Wow! I was off by a minute today, and I was one of the more accurate guesses! Dumoulin crushed it, Geraint Thomas as well! Quintana did crappier than expected, Pinot and Kruijswijk as well. Nibali, Yates, Mollema, and Jungels all did solid based off their capabilities.
So my podium predictions are still all intact. Quintana now has 2:30 to make up, the Giro is officially on. Quintana and Movistar will need to gun it every mountain stage. Dumoulin is in about as good a position as he can be and with a whole ‘nother TT on the last day he may actually have enough time to win this overall! Like I said, the only guy who could seriously challenge Quintana. Quintana will need to crush it on every mountain he can get, every single one. Amador, Anacona, and Izagirre will be need to be on their game every mountain as well to help him out.
Now, Quintana did not have a good TT, by Movistar’s own admission, it was worse than they expected. But I don’t think that’s such a bad thing. Quintana is here for the long haul. Yes he won Blockhaus and he looked GREAT! But if you think about it, he didn’t look significantly better than he has all year (Valencia and Tirreno where he tore everyone else up as well). I think this crappy TT is indicative of a big Giro third week and flying form at the Tour. I do think, from Valencia to now, he has been at his best level of climbing ever, AND he is timing his peak to be even higher soon. He’ll hit that peak at the end of the Giro and it will carry through the Tour. I think Nairo will look significantly better in the TT in Milan and he will be cracking Dumoulin in the mountains that third week.
I still think Quintana will win this Giro, but he’s gotta start working immediately (no 2015 Tour “wait until the last week” crap, especially with another TT looming at the finish). I love Tom Dumoulin, because I still do not dare to guess at what his ceiling is! He could easily have the climbing chops to hold this lead, even if he cracks he can be strategic about easing up to limit losses. He could pull some Froomey mountain uphill TTing if worst comes to worst. Dumoulin is absolutely in the driver’s seat and we will see how deep Movistar can make him go for the next ten days. That is mouthwatering news for us viewers. Quintana is a fighter, he’s in this, he’s still going to go for this win, but he’s got a bigger hole to climb out of than expected. Movistar underestimate people too often.
I think Movistar has to start working tomorrow! Quintana should try to spring an attack with a group like he and Contador did at the Vuelta last year. But that is hard to pull off. So I would say Movistar just have to drill it alllllll day. Rory Sutherland, Bennati, and JJ Rojas: burn it early, light this thing up. I’d also say that they should try to recruit Team Sky to help! Geraint Thomas is still in shape to get a podium. Really he probably never had a prayer to beat Quintana himself, but this podium is not gone yet. Ride Quintana’s coat tails as long as you can! If you got the two strongest teams working all day at least a few people from the top ten will be isolated, probably put in the red, maybe dropped. You may not break any of them tomorrow, but Thomas is tough and just needs to work them the whole rest of the race. It’ll be tougher for Movistar to drop Dumoulin, but you must isolate him first and that could be doable tomorrow.
Maybe Sky won’t help, because they’re still licking their literal wounds, but Movistar really should gun it to make a statement. Force your will upon this peloton! Quintana is here to do the double this summer!
Stage finishes with a small group sprint, maybe 20 GC & climbers. Vincenzo Nibali, Patrick Konrad, Michael Woods, Davide Formolo, Omar Fraile, Diego Rosa are guys I think might be there/hang on over the top of the last climb and can then either breakaway down the descent or win a sprint from 20-30 guys. I’ll go for Woods tomorrow, I’ve seen him sprint with Gerrans and he’s been on good form this race: maybe there’s too much climbing for him but I think he’s got a descent chance if Movistar doesn’t make this stage as hard as I think it will be.