Koen Bouwman took his second stage win of the Giro d'Italia atop the Santuario di Castelmonte on stage 19, as he charged to victory out of what was left of the breakaway.
The Jumbo-Visma rider also secured the mountains jersey with the points he gained across the day, all he has to do is stay on his bike for the final two days.
Behind, Mauro Schmid (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) was angered by the way he was pushed out of position in the sprint, but came second, with Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè) in third.
Meanwhile, in the group of favourites behind, there was no change in the top three, with Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) following Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) to the line, meaning the latter remains in the maglia rosa heading into the penultimate stage. There are just three seconds between the pair heading into the final weekend.
How it happened
Three stages left, and there were a lot of teams desperate for a stage win on one of those remaining days, so they do not head home empty-handed.
Therefore, the opening 30km was incredibly hectic as almost every team tried to get someone into the day’s break, with riders constantly attacking and attempting to head up the road. This meant the opening hour of the day was raced at 54km/h, a speed that would prove unsustainable for the rest of the day.
It took about 27km for the day’s big front group to be established, which was made up of 12 riders from nine teams. The 12 were: Andrea Vendrame (AG2R Citroën), Tobias Bayer (Alpecin-Fenix), Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè), Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost), Clément Davy, Attila Valter (both Groupama-FDJ), Edoardo Affini, Koen Bouwman (both Jumbo-Visma), Davide Ballerini, Mauro Schmid (both Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo), and Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates).
The escape was a mix of climbers, rouleurs and sprinters, with Gaviria possibly the most surprising member of the move. This proved how hard the opening was, with only those with explosive power being the ones to get into the break.
Once the attack was established, the peloton relaxed, but not for long. From 125km to go Bora-Hansgrohe were the ones pulling, with Cesare Benedetti notable at the front of the race. This put riders under pressure, with Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) crashing off the back of the peloton, but he soon came back.
Another casualty was Richie Porte (Ineos Grenadiers), who was dropped with 102km to go, although it soon turned out that he was ill and he abandoned the race.
With 90km to go there was a split in the bunch, such was the pace Bora were putting down, but this caused no major difficulties and there was a regrouping soon after.
The break’s lead only grew, and once it was hovering around 10 minutes, it looked certain that the stage win would be fought out among the group up front.
Bouwman took the maximum points on the classified climbs of Villanova Grotte, the Passo di Tanamea, and the Kolovrat, strengthening his lead in the mountains classification and all but securing him the blue jersey.
With 54km to go, the faster men started to be dropped from the breakaway, as first Gaviria, Theuns and Davy were left behind, and then Bayer and Ballerini.
It was Schmid, Bouwman, Vendrame, Valter and Tonelli who were the last survivors onto the Santuario di Castelmonte, with Vendrame repeatedly falling off the back inside the final 5km but always managing to work his way back to the front group.
The quintet up front were being incredibly cagey as they passed under the flamme rouge with just 1km to go. Bouwman and Valter stayed at the back of the bunch, watching their rivals.
As they went round the final corner, Vendrame failed to read it quickly and took Valter with him almost into the barriers. Schmid claimed he was boxed out, but it looked like he too took the wrong line.
It left a clean line for Bouwman to charge to the line, making it two stage wins for the man in the blue jersey as leader in the mountains classification. The Dutchman clearly has a good turn of speed, and proved it once again in Santuario di Castelmonte
Behind, in what was left of the peloton, Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) took up the pace-setting on the front. His turn meant Domenico Pozzovivo (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and the white jersey wearer Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo) all dropped as the speed increased.
Carapaz finally launched an attack on the final climb with 2km to go, but took Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) with him. The move failed to damage his general classification rivals.
Landa then went off the front, and was followed by Carapaz and Hindley again. The three still looked inseparable inside the final kilometre of the race. The attacks were relentless, but they failed to make any real difference on the standings. However, with just three seconds in between the top two on general classification, any time gained would be crucial.
As they came up to the line, Carapaz stretched his legs, but could not distance Hindley, meaning the battle for the maglia rosa will go into the penultimate day.
GIRO D'ITALIA 2022, STAGE 19: Marano Lagunare to Santuario di Castelmonte (178KM)
1. Koen Bouwman (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, in 4-32-55
2. Mauro Schmid (Sui) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, at same time
3. Alessandro Tonelli (Ita) Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè, at 3s
4. Attila Valter (Hun) Groupama-FDJ, at 6s
5. Andrea Vendrame (Ita) AG2R Citroën, at 10s
6. Tobias Bayer (Aut) Alpecin-Fenix, at 2-45
7. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis, at 3-49
8. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers, at 3-56
9. Jai Hindley (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe, at same time
10. Mikel Landa (Esp) Bahrain-Victorious, at same time
General classification after stage 19
1. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers, in 81-18-12
2. Jai Hindley (Aus) BORA-hansgrohe, at 3 seconds
3. Mikel Landa (Esp) Bahrain-Victorious, at 1-05
4. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team, at 5-53
5. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Bahrain-Victorious, at 6-22
6. Jan Hirt (Cze) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux, at 7-15
7. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) BORA-hansgrohe, at 8-21
8. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux, at 12-55
9. Juan Pedro López (Spa) Trek-Segafredo, at 15-29
10. Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Education-EasyPost, at 17-10
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