Friday’s sprint stage, shit, Gaviria’s the fuckin’ man. Four stages in his first Grand Tour. That RIDICULOUS sprint on the 4th one? Adam Blythe was saying he held over 1000 watts for 20 seconds! What the hell? I love Colombians, and I especially love that this one is different! He’s a racer, he’s there to win, who cares how: make it a sprint, make the whole day hard, start out of position wayyy too close to the line, who cares, he’s gonna try to win. He sounds a lot like Sagan. And he’s honoring the Giro with the BIG goal to finish it even though no stage suits him. He also has the sprint jersey, but we saw Greipel abandon last year while wearing it. I disliked seeing Ewan drop out (3rd GT he’s done that, finish one off!). Work for Yates, he needs every teammate!
Yeah, Gaviria’s great, one of the cyclists I won’t shut up about right now. He’s been bringing a smile to my face many times this May.
I love the fist pumps from Dumoulin! You know he’s pumped, but it’s not too much, not too little, it’s just right! I like Valverde, but I hate the sit straight up and spread out the arms pose he usually goes for, looking like some Anointed-One. Dumoulin’s is perfect.
Ok, that Oropa climb. Holy Shit! This is just from my viewing stand point, but that looked like the most brutally fast, high speed climb I’ve ever seen. I thought it was really good too, because I thought EVERYONE rode the climb smartly. Tejay sucked, but what can you do? Pinot left off the pace, I’m not that surprised, at least he didn’t attack and really blow it. Most people sat on, besides Mollema, which was the right thing to do at that pace! I thought Nibali looked good, but he needs to find MORE form to keep up with Dumoulin and Quintana. Quintana, I thought that was a good attack, I thought Movistar did everything right. Tom Dumoulin was just purely unstoppable Saturday morning (my timezone).
Now, they were saying it and I agreed beforehand mid-stage, that this really was a climb Dumoulin would thrive on. Steep stuff, not super long though. Dum pulled a page out of Froome’s book and did his own pace for it. Honestly, I’d go so far to say he perfected Froome’s move. When Froome does it, it’s when he’s not on PEAK PEAK PEAK Tour form (so usually the Vuelta or any time before June), and he starts yoyo-ing off the elite group EARLY on those climbs, big or small. Sometimes he comes back and sometimes he never does. When Froome is in shape (the Dauphine and Tour.) we never really see him do this, because he doesn’t have to. The Death Star squad doesn’t let anyone get far and Froome makes the decisive move. Dumoulin meanwhile demonstrated this tactic on Saturday while in full good shape, he let Quintana go, and confidently rode his own race. What was bad ass was that 5 or 6 guys were sitting on him and then hanging onto his coat tails when he knew he could get to Quintana, and I think he was still going at a controlled pace when he HAWKED Quintana down. I mean he was like an alligator locking him in his jaws. Not only did he catch Quintana (at his own pace), he fucking cracked him! Cracked him! I was very disappointed in Quintana for losing so many seconds in that final. I would have hoped he could have at least hung onto Dumoulin and only lost time through bonus seconds. Dumoulin OWNED that climb, it will be hard to break him, I’ll talk about that further down…
I only saw the last 15k of this stage, I wish I saw the fast climbing they were all talking about. I said Jungels would do something at this Giro, he’s backed up last year’s pink stint and now has a stage. He may even be able to keep the white jersey though it really should be Yates’. Quickstep just rollin’ in this Giro. Also I’ll note that Kangert crash was one of the worst I’ve seen recently, jeez that was scary.
But the guy I really wanna talk about is Quintana. Hits the deck and gets curled up under a barrier. Not. What. He. Fuckin’. Needs. Right. Now. But Dumoulin’s a (in this case literal) Boss and has the field wait up for him. You come back from that crash and contine to fly down the descent with these guys and come up with a sprint for 2nd place on the stage with bonus seconds. Now Quintana, probably got lucky there, because he was just sitting on Jungels’ wheel and he rode him in. I would have said Jungels was the fastest from the group, and then I would have taken Nibbles and Pinot next, probably at least Yatesy and Dumoulin ahead of Quintana as well. So anyway, every second is going to be vital for Quintana, that is clear to everyone; but in my opinion, that was a pretty big statement for him. After Oropa, people could start whispering in his ear “Ease up for the Tour, coast, it’s over.” But he comes out there, crashes on a stage that has been brutally fast, descends with a wild pack, and then does his best not just to make sure he finishes with the pack but actually competing for a win! That’s a good 24 rebound, Quintana is still here to win.
Win it in the third week, let’s see him do it. Let’s see the unreal form that we (I) hope he’s been building up to, and that will be there in the Tour! Let’s see if Movistar can crack Dumoulin. Then again this is all probably based more on if Dumoulin has the stuff to win. Tomorrow is the big one, but Dumoulin knows the Motirolo and Stelvio, the next days not as much; then again he didn’t know Oropa and saying that “worked out for him” is an understatement. So Quintana needs to start clawing back time tomorrow. He didn’t on the Bartali stage, he lost time on Oropa. I will give him: GC battle on Bartali stage was difficult right after TT, and that Oropa climb was suited more to Dumoulin. If Dumoulin is good at time trials, and he’s good at steep climbs (my favorite GT stage: his victory at Cumbre del Sol(?) on stage 9 2015 Vuelta over Froome–and MANY others), then you’d infer he’s probably good at speedy high tempo climbs too…..so what isn’t he good at?
I think you’ve got to hope he can’t do LONG climbs. He said today, he’s been training on the Stelvio, but maybe Quintana can rip him apart? We’ve seen Dumoulin collaspe on a big mountainous day, maybe he will here? He’s in much better shape than the 2015 Vuelta (where he was just there to ride for form for the Worlds TT) so I think he will handle himself. But again he’s in the hot seat: everyone is gunning for him, he will have few to no allies, and if Quintana can start chipping away at him, the momentum will swing away from him. Dumoulin could very easily strategically seceded seconds to Quintana tomorrow to not push himself too deep, but that could also start getting out of hand real quick. This week will be Dumoulin’s to lose: big lead, and he even has a TT on the last day if things go out of hand.
If I’m Quintana, I’d better be taking some time on Dumoulin tomorrow or I may just start preparing for the Tour. None of this last day Alpe d’Huez attack bullshit on a huge lead, save that crap for the Tour. Do not destroy yourself in last ditch efforts with LOW rates of success to win overall, 2nd place isn’t bad, it’s just not good for you. Tomorrow’s the fuckin’ day. Give yourself a real prayer and some momentum for the next day. Two+ minutes? Awe yeah, more will be a’comin’! One minute? Solid start, let’s continue to press this. Thirty seconds? Ok, it’s something, we’re obligated to keep trying. Let’s also say these are the possible time gaps at the top over of the last climb before the descent where who can guess and infer what that will mean. Let’s also note, I might be saying at some point: “Quintana don’t go down swinging if this is probably a lost cause.” Quintana will probably be saying: “I’ve got 5 stages to fight for this damn win, I will try to crack him at EVERY possibility, no matter how late in the race. I’m here to win, I don’t care about the rest of my season.” Quintana, Froome, and Contador have enough ambition and pride to NEVER settle for less than 1st at any point, that is great to see.
I still have a feeling Quintana takes this, which means Dumoulin probably has to suffer some sort of real misfortune or Quintana actually does widdle him down the next four days (my bet’s on misfortune)! What I will also say: we are seeing the next Miguel Indurain. Next year I want to see a TT heavy Tour and watch Dumoulin and Froome REALLYYYYY square off. And finally when both careers are over, Tom Dumoulin will have won more Tours than Nairo Quintana.