Welcome to our live blog on what promises to be a crucial stage in the Giro d'Italia's high mountains. Finishing atop the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, this is the last chance for the GC riders to go head to head on the slopes, although there is still the time trial to Monte Lussari tomorrow. The weather forecast is looking distinctly average – cloudy with a chance of rain (nothing new in this Giro), but the riders should be providing all the heat anyone could ask for as they light up the road.
TADEJ POGAČAR BACK TRAINING ON THE ROAD
The Slovenian double Tour de France winner is about to get back to training on the road, after breaking his wrist at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
The intention is to go immediately to altitude, in the hope of getting his Tour de France preparation back on track, reports Cyclingnews.
"We hope in the next two, three days he can start on the road with the bike, he was a long time on the rollers and working, running, climbing to exercise and all the therapy for the hand," said Mauro Gianetti, UAE Team Emirates CEO.
Gianetti said that Pogačar was two or three weeks behind preparation following the crash on 23 April. He took some time off – well documented on his social media channels – but has also been training on rollers.
"We know he is Tadej Pogačar but also it will depend how much it was possible to keep condition and not go too much down," said Gianetti.
"It is difficult to say this before we can see what he can do on the road," said Gianetti of how much the injury may have set him back.
"We would need to see one week on the road and then make a point of the situation to see how much he lost."
Before his crash, the 24-year-old had been enjoying a hugely successful season, having won 12 races, including Paris-Nice, Amstel Gold, Fléche Wallonne and the Tour of Flanders.
AND THEY'RE OFF
The riders are officially underway in this Giro d'Italia stage 19 to Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
HUGH CARTHY A NON-STARTER
The only non-starter today looks to be EF Education-EasyPosts's Hugh Carthy. He has been struggling with stomach issues, says the team on social media.
178km to go: The front of the race is at sixes and sevens, with riders pinging all over the place trying to get an early break established. We're pleased to say, too, that despite that iffy forecast, this is all taking place in blazing sunshine.
EKOÏ ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP WITH PININFARINA
Cycling equipment brand Ekoï has announced that it will be collaborating with Italian design house Pininfarina to produce a new equipment line that will be on show at the Tour de France this year. Exactly what products we are going to see is yet to be revealed.
Pininfarina has been one of the top names in automobile design for decades, having collaborated with Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Rolls-Royce.
164km to go: Back at the Giro, Larry Warbasse (Ag2r-Citroën) and Veljco Stojnic (Corratec-Selle Italia) have forged a 27sec lead on the peloton – which in turn is far from settled, with riders constantly trying to bridge the gap.
151km to go: A failed attempted by Hessman of Jumbo-Visma to chip off the front is followed by another four riders managing to get clear. The peloton is starting to look hesitant, spreading out across the road.
140km to go: Derek Gee (Israel-PremierTech) has made the front again! The Canadian has really made a name for himself this race, seemingly having featuring in the break nearly every day. So far he's had three second places.
He's out front with Warbasse and his Ag2r team-mate Alex Baudin, and Stojnič - they have a 17 second gap.
136km to go: The riders have reached the point where the road begins to rise now. At first it will be almost imperceptible, but it will bite soon enough as they start to climb what is the first of five classified climbs today.
They climb first up to Caprile, at 120km to go, where they'll find the first intermediate sprint and which itself is at 998m. 15km later they'll be onto the first official climb of the day, the cat-two Passo Campolongo. The stats? 3.9km at 7%.
135km to go: The front quartet have been joined by Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost) to become five. The gap is down to just 10 seconds though, so they could probably do with the extra firepower.
134km to go: That front group has suddenly swelled to nine riders, with a group of around 20 also having stolen a few seconds on the bunch. Ineos Grenadiers immediately swing into action, pulling hard to get that big group under control.
131km to go: That big group is back in the peloton, but the nine out front now have nearly 30 seconds. There are still riders bouncing out of the peloton though, as they try to make the most of what are very few opportunities for stage wins left.
