Amazing Jungels in Giro d’Italia penultimate stage
Before the individual time trial in Milan, the Luxembourger is ninth in the GC and within striking distance of a second consecutive white jersey.
Bob Jungels was one of the MVP's of Giro d'Italia stage 20, the last one to give the pure climbers a chance to shine and gain important seconds ahead of the ITT which is set to bring the race to an end on Sunday afternoon. Not only that Bob produced one of his most convincing and impressive displays since the start of the race, but he showed a level of maturity beyond his 24 years of age in the way he remained calm in the stage's hottest moments and controlled the attacks which came from the maglia rosa contenders.
The course contained two big climbs, Monte Grappa (24.2km, 5.3%) and Foza (14km, 6.7%), from the top of which only 15 kilometers remained until the finish in Asiago, but before the big battle between the GC contenders erupted, the breakaway took center stage. Six riders got away, including Dries Devenyns, who attacked not far from the summit of Monte Grappa, grabbing maximum KOM points there and becoming the first Belgian to win the prestigious climb.
"My only reason to be out there today was to support Bob after Monte Grappa. I tried to save some energy, but when the group caught me I couldn't help him too much, because the race for the general classification was already on", said Dries Devenyns. "On a personal note, it was nice to pass first on Monte Grappa and enjoy the Giro's great and unique atmosphere. It's something I will never forget."
As the peloton meant business on Saturday's stage, Dries Devenyns and Dylan Teuns (BMC), the last two riders to survive from the day's breakaway, got caught on Foza, despite possessing three minutes at the bottom of the ascent. Attacks came inside the last eight kilometers of Foza and they were sparked by Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R) and Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin). Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) were next to jump and open a 20-second gap, but the trio were reeled in by a fantastic Bob Jungels, who took the front of the chasing group, driving it on the tough slopes of the climb.
When the three went again, taking half a minute, same Bob was at the head of proceedings, as he was vying for a second stage win. Over the top of the climb and on the plateau leading to Asiago, Quick-Step Floors' rider clawed back considerable ground, but the quintet managed to stay clear until the finish, where Thibaut Pinot prevailed, while Nairo Quintana retained the pink jersey.
The impeccable Bob came home in sixth place, for his eighth top-10 finish at this edition, and cemented his ninth place in the general classification. More importantly, with a 29.3km-long individual time trial on the table in stage 21, he has a chance of erasing the 28 seconds that separate him from Adam Yates (Orica-Scott) and winning the maglia bianca.
"I had another good day and I'm happy for that. My goal was to try and go for the stage victory, but unfortunately we couldn't close the gap, despite working together on the climb and in the final 15 kilometers", said Bob Jungels, who also talked of his chances of winning another white jersey: "When we started this race three weeks ago, my goal was to come in the top 10 overall and I'm there now, which means a lot considering the high level of the race this year. On top of that, I took a stage, which is really great. Tomorrow, I will try to cap it off with the white jersey; it won't be easy, because Yates is a great rider, but I will do my best."
Another Quick-Step Floors rider very close of taking home a jersey is Fernando Gaviria, who leads the points classification by a clear margin after notching four stage victories along the way: "It's an unbelievable feeling to know that I'll arrive in Milan with the cyclamen jersey. I'm over the moon and tomorrow I will enjoy every moment of it."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele