While Nairo Quintana, Tom Dumoulin, Vincenzo Nibali and Thibaut Pinot fight for overall victory, the final pink jersey and the final podium places, Adam Yates and Bob Jungels will contest and equally intense and equally close fight for the best young rider’s white jersey.
Jungels took the lead in the competition for best rider under 25 since on the slopes of mount Etna on stage four and held it until Thursday’s mountain stage to Ortisei. The Quick-Step rider had extended his lead in the Sagrantino time trial but then lost a crucial 2:43 and ceded white to his Orica-Scott rival in the intense 137km, five-climb stage through the Dolomites.
Jungels was dropped on the Pass Gardena but rode a virtually solo time trial for the last 50km to limit his losses. He recovered well and managed to finish on the same time as Yates on both Friday’s stage to Piancavallo and Saturday's to Asiago.
He is currently ninth in the overall classification, 28 seconds down on Yates but has the advantage of more muscle, power and time trialing prowess for the 28.3km Monza to Milan time trial.
“I had two very good days and I’m very happy for that. I’m in a good position for tomorrow now,” Jungels said.
"When we started this race three weeks ago, my goal was to finish in the top 10 overall and I'm there now, which means a lot considering the high level of the race this year. I’m tired like last year but I think the level is a lot higher than last year. On top of that, I took a stage, which is really great. Tomorrow, I will try to cap it off with the white jersey; it won't be easy, because Yates is a great rider, but I will do my best."
Yates realistic about his chances
Adam Yates will race in the white skin suit as best young rider and also start three minutes after Yates. He promised to give his all but he is not optimistic of stopping the Luxembourg national champion from time trialing back into the white jersey in Milan.
“I’m 28 seconds down on him, which is not really enough on him over 30km. I’ll try my best but I am realistic and it’s probably unlikely,” Yates admitted.
“It was a tough day today. At the beginning I didn’t have super legs, well I don’t think anyone did. But I managed to limit my losses to the GC guys. I didn’t take any time out of Bob but that’s how it goes. He’s going super well on the climbs and flats.”
Whatever the result, Yates will head home to Britain, with another Grand Tour in his young legs and bags full of experience after doggedly fighting back from the crash on the road to the Blockhaus.
“Without a bit of bad luck and with a few things going my way, the Giro could have gone differently for me. Despite everything it’s been a great experience. I can only try my best in the time trial to finish off a good few weeks.”
Shared interests help save Dumoulin's chances of overall victory
Jungels and Yates finished in the chase group 15 seconds back on stage winner Thibaut Pinot. They helped Tom Dumoulin in his hectic pursuit of Vincenzo Nibali and Ilnur Zakarin. They were thinking of their own chances of a final stage victory but also helped save Dumoulin’s chances of final victory.
They were allies on the road to Asiago and Dumoulin openly thanked them.
“My goal was to try and go for the stage victory, but unfortunately we couldn't close the gap, despite working together on the climb and in the final 15 kilometres,” Jungels said justifying his collaboration.
“I think everyone was riding in the group. I was just part of a group chasing other guys. I don’t see any problem with that.”