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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, May 27, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good. - Samuel Johnson

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Giro d'Italia stage 20 reports

We posted the organizer's and stage winner Mikel Nieve's Mitchelton-Scott team reports with the stage results.

GC leader Chris Froome's Team Sky had this to say about the race:

Chris Froome and Team Sky produced an emphatic performance on stage 20 to all but wrap up victory at the 2018 Giro d’Italia. Froome enjoyed strong support across 214 kilometres in the Aosta Valley, with the stage providing the final chance for general classification contenders to take time ahead of the final day in Rome.

Froome was equal to every attack that was thrown at him on the final climb to Cervinia, and eventually crossed the line safely alongside Wout Poels to take a 46-second lead into the final day.

The result means Froome stands on the brink of an incredible Grand Tour triple crown, as the reigning champion of the Tour de France, Vuelta a Espana, and soon to be Giro d’Italia.

"It's an amazing feeling," admitted Froome after the race. He told Eurosport: "I have to say a really big part of being able to do what I was able to do yesterday was everyone believing me and everyone buying into the one plan we had. A lot of times when things don't work out on the general classification for a rider, they lose a few minutes and you can see the team falls apart. Guys start going in the breaks and doing their own thing a little bit more.

"With us it just felt like the guys got behind me everyday. They were like 'listen, you've had a tough day but don't worry you'll be back tomorrow. You'll get better we believe in you.' It just feels amazing to be able to repay them after three weeks of hard work. To finish it off today is just amazing."

Chris Froome

Froome has one more stage to go.

Once again Team Sky demonstrated the strength in depth that helped secure the race’s team prize, with five team-mates riding at Froome’s side as he began the final climb of this year’s race. Poels, Sergio Henao, Kenny Elissonde, David de la Cruz, Salvatore Puccio and Christian Knees continued their superb work to get their team leader across the line.

Despite four separate accelerations from nearest rival Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) Froome looked assured in the maglia rosa, comfortably riding down each move, before launching his own counter attack in the closing stages.

Seventh place on the final stage also ensured that Froome racked up enough points to claim the maglia azzurra mountain jersey, with Team Sky claiming the prize for the third time in as many years.

Froome also explained the challenges of the final day, and those late moves. He added: "They were obviously attacks that I had to follow in the final there but I felt very much in control and very capable of following today. I think everyone had such a hard day yesterday that no one really had the extra legs to go anywhere.

"This Giro has been brutal - absolutely brutal. When someone tends to have a bad day here it's not just a matter of 30 seconds or one minute - it's 10-15 minutes. It's a brutal race. In a way for us it was just to follow and keep an eye on Tom."

The race concludes on Sunday with 115km of a largely ceremonial circuit around Rome.

Here's what Tom Dumoulin's Team Sunweb had to say about the day's racing:

An early breakaway was granted enough freedom to contest the stage honours at stage 20 of the Giro d’Italia today, whilst the battle for the general classification hotted up behind them. Tom Dumoulin remained under the close protection of team mates throughout the stage, ahead of the fireworks which were awaiting on the climb to Cervinia.

As the road begin to rise, Sam Oomen set a hard pace in the select GC group as Tom waited to launch his first attack. Tom accelerated but was immediately followed, and despite plenty more scintillating attempts, he couldn’t shake off his rivals.

After being slightly distanced, he rejoined the group with Sam later joining him. As soon as it became evident that his attempts were unavailing, the white flag was waved and true sportsmanship saw the attention shift to protecting Sam’s top 10 placing in the GC.

The two crossed the line in Cervinia together, with Tom sitting 2nd in the GC and Sam moving up a place to 9th.

Tom Dumoulin

Tom Dumoulin with Chris Froome near the stage finish.

REACTIONS

Tom said: “I’ve had a great three weeks here with the team. I have to thank all of my team mates. I wanted to return the favour and help Sam Oomen at the end there. I was tired today but I would have blamed myself if I didn’t try. I tried everything that I could and Froome was just the better rider. I wasn’t sure if I would have the legs in the final but I knew that I would always regret it if I didn’t try. Now I know that I have no regrets. I’m super proud of the team and super proud of myself.”

Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef added: “Today was a tough day and the last mountain stage. We tried everything possible on the last climb. Sam was really strong and pulling for Tom, Tom attacked a few times to try to drop Froome but he was too strong today. Afterwards we also noticed that some guys in front of Sam had dropped so Tom started to pull for him to see if Sam could still move up. In the end Tom is still second in the GC and because Pinot is out of the GC, Sam moved up to 9th. It’s aeally impressive job from them and the rest of the team.”

Here's the report Bora-hansgrohe sent me:

All roads lead to Rome, but before the peloton had to cover another summit finish in today’s penultimate stage at the Corsa Rosa. Like in the previous days, the riders made the race fast and launched many attacks, Felix Großschartner went into the breakaway of the day and showed a strong performance staying at the front until the final climb. In the end, M Nieve took solo the stage win, while BORA – hansgrohe rider Felix Großschartner took third. In the overall ranking,Patrick Konrad is now sitting 7th and Davide Formolo moved up to 10thplace.

