Pinot Sprints to Victory in Stage 20 of Giro d'Italia
Thibaut Pinot (Team FDJ) secured the stage victory he was aiming for with only one day left of the Giro d'Italia 2017. Pinot outsprinted fellow top climbers of the general classification in Asiago. The group had managed to leave GC leader Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) behind on the final climb, and although Nairo Quintana remained general classification leader following the stage, their joint effort was not sufficient to put Dumoulin out of GC contention before tomorrow's final stage 21.
With a 53-second deficit, Dutchman Dumoulin remains a huge threat to current race leader Quintana, as do both defending Giro champion Vincenzo Nibali and Pinot himself. A thrilling individual time trial will deliver a spectacular grand finale of the 100th edition tomorrow in Milan.
"A stage victory is not more important than my general classification ambitions, but this is why I’m a bike rider. I fight to win races and today it was a great experience to beat the other top contenders of the Giro," stage winner Pinot explained to Roadcycling.com following the victory celebration on the podium.
"I feel that Nibali, Quintana and I cooperated very well. We gave one hundred percent and we weren't counting our pedal strokes. However, once we rejoined with Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondiale) and Ilnur Zakarin (Alpecin) I knew that they had the stage win in mind, and so did I in the last two kilometers. That we managed to remain fifteen seconds ahead of a strong rouleur like Tom Dumoulin proves our cooperation was good."
"At the start of the Giro d'Italia in Sardinia I said that I wanted a stage win and a place on the final podium. I’ve done the hardest bit and now there are 30 kilometers left. I’ll give it my all to finish the Giro with no regrets. I’ll fight for the overall victory, but Dumoulin probably remains the favorite. I also remember that Quintana won a time trial at the Route du Sud ahead of Sylvain Chavanel last year. He can defend himself – it will be a superb battle as nobody is able to say who will win the Giro and that’s beautiful."
"Whatever happens on Sunday, I hope to return to the Giro in the future. I have always been convinced this race suits me. So far this year it’s been better than I could have hoped for and I have nothing negative to say about my Giro performance and experiences," Frenchman Pinot concluded.
"The reality of today’s stage is maybe not what it looked like to the spectators. I gave it all in the leading group as I wanted to gain more time and the riders who were with me had the same intention, so they gave it their all as well," race leader Quintana told Roadcycling.com.
"The gap I have on Tom Dumoulin is not enough, but it may be the right one as it’s important for me to keep my strength and remain motivated. I’ve delivered some good time trial performances in the past and I hope tomorrow’s will be even better. It’s unusual to have to defend the Maglia Rosa actively on the last day, but I’ll give my best. I’m not afraid of the closing time trial. My head says I can win or lose so everything is possible. Coming to a race as a favorite means you need to make some choices in the race, but we aren’t machines, we can’t control everything," Quintana said.
Sunday's 21st and final stage of the 2017 Giro d'Italia will be no parade stage for a pre-determined Giro champion. The riders won't be drinking champagne on the road to Milan, but rather be in need of their optimum time trial skills on a 29.3 kilometer route from Monza to Piazza Duomo in Milan, following the twenty previous energy consuming stages of the world's hardest Grand Tour.
The individual time trial route begins on the home straight of the Autodromo Nazionale Monza known for its high velocity Formula One racing. After completing one lap on the circuit, the stage route takes the pit lane and passes behind the paddocks to enter the Monza Park. The riders then emerge from Villa Reale (first time split) and proceed along wide, straight and well-paved avenues. In Sesto San Giovanni, the route takes the tunnel under the railway tracks. The second time split is measured upon entering Viale Italia. From there on, the course follows an almost straight route up to the two kilometer mark from the finish in Piazza Duomo.
The stage final is first set on wide avenues before engaging more narrow roads over the last few hundred meters, with several consecutive 90-degree turns in the last 100-150 meters, before the riders are received by the huge crowds who have come to Piazza Duomo to enjoy the finish of the 100th edition of the legendary Giro d'Italia Grand Tour. The 150 meter home straight is contested on a 6 meter wide stone-paved road surface.