Richard Carapaz (Movistar) claimed victory on stage 14 of the Giro d'Italia 2019 and took the pink jersey, leading Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) by just seven seconds in the general classification.
After Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) tested the GC group with a number of attacks, Carapaz launched off the front with 28km remaining, quickly opening up a gap and maintaining it over the summit of the Colle San Carlo and on to the descent into the finish.
With 12km left, he still had more than a 20 second advantage over the GC group, creeping up to a 30 second gap with just 8km remaining, before taking a further 10 seconds after another kilometre.
The GC group hesitated, allowing Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) to get back on to the group, recovering after being dropped on the previous climb. The Brit then went straight past them as he began the mammoth task of reducing his nearly six-minute deficit to Roglič in the overall.
Carapaz was flying, though, extending his lead to 1-17 as the remaining kilometres ticked down to five, moving to within 40 seconds of Roglič's virtual GC lead on the road.
Simon Yates was the lone chaser and finished second, a minute and a half behind Carapaz and just ahead of the GC group, taking back a few valuable seconds in the overall classification.
The GC group finished 1-54 down on Carapaz, enough for the Movistar man to take the pink jersey, as Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates) finished more than seven minutes down on the Ecuadorian.
Roglič now sits seven seconds behind Carapaz, with Nibali in third on GC, 1-47 back. Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) moves into fourth, 2-10 down, with Carapaz's Movistar team-mate Mikel Landa fifth, 2-58 behind.
How it happened
Stage 14 was the shortest stage of the Giro d'Italia 2019, discounting the time trials, but the 131km course offered up another day of mountains that would provide another stern test for the GC hopefuls.
With the climbing beginning nearly as soon as the stage started it was an action-packed day of racing. Christopher Juul-Jensen and Lucas Hamilton (Mitchelton-Scott), Hugh Carthy (EF Education First), Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), Fausto Masnada and Mattia Cattaneo (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermic), Ivan Sosa (Team Ineos) and Andrey Amador (Movistar) made the day's talented break, and extended their maximum advantage of the day to around the two and a half minute mark on the Verrogne climb, as Jumbo-Visma led the peloton protecting Primož Roglič's favourable GC position.
Ion Izagirre (Astana) and Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-Merida) soon both went up the road as potential stepping stones for their team leaders, Miguel Ángel López (Astana) and Vicenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) later in the day.
Ciccone was once again on the hunt for king of the mountains points, taking maximum points on both the Verrogne and the Truc d'Arbe, the Italian now holding a dominant 100-point lead over Richard Carapaz in the blue jersey competition.
It was on the Colle San Carlo, the category one climb that reached an altitude of nearly 2,000m, where the GC battle would commence. Closing in on the breakaway, Nibali attacked with 33km remaining and Simon Yates was once again dropped from the group of favourites. This acceleration also further distanced the pink jersey holder Jan Polanc who looked to be riding his final day in the maglia rosa.
Yates was nearly getting back on to the group when Ciccone attacked the break, looking for the king of the mountains points at the summit, with Cattaneo and Sosa also going with him and making their moves. López then attacked the GC group, distancing Rafal Majka who looked to maybe be struggling with an injury, as Nibali went again soon after.
It was relentless, with the GC riders freely trading blows and testing each others' legs on the final big mountains before Monday's rest day, with the group soon sweeping up the breakaway.
As Nibali's faithful lieutenant Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-Merida), who had worked hard for the Italian all day, dropped off the front after setting the pace, Movistar's Richard Carapaz attacked. The Ecuadorian quickly opened up a decent gap and didn't look back.
Nibali soon attacked again, with Roglič straight on his wheel and López and Mikel Landa (Movistar) joining the select group.
Carapaz soon had a 15 second gap over the GC group, extending his advantage to 30 seconds with 25km left to race as they crested the summit.
With 12km remaining and the descent nearly completed, Carapaz still had a 20 second advantage, and began to take it out again as he began the final third category climb towards the finish.
The Ecuadorian had a 30 second gap with 8km left, before taking another 10 seconds out of Roglič and the others by the time it ticked down to 7km remaining.
The GC group began to hesitate, allowing Simon Yates back in to rejoin the group, recovering after previously being dropped. The Brit then went straight past them as he began the mammoth task of trying to reduce his nearly six-minute deficit to Roglič.
Carapaz was flying, though, extending his lead to 1-17 with only 5km left. He crossed the finish line first, his second Grand Tour stage win after picking one up at the Giro last year.
Simon Yates finished in second, a minute and a half behind, soon to be followed by Roglič and the GC group, who came across the line 1-54 down, enough to give Carapaz the pink jersey.
Carapaz now sits seven seconds ahead of Roglič on GC, with Nibali a further minute behind. Stage 15 is likely to be a day for the breakaway, with the few climbs on offer not likely to provide enough of a test to see another GC shake-up before Monday's rest day.
Giro d’Italia 2019, stage 14: Saint-Vincent to Courmayeur (131km)
1. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar, in 4-02-23
2. Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott, at 1-32
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida, at 1-54
4. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
5. Mikel Landa (Esp) Movistar
6. Miguel Ángel López (Col) Astana
7. Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Team Ineos
8. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma
9. Joe Dombrowski (USA) EF Education First, all at same time
10. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain-Merida, at 2-01
General classification after stage 14
1. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar, in 58-35-34
2. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, at 7 seconds
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida, at 1-47
4. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 2-10
5. Mikel Landa (Esp) Movistar, at 2-50
6. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, at 2-58
7. Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, at 3-29
8. Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Team Ineos, at 4-55
9. Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott, at 5-28
10. Miguel Ángel López (Col) Astana, at 5-30
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