Giro d’Italia: Friendship brings benefits for Dumoulin in the mountains

Alliances in cycling, like politics and religion, are rarely discussed in polite company, but Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) saw no reason to pretend that he had not depended on the kindness of strangers to limit his losses on stage 20 of the Giro d’Italia and put himself in the box seat to reclaim the maglia rosa in Sunday’s final time trial in Milan.

When Dumoulin found himself distanced by chief rivals Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) six kilometres from the top of Fonza, the Giro’s final climb, he turned and gestured for his companions in the chasing group to help in the pursuit. Ordinarily, one might have expected the request to fall on deaf ears, but shortly afterwards, Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) came to the front.

Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) was next to put his shoulder to the wheel, while white jersey Adam Yates (Orica-Scott) also provided some turns on the front. At the summit of Fonza, 12 kilometres from the finish, Dumoulin trailed Quintana, Nibali et al by 25 seconds, but Jungels’ metronomic effort on the front kept the deficit in check on the rolling altopiano to the finish.

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Dumoulin eventually reached the finish in Asiago in 10th place, just 15 seconds down stage winner Thibaut Pinot (FDJ). Although the Dutchman drops to 4th overall, he is only 53 seconds off Quintana’s maglia rosa with a flat, 29.3-kilometre time trial to come. He is, by any reckoning, the favourite to win the Giro.

“I’m forever thankful and grateful for the work that Bauke Mollema, Bob Jungels and Adam Yates did for me,” Dumoulin said outside the Sunweb team bus after the finish. It was striking that he made a point of mentioning their help without prompting.

“They were pretty much not really fighting anymore for any spots on GC, because they are pretty much fixed on their spots on GC, so it was definitely to help me. I’m very happy about that and very thankful.”

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