Strava stats show just how hard and fast the pros rode on yesterday’s brutal Giro d’Italia stage

Most riders hit their highest power numbers in the first five kilometres of the stage

The 18th stage of the Giro d’Italia may not have been long at just 131km, but it was certainly tough, with five categorised including a summit finish in Ortisei, and some pretty amazing stats on Strava for us to ogle over.

As was expected for such a short stage, the racing was fast from the start as a large number of riders attempted to make it into the break.

Cannondale-Drapac‘s David Villela was one of them, with the Italian rider averaging 343 watts for the first hour of racing to the top of the Passo Pordoi.

>>> Tom Dumoulin fends off Nairo Quintana’s attacks as Tejay van Garderen wins Giro d’Italia stage 18

That number included a number of surges as Villela accelerated to close gaps and make attacks, including hitting 926 watts just 50 seconds after the flag dropped as part of a fast first four kilometres of racing where he averaged 378 watts.

Villela successfully made it in to the final break, only being caught in the final kilometre, and looking at his power numbers you can see him fatiguing throughout the day.

One the first climb of the Passo Pordoi he averaged 381 watts for 29-55, on the second, the Passo Valparola, 352 watts for 29-24, and by the final climb he was down to 346 watts for 27-53.

Villela was caught on the final climb by the GC contenders who didn’t look to be going full gas until the final few kilometres.


Watch: Giro d’Italia stage 18 highlights


For much of the climb the pace was set by Nairo Quintana‘s team-mate Winner Anacona, with the Movistar rider averaging 346 watts for 25-03. For comparison Anacona averaged 394 for 19-41 on the first half of the Blockhaus climb on stage nine as he set Quintana up for his attack.

Despite being the time where he was most prominent to TV viewers, this final effort was far from Anacona’s biggest of the race.

Movistar’s tactics were to put the Colombian in the breakaway so that he could be up the road to help Quintana when he launched his ultimately unsuccessful attack midway through the stage.

>>> Alex Dowsett uploads 10 mile time trial to Strava with astonishing power and speed figures

To make it into the break, Anacona had to put in a huge effort of 1,123 watts just two minutes into the stage, then average 367 watts for the first climb up the Pordoi.

Meanwhile in the main group, Velon gives an insight into the efforts of a few of the GC contenders, including the pink jersey of Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb).

Dumoulin’s most worrying moment of the stage came when Quintana and Vincenzo Nibali attacked with more than 50km to go on the Passo Gardena. In response, the Dutchman has to average 460 watts for just over two minutes as he manages to chase on before the summit.

The final four kilometres Dumoulin faced another dig from Quintana, then decided going on the attack himself before sitting up as Quintana and Nibali sat on his wheel as other GC riders went up the road.

>>> Five talking points from stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia

Despite this lull, Dumoulin still averaged 342 watts for the final 7-35 of racing, while the lighter Quintana put out much less power with 272 watts.

While Dumoulin and Quintana hung around and covered the final four kilometres at 31.6kmh, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) went on the attack as he tried to move up the general classification.

The Frenchman was much faster, averaging 36.2kmh as he pursued Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing) and Mikel Landa (Team Sky), even hitting 63kmh in his final sprint for the line.


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‘Every day that passes, the bigger the gruppetto becomes’: How sprinters survive the Giro d’Italia mountains

We asked the fast-men remaining at the 2017 Giro d’Italia how they got through the difficult mountain days of the final week

Climbing the Stelvio, Mortirolo and passes in the Dolomites appears easy for the race leaders, but how do the sprinters survive the among the Giro d’Italia‘s giants?

The 18th stage to Ortisei included three 2000-metre passes and two smaller ones. The favourites finished in three hours, 54 minutes. The gruppetto, or the large number of riders who form behind to make the time limit, rolled in 35 minutes later.

>>> What gears do the pros use in the Giro d’Italia’s mountain stages?

“You are normally safe in the gruppetto, but I went deep on the Stelvio stage and paid for that in stage 17,” Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) told Cycling Weekly.

“I get much information from the car. And normally, I find the older respected riders.

“In the Tour de France, I look for Bernie Eisel, he keeps things nice and steady. Here I think it’s Filippo Pozzato, I try to look for him, but he goes in way harder, harder at the beginning and eases in the end.”

Pippo knows his way around a gruppetto (Sunada)

Bennett is one of the few sprinters that remain in the 100th edition of the Giro d’Italia. Most have gone home since only mountain days and a time trial remain. Stage winners Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) and André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) already abandoned.

