Queen stage in the Dolomites. Some of the most well-known passes of the region will be climbed: Pordoi, Valparola, Gardena, and Pinei. Over 137km and approximately 4000 meters of cumulative elevation gain will be made. The final ascent in Valgardena is the same finish as in 2005.
Giro, stage 18: Van Garderen's redemption
After a Giro d’Italia of discontent, BMC’s Tejay van Garderen turned his fortunes around Thursday with an emphatic win in stage 18 to Ortisei. The American out-sprinted Sky’s Mikel Landa at the end of a mountainous 137-kilometer stage. FDJ’s Thibaut Pinot sprinted to third place after attacking from the group of GC favorites.
“This is my first grand tour victory, and it’s an incredible feeling,” said van Garderen.
Sunweb’s Tom Dumoulin kept his lead despite facing attacks from his rivals in the overall. “Thibaut Pinot took almost a minute on me just because Nibali and Quintana made a pact, clearly. It would be nice if they lost their podium spots with that behavior,” he said.
Top 10, stage 18
- 1. Tejay VAN GARDEREN, BMC RACING TEAM, in 3:54:04
- 2. Mikel LANDA MEANA, TEAM SKY, at :00
- 3. Thibaut PINOT, FDJ, at :08
- 4. Domenico POZZOVIVO, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at :08
- 5. Jan HIRT, CCC SPRANDI POLKOWICE, at :11
- 6. Ilnur ZAKARIN, TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN, at :24
- 7. Steven KRUIJSWIJK, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at :34
- 8. Bauke MOLLEMA, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at :34
- 9. Tom DUMOULIN, TEAM SUNWEB, at 1:06
- 10. Nairo QUINTANA, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 1:06
- 1. Tom DUMOULIN, TEAM SUNWEB, in 80:00:48
- 2. Nairo QUINTANA, MOVISTAR TEAM, at :31
- 3. Vincenzo NIBALI, BAHRAIN – MERIDA, at 1:12
- 4. Thibaut PINOT, FDJ, at 1:36
- 5. Ilnur ZAKARIN, TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN, at 1:58
- 6. Domenico POZZOVIVO, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 2:07
- 7. Bauke MOLLEMA, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 3:17
- 8. Steven KRUIJSWIJK, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 5:48
- 9. Adam YATES, ORICA – SCOTT, at 7:06
- 10. Bob JUNGELS, QUICK – STEP FLOORS, at 7:24
Van Garderen and Landa were at the head of affairs on the last of five categorized climbs after riding in the breakaway all day. In addition to a stage win, the Spaniard was riding to pad his lead in the king of the mountains classification. Van Garderen was aiming for a victory to salvage his Giro. His ambitions as a rider for the overall classification in this race went up the road weeks ago.
“It’s been a rough couple of years in grand tours as far as the classification [GC] has been going. I did my best to keep the morale high,” van Garderen said.
Nairo Quintana (Movistar) tried to drop Dumoulin on Passo Gardena, the stage’s third categorized climb. The Dutchman was unflappable. His careful pacing strategy paid off as he brought back the attack over the crest of the mountain.
Up the final climb, Dumoulin tested his legs and was followed by Quintana straight away. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale) launched a counterattack, and Pinot followed.
“I was feeling strong so I decided to show them that I am also awake,” Dumoulin said.
Dumoulin found himself frustrated by Quintana and Nibali, who were uncooperative in the chase. “I really hope they end up losing their podium places in Milano. It would make me really happy,” the race leader added, referring to the Colombian and Italian, who sit second and third in the overall, respectively.
Pinot and Pozzovivo were bearing down on van Garderen and Landa, having caught another breakaway rider, Jan Hirt (CCC Sprandi Polkowice). However, they didn’t have enough road left to ride for a win.
“I knew every inch of the road,” added van Garderen, who regularly comes to this part of Italy for training camps.
Despite his local knowledge, van Garderen was wary of Landa in the finale.”He’s a very fast sprinter, very good climber. I tried to play it as best I could. I didn’t know I was going to win until I crossed the line.”
Landa led-out the sprint on the cobbled city streets after the climb’s gradient eased up. Van Garderen waited patiently and pounced on the inside line of the final, sweeping righthand turn, about 150 meters from the line.
The Giro’s mountains continue Friday in stage 19, which features a 14km summit finish that may favor Dumoulin. However, the 191km race from San Candido to Piancavallo may be one of the last chances the climbers have to pull the pink jersey off of his back.