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Giro d'Italia

Giro d’Italia stage 19: Koen Bouwman climbs out of break for mountaintop victory, GC top-3 hit stalemate

Richard Carapaz, Jai Hindley, Mikel Landa hit the line together after last-corner crash wipes out Andrea Vendrame and Attila Valter.

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Koen Bouwman (Jumbo Visma) outsprinted his breakaway rivals on the Santuario di Castelmonte summit finish to score his second stage win of the Giro d’Italia.

The Dutch climbing king topped Mauro Schmid (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) and Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF) after a tight bend in the final 100 meters left Andrea Vendrame (Ag2r-Citroën) and Attila Valter (Groupama FDJ) battering into the barriers and out of contention.

The GC contenders came to the line together, around four minutes later.

There were no gaps between the key players Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious) to leave the top-3 separated by 65 seconds, and only three seconds between pink jersey Carapaz and second-place Hindley.

Those tiny margins set the scene for a stunning final weekend with its Dolomite “Queen Stage” and final TT.

Bouwman brought Jumbo-Visma more than just a second stage victory after the disappointment of Tom Dumoulin and Tobias Foss’ torpedoed GC bid.

Bouwman also did enough to seal the KoM classification with his ride Friday. He just needs to make it through to Verona to become the first Dutchman to win the Giro’s Azzura jersey.

“After my first victory, it would be really nice if I could have another one. It was only my second win as a pro, now winning two stages in the Giro, I am just so happy, I don’t have words,” he said.

“I knew there was a corner to the left, but I didn’t know it was this sharp. I knew I had to take the inside line, I don’t know if anyone crashed, I am just really happy. That was the goal today to make sure I kept the blue jersey, and now that is coming with the stage victory, I cannot believe it.”

Steep climbs and a trip to Slovenia for stage 19.

Bouwman and break gets breathing space, Porte abandons

The fight for the break was fierce as ever and a stellar selection eventually went clear. Groupama FDJ, Jumbo Visma and Quick Step all put two riders into the 12-rider move.

Schmid, Bouwman, Valter, Magnus Cort (EF Education EasyPost), and Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) were riders to watch in a powerful group that soon grew a huge gap of up to 10 minutes over the bunch as it rolled through the first-half of the stage.

Bora-Hansgrohe kept the tempo high in the bunch behind, briefly splitting the peloton with its high-paced descent from the second climb as the race rumbled across the border into Slovenia.

The most significant inflection point of the first half of the stage was when Richie Porte was dropped in the first half of the race after being spotted vomiting at the side of the road.

Also read: Porte out of Giro d’Italia

The veteran superdomestique ground away at the back of the bunch for 20km before abandoning at around 80km to go in what could be a crucial moment for Richard Carapaz.

Kolovrat climb cracks the break

Inisders had touted the Cat.1 Kolovrat climb at 50km to go as crucial to Friday’s stage.

At 10.3km and 9.2 percent and with a stack of shocking ramps, the Slovenian climb soon whittled down the break.

By the summit, a stack of breakaway riders had lost the wheels to leave just Schmid, Bouwman, Valter and Tonelli out front. Tonelli yo-yo’d on and off the break but hung tough to crest the climb with the rest as Bouwman took the final points needed to seal the KoM competition.

Verdrame emerged from nowhere to lead the breakaway in the descent after being dropped on the climb some time before.

The fivesome kept rolling together all the way through the huge descent toward the final climb that would eventually crown the stage-winner.

Meanwhile, the attrition was similar in the peloton on the steep Slovenian climb.

Bora-Hansgrohe kept bossing on the front through the lower slopes as Ineos Grenadiers began to lose riders. The German crew also lost depth under its own relentless pace to leave both Carapaz and Hindley short of support. Landa kept close behind with a phalanx of Bahrain-Victorious teammates.

Santuario di Castelmonte summit sprints

Again, no gaps between the Giro’s ‘big 3’.

The five-rider group hit the final seven-kilometer climb with an eight-minute gap, and the stage was there to play for.

With such a huge advantage to play with, the escapees sat waiting for each other to make the first move. It wasn’t until the final 3km when the tension broke as Bouwman, Valter and then Tonelli threw some testing surges.

Vendrame was the fastest finisher of the group and the other four all wanted to see him off the back. The Italian struggled to hold the wheels but suck tight and the fivesome came to the final 400m together.

Bouwman moved first and took the crucial final bend from the front. Vendrame overcooked the increasingly tightening corner and crashed into the barrier as Valter followed behind.

The crash carnage and a moment’s pause from Schmid left Bouwman to score number two of the race.

Back in the bunch, Ineos Grenadiers swamped to the front on the approach to the Santuario di Castelmonte. Jonathan Castroviejo and then Ben Tulett controlled and the peloton was just as tense as the break had been a few minutes up the raod.

Sivakov turned up the heat at around 3km and the peloton blew to bits. Bora-Hansgrohe riders fell out the back and Hindley was alone in a group of around 12. Sivakov kept drilling the pace until Carapaz kicked at 2km to go.

Like so many times before, Hindley and then Landa marked the pink jersey. Landa kicked moved and got the gap before Hindley and Carapaz reeled the Basque back.

The pace slowed in the GC group and other classification contenders came across. Carapaz went again, and guess what? Landa and Hindley were there.

The Giro’s three capi lead out a sprint of classification contenders and again, there were no gaps at the line.

“Today was a hard day, and it’s a shame about Richie, it’s unlucky, but the team stepped up and did a good job,” Carapaz said. “Everyone is at a good level, and we’re going to push to the end. Today was a bit of balancing the forces, but we’re all near the same level of the riders at the top. It wasn’t so hard in the end, so there wasn’t going to be big differences. Tomorrow is the big day, and the altitude should favor me. I hope to have a good day.”

Up next: ‘Queen stage’ in the Dolomites to serve drama

Stage 20 of this Giro will be BIG.

Three huge climbs and two trips above 2,000 meters makes stage 20 the most grueling of the race.

Throwing more than 5,000 meters of climbing through the dramatic limestone cliffs of the Dolomites, stage 20 could blow the 65-second gap between the top-3 on GC into huge chasms over the space of its 168km.

Results will be available once stage has completed.

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