“I like to pass time with Philip Deignan, he’s from Ireland, as well. At the start I as talking with Caleb a bit, he’s a good laugh, and we are both sprinters and with the same mentality.”

“There were some experts in the past, a few years ago, when I started I always looked around and my DS told me to look for those guys,” Ewan’s lead-out man Luka Mezgec (Orica-Scott) said.

“But these days, there’s not a real guy to watch. Like sometimes when Eisel is there, you can watch and rely on him, but now everyone is pushing pushing, that’s why some guys explode. There’s no really respected guy who says, ‘gruppetto’ and everyone pauses. No, that’s gone.”

The race organiser calculates the time limit based on the winner’s time. On Thursday’s stage 18, it was 21 per cent.

Anyone who goes over that time limit is eliminated. Fortunately, this Giro d’Italia has been kind to the riders so far. And in a gruppetto, there is safety in numbers because a organiser would find it hard to eliminate large group even if it was out of the time limit.

“We have to be good, at least good enough to hold the gruppetto tempo. The trick is to not to go into the red on the starts with the up hills. Once you do it, you blow your tits off and you suffer for the rest of the day,” added Mezgec.

“I always start the climb at the front, go my own pace and slip back. If the gruppetto is established, I drop down to it, otherwise I just fight.”

“In a stage like the one to Ortisei, the gruppetto will come by the third climb,” said Italian Enrico Battaglin (LottoNL-Jumbo), winner of two stages in the Giro d’Italia in 2013 and 2014.

It’s no pleasure cruise in the gruppetto to make the time cut (Sunada)

“You need to hold until then, hoping to get with the first guys over those climbs, just as far as possible towards the line.

“Once you get closer to the finish, and it forms, you can go slower in the gruppetto and slow down. If it goes earlier, you use more energy and the next days are harder.

“There are riders who have more experience, who’ve done more Giros, they know how to manage the time better.

“Filippo Pozzato and Manuel Quinziato are the experts to follow. They manage it well. In the first days the group was smaller, not it’s not even a gruppetto, it’s a gruppo!

“Everyday that passes, the bigger the group becomes.”


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Tour of Utah 2017 route features nearly 40,000ft (12,000m) of climbing

Time trial stage as well as dirt and gravel roads in “America’s Toughest Stage Race”

For its 13th year, the Tour of Utah will again display some of the biggest and highest climbs anywhere in North America.

The complete 2017 route covers 600 miles (966km) and 36,525 feet (11,132m) of elevation gain over the course of seven stages starting July 31 in Logan and finishing with the brutal Salt Lake City Circuit on August 6.

Race organizers have reintroduced a time-trial after a five year hiatus on a new, 5.5 mile uphill course as well as the Little Cottonwood Canyon to the Snowbird Ski Resort queen stage. During stage four, riders will tackle 10 miles of dirt and gravel on Faust Road for the first time in the race’s history.

The 2017 Tour of Utah is most obviously built for climbers acclimated to high elevation and preparing for races like the Vuelta a Espana starting August 19.


Four ways to nail any climb


“We are proud to design and orchestrate new race courses each year,” Jenn Andrs, executive director of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, said in a press release. “This year’s Tour of Utah brings back the individual time trial and the circuit race at the Capitol, which will both challenge the professional athletes and energize our fans.”

Each stage will be broadcast live on the race’s Tour Tracker ( as well as FOX Sports Network around the world.

Known as “America’s Toughest Stage Race”, the field will be composed of likely at least three WorldTour outfits (BMC Racing, Cannondale-Drapac and Trek-Segafredo) as well as a mix of pro continental and continental squads from around the world.

Americans will look to reclaim the title after Australian Lachlan Morton (Dimension Data) took the overall last year on the final stage from Andrew Talansky.


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Tejay van Garderen: ‘I’m going to try again for the GC in a Grand Tour’

The American took his first Grand Tour win on stage 18 of the 2017 Giro d’Italia, but says he’s determined to do well in the overall classification of a Grand Tour in the near future

American Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), winner of the Giro d’Italia‘s Dolomite stage to Ortisei on Thursday, refuses to give up on racing for classification in Grand Tours despite some recent hard times.

Van Garderen began the Giro for the first time after recent Tour de France disappointments as the team’s overall classification leader.

>>> Tom Dumoulin: ‘I hope Nibali and Quintana lose their podium spots if they only focus on me’

However, he slipped away as soon as the road tilted upwards. Stage 18’s win from an escape group, climbing over three passes over 2000 metres, rejuvenated his hopes.

“I’m going to try again for the GC in a Grand Tour,” van Garderen said.

