Nibali wins queen stage of Giro d'Italia

Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) won a dramatic queen stage of the Giro d'Italia, beating Mikel Landa (Team Sky) in a two-up sprint to take Italy's first victory in this year's race. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) finished several seconds down in third place. 

Maglia rosa Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) had to battle hard to come back from stomach problems, finishing more than two minutes down and keeping his race lead by just a few seconds.

It was always going to be a day of epic proportions with a veritable feast of ascents for the riders to consume. In the end, it had it all with drama, intrigue and potential scandal. The stage ultimately came down to the last climb and descent of the day with the Umbrailpass the key or the fly in the soup for most of the big favourites.

Landa and Nibali took different approaches to the stage, with the former making it into the day's main breakaway. Landa had been alone since an attack midway up the Umbrailpass when Nibali joined him on the descent. Nibali himself had launched a few speculative moves to dislodge his companions, which had contained Nairo Quintana, Domenico Pozzovivo and Ilnur Zakarin when he launched his most devastating move with just a kilometre to the summit.

In his usual aggressive style, Nibali caught up with Landa nine kilometres after he'd attacked. The pair stayed to together until to the foot of the descent, marking each other like track sprinters through the twisting, technical finish. As they rounded the final corner, Landa went first but it was Nibali who had the legs to edge out the Spaniard on the line and take the home nation's first win.

"It was a spectacular stage. There was climbing, descending, and then sprinting at the end there against Mikel Landa," Nibali said after the stage. "I didn't think about being first Italian to win a stage; what counted was having a strong team, making a big effort and staying up there. I'm closer now but Dumoulin has the advantage of the time trial in Milan."

It was a particularly tough day for the race leader, who had to stop for an inopportune toilet break on the approach to the Umbrailpass. The Dutchman lost vital minutes and endured a lonely chase as he tried to keep hold of the maglia rosa he'd been wearing since the time trial at the start of week two.

In the end, he saw his lead almost disappear as he finished 2:17 down on Nibali, but he still sits at the top of the general classifications just 31 seconds ahead of Quintana with many more mountain stages to come.

How it happened

After the final rest day of the Giro d'Italia, the climax of the 100th race kicked off with the queen stage. The 222km stage would feature an ascent of the Mortirolo, the Stelvio and the Umbrailpass, as formidable a day as any in Grand Tour racing. Before the riders focussed on their own travails on the bike, they took a moment to reflect as the organisers held a minute's silence to remember those that had died in the terrorist attack in Manchester on Monday night. In their minds were also former MotoGP champion Nicky Hayden and triathlete Julia Viellehner, who both passed away after being hit by vehicles while cycling.

As expected, there was plenty of interest in making it into the day's break. With five huge climbs to come, the pace was not as high at the start as it had been towards the end of the second week. With 40 kilometres under their belts, the breakaway began to form, initiated by a group of 10 that went up the road as they approached the foothills of the Mortirolo. Over the next 10km, riders continued to bridge the ever increasing gap until the break's numbers had ballooned to 25. However, they only managed an advantage of a little over a minute before they were brought back

On the Mortirolo another large move began to form at the front. Movistar had some serious representation in the group with Andre Amador, Winner Anacona and Gorka Izagirre, while Team Sunweb just has Laurens ten Dam. Team Sky lost Kenny Elissonde earlier on but still managed to get four riders, including Mikel Landa, in the breakaway. Also present were Astana's Luis Leon Sanchez and mountains classification contender Omar Fraile (Dimension Data). Former world champion Rui Costa also earned himself a berth in the break.

Behind, there were some signs of concern for Dumoulin and his Sunweb team but they managed the breakaway well and allowed them little more than three minutes at any given time. Amador's presence predetermined that.

