Just below the walls of Osimo, as the gradient stiffened to 16% on the Via Olimpia, the general classification picture of this Giro d’Italia seemed to sharpen into focus. There is plenty of distance left to run between here and Rome, of course, but the finale of stage 11 felt a microcosm for the current lay of the land – Simon Yates alone in front, with Tom Dumoulin following him closely.
When Yates accelerated viciously with 1,500 metres to go, it looked as though none of his rivals even would even dare to try to match him, but Dumoulin suddenly surged forward from fifth wheel, all but gliding past Thibaut Pinot and Domenico Pozzovivo as he set out in chase of the bobbing maglia rosa.
The grim pursuit match continued through the cobbled streets of the old town, with Dumoulin inching closer but never quite close enough. As the road flattened out in the final 400 metres, it briefly looked as though Dumoulin might even swoop upon Yates before the Arrivo banner on Piazza Municipio, but the Briton kicked once more to claim the win by two seconds.
The victory and its attendant time bonus mean that Yates now holds a lead of 47 seconds over Dumoulin in the general classification, but the Dutchman can draw solace from the fact that Wednesday’s punchy finale seemed better tailored to the characteristics of the man he was pursuing in those fraught closing metres.
“Well, I think today’s stage suited me also, but there was one guy stronger. I’m happy with my performance. It’s already the whole Giro that he’s been a little bit stronger, and I cannot be unhappy. I gave everything, and I couldn’t close the gap anymore,” said Dumoulin.
“I think Yates is the moral winner today again, but I hope it will turn around. I was very close today and I was not that close before now. I hope I am getting closer every day.”
Staying in the hunt
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