“This is definitely a good feeling, but I know I can do a GC in a Grand Tour. I’ve done it before, there’s no reason I can’t do it again.”

Tejay Van Garderen wins stage 18 of the 2017 Giro d’Italia (Credit: Sunada)

The 28-year-old from Colorado placed fifth in the Tour de France early in his career with BMC in 2012.

He also took home the white jersey of best young rider that year and placed fifth again in 2014. Since, he has bad luck or bad legs.

“These past years haven’t gone my way, but I’m going to try to get it back on track and fight again another day,” van Garderen added.

“It feels good for me [to win a stage], it’s good to know that I’m still capable of doing a ride like that. Now, I have to just put it all together over three weeks like I’ve done in the past, like I know I can do again.”

Tejay van Garderen rides behind Mikel Landa on stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia (Sunada)

Van Garderen says that he plans on riding the Vuelta a España later this summer, but not the Tour. He crashed and abandoned the 2015 Spanish tour and in 2016, abandoned “due to fatigue.”

The team suggested this year that he refocuses on the Giro. Australian Richie Porte will lead the team in the Tour de France.

The stage win was his first in a Grand Tour and the first for a US cyclist since Chris Horner won two stages en route to the 2013 Vuelta a España overall title.

Van Garderen escaped early on in a group that included three Team Sky riders. He and Sky’s Landa edged away on the final descent and rode together to Ortisei, where van Garderen sprinted ahead.

Tejay van Garderen celebrates victory on stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia (Sunada)

“What happened over past two weeks? That’s a good question. I am going to try to figure that out over the next few weeks,” he added.

“It’s incredible to win. I came here with GC ambitions, and that didn’t materialise, but I tried to keep the morale high. I’m eight years professional, first Grand Tour stage victory.

“It’s emotional because I’ve had so many trials the past few years. Sometimes things go up, sometimes things go down. Today was definitely [up], and hopefully we can keep that trajectory.”


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Phil Gaimon’s worst retirement ever part three: Only getting better or worse?

The former Cannondale pro releases another episode from his KOM hunting retirement

For round three of former pro rider Phil Gaimon’s road trip tackling the West Coast’s biggest climbs, he visits Tucson, Arizona to take on Mount Lemmon.

>>> Phil Gaimon’s KOM-hunting YouTube makes for fascinating viewing

The road to the top of Mt. Lemmon is staggering at 20.3mi with a mellow average gradient of 5 per cent and gaining 5,327 feet in elevation.

How did Gaimon choose Mt. Lemmon for attempt number three? Gaimon doesn’t exactly boast in confidence on his chances of breaking his losing streak.

“People say Mt. Lemmon, so I go to Mt. Lemmon,” he continues, “Even though the record is Tom Danielson, who did nothing but drop me when he and I raced, we raced together a ton…so this is kind of an impossibility thing. I’ve got all the dorky gear, I’m convincing myself I’m going to go for it,” he said before the hour-plus effort.

“I could have had it,” he says when referring to his first attempt on Palomar in San Diego, California.

“I talked myself out of it. I realized if I’d believed, if I’d gone for it, if I’d known that I could do it, I would have done it. But because I didn’t think so, I held back,” Giamon reminisces about his climb in San Diego.

With the belief he could take down the Mt. Lemmon KOM from Tom Danielson, who’s currently serving a four year suspension for a positive synthetic testosterone test, he actually connects with his former teammate for some last minute pacing tips.

“The bottom is where you make the time because that’s where all the oxygen is,” Danielson says over the phone to Gaimon.

“The key to going fast up these climbs isn’t watts, it’s how you use your effort. Everything you can to build and maintain momentum.”

“I got it, I got it barely,” Gaimon said as he rolled over the top of Mt. Lemmon, coughing in obvious discomfort.

With only five minutes left in the effort, he was 10 seconds off Danielson’s pace from November 11, 2015, two months after his positive test was released, but he finished strong and put 14 seconds into Danielson’s time from that day.

“I’m going to be dead honest, I was re-thinking this entire mission at that point. Those last five minutes, I was definitely not enjoying myself. And wondering what I was doing with my life, and my weekend, but we got it. It was nice to cross the line and know we had it.”

Gaimon said at the start of his seven hour drive home to Los Angeles, “If I went zero for ten this year, that’d be pretty embarrassing. There’s nothing more empowering than attempting something that you don’t know if you can do and then getting it.”


