Team Sunweb rider Tom Dumoulin was on the attack at the Giro d’Italia Thursday, making a strong move at the finish of Stage 18 to gain significant time on general classification leader Simon Yates. Riding his TCR Advanced SL and wearing the Giant Rev helmet, the defending Giro champ charged up the final climb to Prato Nevoso, leaving Yates 28 seconds behind and slicing his GC deficit in half to just 28 seconds.
“Finally, I took some time back,” said Dumoulin, who sits second overall in the GC with four stages left. “Today was perfect for me, slow and then full gas uphill. I was waiting until the right moment and at two kilometers to go I tried to see what was possible. Yates responded to my first attack, then [Chris] Froome attacked and took me and [Domenico] Pozzovivo. Later I found out Yates was dropped, which was of course good for me, but I didn’t expect him to drop.”
Stage 18, a 196km race from Abbiategrasso to Prato Nevoso, was the first of three stages in the Alps expected to shake things up and decide the winner of the 101stGiro d’Italia. The stage was mostly flat until the end, when it finished with a 13km climb.
Team Sunweb played it to perfection. An early breakaway group of 12 riders went clear in the first 30 kilometers, and eventually built up a large 15-minute lead on the main group. Dumoulin’s support crew stayed with him, helping to deliver him to the decisive final climb.
“Our goal was to protect Tom during the day and place him well into the last climb,” said Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef. “In the end the stage became a battle between the GC contenders. It was a really good job of Tom taking 28 seconds back.”
The next two days will be decisive. Friday’s Stage 19 to Bardonecchia is a brutal day with four mountain passes including the Colle delle Finestre, the Cima Coppi (the highest point of this year’s Giro), the Sestriere, and an extremely steep climb to the finish at Jaffereau. The second-to-last stage covers three Category 1 climbs over 214km, before Sunday’s final stage in Rome.
“Today was a good day but I know the coming two days are going to be much different,” Dumoulin said. “So we will just have to see how things go. The race isn’t over.”