126km to go: The GC teams look as though they're trying to settle the peloton down now. You have Ineos Grenadiers, Jumbo-Visma and UAE Team Emirates lined out across the front of the bunch. Piano, piano...
RIDELONDON CLASSIQUE UNDERWAY IN ESSEX
The three-day women's RideLondon Classique has got underway in Essex, UK, with the first stage taking riders from Saffron Walden to Colchester. It's a fairly flat, 146km outing, nevertheless featuring three berg-type classified climbs.
Riders competing for the win include Lizzie Deignan and Elynor Backstedt (Trek-Segafredo), Chloe Dygert (Canyon-SRAM), Pfeiffer Georgi (Team DSM) and Anna Henderson (Jumbo-Visma).
Notable by her absence though is defending champion Lorena Wiebes, whose SDWorx team has opted not to ride.
Tomorrow's stage is a 133.1km stage starting and finishing in Maldon, while Sunday sees a 91km city-centre finish in London.
116km to go: The winner of the intermediate sprint at Caprile was Stojnič, who was followed in by Gee and Davide Gabburro (Green Project-Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè).
114km to go: Ben Healy has attacked into a tunnel. Is there no stopping the EF Education-EasyPost rider? KoM leader Thibaut Pinot will certain be interested, as Healy is second in that competition.
111km to go: Let's talk about that early breakaway, which has now become 12 riders strong, with a gap over the peloton of 5.30. There's also a group of three riders at around 37sec, who are closing slowly and should make the junction.
As well as those already mention, the front group contains Nicholas Prodhomme (he's a third Ag2r rider!), Stefano Oldani (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Vadim Pronskiy (Astana), Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain Victorious), Patrik Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Michael Hepburn (Jayco-AlUla).
110km to go: Ben Healy and Thibaut Pinot have, between them, torn the peloton in half. The French rider has gone after Healy, leading the chase himself and drawing the other GC riders and their teams with him.
110km to go: Pinot, riding alone, has caught Healy. What happens now? Will they try to push on and make some more time up on GC? There's a long way to go...
109km to go: Nope, they're riding steady. The peloton, led by Ineos Grenadiers, is coming back, just a few seconds behind now.
102km to go: Despite another short-lived clip off the front by the mischievous Ben Healy, the peloton has now come back together and looking more settled. The early break is at 4.35.
101km to go: That front group, by the way, is now 15-strong, having been joined now by those three pursuing riders – Matteo Bais (Eolo-Kometa), plus José Joquín Rojas and Carlos Verona (both Movistar).
Elisa Balsamo abandons RideLondon Classique
Italian former world road champion Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) has abandoned the RideLondon Classique, the race has confirmed. She crashed twice with 100km still to ride on stage one.
Confirmation that @Elisa_balsamo has abandoned the race. The @TrekSegafredo rider suffered two crashes with around 100KM of Stage One remaining.Speedy recovery, Elisa. ❤️#RideLondonMay 26, 2023
95km to go: We're almost at the halfway point of stage 19 of the Giro d'Italia. Four big climbs still to come (3x category one, 1x category two).
Tom Davidson here now, taking over from James while he grabs some lunch.
A reminder that UK residents can watch today's opening stage of the Ford RideLondon Classique on the BBC (Red Button, iPlayer and BBC Sport website). Here's our guide to the race, with everything you need to know.
90.7km to go: James isn't the only one getting his lunch. It's musette time for the Ineos Grenadiers, as they make their way to the summit of the category-two Passo Campolongo.
86km to go: The breakaway's advantage is approaching six minutes as they descend towards the foothills of the Passo Valparola.
84.2km to go: Here's the Valparola, 14km long and pitched at around 6%. It's not the toughest climb of the day, but with sections at 12% it'll sap the energy reserves before the finale.
83km to go: A moment of appreciation for this gentleman, who is making his way up the climbs today with an Austrian road sign strapped to his back.
