Tom Dumoulin still second, but now 40s behind Froome

Chris Froome (Team Sky) started stage 19 of the Giro d’Italia 3m22s behind. He finished it 40s ahead following an audacious and successful solo attack with 80km and near enough three climbs to go.

The 185km stage from Venaria Reale to Bardonecchia brought the Cima Coppi, the Giro’s highest climb, in the form of the Colle delle Finestre. Its gravel roads were followed by a climb to Sestriere and then a summit finish on the Jafferau.

Race leader Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), who had shown signs of weakness the day before, was dropped from the front group early on the first of those three and saw his hopes of winning this race evaporate in no time.

Pretty soon he had lost minutes and the story switched to Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) and Froome, who attacked his rivals a little further up the climb.

The Team Sky rider reached the summit alone, 42s ahead of the chasing Dumoulin group.

He then increased his advantage on the subsequent descent, despite at one point having to manoeuvre round a fallen race motorbike in a tunnel.

On the climb to Sestriere, the gap continued to grow – but come the Jafferau, it was largely about holding on.

Dumoulin chased hard, but the effort showed in the final few hundred metres as Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) and the two riders vying for the young rider’s jersey, Richard Carapaz (Movistar) and Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana), sprinted away from him, denying him much-needed bonus seconds.

Froome took the stage, finishing three minutes ahead of second-placed Carapaz and 3m23s ahead of Dumoulin. Simon Yates finished 38m51s down in 79th place.

“I don’t think I’ve ever attacked with 80km to go before like that – on my own, and gone all the way to the finish,” said Froome afterwards.

“To go from fourth to first – I wasn’t going to do that on the last climb alone, so I had to try from far out and Colle delle Finestre was the perfect place to do it. Gravel roads, I guess, reminds me a bit of riding on the roads back in Africa. I just felt good and thought: ‘It’s now or never – I have to try.’”

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the road.cc team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.