Quintana keeps lead but Dumoulin remains pick to win Giro
ASIAGO, Italy (AP) — Nairo Quintana held on to the pink jersey in the penultimate stage of the Giro d’Italia on Saturday but couldn’t be sure of victory. The 100th race will be decided on the last stage.
Thibaut Pinot of France won the 20th stage in a sprint finish ahead of Ilnur Zakarin of Russia and defending champion Vincenzo Nibali.
Entering the concluding time trial on Sunday, Quintana leads Nibali by 39 seconds, and Pinot was third, 43 seconds back.
Tom Dumoulin dropped from second to fourth, 53 seconds back, although he still remains the favorite considering his time trialing skills.
The last stage is a flat 29-kilometer (18-mile) individual time trial from Monza’s Formula One race track to Milan.
Dumoulin dominated the race’s first time trial in Stage 10, and also won a time trial at the Tour de France last year.
Quintana regained the pink jersey on Friday and entered Saturday’s stage with a 38-second lead over Dumoulin.
“I’m happy. We have had a good fight with the other rivals. It was important not to lose any time on them but I also wanted to gain some,” Quintana said. “I didn’t gain as much as I wanted on Tom (Dumoulin) but there was nothing more we could do. Now we’ll play all our cards flat out tomorrow.”
In the Stage 10 time trial, which was 39 kilometers (24 miles), Dumoulin finished more than two minutes ahead of Nibali and nearly three minutes ahead of Quintana and Pinot.
That time trial was hilly, while Sunday’s stage is flat, which should suit Dumoulin even more.
Pinot required nearly five hours to complete the 190-kilometer (118-mile) route from Pordenone to Asiago, which featured two first-category climbs: A long 24-kilometer ascent to Monte Grappa and a shorter but steeper 14-kilometer rise to Foza.
Attacks from Nibali, Quintana, Pinot and Zakarin put Dumoulin in difficulty on the climb to Foza but the Dutchman limited his deficit on the flatter finale.
Dumoulin finished the stage 15 seconds behind his direct rivals, with Pinot, Zakarin and Nibali also gaining time bonuses.
“Until three kilometers to go I only thought of gaining time, but in the last three kilometers I really had the stage win in mind,” Pinot said.
“It’s not easy to win a stage when racing for GC (general classification) and this was my last opportunity. However it’s not enough to have gained 25 seconds on Tom Dumoulin. Tomorrow’s time trial suits him really well but I’ll do my best to limit the losses and get the best possible final result.”
Steven Kruijswijk, who was eighth overall, abandoned the race before the stage due to stomach problems.