Nibali, Quin­tana salute new Giro king Du­moulin

New Straits Times - - Sport -

MI­LAN: Colom­bia’s Nairo Quin­tana and Ital­ian Vin­cenzo Nibali tipped their hat to ri­val Tom Du­moulin af­ter he raced to a sen­sa­tional, fi­nal-day vic­tory to make his­tory as the first Dutch win­ner of the 100th Giro d’Italia on Sun­day.

Du­moulin, the Olympic time trial sil­ver medal­list in Rio, trailed 2014 cham­pion Quin­tana by 53 sec­onds af­ter both he and Nibali turned the screw on a fi­nal, thrilling day in the moun­tains on Satur­day won by French­man Thibaut Pinot (FDJ).

But with a 29.3km time trial set to de­cide the race, Du­moulin — who beat Quin­tana by nearly three min­utes in a longer, hillier race against the clock on stage 10 — seized the day.

Al­though fin­ish­ing 15sec be­hind com­pa­triot and close friend Jos van Em­den (Lotto NL) in front of thou­sands of wav­ing fans at Mi­lan’s land­mark Duomo cathe­dral, the fly­ing Dutch­man did enough on the 21st and fi­nal stage to claim his maiden grand tour tri­umph.

Quin­tana, who fin­ished 31sec be­hind in sec­ond over­all, said he could have no com­plaints.

“I’m not dis­ap­pointed at all really,” said the Colom­bian. “I don’t know if I could have done some­thing bet­ter or worse dur­ing the Giro, but with Tom Du­moulin be­ing so strong in the time trial, I think I de­serve to be where I am.”

A two-time run­ner-up at the Tour de France, Quin­tana will now tar­get the world’s most fa­mous bike race in July, adding: “As usual, I’ll be go­ing there to give it my all and try to win it.”

Nibali, who fin­ished a dis­ap­point­ing 13th on the stage at 1:09 be­hind Van Em­den to fin­ish third over­all at 40sec be­hind, be­came a key ally of Quin­tana’s in the moun­tains as they both tried to shake off the stub­born Dutch­man in the fi­nal week.

But de­spite Du­moulin suf­fer­ing “bad legs” on stage 19 to hand the pink jersey to Quin­tana, he would soon take it back af­ter Nibali and Quin­tana’s com­bined ef­forts on Satur­day ul­ti­mately failed.

“I couldn’t do any more than this, my en­ergy was spent,” said Nibali, the 2015 Tour de France cham­pion who won the race in 2013 and 2016.

Nibali, though, claimed the in­clu­sion of two time tri­als in the 100th edi­tion — to­talling 69.1 km — had favoured Du­moulin.

“It was the time tri­als that really tipped the bal­ance in this Giro,” added the Ital­ian, who won a thrilling stage 16 into Bormio in which Du­moulin was forced to chase fran­ti­cally over the last climb of the Stelvio af­ter suf­fer­ing an em­bar­rass­ing, un­shced­uled toi­let stop.

Du­moulin, who wore the pink jersey on his maiden Giro d’Italia last year af­ter win­ning the open­ing stage time trial in his na­tive Apel­doorn, saw his hopes take flight with his 10th stage time trial vic­tory in Mon­te­fal­cone.

A day af­ter Quin­tana had taken the pink jersey with a great win atop Block­haus, the Colom­bian tum­bled to sec­ond over­all at nearly three min­utes be­hind — and Du­moulin’s dream be­gan to take shape.

“It was only stage nine, the Giro had really just started, but Quin­tana showed he was very strong,” Du­moulin said on Sun­day. “I started to think about the podium then, but I didn’t really think about go­ing for over­all vic­tory.” AFP

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