After waiting for 15 stages, the Italian faithful finally saw their hero Vincenzo Nibali in full flight. The Bahrain-Merida rider climbed like an angel and descended like a demon to win stage 16 and take some valuable time. It’s probably premature to say Tom Dumoulin’s race has gone in the toilet, but his mid-race bathroom break was a major setback, costing him minutes in the overall.
The Giro d’Italia’s queen stage served up plenty of the usual drama we expected, plus a surprise opportunity for lots of poop jokes. Let’s roundtable!
Why did Mikel Landa work with Vincenzo Nibali on the final descent?
Fred Dreier @freddreier: I mean, Landa got caught on the descent by the better descender. He could have either held onto Nibali’s wheel and then worked with him, or simply let Nibali drop him. I think he chose the most logical option.
Caley Fretz @caleyfretz: He’s a really nice guy? I honestly don’t know. That was odd. I wouldn’t have, unless Nibali promised me something else.
Chris Case @chrisjustincase: Perhaps it was pride, perhaps Landa feared others would rejoin the lead group and make the finale that much more complicated if he didn’t work. In any case, it was destiny for Nibali to win the day, right?
Spencer Powlison @spino_powerlegs: It actually seemed like the right tactic given how technical the final kilometer was. If it had been any rider besides Nibali, I think Landa wins that sprint out of the final corner, which was oh-so-close to the finish.
Should the leaders have waited for Tom Dumoulin when he had a nature break?
Fred: In my opinion they did wait. I mean, they didn’t physically get off of their bikes and sit down on the curb for a cigarette, but they also didn’t go full-gas. Zakarin attacked, and then Quintana shut down the move and the group bunched up. They steadily increased the speed up the Umbrail, but there were no huge attacks that I could see, other than a few surges by Nibali. To me it appeared that nobody really knew what to do, namely Quintana. He followed wheels but never put in that big acceleration to spring to glory. That’s why I’m calling this stage the “Deuce Truce.”
Caley: Is a nature break all that different from a bonk? It’s not an ‘act of God,’ it’s an act of the human body. I’m not so sure it qualifies as wait-worthy.
That said, he was in pink. The classy thing to do was wait. But I don’t think it was an obligation, as it would be if he had a mechanical, for example.
Chris: It was a messy situation … Sure, Zakarin had a dig, but then the group seemed to collectively ease up. Eventually, the leaders must have been asking themselves, “How long do we wait?” Of course, Dumoulin is back there mixed in with team cars and other riders; it seems a message on his condition would have made its way to the leading GC contenders. If he’s back on his bike but minutes down, and visibly not at his best, you push on.
Spencer: Nah, race on. I missed the start of a road race last year because I was … uh … answering the call of nature. They didn’t wait for me! (#AskACat3)
Was this route too difficult to create significant time gaps (apart from Dumoulin)?
Fred: No, I think if you remove the Dumoulin deuce truce, then the group would have attacked each other for most of the Umbrail climb. Instead, they spent their time riding tempo, wondering what they should do. I don’t think anybody wanted to be that guy who attacked the pink jersey while he was in the crapper.
Caley: I don’t think so. The racers make the race. Everyone, apart from Dumoulin, seemed to be on a good day today. If anyone was on a bad day the gaps could have been massive.
Chris: This route is what people want to see. These climbs are what set the Giro apart. Too difficult? Baaaaaaah.
Spencer: I agree that the route was stunning and classic, but I wanted more fireworks from Nibali and Quintana. How about a summit finish instead of a descent to Bormio?
Could Dumoulin capitalize on this incident with the right sponsor? After all, like Peter Sagan says, “I think it’s normal for people to go to toilet.”
Fred: The marketing opportunities here are literally endless. Wet Wipes: New cycling jersey-sized clean pack! Kaopectate: Survive attacks from Nairo Quintana AND nature! Ooh, how about Pepto-Bismol: Before my battle for pink, I always have a drink!
Caley: Sunweb-Charmin for 2018. “Don’t get dumped like Dumoulin”
Chris: If Dumoulin goes on to lose this Giro, he will forever be known as the man who shit the bed and laid in it too. Eww, wait a minute, that’s not how it goes. If he wins, he will forever be known as the Pooping Dutchman. Either way, Charmin needs to sign this guy.
Spencer: I’m going to veer away from consumer goods and suggest a more industrial/commercial sponsor, which is really on-brand for Dutch teams. What’s the biggest porta-potty distributor in The Netherlands?