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Tom Dumoulin: ‘I hope Nibali and Quintana lose their podium spots if they only focus on me”

Giro d’Italia leader Tom Dumoulin says he would like to see his two closest rivals lose their spots on the podium if they ride defensively against him

It took almost three weeks in the Giro d’Italia, but the knives finally came out in the Dolomites.

Race leader Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) says he hopes that Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) lose their podium spots because they “keep focussing” on him.

>>> Tom Dumoulin fends off Nairo Quintana’s attacks as Tejay van Garderen wins Giro d’Italia stage 18

The Dutchman in pink responded to a Quintana/Nibali joint attack and refused to work with them when others went.

Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) gained 1-02 minutes, and moved within 30 seconds of the podium with three days to race, while the duo stalled and Dumoulin gestured to them to pull in the final kilometres.

“I hope that Nibali and Quintana will lose their podium spots because of only focusing on me,” Dumoulin said.

“I don’t understand why the three of us didn’t work together. They also lose their podium spot if the other classification contenders get closer.

Tom Dumoulin rides on stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia (Sunada)

“Pinot is much better in the time trial than Nibali and Quintana normally, definitely in a flat time trial. Like I said, if they only focus on me it would be nice if they lose podium spot in Milan.”

Colombian Nairo Quintana launched an attack on the Passo Gardena high in the Dolomite Mountains. Instead of a steady chase, Italian two-time Giro winner Vincenzo Nibali jumped and joined Quintana and the two worked together to ditch Dumoulin.

Dumoulin bridged at the top at 85.3 kilometres to race and when the race reached the final kicks to Ortisei, launched attacks of his own on his ragged looking rivals.

“I don’t care what Tom said, I think he is being cocky, he’s talking too much, I’d never talk like that,” Nibali said at his team bus.

“He’s shown he’s very strong in the race but he’s talking too much. He could also lose the podium because nothing is sure in this Giro d’Italia. Except, for sure, we won’t accompany him all the way to Milan.

“He’s got to keep his feet on the ground, does he know what karma is?”

“And then he calls me cocky?” Dumoulin responded. “Yeah they are also very strong words from his side. I was very friendly the whole Giro to everyone, and I think Nibali is for sure here to win the Giro, and I was not happy with how they rode they were only trying to make me lose and not… that’s his choice.”

Dumoulin still holds his top spot, but second through fifth place compacted with Pinot and Russian Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) riding clear on Thursday’s stage.

Dumoulin leads Quintana by 31 seconds and Nibali by 1-12 minutes. Pinot is now at 1-36 and Zakarin at 1-58.

“He was telling us to close the gap to the other riders who were attacking who were back on the classification,” Quintana said.

“He didn’t want them to take too much time. We left the responsibility on him, and in the end, he didn’t take time on us, either.

“We did what we could as a team, as we had hoped. Sure, we wanted more, but [Dumoulin] responded well. We made a good stage, it was very fast all day, and tomorrow will be another chance.”

The 19th stage ends with a hard final climb up to Piancavalo and a rolling difficult stage with a final kick to Asiago on Saturday.

Nairo Quintana and Tom Dumoulin on stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia (Credit: Sunada)

On Sunday, it swings in Dumoulin’s favour with a 29.3-kilometre time trial.

“Clearly very hard mountains days are again coming up,” Dumoulin said.

“So I will try to fight as hard as I can and try to follow Quintana and Nibali and the other guys …”

“I was feeling good I was never in stress when they attacked today. I knew I had the legs to follow if I need to. Yeah, at the end I had the legs and could attack them.”

Dumoulin knows how fast the race can slip away. In 2015, just developing into a Grand Tour rider, he led the Vuelta a España and on the final day in the mountains, slipped from first overall to sixth.

“I do believe in myself. I also have doubts, but I try to look at it from the positive side. I lost it in the Vuelta because maybe I was thinking a little negative also, I started to get tired, it’s very hard to stay positive, but until now it’s been good.”


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Five talking points from stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia

Stage 18 of teh Giro d’Italia saw a smattering of GC action, and a first Grand Tour win for Tejay van Garderen

Dumoulin weathers the storm

Nairo Quintana and Tom Dumoulin on stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia (Credit: Sunada)

Today was the stage touted as being the great test of Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) – if he could survive the five summits on the parcours with his pink jersey still intact, then he should be the favourite to wear it in Milan.

The Dutchman passed with flying colours. He remained in the group of favourites on the final climb, and managed not only to follow attacks made by Nairo Quintana (Movistar), but was even able to toy with his rivals and make his own moves.

