Giro d'Italia: Analysing the GC contenders after Blockhaus

Cyclingnews looks at the overall standings on the second rest day

As the Giro d'Italia reaches its second rest day, Cyclingnews looks back at a memorable stage to Blockhaus and analyses the GC contenders. 

Rider: Nairo Quintana (Movistar)
GC position: Leader
Blockhaus performance: Having spent the opening eight stages playing down his chances and staying off the front of the peloton, Quintana and his Movistar team exploded the race on the slopes of Blockhaus. Quintana was simply unstoppable as he took apart GC challengers one-by-one to cement his place as the hot favourite for overall victory.
Bidon half full or half empty? For all the superlatives rolled out for Quintana on Sunday evening the only factor that truly mattered was the amount of time gained on his rivals. That he is the strongest climber in this year's race is of little surprise but the way in which Pinot and Dumoulin limited their losses, and with the time trial to come the Colombian has food for thought. By Tuesday evening his advantage of 28 seconds of Pinot and 30 over Dumoulin will be reversed.

Rider: Thibaut Pinot (FDJ)
GC position: 2nd at 28 seconds
Blockhaus performance: Magnifique! The FDJ team leader finished 24 seconds behind Nairo Quintana and now sits just 28 seconds back after what was rightly described as the hardest climb of the whole Giro d'Italia. While Vincenzo Nibali eventually paid a higher price for trying to follow Quintana's attacks, Pinot looked strong and aggressive. He even had the nerve to briefly attack Quintana before the Colombian took flight, and also fought to out-sprint Tom Dumoulin for second place and the time bonus.
Bidon half full or half empty? Pinot always plays down his overall chances but he and all the FDJ teammate will no doubt be enjoying the rest day in Foligno. The time trial will again shake up the overall classification but Pinot looks like a real contender for a spot on the podium and possibly the biggest threat to Quintana's dominance.

Rider: Tom Dumoulin (Team Subweb)
GC position: 3rd at 30 seconds
Blockhaus performance: Top marks for a rider who drew the best from his resources on a climb that, on paper, didn't suit him. Having narrowly avoided the fall that took out a number of riders, including his teammate, Dumoulin paced himself perfectly on the climb, pegging back Pinot and before combining with the Frenchman to limit their loses to Quintana.
Bidon half full or half empty? Given his prowess in the discipline, Dumoulin could and should be in the maglia rosa by the time the individual time trial wraps up on Tuesday evening. Having stated that he would settle for a podium place at the start of the race, the Dutchman may have to reassess that goal upwards, although questions remain over how he will cope in the arduous final week in the mountains. The loss of Wilco Kelderman is a significant blow but after nine days of racing the Team Sunweb rider will surely be content with how the race has unfolded.

Rider: Bauke Mollema (Trek Segafredo)
GC position: 4th at 51 seconds
Blockhaus performance: Like Dumoulin, the Trek-Segafredo rider refused to panic when Quintana accelerated away with Vincenzo Nibali and Thibaut Pinot. At that point it looked as though the three strongest riders in the race had set their stall out but Mollema's experience shone through and he combined with Dumoulin to pull his way back into contention. Although he was unable to follow his compatriot and Pinot in the closing stages the time gained on Nibali and band of other GC contenders has left the Dutchman in buoyed spirits.
Bidon half full or half empty? Mollema has cruised through the opening nine days of the Giro somewhat under the radar but his Grand Tour credentials are as good as, if not better, than a number of riders on this list. Ahead of many of the pure climbers after two testing summit finishes, and with a time trial to come that suits his skill set, this could yet be his best Grand Tour finish. The third week, however, when Mollema has had a tendency to crack in the past, will be decisive.

Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) finishes atop Blockhaus

Rider: Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida)
GC position: 5th at 1:10
Blockhaus performance: The steep sections of the Blockhaus were perfect launch pads for Quintana but Nibali opted to respond gradually, spinning his way back up to the Movistar leader three times to avoid going too deep. Quintana's fourth attack just before a steep right turn proved to be too much for Nibali and he eventually paid the price for his determination when Dumoulin and Mollema caught and passed him before the summit. Nibali lost exactly a minute to Quintana.
Bidon half full or half empty? Nibali was not happy with his performance after the first face off with Quintana but refused to bow his head and promised to fight all the way to Milan. Losing a minute was a hard blow to the Sicilian's pride but definitely not a knockout punch. He is excepted to pull back some of the lost time in the time trial but will now have to be especially aggressive and unpredictable if the he wants to crack Quintana.

Rider: Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondiale)
GC position: 6th at 1:28
Blockhaus performance: The experienced Italian climber admitted that he rode the 13.6km Blockhaus as a mountain time trial, pacing his own effort carefully and ignoring his rivals. Pozzovivo was distanced by Quintana's attacks but finished strongly, 1:18 down on the new maglia rosa. He is still in the hunt for a good GC result, while many of his rivals lost minutes and any hope at all.
Bidon half full or half empty? Pozzovivo was upbeat at the finish, despite his time loss, convinced that it could have been much more if he had tried to go with the attacks. He suggested that Nibali should have done the same but therein lies the difference between the two Italians. Pozzovivo would be happy with a place in the top five. Nibali is trying to win the 100th Giro d'Italia.

Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) and Davide Formolo (Cannondale-Drapac)

Rider: Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha Alpecin)
GC position: 7th at 2:28
Blockhaus performance: Tipped as an outsider for this race, Zakarin's ride at Blockhaus was not the greatest. He made the initial cut as Movistar turned up the pressure on the steeper gradients, but he soon fell by the wayside and lost over two minutes in the final seven kilometres. While it's not terminal, he and the team will be frustrated not to have been closer to the leaders.
Bidon half full or half empty? Zakarin is still in the game but he will have an upwards struggle to move up the standings. The time trial will be important for Zakarin as he will look to pull back some time on those who don't fare as well against the clock. His time trialling will mean nothing if he can't back that up with better performances in the mountains to come. He could also face some challenges from behind.

