Storming Richard Carapaz stuns his way into pink
The likelihood of the maglia rosa changing hands on stage 14 looked high, as race leader Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates) had his advantage cut in half the previous day.
But the way the fight for pink played out on the road to Courmayeur will have taken everyone by surprise, as Movistar’s Richard Carapaz fired up the road and stormed his way into the lead.
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) has been the leader in waiting since he handed over the jersey on stage six, with the Slovenian expected to take control once again as soon as his countryman Polanc collapsed under the pressure of consecutive mountain days.
Instead, it was Carapaz who came from behind to take the lead by seven seconds over Roglič, posing an enticing twist for the rest of the race.
While Roglič may be confident of taking back the jersey, any arrogance will be punished by a formidable Movistar squad who clearly have the numbers that Jumbo-Visma are lacking.
Carapaz took his second ever Grand Tour stage victory on stage 14 while riding his way into the lead, as the Ecuadorian becomes a serious general classification contender in the minds of many, while his team-mate Mikel Landa has clawed back some of his deficit with consecutive punishing attacks from the Movistar outfit.
Roglič stands alone as Jumbo-Visma leader and now risks being outflanked by the Movistar double act of Carapaz and Landa, making the 2019 Giro d’Italia less straightforward than we all envisioned.
Yo-yoing Simon Yates finishes strong
Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) appears to be battling with his own Jekyll and Hyde situation this Giro d’Italia.
After a divine opening time trial in Bologna, Yates then faltered drastically on the longer stage nine TT. This unexpected slip in form continued on stage 13 when Yates lost more time after he was unable to follow Roglič and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) on the final climb.
On stage 14 we saw both Jekyll and Hyde in Yates, who was dropped on the penultimate climb of the day before he rejoined his big rivals who were all distracted by marking each other.
Yates then attacked the favourites on the final climb, only to be reeled back in, before going once more and this time snapping the elastic.
While it may have only been a modest gain of 22 seconds over Roglič and Nibali, the persistence Yates showed was truly admirable as he moves into the top ten overall.
The Brit still sits 5-28 down on Carapaz, which is a significant mountain to climb, but with Nibali and Roglič locked in a mental battle Yates may find an opening for his trademark punchy attacks that could bring him into the fight, if only he can overcome the demons that caused the disadvantage in the first place.
Roglic survives another test
With each passing day in the mountains where Primož Roglič fails to crack, the Slovenian finds himself one step closer to securing his first ever Grand Tour victory. While Carapaz has ridden himself into the pink jersey and Movistar will now put up a fight to keep it, Roglič managed to hold on to the rest of the GC riders on stage 14.
As Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Miguel Ángel López (Astana) attacked relentlessly, Roglič went with every move, rarely looking too troubled, holding his advantage over the main GC men who matter.
Now sitting mere seconds off the overall lead, the Slovenian has 1-40 over Nibali, and more than two minutes on Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Mikel Landa (Movistar).
A disappointing day for Vincenzo Nibali
With Roglič content to try and defend his way to the closing time trial in Verona on June 2, Nibali will have to have more days like today but with different results, if he is to secure his third Giro d’Italia title.
The Italian attacked relentlessly but was unable to dislodge the Slovenian from his wheel, and despite picking up bonus points on the line still sits 1-40 behind Roglič.
What’s more, after Carapaz’s stunning ride securing the Ecuadorian the pink jersey, Roglič is now left unburdened by the extra pressure and duties of being a race leader, a definite advantage at this stage in the race, making Nibali’s task even harder than it already is.
No further GC battles until Tuesday
After two days in the mountains providing a re-ordering of the overall classification, tomorrow’s stage 15 offers up the potential for a breakaway to succeed before Monday’s rest day.
After that, Tuesday’s stage 16 is the queen stage of the Giro d’Italia 2019. Despite the race unlikely to ascend the Gavia due to the threat of avalanches, it will offer up the next big test for those hoping to take home the pink jersey.