Giro d'Italia (st. 19)
Ecuadorian again well supported by Blue team-mates, most importantly Mikel Landa -4th overall- towards San Martino di Castrozza; Richie conserves 1’54” margin before brutal Dolomitic stage 20 towards Monte Avena.
A big-chainring climb, the 13km ascent to San Martino di Castrozza, brought Esteban Chaves (MTS) back to winning ways at Friday’s stage 19 and saw Richard Carapaz and Movistar Team edging closer, with no major difficulties, to success in the 2019 Giro d’Italia, which will come to its end in just 48 hours in Verona.
Lluís Mas and Jasha Sütterlin completed two of the most remarkable Blue performances of the day, leading the bunch from the point the break was established -almost from the start- and up to the bottom of the 13km final climb. Rojas, Amador, Pedrero and Carretero took the reins of the group since then, before an acceleration by Astana and an attack from Miguel Ángel López forced Mikel Landa to push at the front. Strong at Carapaz’s service, the Basque climber kept a steady pace and also remained by the Ecuadorian’s side as Primoz Roglic (TJV) tried a couple of move into the finishing barriers, Richard responding without any troubles. There wasn’t -bar the 44″ obtained by López- any changes in the GC, with Carapaz in pink by 1’54” and Landa still 47″ behind third place.
The big mountains in the 2019 Giro will be completed with a huge stage 20 on Saturday: 194km starting in Feltre and including the ascents to Cima Campo (Cat-2), Passo Manghen (Cima Coppi), Rolle (Cat-2) and the finale up Croce d’Aune (Cat-2) and the Monte Avena (Cat-1). The big penultimate battle, and one of the most dangerous ones, before Sunday’s TT showdown.
REACTION / Richard Carapaz:
“We counted on riders like López and teams like Astana to try a move today; there’s some people who are aiming for a shot at the podium or improve their GC result, and any mountain is good for that. We tried to go as calm as possible today: since the beginning, we had Lluís, Jasha and Rojas always leading the group, and at the final climb, Mikel did a crucial job for me. More than a team-mate, I have a strong leader by my side with him, a rider whom I learnt a lot from. He’s got way more experience than me, he acts as a sports director on the road with our team-mates, and that helps us a lot.
“It’s a huge tomorrow: a stage with lots of big mountains, really tough. I trust my team-mates and they also have loads of confidence on our chances. We can’t rule out any of the six top riders in the GC for an overall podium or even the win outright. You can expect for anything to happen, yet we’re ready to face the task. It’s going to be a really important day in this Giro, surely one with fireworks for the fans to enjoy. We’ll try to do our best, just like we’ve done for the entire race.”