At the top of the Mortirolo, Fraile put camaraderie before competition when he let Astana's Sanchez cross the Mortirolo, dubbed the Cima Scarponi in honour of the late Michele Scarponi. The decision effectively put Sanchez in control of the mountains classification, for which Fraile had also been in contention. The Mortirolo was just an appetiser with the brutal Stelvio to come. Only necessary vehicles would be able to follow the riders up with fears that too much noise could cause an avalanche in the region.

The Stelvio

The breakaway had worked well together but the Stelvio's gradients pushed many past their limits and their number was quickly reduced. The same could be said about the peloton, which had around 30 riders, including all the major favourites, left in its ranks. Making use of their power in the break, Movistar turned the screws on the Stelvio, shedding most of the riders that had made it clear, including Fraile, Costa and ten Dam.

Anacona was also distanced but, perhaps given the hurry up from the team car, mounted a furious chase to make it back to the lead group. Meanwhile, FDJ set the pace in the peloton while Dumoulin kept a watchful eye on Quintana. Landa led the break over the Stelvio, the 2017 Cima Coppi, with Igor Anton and Sanchez in his wheel.

Landa was soon overtaken by a determined Amador, who scythed down the descent. The Spaniard set off in pursuit but the pair were eventually brought back by a severely diminished chasing group. Of the original sizeable group, only Amador, Anacona, Landa, Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Jan Hirt (CCC Sprandi Polkowice) remained.

Problems for Dumoulin

In the peloton, on the approach to the Umbrailpass, there were dramatic scenes as Dumoulin jumped off his bike, apparently affected by stomach problems. The Dutchman would be all alone by the time he remounted his bike and faced a dispiriting chase to the group of favourites in front.

There was a brief cessation in hostilities as the group of GC men waited for Dumoulin in the valley, but as the final climb approached, they began to become increasingly edgy.

"I just had problems, I needed to take a dump - I couldn’t hold it anymore. It was after the first time of the Stelvio I began to feel it in the downhill. I had to stop, it was not possible to continue anymore," Dumoulin explained frankly after the stage.

Ahead, Amador and Anacona followed a Kruijswijk attack, and the breakaway forged on in search of the stage win. With 25km to go, Landa decided that he'd had enough of his companions and launched an attack that left him as the last man standing from the main break.

Moments later, further down the Umbrailpass, the gentlemanly agreement to wait for the maglia rosa was thrown out the window as Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) launched an attack, and from then on it was game on. Quintana tested the legs of his rivals and dragged Nibali, Zakarin and Domenico Pozzovivo with him. The group of four began mopping up the riders that had been dropped from the breakaway.

After initially cutting the gap from over 90 seconds to just over a minute, the attacks up front began to hurt Dumoulin's comeback. Having briefly had a teammate with him, Dumoulin was forced to make the chase alone, with only the tifosi on the side of the road for company. For him, the day would be all about limiting his losses to his rivals out front.

While Landa plugged on alone up the Umbrailpass, the favourites were closing in behind him. Sensing Landa close by and a stage win in the offing, Nibali attacked with a kilometre to the top of the climb. Only Quintana was able to go with the Italian, but he was soon distanced when they hit the descent. Taking no prisoners on the way down, Nibali soon joined forces with Landa, who must have been devastated to see the Italian alongside him.

Nibali and Landa would stay together right to the line with Nibali taking the stage win by the slimmest of margins over Landa. Quintana held on to finish the stage just a few seconds down and make big ground on the lead of the overall classification.

"Right now I’m just disappointed," Dumoulin said. "I was with the strongest today. I could have easily been with Nibali and Quintana, I just lost it because I had a problem."