🤔 Actually, I could have avoided asking him where he came from, couldn't I?.🤔 Effettivamente avrei potuto evitare di chiedergli da dove viene, no?#Giro #GirodItalia pic.twitter.com/E2urPhg1sEMay 26, 2023
80.4km to go: The mood is relaxed, with the breakaway now over seven minutes up the road. All the GC favourites are together in the peloton.
76km to go: Carlos Verona (Movistar) is being treated from his team car after hitting the floor.
There's been a small pile-up at the RideLondon Classique, too, caused by some road furniture. Sammie Stuart (DAS-Handsling) looks to be the worst affected, with road rash down her right side.
73.4km to go: We're 3km from the summit of the Passo Valparola. Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost lifts his front wheel from the tarmac and slams it back down. Presumably he's testing for a puncture or misaligned part, but he might just be having some fun.
67km to go: James back with you now – thanks Tom for taking the reins there.
The riders in the break crest the Valparola, with Derek Gee going over the top first, just ahead of Davide Gabburo and Mattia Bais. That puts Bais within 20 points of Ben Healy, who's still second in the classification.
The riders are well above the snow line now, with big dollops of it by the side of the rode. In the distance there are some pretty amazing snow-capped-peaks panoramas too – not that the riders will be taking the time to admire those.
57km to go: The riders are descending off the Valparolo now, in bright sunshine. Next on the classified climbs menu is the famous Passo Giau, which was first used in the race in 1973 and has been climbed nine times since.
Another cat-one, it's a bit of a beast at 9.9km long and a very stiff 9.3% average gradient, with 14% ramps near the start. Brutal.
Being 1973, the first maglia rosa over the Giau when it was first used was – take a guess... – Eddy Merckx, of course.
47km to go: One of Ag2r-Citroën's team cars has been kicked off the race, after an earlier incident with Carlos Verona. He's been riding with a bloodied hip for some time now. Unfortunately for Ag2r, they have riders all over the place - in the break, in the bunch, and quite possibly eventually in the grupetto. It could make life difficult for them.
46km to go: The riders are on the steep lower slopes of the Giau now. They've been riding for not far off four hours, and the challenges keep coming – this really is a day that keeps on giving.
45km to go: He may have crashed, but that hasn't stopped Movistar's Carlos Verona from riding off the front of the break. He has a few seconds, but Gee is trying to bridge. This is putting some of the break in trouble.
44km to go: Gee and Buitrago have both bridged across to Verona, who now has what looks like around 15 seconds on the majority of the break. This is a solid trio.
43km to go: Verona's leading trio has become five now, with Cort and Hepburn also joining the party. Seven minutes behind, Ineos Grenadiers, kick out a steady beat on the front of a very depleted peloton. It's a high pace, but it's their own pace, with no other teams showing any interest in taking up the mantle.
42km to go: Certainly for the GC men, many minds are going to be on the final climb to the Tre Cime Lavaredo, which features some dastardly slopes of 18 per cent.
It is also the Cima Coppi – the title given to the highest climb in the race each year, and named after the great Fausto Coppi. At 2,304m, that's the Lavaredo this year, and as the Cima Coppi, it also carries extra KoM points, which will be of interest to anyone well placed in the climber's classification.
41km to go: Ben Swift has done his dutiful bit for Ineos Grenadiers now, slipping to the back of the pink jersey group, but still just managing to hang on – impressive after all the work he's done. Also looking like he's about to lose touch is Bahrain Victorious's Jack Haig. A great climber, perhaps not on his best day today.
39km to go: Derek Gee claims the mountains points over the Giau, but he had to fight for them.
30km to go: Breakaway update: The front group is now seven riders strong, and has 6.47 on the maglia rosa group. In it are Gee, Hepburn, Pronskiy, Buitrago, Verona, Cort and Prodhomme. They've been doing their thing out front for a long time, these guys.
The rest of the original 15-man breakaway are some way back and spread out across the road. They could yet rejoin the leaders.