The Stage
The penultimate stage was the last summit finish before the race travel to Rome tomorrow. The route climbed steadily all the way from Susa to Cervinia over more than 210km.

Across the Alps the stage featured a remarkable 4,000m rise, which tucked away in the last 90km, including three KOMS´s. The first climb up to the Col Tsecore, stretched exceeding 12%, following another tough climb before the race tackled up to the last climb of the day, the one-categoryclimb up to the finish in Cervinia.

The Team Tactics
It was another day for the climbers in the peloton and the last chance to make any moves in the overall ranking. BORA – hansgrohe went into Giro’s penultimate stage to secure Patrick Konrad’s final overall position in the top ten but also to try helping Formolo get a top ten spot as well.

The Race
Like in the previous stages a big group escaped relatively early into the 214km stage and built up a maximum gap of 6 minutes. Felix Großschartner and Andreas Schillinger represented BORA – hansgrohe in this big breakaway. As the race climbed up to the first climb of the day,some riders got dropped, but BORA – hansgrohe'sFelix Großschartner was able to stay at the front. During the second climb of the day, many of the favourites had problems to follow the pace and lost contact. Felix and a Mitchelton-Scott rider built the duo in front of the race with a gap of more six minutes over the Maglia Rosa group. The race came alive as M. Nieve launched an attack and built a one-minute gap over Felix Großschartner. Some minutes behind,Davide Formolo and Patrick Konrad stayed with the Maglia Rosa, Davide Formolo was able to open up a small gap but the group closed it.In the final kilometres, M. Nieve took the stage win ahead of R.Gesink, who caught Felix. The young BORA – hansgrohe rider took a strong third place after three weeks of ridding for his teammates. Davide Formolo crossed in the Maglia Rosa group some minutes behind the stage winner the line in 8thplace, Patrick Konrad came in 15th. After 20 stages BORA – hansgrohe arrives with Konrad in 7th and Formolo in 10th place in Rome.

From the Finish Line
“I worked three weeks hard for my teammates, and today I got the chance to try something and I really wanted to use this chance. I finished third, which makes me really happy, the victory wasn’t possible, Nieve was too strong today. But I think the whole Giro went more than wellfor us, we achieved two top ten overall rankings and two stage victories so far, shows that we did a good job over this three weeks.” – Felix Großschartner

“We did our homework the last weeks before the Giro and prepared especially in detail with our performance team. We knew that the monstrous last week hadto be managed well and therefore, we worked a lot on strategies to be able and perform on a steady level in thosestages. We might have missed one or two top results, but we decided to keep precious energy for the decisive stage and the GC battle. I think our tactics played out perfectly and the boys did a stellar job to deliver when it counted most. To have now two riders in the top ten of the Giro is more than we expected. It was also great to be able to give Felix a chance today, and also, he showed his potential finishing at Cervinia in third place. I think that was huge, because it was the last mountain stage and he worked a lot throughout the whole race. taking that into consideration, you can see how strong he is already. Tomorrow we will support again our great sprinter Sam.” – Christian Pömer, sports director 

Thibaut Pinot abandons Giro before final stage

Thibaut Pinot was sitting in third place at the end of stage nineteen. But he could barely finish stage twenty, coming in 88th, 45min 32sec after winner Mikel Nieve.

His Groupama-FDJ team used the term "défaillance", meaning a total mental or physical collapse, to describe his condition. It is reported that Thibaut went to the hospital after the stage because of his extreme exhaustion and dehydration.

Thibaut Pinot

Thibaut Pinot in a better time, looking good while racing in stage 19

Here is a rough translation of part of the Groupama-FDJ post about Pinot's terrible misfortune:

The terrible failure of Thibaut Pinot

May 26, 2018 - Tour of Italy, stage 20

Cycling is the most wonderful sport, it is also the cruelest. In 24 hours, Thibaut Pinot and the Groupama-FDJ team have known both the wonderful and the terrible. Hope and helplessness. After the third place won in Bardonecchia's hard fight [stage 19], Thibaut suffered a terrible failure in the penultimate pass of the Tour of Italy's [21st stage]. Having no more to give, and despite the magnificent support of all his teammates and staff, he ended the stage very late and saw his dream of a podium finish crumbling.

This stage, the last in the mountains, was difficult. But the day after the feat of Thibaut and Sebastien Reichenbach on the road to Bardonecchia, the goal was to ensure the podium and to control the Colombian Lopez (Astana), who remained the only rival for third place. Certainly Thibaut had suffered earlier this week, but the image left at the top of Col delle Finestre the day before, was gone. There was nothing to suggest what would happenin the ascent of the Col de Saint Pantaleon, in the penultimate difficulty of an intense Grand Tour.

"We did not expect this failure, we take it very hard, we have a lot of pain." Mr. Gayant [Director Sportif]

The announcement by Radio-Tour of Thibaut's difficulties during this ascent was a shock. Seeming exhausted, he had been irremediably dropped by the pack.

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