Esteban Chaves of Mitchelton-Scott has won Stage 19 of the Giro d’Italia in San Martino di Castrozza this afternoon, the Colombian attacking from the break with 3 kilometres remaining to ride away to victory. Behind, Miguel Angel Lopez of Astana attacked from the overall contenders' group to tighten his grip on the best young rider's white jersey. Jumbo-Visma's Primoz Roglic, third overall, attacked twice in the closing kilometre but was immediately shut down by race leader Richard Carapaz off Movistar and Bahrain-Merida's Vincenzo Nibali, who remains second overall.
Carapaz retains a lead of 1 minute 54 seconds over Nibali, with Roglic a further 18 seconds back following the first of two mountain stages that could all but settle the overall battle ahead of the relatively short 17 kilometre time trial in Verona on Sunday, which will favour Roglic although as things stand, he would be unlikely to pull back enough time to make the top step of the podium.
The road sloped upwards for the final 30 kilometres of today’s 151-kilometre stage from Treviso, with the final climb, which had an average gradient of 5.6 per cent, officially starting 13.6 kilometres from the finish.
By the time they crested the penultimate climb, the summit of which came 34.5 kilometres from the finish, today’s 12-man breakaway group had an advantage of 9 minutes over the peloton, with the teams of the overall contenders apparently happy to let them contest the win.
Astana’s Manuele Boara, riding on his home roads, attacked coming over the top of that climb but was brought back before the final ascent, with another Italian rider, Marco Canola of Nippo-Vini Fantini then chancing his arm, but he was caught by four remaining escapees with 8 kilometres left.
Among them was Chaves, whose repeated accelerations put the other riders under continued pressure until, with 3 kilometres ready, he finally got clear for his third career Giro d’Italia stage win.
The 29-year-old took the lead of the 2016 Giro d'Italia on Stage 19, but lost the maglia rosa the following day to eventual winner Nibali.
Today Chaves, who has twice recovered from career-threatening injuries, most recently after a crash at the Giro dell'Emilia in September 2017, was beaming as he crossed the line.
There, he was greeted by his parents before wrapping himself in his country's flag as he took to the podium to celebrate a win that also helps rescue a Giro d'Italia for Mitchelton-Scott that they had entered with high hopes for Simon Yates to win the overall.
Tomorrow’s Stage 20 features five categorised climbs including the Passo Manghen, which tops out at more than 2,000 metres, and a summit finish at Monte Avena.
Stage winner Esteban Chaves
“Since I finished second overall in the Giro in 2016, I haven’t only had physical problems but so many other things in my life too. Most importantly, I never gave up. Today it’s a relief. The last uphill is a summary of my difficult years and a summary of life: I’ve attacked many times and believed in myself to make it on the finishing line.”
Maglia Rosa Richard Carapaz
“I’ll think of Verona the day we’ll be in Verona. Today’s attack by Miguel Angel Lopez was expected but Mikel Landa is now totally at my service. He said it to me with his own words. I’m not stressed about defending the Maglia Rosa. I’m confident.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.