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Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida6:24:22
2Mikel Landa (Spa) Team SkyRow 1 - Cell 2
3Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team0:00:12
4Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale0:00:24
5Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin0:00:34
6Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac0:01:26
7Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo0:01:35
8Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step FloorsRow 7 - Cell 2
9Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-ScottRow 8 - Cell 2
10Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJRow 9 - Cell 2
11Jan Hirt (Cze) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 10 - Cell 2
12Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 11 - Cell 2
13Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb0:02:18
14Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team Emirates0:05:10
15Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:05:17
16Simone Petilli (Ita) UAE Team Emirates0:05:19
17Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) FDJ0:06:07
18Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe0:06:41
19Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-HansgroheRow 18 - Cell 2
20Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:07:30
21Winner Anacona (Col) Movistar Team0:07:46
22Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar TeamRow 21 - Cell 2
23Igor Anton (Spa) Dimension DataRow 22 - Cell 2
24Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 23 - Cell 2
25Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 24 - Cell 2
26Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:07:52
27Stef Clement (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo0:12:05
28Michal Schlegel (Cze) CCC Sprandi Polkowice0:13:10
29Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team0:16:36
30Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Katusha-AlpecinRow 29 - Cell 2
31Eros Capecchi (Ita) Quick-Step Floors0:18:38
32Pierre Rolland (Fra) Cannondale-DrapacRow 31 - Cell 2
33Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Team Sunweb0:20:27
34Jesus Hernandez (Spa) Trek-Segafredo0:20:42
35Ruben Plaza (Spa) Orica-ScottRow 34 - Cell 2
36François Bidard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:21:51
37Jesper Hansen (Den) Astana Pro Team0:22:17
38Manuel Senni (Ita) BMC Racing Team0:22:27
39Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Lotto SoudalRow 38 - Cell 2
40Silvan Dillier (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 39 - Cell 2
41Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension DataRow 40 - Cell 2
42Laurens De Plus (Bel) Quick-Step FloorsRow 41 - Cell 2
43Daniel Martinez (Col) Wilier Triestina0:23:23
44José Mendes (Por) Bora-HansgroheRow 43 - Cell 2
45Peter Stetina (USA) Trek-SegafredoRow 44 - Cell 2
46Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Bahrain-Merida0:23:42
47Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates0:24:33
48Alexander Foliforov (Rus) Gazprom – RusveloRow 47 - Cell 2
49Joe Dombrowski (USA) Cannondale-Drapac0:24:37
50Natnael Berhane (Eri) Dimension Data0:24:52
51Felix Großschartner (Aut) CCC Sprandi Polkowice0:25:03
52José Gonçalves (Por) Katusha-Alpecin0:25:14
53Tom-Jelte Slagter (Ned) Cannondale-Drapac0:25:51
54Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Sunweb0:29:48
55Chad Haga (USA) Team SunwebRow 54 - Cell 2
56Jose Herrada (Spa) Movistar Team0:30:07
57Philip Deignan (Irl) Team SkyRow 56 - Cell 2
58Sebastian Henao (Col) Team SkyRow 57 - Cell 2
59Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Bahrain-Merida0:33:08
60Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 59 - Cell 2
61Matvey Mamykin (Rus) Katusha-AlpecinRow 60 - Cell 2
62Martijn Keizer (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 61 - Cell 2
63Carlos Verona (Spa) Orica-ScottRow 62 - Cell 2
64Victor De La Parte (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 63 - Cell 2
65Julen Amezqueta (Spa) Wilier TriestinaRow 64 - Cell 2
66Steve Morabito (Swi) FDJRow 65 - Cell 2
67Lukasz Owsian (Pol) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 66 - Cell 2
68Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La MondialeRow 67 - Cell 2
69Rudy Molard (Fra) FDJRow 68 - Cell 2
70Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek-SegafredoRow 69 - Cell 2
71Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJRow 70 - Cell 2
72Bram Tankink (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 71 - Cell 2
73Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La MondialeRow 72 - Cell 2
74Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-DrapacRow 73 - Cell 2
75Francisco Ventoso (Spa) BMC Racing TeamRow 74 - Cell 2
76Matteo Busato (Ita) Wilier Triestina0:33:25
77Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe0:33:58
78Edward Ravasi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates0:34:44
79Luis León Sánchez (Spa) Astana Pro TeamRow 78 - Cell 2
80Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Team Sky0:36:10
81Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro Team0:37:18
82Omar Fraile (Spa) Dimension DataRow 81 - Cell 2
83Georg Preidler (Aut) Team Sunweb0:40:01
84Jose Rojas (Spa) Movistar Team0:40:26
85Rory Sutherland (Aus) Movistar TeamRow 84 - Cell 2
86Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Astana Pro TeamRow 85 - Cell 2
87Sindre Skjøstad Lunke (Nor) Team SunwebRow 86 - Cell 2
88Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 87 - Cell 2
89Pieter Serry (Bel) Quick-Step FloorsRow 88 - Cell 2
90Twan Castelijns (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 89 - Cell 2
91Valerio Conti (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 90 - Cell 2
92Maxim Belkov (Rus) Katusha-AlpecinRow 91 - Cell 2
93Benoit Vaugrenard (Fra) FDJRow 92 - Cell 2
94Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Bardiani CSF0:47:08
95Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 94 - Cell 2
96Moreno Hofland (Ned) Lotto SoudalRow 95 - Cell 2
97Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-HansgroheRow 96 - Cell 2
98Jan Bárta (Cze) Bora-HansgroheRow 97 - Cell 2
99Pavel Brutt (Rus) Gazprom – RusveloRow 98 - Cell 2
100Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-HansgroheRow 99 - Cell 2
101Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing TeamRow 100 - Cell 2
102Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida0:47:22
103Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-SegafredoRow 102 - Cell 2
104Cristian Rodriguez (Spa) Wilier TriestinaRow 103 - Cell 2
105Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eri) Dimension DataRow 104 - Cell 2
106Sergey Firsanov (Rus) Gazprom – RusveloRow 105 - Cell 2
107Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team SkyRow 106 - Cell 2
108Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 107 - Cell 2
109Ivan Rovny (Rus) Gazprom – RusveloRow 108 - Cell 2
110Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Wilier TriestinaRow 109 - Cell 2
111Diego Rosa (Ita) Team SkyRow 110 - Cell 2
112Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 111 - Cell 2
113Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 112 - Cell 2
114Michael Hepburn (Aus) Orica-ScottRow 113 - Cell 2
115Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Dimension DataRow 114 - Cell 2
116Svein Tuft (Can) Orica-ScottRow 115 - Cell 2
117Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJRow 116 - Cell 2
118Simone Ponzi (Ita) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 117 - Cell 2
119Jan Tratnik (Slo) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 118 - Cell 2
120Maciej Paterski (Pol) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 119 - Cell 2
121Adam James Hansen (Aus) Lotto SoudalRow 120 - Cell 2
122Joey Rosskopf (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 121 - Cell 2
123Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 122 - Cell 2
124Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) FDJRow 123 - Cell 2
125Clement Chevrier (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 124 - Cell 2
126Michal Golas (Pol) Team SkyRow 125 - Cell 2
127Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Orica-ScottRow 126 - Cell 2
128Matej Mohoric (Slo) UAE Team EmiratesRow 127 - Cell 2
129Luka Mezgec (Slo) Orica-ScottRow 128 - Cell 2
130Julien Berard (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 129 - Cell 2
131Davide Villella (Ita) Cannondale-DrapacRow 130 - Cell 2
132Hugh Carthy (GBr) Cannondale-DrapacRow 131 - Cell 2
133Ilia Koshevoy (Blr) Wilier TriestinaRow 132 - Cell 2
134Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-SegafredoRow 133 - Cell 2
135Quentin Jauregui (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 134 - Cell 2
136Ángel Vicioso (Spa) Katusha-Alpecin0:47:39
137Manuele Boaro (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 136 - Cell 2
138Eugert Zhupa (Alb) Wilier Triestina0:51:21
139Jos Van Emden (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 138 - Cell 2
140Aleksei Tcatevich (Rus) Gazprom – RusveloRow 139 - Cell 2
141Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha-AlpecinRow 140 - Cell 2
142Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step FloorsRow 141 - Cell 2
143Luka Pibernik (Slo) Bahrain-MeridaRow 142 - Cell 2