Dumoulin dominates time trial at Tour and eyes Olympic gold

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LA CAVERNE DU PONT-D’ARC, France (AP) Tom Dumoulin had this day circled on his calendar for months.

The Dutch cyclist knew that the opening time trial of the Tour de France perfectly suited his strengths.

But when he awoke on Friday to the news of the truck attack in nearby Nice that left at least 84 people dead, many of them children, his plans went out the window.

“I went out of focus this morning, which is normal I guess, when you hear about these terrible things happening just a few hundred kilometers away from you,” Dumoulin said. “But I just went for it and it was a very good time trial. To win with more than a minute on (Chris) Froome and everyone else is something I didn’t expect, and it gives me a lot of confidence.”

Starting well before the race’s overall leaders on a day featuring 70-kph (45-mph) winds, Dumoulin dominated the 37.5-kilometer (23-mile) race against the clock from Bourg-Saint-Andeol to La Caverne du Pont-D’arc, the decorated cave that contains human drawings from about 30,000 years ago.

Dumoulin won the 13th stage with a massive advantage of 63 seconds on Froome, with Portugal time trial champion Nelson Oliveira placing third, 1:31 back.

It was Dumoulin’s second stage victory of this Tour after he also claimed Stage 9 with a solo breakaway through a hailstorm on a mountain-top finish in Andorra.

Few riders besides the top overall contenders can win both a big mountain stage and a time trial in the same Grand Tour. In addition to two stages in last year’s Spanish Vuelta, Dumoulin also won the opening time trial in this year’s Giro d’Italia, and wore the pink jersey for six stages before withdrawing midway through the race with saddle sores.

So when might the Team Giant-Alpecin rider attempt to win a Grand Tour?

“I’ve been asked that a lot of times,” Dumoulin said. “But also winning by a minute in a time trial is not possible when you go full gas every day. So there’s a bit of perspective. I will definitely be focusing on the GC (general classification) in a Grand Tour in the future but I cannot say when that will be.”

Dumoulin is 40th overall, nearly an hour behind race leader Froome.

More importantly, he considers himself the favorite for the time trial at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

“I am. I cannot deny that after today,” Dumoulin said. “I have to maintain my condition to maintain that. I will not go full out every day. I’ll keep picking my days and hopefully it will pay off in Rio.”

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Quintana keeps lead but Dumoulin remains pick to win Giro

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ASIAGO, Italy — Nairo Quintana held on to the pink jersey in the penultimate stage of the Giro d’Italia on Saturday but likely didn’t pick up enough seconds on his most dangerous rival, Tom Dumoulin, to claim overall victory.

Thibaut Pinot of France won the 20th stage in a sprint finish ahead of Ilnur Zakarin of Russia and defending champion Vincenzo Nibali.

Entering Sunday’s concluding time trial, Quintana leads Nibali by 39 seconds with Pinot third, 43 seconds back.

Dumoulin dropped from second to fourth, 53 seconds back, although he still remains the favorite considering his time trialing skills.

The 100th Giro ends on Sunday with a flat 29.3-kilometer (18-mile) individual time trial from Monza’s Formula One race track to Milan.

Dumoulin already dominated the race’s first time trial in Stage 10.

Quintana reclaims pink jersey with 2 stages to go in Giro

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PIANCAVALLO, Italy — Nairo Quintana reclaimed the pink jersey from Tom Dumoulin with two stages to go in the Giro d’Italia on Friday, setting up what could be a tense finale in Milan on Sunday.

Dumoulin couldn’t keep up with his main rivals in the final uphill finish of the three-week race and trails Quintana, the 2014 winner from Colombia, by 38 seconds.

Two-time winner Vincenzo Nibali is third overall, 43 seconds behind Quintana.

With Thibaut Pinot of France fourth overall, 53 seconds back, the top four are grouped within less than a minute.

“It’s pretty complicated. We have to adapt the strategy day-by-day,” Quintana said.

Spanish rider Mikel Landa won the 19th stage in a breakaway, finally tasting victory after two second-place finishes and one third-place result.

Landa required nearly five hours to complete the 191-kilometer (119-mile) route from San Candido to Piancavallo. He finished nearly two minutes ahead of Rui Costa, with Stage 17 winner Pierre Rolland crossing third.

On Thursday, Dumoulin criticized the tactics of Quintana and Nibali, saying they were merely racing to make him lose – remarks that earned a sharp rebuke from Nibali.

Before Friday’s stage, Dumoulin apologized to Nibali and the pair shook hands.

If anything, Dumoulin’s comments appeared to have motivated Quintana and Nibali, who temporarily dropped Dumoulin on a downhill section midway through Friday’s stage.

While the Dutchman caught up on the ensuing Sella Chianzutan climb, he didn’t have the legs to keep up on the 15.4-kilometer climb to Piancavallo, which began at an average gradient of nearly 10 percent.

“I had bad legs from the start and I made a rookie mistake at the beginning, sitting at the back of the bunch on the downhill,” Dumoulin said.

“In the final I tried to limit my losses and I did that very well. My team saved me a couple of times, so I have to thank them. Otherwise it would have been a much worse day. Bad legs today, but I hope they’ll be better tomorrow.”

Quintana wore pink for one day after winning Stage 9. Dumoulin then took control by dominating a time trial in Stage 10 and had led ever since.

Quintana has also finished on the Tour de France podium three times.

The penultimate stage on Saturday is the last mountainous leg, a 190-kilometer (118-mile) route from Pordenone to Asiago featuring two first-category climbs – a long 24-kilometer ascent to Monte Grappa and a shorter but steeper 14-kilometer rise to Foza.

The 100th Giro ends on Sunday with an individual time trial from Monza to Milan.

“Tomorrow there will be another important stage and then I’ll give it all in the time trial,” Quintana said.