...By Alan Peterson for TDPel Media.
Geraint Thomas will don the leader’s pink jersey in Saturday’s critical mountain time trial at the Giro d’Italia, as Primoz Roglic managed to close in on the Welshman’s lead by only a few seconds during the challenging Queen stage in the Dolomites.
Thomas and Roglic Battle it Out on the Tre Cime di Lavaredo
Thomas and Roglic engaged in a series of attacks in the final kilometer of the demanding stage, with Roglic gaining a three-second advantage at the very top of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
Roglic, who had changed bikes before the final climb for improved gearing, capitalized on the opportunity to narrow the gap.
Thomas Holds a 26-Second Lead, Almeida Retains Podium Spot
Thomas now holds a 26-second advantage over Roglic heading into the upcoming mountain time trial to Monte Lussari.
Joao Almeida, despite being distanced in the final moments of the stage, comfortably maintains his position on the podium, trailing by 59 seconds.
Eddie Dunbar slipped late in the race, relinquishing fourth place overall to Damiano Caruso.
Thomas Reflects on the Stage and Looks Ahead to the Time Trial
Thomas described the stage as “OK” and acknowledged the challenge of maintaining a strong pace at high altitudes.
While he lost a couple of seconds to Roglic on the finish line, Thomas expressed satisfaction with gaining time over Almeida.
He anticipates a thrilling and demanding time trial, both to watch and to compete in.
Santiago Buitrago Takes Stage Win as Breakaway Thwarts Chasers
Santiago Buitrago emerged victorious from a 12-member breakaway group, denying Derek Gee the win.
Gee, who had been part of seven breakaways in this Giro, fought hard until the final 1500 meters before Buitrago surged ahead.
Thomas Tackles Challenging Stage Despite Joking About His Age
Prior to the stage, Thomas humorously remarked about his age and jokingly suggested he should be on a beach instead of racing.
However, the Ineos Grenadiers rider took on the demanding 183km stage through the Dolomites, featuring extensive climbs totaling over 5,500 meters.
A Minor Dent in Thomas’ Lead as Roglic Attempts More
Roglic made efforts to gain a more significant advantage.
With 20km remaining, he switched bikes, opting for one with a single front ring and a large 44t sprocket at the back, indicating his intentions for the challenging gradients reaching 16 percent.
Despite the Slovenian’s endeavors, Thomas’s team maintained a strong pace, and only a minor dent was made in his lead.
Exciting Climatic Conditions Add to the Grueling Stage
As the stage progressed, clear skies turned into heavy rain and hail, intensifying the already difficult conditions.
Thomas’s Ineos Grenadiers set a strong tempo to reduce the peloton’s size, ultimately leaving Dunbar behind.
Almeida briefly advanced in the rankings as riders jostled for space on roads filled with enthusiastic fans.
Thomas and Roglic Duel in the Final Kilometers
Roglic maneuvered through the pack, closely followed by Thomas, as they approached the finish line guarded by barriers.
Thomas launched his own attack with 400 meters remaining, seemingly leaving Roglic behind.
However, Roglic summoned a final surge and reclaimed three seconds, narrowly missing the chance to catch Magnus Cort, who secured third place and the last bonus seconds at the finish line.