Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) claimed victory at the summit finish on stage 19 of the Giro d’Italia 2019.
An emotional Chaves celebrated with his family after crossing the finish line first, following a long road to recovery since being diagnosed with the Epstein-Barr virus last season.
The Colombian was part of the day’s breakaway, who managed to stay clear of the peloton, fighting it out amongst themselves on the climb to San Martino di Castroz for the stage win.
Chaves attacked relentlessly, trying multiple times to drop the rest of a breakaway group that included François Bidard (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Pieter Serry (Deceuninck – Quick-Step).
However, with a final push at 2.5km to go before the road flattened out to a 4% incline into the finish, Chaves pulled clear and soloed to the finish line.
Andrea Vendrame (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermic) finished second with Amaro Antunes (CCC) third.
Further down the road, Miguel Ángel López (Astana) attacked the other GC riders on the climb, with Mikel Landa (Movistar) immediately onto his wheel. However, the Spaniard then dropped back, either not able to hold the Colombian’s wheel or being told to hold back and wait for his team-mate and race leader Richard Carapaz.
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) then attacked coming into the finish, with Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) covering the move quickly.
At the finish line López had taken back just under a minute on his GC rivals. Richard Carapaz (Movistar) holds the race lead with a 1-54 advantage over Vincenzo Nibali with two stages left to race.
How it happened
Stage 19 offered up a relatively short 151km route, culminating in a summit finish up to San Martino di Castrozza.
Once the peloton were satisfied with the makeup of the breakaway, they were allowed to head up the road with 140km to go.
The large group took out a considerable advantage, first climbing the stunning hairpins of the third category San Boldo pass and then sweeping up the points available at the intermediate sprint point, where Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) leads Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) by just 13 points.
Before the summit finish was a fourth category climb to Lamon, where Manuele Boaro (Astana) attacked just before the line and opened up a gap.
Boaro sat up with 18km to go, as the breakaway extended their lead to over nine minutes and headed towards the finish, ready to fight it out amongst themselves up the final climb for the stage win.
Marco Canola (Nipp0-Vini Fantini) started off what would be a flurry of attacks in the breakaway group, making his move with 14.5km to go as Oliver Le Gac (Groupama-FDJ) responded. Amaro Antunes (CCC) then went, with François Bidard (Ag2r La Mondiale) the next to go up the road, joined by Pieter Serry (Deceuninck – Quick-Step).
With 10.5km to go, Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) attacked, looking to improve on his second place on stage 17.
Now eight minutes behind the breakaway, the peloton began the final climb as Chaves attacked once more with 7.7km of road left. After the barrage of attacks the leading group was down to four riders: Chaves, Serry, Bidard and Andrea Vendrame (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermic).
Movistar led the peloton under the 10km to go banner, with Marco Canola just about getting back on to the leading group before Chaves attacked again, momentarily distancing Bidard and Canola.
Chaves’ attacking was relentless, stretching his legs once more with 5km to go, trying to make the most of the gradient before it flattened out to 4% in the run-in to the finish.
As the front of the race started coming back together, Chaves pushed on to try and distance them, taking Serry on his wheel with Bidard also chasing.
Astana came to the front of the peloton as Vendrame suffered a mechanical up ahead, the Italian having otherwise been one of the favourites to take the stage win.
Finally, with 2.5km remaining, Chaves put in the decisive attack, dropping Serry and Bidard and solo-ing to the finish to cap off an almighty comeback after suffering from the Eppstein-Barr virus last season that saw the Colombian sidelined for months.
Back in the peloton, Miguel Ángel López (Astana) attacked, looking to claw back time in the general classification. Mikel Landa (Movistar) initially jumped on the Colombian’s wheel before either not being able to hold it or receiving orders to shepherd team-mate and race leader Richard Carapaz to the finish line. López would eventually take back just under a minute on his rivals.
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) looked to remind everyone he was still a threat as his attack was quickly shut down by Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) on the run-in to the finish. The Italian sits 1-54 off Carapaz in the pink jersey, with tomorrow’s stage 20 the last mountain stage and Sunday’s time trial the last chances for anyone to unseat the Ecuadorian and prevent him from taking his first ever Grand Tour victory.
Giro d’Italia 2019, stage 19: Treviso to San Martino di Castrozza (151km)
1. Esteban Chaves (Col) Mitchelton-Scott, in 4-01-31
2. Andrea Vendrame (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermic, at 10 seconds
3. Amaro Antunes (Por) CCC, at 12s
4. Giovanni Carboni (Ita) Bardiani-CSF, at 24s
5. Pieter Serry (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 32s
6. François Bidard (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 35s
7. Marco Canola (Ita) Nippo Vini Fantini, at 1-02
8. Manuele Boaro (Ita) Astana, at 1-37
9. Manuel Senni (Ita) Bardiani-CSF, at 1-53
10. Olivier Le Gac (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 2-33
General classification after stage 19
1. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar, in 83-52-22
2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida, 1-54
3. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, at 2-16
4. Mikel Landa (Esp) Movistar, at 3-03
5. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, at 5-07
6. Miguel Ángel López (Col) Astana, at 5-33
7. Rafał Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 6-48
8. Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott, at 7-17
9. Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Team Ineos, at same time
10. Davide Formolo (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 10-06