For two weeks, Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) and the Giro d’Italia gruppo had laboured under the growing impression that Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) simply could not be defeated when the road climbed. For two weeks, on every manner of mountain and hill that Italy has to offer, the maglia rosa was impassive of face and light of foot, his lead seemingly impregnable.
In the space of two kilometres near the summit of Prato Nevoso, however, Dumoulin put an altogether different complexion on the race by halving his deficit to the Briton in the overall standings. The Dutchman’s two accelerations, first alone and then in pursuit of Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida), placed Yates in difficulty for the first time in this Giro. All of a sudden, the margins have drawn tighter.
With two mammoth mountain stages still to come before the race leaves the Alps, Dumoulin now trails Yates by just 28 seconds. Perhaps as importantly, for the first time since Yates seized the maglia rosa in Sicily, there has been a shift in the momentum of the race. Small wonder that Dumoulin couldn’t stop repeating the same word when he was swarmed by the sizeable contingent of Dutch reporters just past the finish line. “Mooi,” he kept saying. ‘Nice.’
“It is his first weak moment in this race, and that is nice,” Dumoulin said. “I thought I would just try to accelerate. Then I had to sit down, and Froome came past me. But I felt that I had enough in the tank to follow him and Pozzovivo.”
Stage 18 was the first of three in the Piedmontese Alps, and ever since setting out from Israel, Dumoulin likely had the page marked off in his Garibaldi, as the Giro roadbook is known. A year ago, after all, he scored a stage victory in this same corner of the world on a markedly similar stage to Oropa by accelerating clear near the summit.
“Today I was better, and that is nice, but I am also well aware that this stage suited me very well,” Dumoulin said. “It was super slow and flat all day, and then there was a maximum effort on the climb to the finish.
You can read more at Cyclingnews.com