OROPA, Italy (AP) Dutch rider Tom Dumoulin put in a perfect performance on the tough climb up to Oropa to win the 14th stage of the Giro d’Italia and extend his overall lead on Saturday.
Dumoulin edged out Ilnur Zakarin at the end of the 131-kilometer (81-mile) route from Castellania, beating the Russian by three seconds. Mikel Landa was third, nine seconds behind.
”I’m super, super happy,” Dumoulin said. ”This is surprising. The team did such a good job again. We’re in a really good vibe at the moment.
”We didn’t even get half of the climbs. They put every climb in the last week. So it will be a hard fight but no one can take this day away from me.”
Specialist climber Nairo Quintana had been favorite for the stage and it appeared as if he would claim victory when he attacked on the steep ascent, with four kilometers remaining. The Colombian opened up a nine-second lead with Zakarin but Dumoulin responded and chased him down, catching him with 1 1/2 kilometers remaining.
Dumoulin, Zakarin, Landa, and Quintana headed for the line together but the latter was dropped on the finishing straight and finished 14 seconds behind Dumoulin.
”I thought that I would be a bit better but it was a really fast climb and Tom is in a really good condition,” Quintana said.
Dumoulin, who rides for Team Sunweb, is 2 minutes, 47 seconds ahead of 2014 winner Quintana. Thibaut Pinot moved into third, 3:25 off the pace.
”Now I have an even bigger advantage,” Dumoulin added. ”It’s a really nice advantage now. But we cannot sit back and relax.”
Two-time champion Vincenzo Nibali finished seventh, 43 seconds behind Dumoulin, and was fourth overall, 3:40 behind.
Most of the sprinters, including Andre Greipel and Jakub Mareczko, abandoned the race before the stage. However, Fernando Gaviria, who won four stages, and Caleb Ewan decided to continue and try to make it to the Milan finish in eight days.
The 15th stage on Sunday is a 199-kilometer route (124-mile) route from Valdengo to Bergamo, which contains two categorized climbs in the second half of the day.