Croce d'Aune - Richard
Carapaz closed in on his first Giro d'Italia triumph on Saturday after
keeping hold of the leader's pink jersey in a tumultuous 20th and
penultimate stage that saw Miguel Angel Lopez lashing out at a spectator
who knocked him over.
Ecuadorian Carapaz gave nothing to his rivals on the summit finish at
Monte Avena after the 193km ride through the northern Dolomites
mountains where Astana rider Pello Bilbao snatched the stage victory.
Movistar rider Carapaz, whose expected Giro win would be his first
Grand Tour victory, even helped team-mate Mikel Landa in the final climb
before the Spaniard lost out to compatriot Bilbao.
Carapaz leads former two-time winner Vincenzo Nibali of Italy by 1:54 in the overall standings - a lead that has never been overtaken
in the final time trial stage - with Landa moving third 2:53
adrift at the expense of Slovenian Primoz Roglic, who is 3:06
"Even if anything can happen in the final time-trial I think that
1:54 on Nibali is sufficient," said the 26-year-old Carapaz ahead
of Sunday's 17km time-trial around Verona.
It was a heated final day in the mountains.
Roglic picked up a 10-second penalty after a fan pushed him for over 15 seconds along the narrow roads at Croce d'Aune.
Astana rider Angel Lopez lashed out at a spectator who made him crash as he headed into the final climb at Monte Avena.
Television images showed the man cowering on the ground as the
furious Colombian, wearing the white jersey as the best young rider, hit
A clearly frustrated Lopez got back on another bicycle but finished in 18th position, 1:49 behind Spanish teammate Bilbao.
But Carapaz was in a generous mood up Monte Avena, the final climb of the Giro over 6.9km and with a 7.3 percent gradient.
"We've tried to win the stage with Mikel Landa as well as myself to
retain the Maglia Rosa (pink jersey) but we've missed out by very
little," said Carapaz.
"But we're happy with how it went today."
Bilbao's success, his second of this year's Giro after stage seven, was a boost for his Astana outfit after Lopez's mishap.
"My first win was special," he said.
"This second is even better than the first one because it's a big
mountain stage. When the GC riders caught us I thought it would be hard
but they were tired too," added the Spaniard.
Carapaz, Landa and Lopez were the strongest in the main climb of the
day, the Manghen Pass, where they gained up to 15 seconds on their
rivals Nibali and Roglic.
A breakaway group of seven riders formed in the final two climbs with
French rider Valentin Madouas attacking with 16km to go before being
reeled in at the Croce d'Aune.
"I knew that Carapaz would try to give the win to Mikel Landa so I followed the best wheel," said Bilbao.
Carapaz is now poised to become the second rider from the Andes to win the Giro after Colombian Nairo Quintana in 2014.
Results after Saturday's 20th and penultimate stage of the Giro d'Italia over 194km from Feltre to Croce d'Aune Monte Avena in the Dolomites:
1. Pello Bilbao (ESP/Astana) 5hr 46min 02sec, 2. Mikel Landa (ESP/MOV) same time, 3. Giulio Ciccone (ITA/TRE) at 02sec, 4. Richard Carapaz (ECU/MOV) 04, 5. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/BAH) 04, 6. Tanel Kangert (EST/EF1) 15, 7. Mikel Nieve (ESP/MIT) 15, 8. Valentin Madouas (FRA/FDJ) 25, 9. Rafal Majka (POL/BOR) 44, 10. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/BAH) 44, 11. Pavel Sivakov (RUS/INE) 48, 12. Simon Yates (GBR/MIT) 48, 13. Bauke Mollema (NED/TRE) 48, 14. Primoz Roglic (SLO/JUM) 54
18. Miguel Angel Lopez (COL/AST) 1:49
1. Richard Carapaz (ECU/Movistar) 89hr 38min 28sec, 2. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/BAH) at 1min 54sec, 3. Mikel Landa (ESP/MOV) 2:53, 4. Primoz Roglic (SLO/JUM) 3:16, 5. Bauke Mollema (NED/TRE) 5:51, 6. Miguel Angel Lopez (COL/AST) 7:18, 7. Rafal Majka (POL/BOR) 7:28, 8. Simon Yates (GBR/MIT) 8:01, 9. Pavel Sivakov (RUS/INE) 9:11, 10. Ilnur Zakarin (RUS/KAT) 12:50, 11. Hugh Carthy (GBR/EF1) 15:57, 12. Joe Dombrowski (USA/EF1) 20:12, 13. Valentin Madouas (FRA/FDJ) 21:13, 14. Davide Formolo (ITA/BOR) 22:52, 15. Jan Polanc (SLO/UAE) 23:13
33. Bob Jungels (LUX/DEC) 1hr 23:25, 140. Sho Hatsuyama (JPN/NIP) 6hr 03:31