By Jonny Long
Pello Bilbao (Astana) beat Mikel Landa (Movistar) in a sprint finish to the line after the final big day of mountains in the Giro d'Italia 2019.
Bilbao took his second stage win of this year's race as Landa dislodged Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) from third place on GC as the Slovenian failed to finish in the front group. Although, Roglič is likely to take his podium place back in the stage 21 time trial.
Richard Carapaz (Movistar) finished fourth and all but claimed the overall victory as long as the Ecuadorian avoids disaster in the time trial in Verona tomorrow. King of the mountains classifications winner Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) also finished third on the stage.
After a day of relentless attacking, Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) finished fifth, finding himself unable to dislodge Carapaz during the stage.
Miguel Ángel López (Astana) escaped punishment after punching a spectator who caused him to crash with 5km to go, but Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) wasn't as lucky, receiving a 10-second penalty for receiving a lengthy push from a spectator on a climb.
How it happened
Stage 20 offered the final chance for the GC rivals to launch attacks in the mountains to try and dislodge Richard Carapaz (Movistar) from the race lead.
After the Gavia pass was removed from stage 16, today's ascent of the Passo Manghen becomes the new cima coppi, the highest point of the 2019 Giro.
The GC riders looked to put lieutenants in the breakaway to position them up the road for when they'd be needed later in the day, with Pello Bilbao and Dario Cataldo going up the road for Astana's Miguel Ángel López and Andrey Amador doing the same for Movistar's Richard Carapaz.
Guilio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) launched an attack near the bottom of the Passo Manghen, going off in search of the breakaway, and potentially the cima coppi, which sat atop the 2,047m-high first category climb.
With 2.5km to go until the top of the climb, Miguel Ángel López attacked, dropping Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) with Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) cracking. Movistar's Richard Carapaz and Mikel Landa managed to stay with the Colombian, though.
Fausto Masnada (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermic) took the cima coppi, with the Carapaz group 1-37 behind Masnada as they started to sweep up the break, Nibali and Roglič were a further 20 seconds back at the summit.
Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) crashed on the descent, his shorts cut up but the Russian ok to keep riding. Nibali then managed to ride his group back up to Carapaz, reaching speeds of up to 86km/h on the descent, with this larger GC group now 46 seconds behind Masnada with 100km to go.
Pello Bilbao (Astana) then attacked to get up the road again for López, with Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-Scott), Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-Merida) and Tanel Kangert (EF Education First) also attacking to try and reform the breakaway.
Vincenzo Nibali then attacked the GC group three kilometres later, with Carapaz jumping straight onto his wheel.
With all the different attackers coming together on the Passo Rolle, Ciccone lead the over the top, breaking Eddy Merckx's record of being the first to the summit of the most categorised climbs in a Grand Tour.
As the GC group started up the final climb of the day, the category two Croce d'Aune, the breakaway began to be reeled in.
Amador dropped off the front of the peloton with 14km to go, with López attacking a kilometre later, having another go soon after as he tried to animate the GC battle.
Mikel Landa then attacked, as Roglič received a lengthy push from a spectator that would see him given a 10-second penalty by the race jury after the stage had finished.
With 10km to go, Landa had opened up a 20 second gap over the GC group, and was 45 seconds behind the breakaway.
Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) went over his handlebars with 9km remaining, but eventually finished the stage, as Nibali brought Landa back into the GC group.
Miguel Ángel López was then brought down by a spectator running alongside the riders with 5km to go, the Colombian reacting angrily and punching the fan, although the Astana rider escaped punishment from the race commissaires.
Vincenzo Nibali then attacked once more with 4km to go, as Carapaz followed his wheel, distancing Primož Roglič. The Italian attacked once again with 1.8km to go, now accompanied by Carapaz, Landa, Ciccone, Kangert and Pello Bilbao, with the GC stragglers now 38 seconds adrift.
Richard Carapaz looked to set up the stage win for team-mate Mikel Landa, but Bilbao timed his sprint perfectly to come round his countryman to take his second stage win of the Giro d'Italia 2019.
Primož Roglič finished 54 seconds back, with Simon Yates and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) also losing time, as Mikel Landa moved up to third.
However, Roglič is like to take his podium place back in tomorrow's final time trial, trailing the Spaniard by 23 seconds after the 10-second time penalty.
Giro d’Italia 2019, stage 20: Feltre to Croce D'Aune-Monte Avena (194km)
1. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Astana, in 5-46-02
2. Mikel Landa (Esp) Movistar, at same time
3. Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, at 2 seconds
4. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar, at 4 seconds
5. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida, at same time
6. Tanel Kangert (Est) EF Education First, at 15 seconds
7. Mikel Nieve (Esp) Mitchelton-Scott, at same time
8. Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 25 seconds
9. Rafał Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 44 seconds
10. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida, at same time
General classification after stage 20
1. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar, in 89-38-28
2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida, 1-54
3.Mikel Landa (Esp) Movistar, at 2-53
4. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, at 3-06
5. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, at 5-51
6. Miguel Ángel López (Col) Astana, at 7-18
7. Rafał Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 7-28
8. Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott, at 8-01
9. Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Team Ineos, at 9-11
10. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin, at 12-50
Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races. I'm 6'0", 26 years old, have a strong hairline and have an adequate amount of savings for someone my age. I'm very single at the minute so if you know anyone, hit me up.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab, reporting about students evacuating their bowels on nightclub dancefloors and consecrating their love on lecture hall floors. I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
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