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Carapaz started the second week with seven seconds of an advantage over Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) in the maglia rosa. However, his lead was cut by more than half after he was pipped into third place on the stage, which gave the Australian four bonus seconds.
With four riders still poised within a minute of each other at the top of the overall standings with five stages to go, Carapaz believes that the 2022 Giro d’Italia will be decided by small margins.
“At the end of this stage we saw that Hindley is very strong, he’s probably faster than me, so he took the third place and the time bonification but I’m not worried,” Carapaz said after the finish. “There’s still a lot of important stages between now and Verona, there are still a lot of mountains to climb.
“I think that every detail will be very important for the GC,” he said. “I think that we will ride closely together between me and the other GC favorites and we will probably be fighting amongst ourselves for the time bonuses because every detail will be important for the final victories.”
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After a day of rest Monday, the Giro d’Italia returned with one of its toughest tests, a 202k stage from Salò to Aprica. It began with a big fight for the breakaway, while the GC battle began to take hold on the Mortirolo with just under 80 kilometers to go.
It was Astana hammering it on the front, before Vincenzo Nibali attacked on the final climb. Meanwhile, Bahrain-Victorious pushed the pace up the final climb, trying to put the remaining GC contenders into trouble.
The effort put Ineos Grenadiers under pressure once again and only Pavel Sivakov remained with Carapaz until the final 10 kilometers when the pink jersey attacked with Hindley and Mikel Landa.
“It was a very hard stage, but it was difficult for everyone at the start because there were many teams that wanted to go in the breakaway,” Carapaz said. “In the end, we had a big breakaway with many important riders. It was also hard at the finish because you saw how Landa and Bahrain tried to make the race harder because of course they were feeling good. It was an important stage overall for this Giro d’Italia.
“I think that when Nibali attacked in the middle of the stage it wasn’t a danger for us and we knew that at the bottom of the descent we would have a group that was all together. I knew that there were teams like Bahrain with more teammates than us, but I was not worried at all.”
In the back of many of the riders’ minds going through the final week will be the time trial in Verona on the last day.
When Carapaz won the Giro d’Italia in 2019, he went into the same time trial stage with a 1:54 advantage and saw it cut down to 1:05 by Vincenzo Nibali.
Carapaz beat both Hindley and Landa in the stage 2 time trial, but he lost time to Nibali and João Almeida. The Verona test is a very different prospect to what the riders faced nearly three weeks ago and Carapaz will need to give himself a good buffer if he wants to be comfortable, but he says that he’s not worrying too much about it now.
“There are still a lot of mountains, and we are still very tired, so I don’t want to think about Verona, I just want to think about it stage by stage, day by day,” he said.