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Giro d'Italia

Giro d’Italia stage 20: Covi wins with long break as Carapaz cracks and Hindley surges to pink

Covi scores with 50km solo move, overnight leader Carapaz loses wheel to Hindley in final three kilometers in dramatic GC overturn.

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Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates) won the Dolomite “queen stage” of the Giro d’Italia with a 50km solo breakaway Saturday, narrowly holding off a hot pursuit from Domen Novak (Bahrain-Victorious).

Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) crossed the line third.

Behind the break, the GC action finally cracked open on the super steep Marmolada summit finish.

Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) surged clear from pink jersey Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) in the final three kilometers of the extreme slope to seize control of the race ahead of the Verona TT.

Carapaz finished nearly 90 seconds down on his Aussie foe, leaving him a huge 1:25 to claw back to the new pink jersey Sunday.

Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious) also looked in trouble on the Marmolada summit but rallied to round Carapaz and finish 39-seconds ahead of the Ecuadorian. Landa remains third overall but is just 26 seconds down on Carapaz.

Vincenzo Nibali’s dream of a podium finish was undone on the Fedaia finale. Astana-Qazaqstan’s “Shark” sank on the relentless final ramps and is now nearly eight minutes down on Hindley.

Hindley pulled on pink courtesy of a pre-planned move. The 26-year-old received a vital pull from breakaway survivor Lennard Kämna in the final that proved crucial to unhitching Carapaz.

“I knew this was going to be the crucial stage of the race and this finish was brutal, if you had the legs you could make the difference,” Hindley said.

“We stayed patient and saved our matches for today. It was perfect, Lenny was in the breakaway and he couldn’t have timed it better to drop back and give me a boost up the road.

“When I heard Carapaz was dropping the wheel I just went all out …. it was an epic stage.”

Covi makes the early break

Racing was frantic from the start in a fearsome fight for the break.

The peloton was stretched to the limit from as soon as the flag dropped. A number of attacks split and came back together before 15 riders went away.

GC teams Bora-Hansgrohe and Bahrain Victorious both got riders into Novak, Covi and Kämna’s decisive breakaway group.

Ciccone, Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), Mauri Vansevenant (Quick-Step-AlphaVinyl), Thymen Arensman (Team DSM) and Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates) were among the other riders to watch in the strong escape.

The bunch hit the first of the day’s terrible triptych of climbs with a 5:30 gap over a Bahrain-Victorious-bossed peloton.

Covi pounces on the Pordoi

Big burly Van der Poel’s day in the break was finally done when the escape lingered around 5 minutes up the road on the high-altitude Pordoi. The Alpecin-Fenix ace was first to be dropped and never made it back.

UAE Emirates played its two-card move when Covi attacked out of the break on the lower slopes of the Pordoi and split the group, leaving teammate Formolo to mark.

Covi hit the 2,200 meter summit with nearly 90 seconds of a gap and railed the long, smooth descent to further grow his advantage

Back in the bunch, Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious) rallied after struggling through the opening hours and took control of the tempo in the GC group. Bahrain jerseys swamped the front of the peloton as Ineos Grenadiers and Bora-Hansgrohe sat in the wheels.

Hindley haymaker on the Marmolada

As expected, the Marmolada played kingmaker.

Covi hit the base of the infamous ascent with around two minutes over the slogging breakaway chasers. The GC group sat poised for mayhem, a further four minutes back.

The break looked labored in what seemed to be a doomed chase behind Covi. Stage 15-winner Ciccone was most active, and dragged away Arensman and Novak.

Bahrain Victorious kept pulling all the way through the lower slopes of the Fedaia as Carapaz and Hindley sat in the wheels flanked by three teammates each.

Just as Bahrain was pulling in the break, Novak launched out of the chasers to hunt after stage-leader Covi and started rapidly reeling back the gap.

Covi wasn’t to be broken, however, and held strong through the final kilometers to score his first grand tour victory in style, 32 seconds ahead.

It was the infamously tough, straight final 5km that made the difference in the GC group.

Ineos Grenadiers mobbed on the front and stretched the classification contenders, dropping Bora-Hansgrohe superdomestique Wilco Kelderman.

Nibali was the first major casualty at 3.5km to go, with Bahrain co-captain Bilbao next to go.

Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) was last domestique to pop at 3.5km to go and Hindley countered immediately. Carapaz marked the wheel while Landa and Hugh Carthy (EF Education EasyPost) were gapped.

Hindley and Carapaz bridged across to the Aussie’s teammate Kämna as the German fell away from the break.

Kämna pulled hard for 500 meters and Carapaz finally cracked at around 2.5km to go, leaving Hindley to crank away to a 20-second gap on the relentless 16 percent slope.

Carapaz suffered hard in the final kilometer.

The Ecuadorian hemorrhaged time through the cruel final ramps as Hindley danced his way into the maglia rosa. Carapaz crossed the line 1:28 down on Hindley, his pink jersey bid decisively upturned.

Results will be available once stage has completed.

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