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López finally lost his grip on the Giro’s maglia rosa in a chaotic medium mountain stage into Turin in a day of constant pressure on the Spaniard’s time in pink Saturday.
The rising Trek-Segafredo star hung tough as Bora-Hansgrohe blew the race to bits in the middle of a chaotic, classics-style 14th stage before finally being popped by Carapaz’s searing acceleration on the final ascent of the Superga.
“I tried to defend the jersey, I gave everything,” López said at the finish. “We defended ourselves to the fullest.”
Carapaz went on to finish third on the day and take a seven-second lead over a tightly packed top-5 in the standings.
Meanwhile, the pink-clad Spaniard suffered a long solo TT through the relentlessly lumpy terrain outside of Turin to finish 1oth on the stage, 4:25 back.
“A lot of people were saying my name and cheering for me. I started to cry a bit with emotion,” he said. “I want to thank Trek-Segafredo for believing in me, these were the best moments in my life … I enjoyed every day, every K.”
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Now way back in ninth overall, Saturday’s result puts an end to one of the surprise stellar performances of this Giro.
López vaulted to the top of the GC when he finished second atop Etna on stage 4, taking a 39-second lead few believed would last.
— Trek-Segafredo (@TrekSegafredo) May 21, 2022
As a relatively unknown rider in a team selected around Giulio Ciccone, the 24-year-old was an unknown quantity, but a resilient race leader.
The pint-size climber limited his losses under searing Ineos Grenadiers pace-setting on Blockhaus to see his lead decimated to 12-seconds, a buffer that was finally burned on the red-hot roads around Turin on Saturday.
López won’t take the Trofeo Senza Fine home with him when the race hits Verona next weekend. But his gutsy 10 days in the maglia will earn him a whole new standing both in the peloton and within his Trek-Segafredo team.
“There were moments when I was ahead and I’m happy. I didn’t expect it, so I continue with the same smile as this morning,” he said.