The Passo dello Stelvio is 22.4 km long and is at 2,757 metres of altitude. De Gendt won, between walls of snow, with a 56 second advantage over the Italian Damiano Cunego.
The Spaniard Mikel Nieve ended third, 2 minutes, 50 seconds behind De Gendt. Another Spaniard, Joaquin Rodriguez, (Katusha) finished fourth and retained the pink jersey.
Thomas De Gendt moves up to fourth place overall and could get a podium place if he performs well in Sunday’s final stage, a 31.5 km time trial in Milan. Rodriguez will start with a 31-second advantage over the Canadian Ruder Hesjedal. He is 1 minute, 51 seconds in front of the Italian Michele Scarponi and 2.18 seconds in front of Thomas De Gendt.
"Less doping in the peloton"
Thomas De Gendt, an East Fleming, is known for his modesty and this was not different this time.
"I won't win the Giro", De Gendt told reporters after the stage, despite the fact that time trials suit him very well. About the spectacular win, he said that he had no idea his long-distance attack would gain him the prestigious win.
"I attacked on the Mortirolo because I thought it was better to get some time on the favourites before the Stelvio. Then suddenly, we had a big gap in the valley and all the pieces fell into place. The last 10 km I was dying inside, but to win on my training mountain was fantastic." He explains his success in this Giro by the fact that there is less doping in the peloton, with fewer riders cheating.
This is De Gendt’s second stage victory of 2012. He also won the 7th stage of Paris-Nice.