Rider: Davide Formolo (Cannondale Drapac)
GC position: 8th at 2:45
Blockhaus performance: 'Formolino' arguably came of age on the Blockhaus. The 24-year-old from Verona avoided the crash that took out his best young rider rival Adam Yates and his impressive 10th place at the summit finish, 2:35 behind Quintana, gave him and Cannondale-Drapac the white jersey and left him eighth overall.
Bidon half full or half empty? Formolo is Cannondale-Drapac's designated GC rider and so he and the US team will be happy to be on track for a shot at a top ten place of some kind. Yates is now 2:04 back in the best young rider competition, with Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) the biggest threat in the time trial, sitting just 45 seconds back. Formolo has worked hard on his time trialing with new coach Leonardo Piepoli and finished 16th in the 14.5km time trial at Paris-Nice, only two seconds slower than Yates. The fight for the white jersey should be close all the way to Milan.

Rider: Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL Jumbo)
GC position: 10th at 3:06
Blockhaus performance: Kruijswijk held on longer than some of the other GC contenders, nestled in the wheel of Nibali with just over six kilometres to go. He didn't have the legs to keep up when Quintana made his stage-winning move and he continued to lose time rapidly, being passed by some who had already been dropped. After the stage, Kruijswijk put it down to a bad day and said that he had been suffering before they even reached the climb.
Bidon half full or half empty? Kruijswijk would have been hoping for a better result at Blockhaus but the rest day will give him a chance to pick himself up for the stages to come. He will be hoping that it was just a one off and he will be in the mix much longer later in the race. Thus far though, we haven't seen the Kruijswijk of 12 months ago.

Tanel Kangert (Astana)

Rider: Tanel Kangert (Astana Pro Team)
GC position: 11th at 3:15
Blockhaus performance: Kangert put in a solid if relatively anonymous performance at Blockhaus. While he wasn't able to maintain touch with the big names after Quintana's attack, his seventh place at two minutes down was a decent ride and saw him beat several who had been placed on a higher pedestal ahead of the race.
Bidon half full or half empty? Kangert will definitely be taking the half-full approach, particularly after losing some crucial time in the earlier stages. His ride on stage 9 has put him on the precipice of the top 10 and if he continues in this manner he could go further. On his day, Kangert can put in a decent time trial performance and he'll be hoping to ascend the standings with a good ride when the race resumes on Tuesday. After a horrible build-up to the Giro d'Italia, Kangert is a ray of hope for them. They also have Dario Cataldo looming in the background in 14th at 4:32 back.

Rider: Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors)
GC position: 12th at 3:30
Blockhaus performance: A crash on stage 8 and week of racing on the front clearly took its toll, and when Movistar increased the pace on Blockhaus the Luxembourg rider was a notable casualty. He paced his way up the climb but by the time he crossed the line the damage had been done. There was no shame in losing the maglia rosa to Quintana but the gaps to a number of GC rivals mean only an exceptional time trial will do on Tuesday.
Bidon half full or half empty? A lot was expected of Jungels on the eve of the race and until the slopes of Sunday's summit finish he had delivered. It must be remembered that his breakthrough last year, and his sixth place overall, was attained against a weaker field, so sitting 12th at this point is far from a disaster.

Rider: Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing)
GC position: 13th at 3:56
Blockhaus performance: While Adam Yates and Geraint Thomas could fall back on the police motorbike crash as a more than reasonable excuse for losing time, van Garderen had no such luxury. Simply put, the American didn't have it, and once he cracked it took all the might of Ben Hermans to chase back and defend his leader's fragile chances.
Bidon half full or half empty? Cracking in the mountains has now become the norm for van Garderen, who must be looking towards the Dolomites with trepidation. That he was unable to match Quintana is no shock but losing time to so many top-10 contenders is a severe blow for race that was supposed to spark another new chapter for the former Tour white jersey.

Adam Yates (Orica Scott)
GC position: 16th at 4:49
Blockhaus performance: Yates was one of the unlucky GC contenders to be felled by a crash caused by a motorbike. He was able to get up and running quickly but a broken bike made life difficult. Blockhaus was about limiting losses and with no teammates for the last eight kilometres he did well to avoid losing more time than he did.
Bidon half full or half empty? Yates will feel it is half empty after a disappointing end to the first week. The podium will feel like a small dot in the distance at 4:49 back with still two weeks to go but there is hope to cling to. It remains to be seen if he will suffer any more ill effects from the crash, but the Giro d'Italia is nothing if unpredictable and the time gap could play to Yates' advantage as the favourites watch those a little closer to them as it did for Pierre Rolland in 2014.

Geraint Thomas (Team Sky)
GC position: 17th at 5:14
Blockhaus performance: Robbed. After months of dedication, hard work and planning Thomas' GC bid was dealt a cruel blow on the approach to the climb. This wasn't a case of having bad legs, or being outfought tactically, but instead an all too familiar case of a race motorbike pilot not thinking properly, a race organisation shrugging their shoulders and a governing body too inept to act. In a sense, Thomas' ride on Blockhaus was up their with the best – especially considering the state of his injuries and the pace at which Movistar were riding on the front, but the time loss was so severe that the Welshman's overall hopes are all but gone.
Bidon half full or half empty? Thomas is now stuck in no man's land – not far enough down the GC to be allowed  into breaks and too far off the podium places to have a realistic chance of challenging the likes of Pinot and Dumoulin. The time trial is now key, and along with how Thomas recovers stage 10, will decide how he approaches the second half of the race.

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