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Vincenzo Nibali said he hadn't planned his...

Nibali: ‘Our tactic was a mistake’

Vincenzo Nibali says the team car changed the race plan midway through stage 6, and he paid the price, losing time on the final climb.

ROCCARASO, Italy (VN) — Vincenzo Nibali’s move Thursday on the Giro d’Italia’s first summit finish had people scratching their heads in confusion and, instead of gaining needed time, led to a loss in the overall.

Pink jersey Tom Dumoulin (Giant – Alpecin) countered the Italian of team Astana and though he did not catch the lone leader Tim Wellens (Lotto – Soudal) for the stage win, he rode 21 seconds into the race’s favorite, Nibali. Dumoulin now, only a week into the race, leads by 26 seconds over Astana’s Jakob Fuglsang and another 47 on Nibali, who is ninth overall.

“Our tactic was mistake, apart from the first attack by Fuglsang,” Nibali said on the steps of his blue team bus surrounded by journalists. “That’s what we wanted to do, send Fuglsang up the road. I maybe trusted too much in the words that were coming over the earpiece, I moved in the wrong moment [around 4km to race -Ed.].”

Sky and Movistar pulled him back on the gentle windswept climb in Abruzzo, and Dutchman Dumoulin countered. He bridged to Fuglsang and took the biggest gains on the day. Others trickled in behind, including Rigoberto Urán (Cannondale), Esteban Chaves (Orica – GreenEdge) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), then a group with Nibali and Sky’s Mikel Landa.

“Clearly, with the headwind, it was not easy. I paid. I still arrived there with Landa. A tactic-talk tonight? The team car called it wrong today, that’s it. You need to ask to them.”

Working for Rigoberto Urán (Cannondale), American Joe Dombrowski arrived with Nibali’s group. He was one of those wondering what Nibali was thinking.

“You saw Nibali attack. It was kinda … To be honest, it was stupid,” Dombrowski told VeloNews. “I don’t know why he’s attacking into a headwind on a downhill section. But you saw he blew. So, I think we’ve played it right.”

“The tactics changed in the race, I was only supposed to stay on the wheels,” Nibali continued. “Then they said that if I felt good that I should try. I tried, but I should’ve stayed put there and played my cards another time.”

The numbers are double digits — seconds, not minutes — and the race is still in its early days before the high mountain passes in the country’s north, but Dumoulin has more in his favor. On Sunday, the Giro d’Italia offers a long, 40.5-kilometer time trial that suits Dumoulin well. Last year, he nearly won the Vuelta a España with his time trial and improved climbing.

“Dumoulin surprised us a bit, honestly, from what we saw on the climb, he didn’t seem like he was going very well,” Nibali added. “Evidently, he hid himself well. It wasn’t only me that paid. We all know Dumoulin, and we need to race with attention. Around us, we have very important and tough rivals like Dumoulin.

“You need to keep calm. This is a long Giro. We have to play the waiting game.”

The Giro d’Italia continues with a sprint stage Friday morning, from Sulmona to Foligno, and the times should stay the same on the Giro’s pink classification sheet. Nibali will wait for the bigger days to come in the Giro.