22km to go: The riders might want to try and enjoy this long descent, because once it's over there's no let up. First they meet the second (and final) intermediate sprint in Cortina d'Ampezzo, which is in the 'valley' despite still being at 1,200m altitude.
Then it's straight onto the second-last climb – the Passo Tre Croci, which they'll crest after around eight kilometres of climbing from Cortina d'Amprezzo.
21km to go: Derek Gee takes the intermediate sprint in Cortina, followed by Prodhomme and Cort.
As they hit the slopes, Larry Warbasse takes a flyer – he has 11 seconds.
19km to go: Primoz Roglič has swapped bikes at the foot of the climb. He's now riding a single front ring with an enormous 44t largest rear sprocket. It looks like a gravel set-up, which would be ideal for the high cadence he prefers. He clearly means business.
18km to go: Thibaut Pinot will no doubt be relieved to note that his KoM nemesis Ben Healy has dropped out of the back of the maglia rosa group on these lower slopes of the Passo Tre Croci.
17km to go: With the rain falling hard now, Warbasse has been overhauled. First by Cort and Buitrago, and now Gee. The latter three have left Warbasse behind.
This race wouldn't settle down this morning and it ain't about to start, it seems.
15km to go: Laurens De Plus leads what's left of the peloton into the rain. This group has been completely decimated – it looks like it's down to around 20 riders.
Primoz Roglič still has five riders around him though, while maglia rosa Geraint Thomas is down to just two team-mates. Joao Almeida though, will be dismayed to see his key domestique Jay Vine dropping out.
CHARLOTTE KOOL WINS RIDELONDON CLASSIQUE
Team DSM rider Charlotte Kool has won stage one of the RideLondon Classique in Essex. She outsprinted Clara Copponi (FDJ-Suez) and Lizzie Deignan in Colchester after the 146km stage.
Derek Gee has taken the KoM sprint at the top of the Passo Tre Croci, ahead of Buitrago and Hepburn. It means he leapfrogs Ben Healy into second place in the KoM competition. Thibaut Pinot has a new nemesis.
7km to go: Derek Gee has made a break for it, putting several seconds into his breakaway rivals on what are now the lower slopes of the Tre Cime Lavaredo. Could this finally be his stage win? Buitrago's going hard to bring him back.
6km to go: This is what the riders are facing as they line up for the day's final showdown. The Tre Cime Lavaredo – 7.2km at 7.6%, with 18% slopes. The GC battle is surely about to erupt.
4km to go: Thymen Arensman has gone to the front now for Geraint Thomas, interestingly putting several bike lengths into his leader. He's now back on the front of the group, crisis averted (if that's indeed what it was).
3km to go: Gee still has a gap of what looks to be around 10 seconds, but Buitrago is closing in on him slowly but inexorably.
2.5km to go: The GC riders are still playing the waiting game, despite De Plus going back to the front and setting a difficult pace. After a day like this, they must be hanging – does anyone actually have the appetite to attack at this point?
1.5km to go: Buitrago catches Gee, and almost effortlessly accelerates past the Canadian, who is clearly labouring hard. Is this going to be yet another second place for the Israel-PremierTech rider?
1km to go: Almeida heads to the front to set the pace. It's not quite an attack, but he's clearly going very hard.
And here goes Roglič. Thomas ducks out from around Almeida's wheel, and he's straight onto the Jumbo-Visma rider.
Final kilometre: The GC riders have almost caught the early break as they duke it out. Almeida back with Roglič and Thomas now, putting time into the rest. They have 800m to ride.
Buitrago wins the stage!
Behind him Thomas attacks. Almeida has nothing but Roglič tries to keep up.
0km to go: Roglič springs into action from behind Thomas as the line approaches, sprint around him and putting three seconds into the Ineos Grenadiers rider, 20 seconds into Almeida.
It will all be decided on tomorrow's mountain time trial.
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