As Chris Froome all but cemented stage one of his quest to win the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France in the same year, Mitchelton-Scott enjoyed an impressive 5th stage win of the Grand Tour.
On his 34th birthday Mikel Nieve won Stage 20 after an impressive 30km solo charge from the breakaway giving the Aussie outfit yet more reason to celebrate one of their most successful Grand Tours to date.
Dutch powerhouse, the evergreen Robert Gesink, also rode exceptionally well to cross the line 2nd.
But back in the leaders’s group was where the action was as chief combatants Chris Froome and Tom Dumoulin went shoulder to shoulder in the final 8km of racing.
With nothing to lose but back-to-back Giro titles to gain, Dumoulin hit Froome with a series of attacks on the final climb of the day. What followed was a thriling game of cat and mouse – Froome matching each attack with hints of the strength and power he displayed during his remarkable and controversial Stage 19 win.
Dueling to the final few hundred metres Froome emerged victorious, he and teammate Wout Poels sprinting to the finish add a few final seconds to the looming Grand Tour win.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Froome told Eurosport after the stage.
“I have to say a really big part of being able to do what I was able to do yesterday was everyone believing me and everyone buying into the one plan we had. A lot of times when things don’t work out on the general classification for a rider, they lose a few minutes and you can see the team falls apart.”
Froome said the difference in this race has been teammates getting behind him everyday, regardless of earlier adversity in the race.
“They were like ‘listen, you’ve had a tough day but don’t worry you’ll be back tomorrow,” he said.
“‘You’ll get better we believe in you.’ It just feels amazing to be able to repay them after three weeks of hard work. To finish it off today is just amazing.”
The 101st Giro d’Italia continues with Stage 21 tonight, a relatively flat 10-lap, 115km circuit with the race ending in Rome.
Chris Froome is all but certain to win, thus making him reigning champion of three successive Grand Tours – the 2017 Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana, and 2018 Giro d’Italia.
Whether he can back up to win the Tour de France – in what would be a historic fifth Tour win – will be the next big question.
Stage 20 Results
1. Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 05:43:48
2. Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) +2:17
3. Felix Grossschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe) +2:42
Overall Top 3 After Stage 20
1. Chris Froome (Team-Sky) 86:11:50
2. Tom Dumoulin (Team-Sunweb) +0:46
3. Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) +4:57