Movistar had earlier executed a plan to put Dumoulin under pressure, sending key domestiques Andrey Amador and Winner Anacona into the early break, and then having Quintana attack and bridge up to them on the third climb of the day.

>>> Tom Dumoulin fends off Nairo Quintana’s attacks as Tejay van Garderen wins Giro d’Italia stage 18

The situation briefly looked very dangerous for Dumoulin, as the Bahrain-Merida duo of Vincenzo Nibali and Kanstantsin Siutsou joining the Movistar trio in the same group which the pink jersey – having already run out of team-mates – was forced to chase on his own. But Dumoulin showed incredible strength and calmness to bring them all back before the summit, while also retaining enough resources for the final two climbs.

The race isn’t over, with two more huge days in the mountains to come prior to the final time trial, but the pendulum has swung firmly in Dumoulin’s favour.

Tejay van Garderen bounces back

Tejay Van Garderen took his first Grand Tour stage win on stage 18 of the giro d’Italia (Credit: Sunada)

The race had, up until now, been disastrous for Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), whose expected bid for GC rapidly fizzled out as early as the second week.

But the American has resiliently shown an eagerness to salvage things by getting into breakaways, and today proved to be the strongest from the large group that went up the road, sprinting ahead of Mikel Landa (Team Sky) for victory.

So disheartened was van Garderen that he even questioned his future as a Grand Tour leader a few days ago. It was clear how much this stage win meant to him, when he emotionally buried his head in his hands after crossing the finish line – even if he does abandon his goal of riding high on GC in the future, he proved today that he has much to offer in Grand Tours.

Groundhog Day for Mikel Landa

Mikel Landa extended his lead at the top of the mountains classification, but missed out on the stage win (Sunada)

Two days ago, Mikel Landa rode at the front for most of the queen stage of the Alps, claimed most of the mountain points, but lost out on the stage win in a two-man sprint after allowing Vincenzo Nibali to sneak ahead of him on the final corner.

Today, Landa rode at the front for most of the stage through the Dolomites, again claimed most of the mountain points, and again lost out on the stage win in a two-man sprint as his competitor – this time van Garderen – used the last corner to get ahead of him.


Watch: Giro d’Italia stage 18 highlights


To lose out in such similar circumstances will come as a bitter disappointment to Team Sky, having worked so well all day to set Landa up for the win. At the start of the day, when the break was being gradually formed, they first sent Diego Rosa up the road, then Philip Deignan, and eventually Landa, who profited from work from that duo before striking out with van Garderen on the descent to the final climb.

There was the consolation that he substantially expanded his lead in the mountains classification, but his attitude suggested that a stage win is what he really wants. He – and Sky – have just three days left to bag one.

Orica-Scott’s continued hard work partially rewarded

Once again Orica-Scott leant their services to the front of the peloton despite having no contender for overall victory, in an apparent effort to set Adam Yates up for a stage win.

Ruben Plaza was particularly impressive with one of the rides of the day, as he spent the section between the third and penultimate climb and in-between descent and valley yo-yoing between being dropped and clawing his way back up for another last ditch turn at the front.

>>> Adam Yates: ‘There’s no reason to chance from a Giro d’Italia GC strategy’

But his work was in vain as Yates was dropped on the final climb.

Or was it? Although Orica-Scott appeared to have a stage win in sight, their work also helped to distance best young rider leader Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) enough for Yates to inherit the white jersey.

That classification ought to be some battle, with Yates needing to gain time on Jungels ahead of the final time trial, and with Davide Formolo (Cannondale-Drapac) also still in the frame.

A spectacular day in the Dolomites

Spectacular scenery for the riders to enjoy on stage 18 of the Giro d’italia (Credit: Sunada)

Today was billed as one of the best stages of the Giro, and it lived up to expectation – both in terms of racing and scenery.

There’s much contention and confusion regarding what exactly is a ‘Dolomite’, but there is no argument that today showcased many of the best of them. The views were beautiful all day, with the mountains’ uniquely pleasing look providing the backdrop for the racing.

The racing was great too, with action right from the start line as stage-seeking riders looked to breakaway, the GC race kicking off early thanks to Quintana’s initial attack with over 50km to go, and an absorbing dual on the final climb.

It feels a long time now since the slow trudge through Sardinia – no spectator can claim to feel short changed now.


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Tom Dumoulin fends off Nairo Quintana’s attacks as Tejay Van Garderen wins Giro d’Italia stage 18

American takes his first Grand Tour stage win as Dumoulin looks comfortable as he hold on to pink.

Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) comfortably fended off the attacks of Nairo Quintana (Movistar) as Tejay Van Garderen took the first Grand Tour win of his career on stage 18 of the 2017 Giro d’Italia.

The Colombian had launched his first attack with three climbs more more than 50km remaining on the short, sharp stage through the Dolomites, a move that looked to be a good one as Dumoulin was distanced.

Quintana bridged across to a couple of team-mates before being joined by Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), opening a gap of nearly 30 seconds back to Dumoulin.

However the pink jersey paced himself perfectly to close the gap over the next couple of kilometres, with a stalemate ensuing to the final climb.

Up ahead Tejay Van Garderen and Mikel Landa were the final survivors of the early break, holding their one minute advantage over the GC group for most of the final climb.

Movistar were on the front of the group, but were setting a fairly benign pace. The reason for this became clear when Quintana attacked with seven kilometres remaining, a move that lacked the 27-year-old’s usual ferocity, meaning he was left dangling a hundred metres off the front of the group for a number of minutes.

When he was eventually brought back, Dumoulin decided to have a bit of fun with his rivals, swinging across the road and putting in a couple of teasing accelerations, before sitting up.

That playing around and slackening of the pace meant it was going to be between Van Garderen and Landa for the stage win, even as a number of the riders lower down in the top 10 came in pursuit with Dumoulin, Nibali, and Quintana having no need to follow.

With Pinot and Pozzovivo just a hundred metres behind, Landa decided to lead out the sprint, and made the same mistake that had seen him lose out to Nibali on stage 16, letting Van Garderen come through the inside of the final corner, the American sprinting across the line to take the biggest win of his career.

Dumoulin eventually led Quintana and Nibali home at more than a minute back, with the only real reshuffling in the GC being the move of Adam Yates up to eighth and into the white jersey after Bob Jungels was dropped midway through the stage, losing more than three minutes.

How it happened

At only 137km in length, the 18th stage of the Giro d’Italia from Moena to Ortisei saw aggressive racing from the gun as the peloton started to climb to Passo Pordoi almost immediately after the start.

The first four riders went clear within the first couple of kilometres, with Natnael Berhane (Dimension Data), Manuele Boaro (Bahrain-Merida), Joey Rosskoff (BMC Racing) and Diego Rosa (Team Sky) in the move, but as the first category climb began in earnest after 14km there were numerous riders attempting to bridge across from the peloton.

Rosa set a fast pace on the front of the group, dropping Boaro half way up the climb and taking maximum points at the top of the Pordoi, and leading on to the descent, where the three leaders were joined by considerable reinforcements.

Making it across on the fast descent were Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing) Joe Dombrowski, David Villela, and Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac), Philip Deignan and Mikel Landa (Team Sky), Mads Pedersen and Jasper Stuyven (Trek -Segafredo), Jan Hirt (CCC Sprandi Polkowice), Ruben Plaza (Orica Scott), Dario Cataldo (Astana), Andrey Amador and Winner Anacona (Movistar), Kanstantin Siutsou (Bahrain-Merida), Alexander Foliferov (Gazprom-Rusvelo) and Omar Fraile (Dimension Data), creating an 19-strong group out front which quickly extended its lead over the peloton to three minutes.

The next climb of the day was the Passo Valparola, a steady 12.9km climb at around 6.5 per cent. The wide, well-surfaced roads saw a considerable upping of the pace in the peloton, mainly at the behest of Bahrain-Merida and Orica-Scott.

The racing was also fast in the break where Diego Rosa was setting a searing pace on the front, sending a few riders out of the back. However the effort didn’t set up team-mate and blue jersey Mikel Landa to take maximum points at the top of the climb, with the Spaniard losing out to Omar Fraile.

Orica-Scott continued to lead the peloton up the second half of the climb, leading the main group onto the descent 2-08 behind the leaders.

That gap held steady on the spectacular descent, before Rosa once again moved to the front of the escape to set tempo up the Passo Gardena, a slightly steeper climb than the Valparola, ramping up to 11 per cent near the start.

The gradient was put to good use by Movistar, who accelerated to the front of the peloton to put Laurens Ten Dam (Team Sunweb) in trouble, meaning that Tom Dumoulin would have to race the final 60km of the stage without any team support.

Gorka Izagirre, a stage winner earlier in the race, set a searing pace to whittle the group down to around 15 riders as they made their way up the climb, with the white jersey of Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) being one of those to be put in difficulty.

The Luxembourg rider was eighth going in to the stage, and faced a lonely ride for the rest of the stage as he tried to limit his losses to Adam  Yates (Orica-Scott) who was still in the front group, and had started the stage 2-25 behind Jungels in the young rider standings.

