Pinot takes penultimate stage but Dumoulin seen as Giro favourite

Giro d'Italia

Pinot takes penultimate stage but Dumoulin seen as Giro favourite

Pinot takes penultimate stage but Dumoulin seen as Giro favourite

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Tom Dumoulin crucially stayed within a minute of Giro d'Italia leader Nairo Quintana going into Sunday's final stage - a time trial.

Thibaut Pinot claimed victory in the penultimate stage of the Giro d'Italia as Nairo Quintana kept hold of the pink jersey, though he may not have done enough to prevent Tom Dumoulin from taking the title in Sunday's closing time trial.

Quintana in the pink. Giro d'Italia

Giro d'Italia: tensions rising

The final stages of the Giro have seen tensions between Dumoulin and general classification rivals Quintana and Vincenzo Nibali stoked up.

Bahrain-Merida's Nibali described Sunweb's Dumoulin as being "a little bit too cocky" after the Dutchman had said the Italian and Quintana were working together and that he hoped they would lose places.

Dumoulin favourite for the Giro

Dumoulin's 31-second advantage was erased by Quintana on stage 19, but the two-time Dutch national time trial champion should head into the final stage as the favourite having limited the damage on Saturday.

The 190km run from Pordenone to Asiago featured two significant climbs at Monte Grappa and Foza, with the latter proving a key battleground in the stage and the overall race.

AG2R La Mondiale's Domenico Pozzovivo and Ilnur Zakarin of Katusha built a lead on the final ascent as Pinot, Quintana and Nibali aimed to hunt them down and build a sizeable gap to the chasing Dumoulin.

Nibali and Quintana working together 

Nibali's gesticulations to Quintana following an attack made accusations of them working together seem well-founded and they succeeded in hauling in Zakarin and Pozzovivo before the finish.

Quintana led going into the final kilometre, but it was the response of Pinot to an attack from Pozzovivo that proved decisive.

However, Dumoulin finished just 15 seconds down on the leading group - keeping him within 53 seconds of Quintana and in an excellent position to claim his first Grand Tour crown.

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