ASIAGO, Italy (VN) — How close is this Giro d’Italia? Many are already comparing it to the epic showdown between Greg LeMond and Laurent Fignon in the 1989 Tour de France.
Four riders start Sunday’s final-day time trial within 53 seconds, and two more are at 1:30 back. Only one will win, and three will finish on the podium. Who will be the odd man out?
We hit the paddock after Saturday’s final showdown in the mountains to gauge the favorites:
Nairo Quintana (Movistar), 1st: “Tomorrow will have to be the best time trial I’ve done in my life. I’ve done good time trials before. It’s the last day. It’s for the maglia rosa. I will give everything I have.”
Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), 2nd at 39 seconds: “We went really hard today, and the climbing speed was very fast. Tomorrow will be a hard, difficult day. This Giro has been very difficult, very tactical. No one’s been brilliant, and we are all equal. Maybe Dumoulin has worked so hard yesterday and today that he won’t be at his best in the time trial.”
Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), 3rd at 43 seconds: “Dumoulin remains the favorite to win the Giro. Today we all went at the maximum to try to open a gap, but he found some help, and it was not easy for us at the front. I need a great day to win the pink jersey. We are all at the same level, but I still have legs. I feel better now than I did when I started.”
Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), 4th at 53 seconds: “I’m proud of how I rode today, I feel mentally and physically much better than I did yesterday which is good. I need a really good day tomorrow to get that gap. It’s not going to be differences like in the last time trial because I’m really tired after this week in the mountains. It’s going to be tight with five of us so close but I will just focus on my own ride and see what happens.”
José Azevedo, sport director Katusha: “Ilnur [Zakarin, 5th at 1:15] came close to the win. All the work the past few days has been all about making the podium. Everyone is on the limit. When you have a time trial on the last day, special things can happen. Ilnur will need to give his maximum.”
Eusebio Unzué, general manager Movistar: “Today we wanted to have two minutes at least over Dumoulin to go into the time trial with tranquility and more security for the final victory. It didn’t happen, and logically, with these differences, it’s difficult that Dumoulin loses the race. But you still need to finish the race. Many things can happen in a final-day time trial.”
Luke Roberts, sport director Sunweb: “Tom bounced back today, with good mental strength and paced the climb well. He had to fight for every second. At the end of a three-week tour, and Pinot showed he can do a good time trial. It will be an interesting day tomorrow, not that the rest of the Giro hasn’t been.”
Fabrizio Guidi, sport director Cannondale-Drapac: “Favorite is Dumoulin. The last time trial is always a question mark. Everyone is always tired. There can always be surprises. It is for who has the legs. We will have to watch it on TV.”
Matt White, sport director Orica-Scott: “Same as I said a few days ago, Tom Dumoulin. It’s a margin that is very achievable for a world-class time trial, and he is. The parcours suits Dumoulin better than anyone here. He might have lost a little bit of time, but he is not out of shape. He rode a very smart race, and I think he will win the Giro very comfortably tomorrow.”
Kim Andersen, sport director Trek-Segafredo: “We all know after three weeks, it’s not easy to say. I think it will be Nibali or Dumoulin. Normally, Dumoulin will win, but we also know after three weeks, it is different. It’s been a spectacular race.”