• Tom Dumoulin is sitting pretty as the Giro heads into its final week. (Getty)Source: Getty
With Tom Dumoulin sitting squarely in the Giro d’Italia box seat holding a handy time buffer, it will be up to his closest rivals to dislodge the Sunweb rider from his position.
By
Cycling Central

23 May 2017 - 10:14 AM  UPDATED 23 May 2017 - 10:15 AM

The final week of the Giro is a demanding one, with five mountainous stages and a closing time trial providing the opportunities for Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) to upend the general classification.

The Giro resumes after a rest day with the 222km 16th stage, which features a 12.6km climb to the Mortirolo pass and two ascents of the Stelvio.

"It can be very hard or it can be very, very hard," Dumoulin told Cyclingnews. "We just have to see. I've had some tough stages in the past, so we'll see how it's going to be. My competitors will definitely attack me and it will definitely be a day of suffering."

Dumoulin has 2min 41sec on Quintana, with Pinot, and Nibali at 3min 21sec and 3min 40sec respectively. Based on his current form and time buffer he can approach the final week defensively, so it will be up to the chasing trio to animate the business end of the race from its Stage 16 start in Rovett through to the final day in Milan.

“We're yet to see if he remains as consistent in the climbs coming up from Tuesday, which will be really long," Quintana said. "Our hope is to see him fading a bit in this third week while we continue to grow, all mountain stages containing more than one climb.

“Theoretically, there are four or five riders who could win this Giro other than him, and these stages suit us really well. An alliance against Dumoulin? That can only happen depending on how the race goes and which are each one's interests, that's not something you can plan on ahead.

"Tomorrow's stage [16] is a really tough one, where we all could also pay after all the wear and tear we've gone through in this Giro. It'd be good for me to have a fast-paced race tomorrow, but we must keep our minds on what will be ahead of us after Tuesday because some stages which seem less difficult than tomorrow's could become even more dangerous and destructive."

For Nibali, the race has been one of frustration. The Italian would badly like to win the 100th edition of the Giro, some of it raced on his home ground in Sicily. His form has been good, but until now it hasn’t been enough to dent Dumoulin’s armor.

"I feel good for sure. I'm not pessimistic. I'm trying to be realistic. If someone cracks and suffers one day, then that's the moment to attack but it could also happen to me," he told Cyclingnews.

"This week is a lot harder that what we've faced so far. It's more suited to riders with real resistance and experience. I think I have that and so we'll see what happens out on the road. I need a hard race to be at my best and for sure the terrain is there in the final stages.

"There'll be far more of a natural selection compared to stages we've raced so far. I'll need courage and nerves of steel and I'll have to ride well. Nobody can think of attacking 100km from the finish. If races are hard then it becomes a battle of survival."