There is rarely a quiet moment on the Giro d'Italia, as Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) knows better than most. The defending champion and the general classification contenders might have hoped for a low-key outing as they resumed their duties after the rest day. Instead, they found themselves in a whole-hearted contest from gun to tape on the race's longest stage from Penne to Gualdo Tadino.
The day's headline will inevitably be the 25 minutes lost by Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) after he was inexplicably distanced on the opening climb, the category 2 Fonte della Creta. In the grand scheme of things, Dumoulin will be relieved that his travails can be written up as a footnote to a breathless 239 kilometres as the corsa rosa moved northwards from Abruzzo to Umbria.
Dumoulin was a faller on the rain-soaked descent from the day's final climb to Annifo, and later had to pause for a bike change, but he succeeded in quickly bridging back up to the pink jersey group, thanks in no small part to the help of the impressive Sam Oomen.
"The first guy in the group made a wrong estimation on that corner, and we went into it with too much speed, everyone braked, and I was too late and crashed," Dumoulin said.
Although Dumoulin's left leg was muddied and bloodied from the fall, he showed no ill effects as he warmed down on his turbo trainer outside the Sunweb bus after the stage. "I will take a shower, and when the dust has settled I'm sure it will hurt," he said. "At the moment I look to be OK, tomorrow we will see how it is."
Chaves and Yates
The day began beneath pleasant sunshine and on a rather different footing for Sunweb, who were among the teams looking to benefit from Chaves' unexpected struggles on the day's opening difficulty.
Together with Team Sky, Sunweb rode prominently at the head of the peloton in a bid to distance Chaves definitively. Their efforts helped to leave the Colombian some 3:30 in arrears by the time the race reached the final 100 kilometres, at which point Mitchelton-Scott began to scale back their pursuit. At that point, with one prong broken off Mitchelton-Scott's podium challenge, it looked set to be a most auspicious day for Dumoulin.
"I'm happy that the team was so strong,” Dumoulin said. "I'm really thankful for all the work they did. It was super work to not let Chaves come back and then it was also great from Sam to bring me back fast after the crash."
Chaves' setback means that Dumoulin rises to second place overall, though his deficit on pink jersey Simon Yates now stands at 41 seconds after the Mitchelton-Scott rider impetuously claimed three bonus seconds by overpowering Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) in the intermediate sprint in Sarnano. The Briton could prove an exceedingly tough out for Dumoulin et al.
"Yates is so strong, it's unbelievable. He took the intermediate so easy," Dumoulin said. "I was surprised that Chaves dropped and that made the stage extremely tough. Apparently, he had a bad day, which can happen to anyone."
The Giro's attritional second week continues with a demanding finale in the hills of the Marche on Wednesday afternoon. For Dumoulin and his podium rivals, avoiding mistakes or mishaps will be the first order of the day.