With 55km remaining Izagirre pulled off, and with no one continuing with the high tempo Nairo Quintana launched a fierce acceleration.

The Colombian instantly opened a large gap with no riders even attempting to follow, and within a few second Quintana had ridden across to Andrey Amador who had dropped back from the break to pace his team leader.

The pink jersey of Tom Dumoulin had no choice but to move to the front of the group and set off in pursuit, but the pace wasn’t fast enough for Vincenzo Nibali who launched a counter-attack of his own.

With Amador for company Quintana quickly opened a gap of 25 seconds over Dumoulin, while Nibali found assistance from former team-mate Cataldo to bridge across.

That little group continued to grow nicely as Siutsou and Anacona also dropped back from the break to set the pace.

However Dumoulin was in pink for a reason, and by the top of the climb he had clawed his way back, meaning we were back to the status quo, albeit with the gap to the break down to 50 seconds, with 50km still to race.

With Jungels dropped, Ruben Plaza, who had been dropped from the break, led the pink jersey group down the descent as he tried to move team-mate Yates into white, bringing the gap to the break down to just 20 seconds in the process.

By the base of the Passo di Pinei the break was down to just six riders, incredibly still being led by Diego Rosa with the blue jersey of Landa locked in his wheel, pursued by a pink jersey group which itself was down to just 10 riders.

Finally, on the 15 per cent gradients of the mid-point of the climb, Rosa cracked, almost coming to a stop at the side of the road, leaving it up to Landa to go in search of the stage win and further mountain points. By the top of the climb only six riders were left in the group: Landa, Dombrowski, Villella, Hirt, Berhane, and Van Garderen.

In the GC group Movistar continued to grind away on the front, but Dumoulin looked cool, calm, and collected as he pedalled smoothly in the saddle, and with no attacks forthcoming the fireworks would have to wait for the day’s final climb.

9.3km long and with a maximum gradient of 12 per cent near its summit, the first category Pontives climb was the last obstacle of the day with the finish coming four kilometres after its summit.

Ruben Plaza continued to lead the pink jersey group down the descent, reducing the gap to the leaders on the top half of the descent, before Landa and Van Garderen decided to push on on the descent, the two best climbers in the breakaway opening a gap on the rest.

Going on to the final climb, Landa and Van Garderen held an advantage of 50 seconds over the pink jersey group, meaning it would be nip and tuck as to whether they could hold on the for the stage win.

Once again it was Movistar who moved to the front of the GC group, Andrey Amador leading Winner Anacona with Quintana content to sit a little further back, locked on to the wheel of Dumoulin.

Amador set a steady pace that even allowed Van Garderen and Landa to extend their gap, which was up to a minute with 10km remaining with Hirt, Villella, Dombrowski, and Berhane sitting halfway between the two groups.

Finally, with seven kilometres remaining, there was a bit of action in the front group as everyone seemed reluctant to follow the pace of Anacona, who simply rode off the front.

Quintana, Nibali, and Dumoulin were all looking at each other, but not for long as Quintana attacked to bridge across to his team-mate.

However it was far from a stinging acceleration as Sebastien Reochenbach (FDJ) calmly tapped away on the front with team-mate Thibaut Pinot sitting in his wheel, while Dumoulin and Nibali were content to hang further back.

At the head of the race Van Garderen attacked in an unsuccessful attempt to drop Landa, while Quintana went solo as Anacona dropped back.

But once again Quintana looked on less than stellar form as Reichenbach comfortably kept him with a few seconds, looking up the road to see the Colombian on his radio to send a message back to the team car.

With 5.5km remaining Quintana was caught, and almost immediately Nibali went on the attack. The Shark of Messina’s acceleration was a sharp one, but Dumoulin ‘s response was equally sharp, locking straight on to the Italian’s wheel.

The Dutch man looked superb, staring into the eye’s of his rival as he went to the front and launched a couple of teasing attacks, before launching a more concerted effort with 4.5km to go.

Quintana had no choice but to respond, and was able to bridge across, before Pozzovivo and Pinot began to push on over the top of the climb.

That duo opened a ten second gap on the pink jersey, but it was up to the riders lower down GC to chase with Dumoulin’s lead not under threat from Pinot not Pozzovivo.

Zakarin was the first to go, followed by Kruiswijk and Mollema, while Dumoulin, Nibali, and Quintana played cat and mouse, soft pedalling and weaving across the road with none of them prepared the chase. Dumoulin eventually went to the front of the group, but still didn’t inject

Meanwhile Landa and Van Garderen went under the flamme rouge with a 20 second gap over Pinot and Pozzovivo (who had also picked up Hirt).

