Tom Dumoulin and Vincenzo Nibali have shaken hands and made up after their spat during and after Thursday’s Giro d'Italia stage in the Dolomites, with the Dutchman apologizing to the Italian for saying he would be happy to see him and Nairo Quintana lose their spots on the podium because they had formed a pact against him and had refused to work in the finale of the stage.
Dumoulin, Nibali and Quintana allowed Thibaut Pinot, Domenico Pozzovivo and Ilnur Zakarin to go clear and refused to lead the chase in a battle of nerves and responsibility. Pinot pulled back 1:02 and is now just 24 seconds behind Nibali, who remains in third. The overall classification is tight ahead of Friday’s mountain finish to Piancavallo, with six riders within 2:07 of the maglia rosa.
"They are only focusing on me and trying to make me lose instead of trying to win," Dumoulin complained to Eurosport after Thursday’s stage. “I really hope that riding like this they will lose their podium spot in Milan, that would be really nice, and I would be really happy."
Nibali heard those words while on his team bus and quickly fired back.
“I don't care what Tom says, I think he's a bit too cocky. I've never talked that way. He's shown he's strong in the race but he's shouldn't talk so much. He could lose the podium too, anything can happen,” Nibali told Italian television.
Dumoulin took offence at those words and fired back in his post-stage press conference. However, some behind-the-scenes diplomacy seems to have cooled both riders’ temperaments and they shook hands and talked to Italian television on Friday morning before rolling out of San Candido for stage 19.
The stage climbs the Cima Sappada but it seems there will be nothing like in 1987 when Stephen Roche attacked his own teammate and maglia rosa Roberto Visentini, sparking one of the biggest controversies ever seen at the Giro d’Italia.
“We need to talk with the legs and not with the mouth. I said something that came from the emotions. It was not good and I’m sorry that I was not very respectful,” Dumoulin said on Italian television.
He added a "Sorry, man" to Nibali after the brief moment on television, with Nibali laughing off the polemic.
“At least there’s been something to talk about and for the media to write,” the Italian said.
“We clashed because we just looked at each other after the attacks and we each refused to chase them down. He told me to chase but I was willing to lose a spot on the podium, it wouldn’t change much for me. Of course, I do care about the podium place but you react instinctively.”