Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) continued to smile after the hectic finale of stage 15 of the Giro d'Italia to Bergamo, knowing he will enjoy the third and final rest day in the maglia rosa on Monday, with a healthy, if not dominant, overall lead before the decisive mountain stages in the Alps and Dolomites.
While his rivals are looking for every possible chance to pull back minutes and seconds wherever they can, Dumoulin even sportingly slowed the peloton after Nairo Quintana crashed on a corner on the descent of the Selvino. He waved his hand to the other riders, convincing them to wait for the Colombian to chase and get back on.
Last weekend on the Blockhaus, Quintana's Movistar team showed far less regard for their rivals and stayed on the front of the peloton but Dumoulin insisted on fair play in the peloton. He also played down any suggestion that his tight grip on the pink jersey means he is the 'capo' of the Giro d'Italia peloton.
"I don't need to be the boss of the peloton, I don't think that way. I think it's normal to wait for a rival when they fall, particularly at a time like that on the descent," he said, even if Quintana then sprinted for the stage victory and pulled back six seconds thanks to finishing second behind Bob Jungels.
"I don't want to take time on competitors because they crash. I don't think that's the way to do it. It's true that sometimes the race is on but not this time moment. I think it was a good moment to wait for him."
Dumoulin explained that the Movistar team was pushing the pace on the descent when the crash happened.
Gorka Izagirre led Quintana on the descent, but came into a curve a bit hot and Quintana had to brake hard to avoid overlapping wheels in the turn. He still slid out into the dirt and tumbled into the crash barrier. He was not hurt and quickly got going again. Unfortunately, his Movistar team car stopped just after the corner and several riders went close to hitting it - including two Movistar riders. After the crash caused by a stopped police motorbike on the Blockhaus, it could have been another avoidable accident. Incredibly directeur sportif Jose Luis Arrieta was only given a 50 Swiss franc fine.
"It wasn't a dangerous moment, Movistar made the mistake; Izagirre went too hard down the descent. He missed a curve at one point and so Quintana's problem happened," Dumoulin explained.
"It was a hectic and fast finale. And you had to pay attention. I noticed that I was feeling aggressive after the finish. That means I was still a little worked up and that it's been a stressful day."
Despite the adrenaline rush of the crash and the aggressive finale up to Bergamo Alto and then down to the finish, Dumoulin avoided any risk in the sprint for the stage victory between 12 riders, including most of the overall contenders left in the race.
"In the sprint, it was all about timing. I was saving the pink jersey and not really going for the sprint," he said.
"I could have done better than eighth but I was just glad the day was over. I felt good but it was a hard and stressful day. Fortunately, I still had good legs."
Despite being in charge of the Giro d'Italia, Dumoulin - like all the 178 riders left in the race - is looking forward to Monday's third rest day in the Bergamo hills.
"I'm always looking forward to a rest day, even when I'm not tired," he concluded.
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