young rider jersey continued until the last day, which saw Adam Yates of Orica-Scott fight until the end, yet was ultimately was beaten by Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) by just over a minute in the white jersey standings. Both young riders placed in top-ten overall however, with Yates in 9th after climbing back up from 16th after that motorbike accident, and Jungels finishing 8th.
“We came out with a top ten in the general classification, which was one of two objectives for me, so I’m not completely disappointed about losing white.” – Adam Yates.
GC Contenders Crash
A badly parked police motorbike before the Blockhaus on stage 9 of the 100th Giro d’Italia took many by surprise. Kelderman (Sunweb) clipped the motorbike after trying to avoid it, unfortunately bringing himself and many other riders behind him to the ground. Of course, who would expect a motorbike to be parked on the road? Team Sky were the most affected, with almost all of their riders crashing. While Geraint Thomas fought hard to carry on after popping his shoulder back in, he abandoned just before stage 13, his GC hopes gone. This left Landa – who was over 26 minutes behind Quintana after stage 9. Knowing he could still take something from the Giro, he battled on, winning stage 19 after 2 second placings on stages 16 and 18, and kept hold of the King of the Mountains jersey until Milan. Yates was also caught up in the chaos, impacting his own GC contention by losing almost 5 minutes. Yet unfortunately, accidents involving motorbikes are not uncommon. It’s a serious yet sensitive topic that needs to be addressed, for Demoitié, for Broeckx. Improvements are needed.
The Cannondale Curse™… Broken
Well, you know what they say about buses. You wait ages for one and then two come along at once? A two year WorldTour win drought was ended by Talansky in dramatic fashion on Mount Baldy at the Tour of California. This wasn’t enough for Cannondale however, with Pierre Rolland attacking from the start of stage 17 the Giro d’Italia, staying away and finishing the stage without another rider in sight after distancing the likes of Costa (UAE), Izagirre and Sutherland (Movistar) and Fraile (Dimension Data).
“I’m just so happy. I’ve waited for this moment for such a long time. In 2015 I finished second in a Tour de France stage, and last year was just a year to forget for me – I crashed twice in the Tour. It’s been a long wait. I’ve worked so hard this winter with Jonathan Vaughters, my new coach. My winter was so, so hard, and now I’ve won because of my work.” – Pierre Rolland.
While Tom Dumoulin took the overall at the Giro, it was Jos Van Emden who bested him in the last day ITT. Taking the hot seat from Quinziato (BMC) early on, the Dutchman had a nervous wait to see if his time would be beat. It wasn’t, and the LottoNL-Jumbo rider could not contain his happiness – both for himself and Dumoulin.
“I’m so happy. So emotional. I was too may times second and this is a great day for Dutch cycling. Tom wins, I win, finally. There are two really happy people inside this tent.” – Jos Van Emden.
After crossing the finish line in Milan, Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal) completed his 17th consecutive Grand Tour. He already broke the 57-year-old record after the 2015 Vuelta, which was his 13th consecutive Grand Tour. A crash on stage 14 had no chance of stopping the Australian, despite the hairline fracture in his hand.
“It wasn’t easy. They think I’ve got a hairline fracture in my palm, so it’s very painful. I always like to finish things that I’ve started, so I finished it.” – Adam Hansen.
The Giro d’Italia was one of the most exciting Grand Tours to watch in recent years. The fierce Dumoulin/Quintana/Nibali competition, toilet-gate, broken records, broken limbs… the 100th edition is not one to forget.
- Is TVG really a GC contender again? Maybe the odds are against him. 2015 saw two DNF’s in both the Tour de France and the Vuelta, with 2016 also seeing another Vuelta DNF. His greatest placings in a Grand Tour stem from his 5th in both the 2012 and 2014 Tour de France’s. After finally winning his first individual Grand Tour stage on stage 18, the American seems to think so. “I’m going to try again for the GC in a Grand Tour.” Well, there’s that.
- Poor Thibaut Pinot. A podium at the Giro d’Italia was in sight – a 2nd or 3rd placing on the cards after his impressive win on stage 20 gave him, not Quintana, much needed bonus seconds. One stage stood between him and a podium place, a time trial. While this in no way suited Quintana, Thibaut is the French national time trial champion. Yet the Frenchman suffered and ended the day in 4th position on GC, missing out on the podium by 37 seconds. Was the Giro just one day too long for him?
I’ll end this blog post with perhaps one of my favourite tweets that summarises the Giro, from Neal Rogers:
- Jos Van Emden (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo: 0:33:08
- Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb: +0:00:15
- Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team: +0:00:27
- Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Team Sky: +0:00:31
- Joey Rosskopf (USA) BMC Racing Team: +0:00:35
- Jan Bárta (Cze) Bora-Hansgrohe: +0:00:39
- Georg Preidler (Aut) Team Sunweb: +0:00:51
- Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors: +0:00:54
- Jan Tratnik (Slo) CCC Sprandi Polkowice: +0:00:57
- Audrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team: +0:01:02
Overall Top 10:
- Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb: 90:34:54
- Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team: +0:00:31
- Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida: +0:00:40
- Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ: +0:01:17
- Ilnur Zakarin (Ru) Katusha-Alpecin: +0:01:56
- Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale: +0:03:11
- Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek Segafredo: +0:03:41
- Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors: +0:07:04
- Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott: +0:08:10
- Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac: +0:15:17