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Gallery: The best of the Giro d'Italia 2017

Martin James
30 May 2017

Tom Dumoulin won his first Grand Tour with dominance in the time-trials and determination in the mountains. Photos: Presse Sports/Offside

Tom Dumoulin took the first ever Giro d'Italia win for the Dutch by riding from fourth to first overall on the final day time-trial in Milan. Here's how he did it...

The 100th Giro d'Italia kicked off with three stages on the island of Sardinia, followed by a rest day, then a pair of stages on another island – Sicily. Lukas Postlberger took an opportunistic win on day one, before Andre Greipel restored normal service for the sprinters on Stage 2.

The final Sardinian stage saw some excellent teamwork from Quick-Step Floors set up Fernando Gaviria for the win after catching their rivals out as crosswinds hit the peloton towards the end of the stage – the Colombian also claiming the maglia rosa from Greipel as a bonus.

Stage 4 saw the race move to Sicily, for a stage finishing on the feared Mount Etna. Slovakian Jan Polanc defied the volcano and the rest of the peloton by going clear in the break after just 2km and holding on all the way to the line for a famous stage win.

With no major climbs marking Stage 5, the sprinters and their leadout trains were back to the fore as the Giro made its way into defending champion Vincenzo Nibali's stomping ground of Messina. Nibali's teammate Luca Pibernik embarassingly thought he'd won when he crossed the line not realising there was still a lap of the finishing circuit to go, then Gaviria made it second time lucky in more ways than one when he took the real honours for his second stage win of the Giro.

The Giro finally hit the Italian mainland on Stage 6, and it was BMC's Silvan Dillier who was the happiest man at the end of it after he outsprinted the more fancied Jasper Stuyven for a maiden Grand Tour stage win. The pair had been in the day's main breakaway, and were clear of the field for upwards of 200km.

After being caught out again the previous day, Stage 7 into Alberobello was always likely to go the sprinters' way, and it was diminutive Australian Caleb Ewan who finally made good on his promise to claim a first ever Giro stage win in a photo finish from Gaviria and Ireland's Sam Bennett.

A tricky finish on Stage 8 saw Movistar's Gorka Izagirre hold off Giovanni Visconti and Luis Leon Sanchez to win the stage after fellow breakaway Valerio Conti crashed in the final kilometre to be robbed of the chance of Italy's first stage win of this year's Giro.

Luxembourg's Bob Jungels had sat in the pink jersey since the slopes of Mount Etna, but Stage 9 was always likely to shake up the overall classification, and didn't disappoint. The stage finished on the biggest climb of the race to date - the feared 1665m summit of Blockhaus. As the overall race favourite, all eyes were on Colombian Nairo Quintana, and the Movistar leader didn't disappoint, winning the stage and the maglia rosa after a decisive move that none could follow.

But there was drama further down the climb after a stationary motorbike on the side of the road caused a crash in the lead group that took out six Team Sky riders and Orica-Scott GC favourite Adam Yates, who were both able to finish the stage but saw their chances of overall victory all but destroyed through no fault of their own.

After a well-earned rest day, the action continued on Stage 10, a 39.8km time-trial from Foligno to Montefalco. As expected, Dumoulin won the stage to reclaim the pink jersey, with Geraint Thomas finishing a creditable second, though it still left him down in 11th place overall.

But while time-trialling isn't his strength, Quintana can't have been happy to finish 23rd on the stage, and to fall all of 2:23 down overall.

Stage 11 saw a return to the flat, rolling roads typical of much of Italy, and Dimension Data's Omar Fraile took the spoils as once again the breakaway held sway over the peloton.

Things returned to a more predictable pattern on Stage 12, with the day's main breakaway being reeled in 7km from the end of the mainly flat 229km ride into Reggio Emilia. But if this was to be a shootout between the Giro's most fancied sprinters, Andre Greipel and Caleb Ewan, nobody told Fernando Gaviria.

The Quick-Step fast man duly delivered his third win of a remarkable first Giro, with Greipel and Ewan nowhere in sight, and then followed up with win number four the next day, beating Sam Bennett into second to cement his already solid lead in the points jersey competition.

Dumoulin had ridden untroubled in the pink jersey for three straight days, but Stage 14 was expected to see Quintana, Pinot, Nibali and co renew their challenge for overall honours on the finishing climb to Oropa, the third first category climb of the race so far after Etna and Blockhaus.

As expected, Quintana went on the attack, gaining time on the pink jersey and looking a likely stage winner. But Dumoulin kept his cool, and reeled in the Colombian climber as the gradient eased towards the top of the climb. 

He then did what nobody had expected and sprinted off to win the stage, finishing 14 seconds clear of Quintana with a time bonus to add to that.

With the third and final rest day to come, Stage 15 saw a relentless pace in the peloton hauling in all attempts at a break over the first half of the 199km stage into Bergamo. A small break did eentually go clear, but was reeled in before a late 1.5km climb blew the field apart. This time Bob Jungels was the one to time his move to perfection, beating Quintana and Pinot to the line, with Dumoulin safely in the select group of favourites.

Dumoulin looked comfortable in pink, but all the biggest mountain stages were still to come, starting with a stage taking in the Mortirolo and Stelvio after the rest day.

We expected drama on the Giro's queen stage, and we weren't disappointed. Stage 16 of the Giro will forever be remembered as 'The One with the Natural Break': after having marked his rivals across the Mortirolo and Stelvio, Dumoulin had to take to the bushes for an emergency toilet break at the foot of the final climb of the day, the Umbrailpass.

The timing couldn't be worse, with several dangerous riders already in the break and both Movistar and Katusha pushing the pace in the main field. Dumoulin would never get back on terms, with Nibali taking the stage win and Quintana third to dramatically cut Dumoulin's overall advantage.

The recriminations over whether they should have waited for the Dutchman continued for days, and in the meantime both Cannondale-Drapac's Pierre Rolland and BMC's Tejay Van Garderen took long overdue stage wins with only minor time gaps separating the main favourites behind them.

Then on Stage 19, Dumoulin was distanced again as the punishing race schedule of the final week started to bite. Mikel Landa would win the stage for Team Sky, but Dumoulin lost over a minute to all his main rivals to give up the race lead to Quintana with two stages remaining.

But with Dumoulin likely to gain time on all of them on the final-day time-trial into Milan, it left just Stage 20 for the pretenders to push their case, and not surprisingly the pace was fierce.

Dumoulin was distanced again, but kept a cool head and ended up losing just 15 seconds to a group containing Quintana and Nibali, and brought home by stage winner Thibaut Pinot.

It was enough to drop him to fourth overall, with just the 27.6km time-trial on the final day to turn the tables after a gruelling few days of damage limitation for the Dutchman.

But it would all be worth it in the end. Dumoulin made up his deficit and then some, finishing a relatively comfortable 31 seconds clear of Quintana in the final reckoning, and a further nine seconds clear of Nibali.

The only disappointment was that he didn't win the stage itself, but considering the only man who went quicker was countryman Jos van Emden, he probably didn't mind too much in the end.

All photos: Presse Sports / Offside

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