• Tom Dumoulin must overcome a gap of 53 seconds in the final individual time trial in Milan to win the 100th Giro d'Italia (AAP)Source: AAP
Just the race against the clock over 29.3 kilometres in Milan stands between the top six contenders and final victory of the 100th Giro d'Italia. Lying just 53 seconds from the lead, is it time trial specialist Tom Dumoulin's (Sunweb) race to lose?
Cycling Central

Team Sunweb, Movistar, Giro d'Italia, Team FDJ, Bahrain Merida
28 May 2017 - 10:25 AM  UPDATED 28 May 2017 - 2:25 PM

Pinot beats home Giro favourites before the Milan finale
Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) claimed victory in a five-up sprint of GC favourites in Asiago. The quintet - including Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R) - managed to drop Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) but he contained the damage to set up an exciting ITT finale in Milan, as Nairo Quintana (Movistar) still holds the lead.

No team mates, no mountains, no alliances - definitely no nature breaks - and nowhere to hide. 

We've heard all these clichés about individual time trials before. 

But with an unprecedented one minute and 30 seconds separating the top six on GC as the 100th Giro d'Italia hits the final stage in Milan, are there enough clichés and superlatives? 

And is it in fact Tom Dumoulin's race to lose?

You've got to fancy his chances. In stage 10's 39.8 kilometre time trial, he put the following times into the other five top contenders: Nibali +2:07, Zakarin +2: 19, Pinot +2:42, Quintana +2.53, and Pozzovivo +3:07.

But distancing Quintaina by nearly a minute over a 29 kilometre time trial isn't too far fetched.  

After some research, plotting and conjecture, Pro Cycling Stats thinks the time gaps in Milan will look something like this:

1. Tom Dumoulin 
2. Nairo Quintana +15
3. Vincenzo Nibali +45
4. Thibaut Pinot +55 

But it's a grand tour of three weeks. And Dumoulin himself says he's pretty tired. 

What Dumoulin says

"It's been a hard three weeks, a hard week in the mountains," he said after stage 20. "I'm very tired. everyone's really tired so that makes for a weird TT tomorrow. 

"It's quite a big gap, I definitely need a good day to get that gap. It's not going to be time differences like the last time trial I know that."

The best he can do he says is to focus on his own ride. And in a race where seconds will count, Dumoulin will also to get to race in his own skinsuit. 

The maglia rosa speaks

The man who will be wearing the non team issue pink skinsuit tomorrow admitted his lead over Dumoulin was good but not great.  

"The gap I've now got over (Dumoulin) is not enough," the Colombian said. "But it might be the right one as it’s important to keep strength and motivation. I’ve done some good time trials in the past and I hope tomorrow’s will be even better.

"It’s unusual to defend the Maglia Rosa on the last day but I’ll give my best. I’m not afraid of the closing time trial: my head says I can win or lose so everything is possible.

"I’m also not considering that I might not be on the final podium – my only intention is to win the Giro."

Quintana also says he holds no regrets about how he raced this edition. "I wouldn’t change anything I did in the Giro so far," he said "Even when we let Thibaut Pinot gain about one minute [in Ortisei]. Coming to a race as a favourite means you need to make some choices but we  aren’t machines, we can’t control everything.”

No pressure for Nibali...

The home favourite wasn't really giving away much. "The pink jersey?" he said. "Let's see. Tomorrow will definitely be a tough day."

But after stage 19 he did note that everyone's tired and it could be anyone's race. 

"We won’t give up until the very end. This is a very hard race. You can’t win by minutes, this Giro d’Italia will be decided by just a few seconds," Nibali said. 

His sports director Gorazd Stangelj said Nibali is in great shape and could perform strongly in the final time trial, but team owner, His Highness Sheikh Nasser fancies Nibali's chances.  

"Vincenzo is a champion," he told Cyclingnews after stage 19. "If he wins it or not. It is the first time that we see such a close call but I think that he can do it."

No pressure. 

Pinot meanwhile...

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"Now there are 30km left," Pinot said. "I’ll give it all to finish the Giro with no regrets. I’ll fight for the overall victory, but Dumoulin probably remains the favourite.

"I also remember that Quintana won a time trial at the Route du Sud ahead of Sylvain Chavanel last year. He can defend himself – it’ll be a superb battle as nobody is able to say who will win the Giro and that’s beautiful.

And Pinot too has no regrets about focusing on the Giro rather than the Tour de France.

"Whatever happens tomorrow, I hope to come back to the Giro in the future. I was always convinced this race suits me and this year it’s been better than I could've hoped for so far and I have nothing negative to say about my Giro.”

His biggest supporter will be team manager, Marc Madiot. 

"We broke our voices, we hit the wheel (after stage 20 win)," Madiot said.

"This is the first time in 20 years of the team's existence that we will contend for the final victory of a Grand Tour on the last day. It's not easy but it's possible."

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