Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) is the most dangerous rider in the 2019 Giro d'Italia, says Richard Carapaz (Movistar) who leads with five days left to race.
Carapaz leads with 1-47 minutes on the Nibali, who jumped from third to second overall on stage 16 with an attack on the Mortirolo climb.
"Looking ahead to the TT in Verona, we gained some important time against [Primož] Roglič," Carapaz said after escaping the rain and putting on a fresh pink jersey.
"It was hard for everyone, Roglič was suffering, and we saw that Nibali is strong in the legs. We worked together well on the valley to gain more time on Roglič and the others.
"There are still a lot of kilometres to come. It's obvious now Nibali is the most dangerous rival now in the Giro."
With Nibali's attack at 35km to race, Roglič's amour began to crack. He had won both time trials and led the race for five days, but suffered at the start of the third week.
Carapaz joined Nibali, and brought along team-mate Mikel Landa and joined Andrey Amador from the early escape. Instead of worrying about distancing Nibali, they worked with the two-time Giro winner from Sicily to put time on rivals like Primož] Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) and Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott).
Roglič is now third overall at 2-09 minutes.
"We didn't go straight after Nibali. We were the team with the biggest number of riders, with three of us, so we raced prudently, and we were able to disarm the attack. Me and Landa made the call, and we were prudent in face of the attack of Nibali," Carapaz added.
"We played it well with the squad, we had riders up the road to help and we had our team-mates on the climb. We wanted to use our team to control the stage.
"It was very hard all day, the race route, with the adverse weather conditions made it even harder. We all faced the same condition. We worked well together as a team and it turned out well."
Carapaz has five more days, three in the mountains, to keep Nibali and his other rivals at bay before the race ends in Verona.
"You cannot say anything is safe yet," Carapaz said. "We can be happy with gap we have to the others and we can play with it for our advantage."
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