Giro d’Italia: Eddie Dunbar up to fourth after another superb mountain performance

Ben Healy loses King of the mountains jersey to Thibaut Pinot on stage 18

Ireland’s Eddie Dunbar continued to mix it with the best in the Giro d’Italia on Thursday, moving up a further place to a superb fourth overall in the race.

The Cork rider was one of the strongest of the contenders on the mountainous stage 18 to Val di Zoldo, sticking with race leader Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers), the rider in third overall Primož Roglič and the latter’s Jumbo-Visma team-mate Sepp Kuss when they dropped the others on the penultimate climb.

Thomas and Roglič eventually distanced Dunbar inside the final seven kilometres, with Joâo Almeida (UAE Team Emirates), who had been second overall, and his team-mate Jay Vine, catching Dunbar before a short descent.

Vine carried too much speed into a corner and almost crashed, putting Dunbar in danger. The two of them stayed upright and continued with Almeida, but Vine cracked on the short final climb. Dunbar was then distanced by Almeida and dug deep to cross the line 10th, three places behind Roglič and two off Thomas.


He ended the stage 2:32 behind his Jayco-AlUla team-mate Filippo Zana, who had been part of the day’s key breakaway and outsprinted Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) for the win.

Dunbar conceded 36 seconds to Rogič and Thomas, and 15 to Almeida, but advances in the general classification. He gained 25 seconds over Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-Victorious) and overtook him in the overall standings.

“I’ve moved up to fourth on GC,” he said. “When Roglič attacked I just went at my own pace, and I knew Almeida was coming across. When they caught me I just sat on them as much as I could. There was a moment on the descent where we misjudged it a bit.”

He is now 3:39 behind Thomas, 3:10 behind Roglič, and three minutes behind Almeida. Caruso is 12 seconds behind Dunbar, who will look to open the gap further on Friday’s tougher stage to Tre Cime di Lavaredo.

Dunbar will take satisfaction from his performance, exceeding his own pre-race target of a top-10 finish overall. Jayco-AlUla sports director Rafael Valls enthused about his showing. “He is doing his first Grand Tour as a GC rider and he is doing a really, really amazing job.”

Meanwhile Ben Healy (EF Education-EasyPost) lost the King of the Mountains jersey to a rampaging Pinot, who picked up maximum points on four of the day’s five climbs.

Pinot now has 227 points, 63 more than Healy. Friday’s mountain stage to Tre Cime di Lavaredo offers the Irishman a potential opportunity to fight back. He is just 22 years of age and riding his first Grand Tour, making his day to day recovery more difficult than that of the more experienced Pinot.

Friday’s stage of the Giro is the final group mountain stage. It takes the riders over five categorised climbs, including the gruelling summit finish. The general classification will likely be settled on Saturday’s penultimate stage, an 18.6-kilometre individual time-trial which ends with a 7.8-kilometre climb.

Elsewhere, Irish rider Jesse Ewart finished a fine third on the final stage of the Tour of Japan on Thursday. The 28-year-old Australian-born rider was competing in the 2.1-ranked race with his Terengganu Polygon Cycling Team. He crossed the line seven seconds behind the Japanese stage winner Atsushi Oka (JCL Team UKYO).

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes is a contributor to The Irish Times writing about cycling