Giro d’Italia leader Richard Carapaz has welcomed the attacks of his Movistar team-mate Mikel Landa as the race enters its closing phase.
Landa attacked on the closing climb near the five kilometre marker on stage 17, as Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) were both distanced.
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“Yesterday was so hard,” said Carapaz of the stage over the Mortirolo in the rain. “It was a big effort from everyone, with the cold, the rain.
“We had a plan to take advantage of an opening if we saw an opportunity to take more time. What Landa did was something on the spur of the moment, but it was also part of the plan, and what he did was just perfect.”
The move put Nibali and Roglič on the ropes as Nans Peters (Ag2r La Mondiale) won the stage from the early escape. Landa crossed the line 4-27 minutes later, but with 19 seconds on Nibali and Roglič. He now sits fourth overall at 47 seconds back from third-place Roglič.
Carapaz marked and then attacked his rivals to add seven seconds to his pink jersey lead in the 2019 Giro d’Italia.
“The ambience within the team is phenomenal,” added Carapaz. “The entire team is helping each other. We cannot demonstrate in a better way than what happened yesterday, how we raced the stage. It was a 10.
“With Landa, we get along just fine. If he can end up on the podium, it would be something great for him and for the team. The team is like a family and I dedicate this maglia rosa to the team.”
Landa said the two are “united” and they are playing their numerical advantage at the Giro.
“I saw an opportunity,” Landa said. “The group was stretched out and there was a bit of wind. I decided to go ahead a bit so the others wouldn’t have to work. More time is always welcome.
“Friday and even more so Saturday will be very hard stages. Anything can happen, but right now we are very united and very concentrated.”