For a moment it looked as it they could be caught, but Landa went to the front, leading out the sprint. Already with a second place in the race’s queen stage, Landa made a similar mistake once again, letting Van Garderen through the inside of the final corner, with the American sprinting clear to take his first ever Grand Tour win.

Pinot, Pozzovivo, Zakarin Kruiswijk, and Mollema all followed in quick succession, but there was no such urgency for Dumoulin, Quintana, and Nibali, who rolled across the line just over a minute behind Van Garderen.

With Adam Yates crossing the line at 1-12, the only other rider to wait for was Bob Jungels, who eventually finished at 3-55, meaning that Yates moved into the white jersey.

Results

Giro d’Italia 2017, stage 18: Moena to Ortisei/St. Ulrich (137km)

1. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team, in 3-54-04
2. Mikel Landa (Spa) Team Sky, at same time
3. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ, at 8 secs
4. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale, at same time
5. Jan Hirt (Cze) CCC Sprandi Polkowice, at 11 secs
6. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin, at 24 secs
7. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo, at 34 secs
8. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, at same time
9. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb, at 1-06
10. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team, at same time

General classification after stage 18

1. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb, in 80-00-48
2. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team, at 31 secs
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida, at 1-12
4. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ, at 1-36
5. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin, at 1-58
6. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale, at 2-07
7. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, at 3-17
8. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo, at 5-48
9. Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott, at 7-06
10. Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors, at 7-24


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Watch: Nairo Quintana nearly collides with motorbike while attacking at Giro d’Italia

Colombian has to readjust his line as moto gets too close on hairpin bend

Nairo Quintana had a narrow escape after a race motorbike got a little too close for comfort on stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia.

The Colombian rider had attacked on the third climb of the day, the Passo Gardena, bridging across to Andrey Amador who set tempo for his Movistar team-mate.

The two riders were climbing at considerable speed as they tried to distance the pink jersey of Tom Dumoulin, and almost collided with a race motorbike as they swung wide on the way out a hairpin bend.

Thankfully there was no repeat of the accident which saw a number of riders, including Geraint Thomas and Adam Yates, hit a motobike on stage nine of the race, with Quintana able to adjust his line to avoid a collision.

However the escape came to nought, as Dumoulin was able to judge his effort well, bridging across by the top of the climb.


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Giro d'Italia: 'Three one-day races' for Landa

Mikel Landa says he is treating the remainder of the Giro d’Italia as a series of ‘three one-day classics’, as he looks to salvage something from a race that has veered off script for the second time in two years.

Landa, who abandoned the Giro through illness last year, came down in the motorbike crash on the run to Blockhaus on stage 9, losing 27 minutes and all hopes of a podium finish or pink jersey.

Since then he has turned his attention to stage wins and, after his legs failed him in the breakaway on stage 11, he has come increasingly close, with third on the Oropa summit finish, followed by an agonisingly close second place to Vincenzo Nibali on Tuesday’s queen stage, where he was at the front of the race over both ascents of the Stelvio. He took the blue king of the mountains jersey for his efforts but it was scant consolation and his frustration was clear as he bashed his handlebars at the finish line.

After a quiet day in the peloton on stage 17, Landa is prepared to go all-out in the three remaining stages ahead of the final-day time trial in Milan, all of which take place in the mountains. 

“There are three days [of opportunities] and it starts tomorrow [today],” he said on Eurosport after Wednesday’s stage. “Three days left and we’re going to race them as if they were one-day races. We have to try and win, and grab some sort of reward for ourselves.”

Landa leads the mountains classification on 124 points in what has become a Spanish battle, with Astana’s Luis Leon Sanchez second with 108 points and Dimension Data’s Omar Fraile third on 89.

Thursday’s stage 18 in the Dolomites is the most important day for the blue jersey hopefuls to get up the road, with the Pordoi (cat 1), Valaparola (cat 2) and Grodnerjoch (cat 2) passes in the opening portion of the race, followed by a first-category ascent towards the finish in Ortisei.

For Landa, though, a podium finisher and two-time stage winner at the Giro, the blue jersey provides little motivation in itself. 

“The maglia azzurra is nice but it’s difficult to defend it,” he told Cyclingnews in Bormio. “I’ll perhaps try to win another stage and doing that I might get to keep the jersey anyway. That seems like the best strategy. I’ll keep trying to win a stage all the way to Milan.”

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