After his Blockhaus disappointment, Ilnur Zakarin reminded the peloton he will be a rider to watch in the third week of the Giro d'Italia after his second place finish at Oropa. The result was Zakarin's second runner-up placing on a mountain finish in the 100th Giro, after Mt Etna on stage 4, and lifts the Katusha-Alpecin rider from tenth to fifth place.
Coming into the cobbled finale, Zakarin looked most likely of the leading trio to take the stage win but only watch on as maglia rosa Tom Dumoulin (Team SUnweb) punched past to take the win. Second place on the stage also gave Zakarin six important bonus seconds with the Russian the biggest mover in the top-ten.
"I am happy with my performance today. Of course I wanted to win the stage but Dumoulin was a bit stronger in the last meters. As I said before, the final week will be very decisive and I focused on it," said Zakarin. "It was only the first fight from a lot of hard days in the Alps and I am only looking to my own performance and not to the other riders. I try to race as best as possible and then we'll see what's going on at the end in Milan."
A stage winner on his Giro debut in 2015, Zakarin was in contention for the overall podium last year only to crash out of the race when sitting fifth overall. He recovered to line out at the Tour de France, winning a stage and finishing 25th overall but has come to the Giro in 2017 aiming for his best Grand Tour result of his young career.
The final week of the Giro provides multiple opportunities for the likes of Zakarin to challenge for stage wins and make a move up the GC. The 27-year-old will be hoping he can continue to make waves on the GC and become the first Russian since Denis Menchov to podium at the race.
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