Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain Victorious) won stage 19 of the Giro d’Italia from the break on Friday at Tre Cime di Lavaredo as Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) grabbed three seconds on race leader Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers).
Buitrago soloed across the line 51 seconds ahead of Derek Gee (Israel-Premier Tech), with Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost) taking third.
Behind, Roglič picked up a bit of time on Thomas, and they both collected more time on the rest of the field.
- There was a lengthy battle to get into the break that would decide the day, with things solidifying some 70 km into the stage for 15 leaders. Ben Healy (EF Education-EasyPost), in the mix for the king of the mountains title, tried to jump from the peloton when other riders were already way up the road, but he was marked by mountains classification leader Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ).
- Once the composition of the break was settled, the peloton gave Buitrago, Gee, Cort, and the rest of the escapees plenty of room. It eventually became clear that the stage victory would come from those out front. Amid attacks on the Passo Giau, the break split into various groups, with Gee leading the way over the climb, but things came back together for the surviving escapees on the descent.
- There were more splits on the Passo Tre Croci, and then another regrouping, and then Gee made a powerful move on the final climb that put everyone in the rearview mirror. Buitrago, however, took up the chase. It took several minutes, but he gradually clawed his way back to the Canadian and then left him behind.
- In the GC group, the Ineos Grenadiers set a hard tempo all the way into the final kilometers, stifling any possibility of attacks from their rivals, until at last João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) put in a small dig and then Roglič delivered a big one. Thomas was alive to the danger. Inside the final kilometer, Thomas himself attacked, and only Roglič could follow.
- Thomas then dropped Roglič and seemed to be working his way towards putting time into everyone, but the Slovenian just kept grinding away, and suddenly he had caught Thomas and passed him on his way to finish just behind breakaway survivor Cort.
- Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain Victorious)
- Derek Gee (Israel-Premier Tech) @ :51
- Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost) @ 1:46
- Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) @ same time
- Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) @ 1:49
- Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers)
- Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) @ :26
- João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) @ :59
- Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) @ 4:11
- Eddie Dunbar (Jayco-AlUla) @ 4:53
Roglič vs. Thomas moment:
- The GC action was somewhat muted on stage 19 in comparison to the previous two mountain stages, but there were still storylines worth discussing. For Thomas, the day probably feels like a partial success, considering he still has the race lead, and his team had a lot to do with that. Reminding us of the Sky Train days gone by, Ineos put Thymen Arensman and Laurens De Plus to work in the GC group and there was little chance of anyone getting clear until the very end of the day.
- That said, Thomas was unable to put time into Roglič despite appearing to be on his way to doing so right up until the very last moment. In the end, Roglič had measured his effort perfectly. The big GC loser of the day was Almeida, who ceded 23 seconds to Roglič and 20 to Thomas ahead of the stage 20 time trial.
- As measured efforts go, Buitrago may have taken the top prize on the day, letting Gee spend quite a while alone out front and then dashing his hopes, sailing past him to take the convincing win. When all was said and done, Buitrago was a full 51 seconds clear as he secured his second career Giro stage victory. It comes only a little over a month after he rode onto the podium at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Bahrain Victorious clearly has a talented young climber in its ranks.
- Another day, another heartbreak for Gee. Friday was, remarkably, his fourth runner-up ride on a stage at this Giro, a feat usually reserved for sprinters, for whom things tend to be more predictable. That Gee has been able to get into so many of the big breakaway moves in this Giro is a testament to both his strength and his racing savvy. That said, he still needs to find a way to turn those opportunities into wins. At the very least, he’ll have a legion of new fans after his debut Grand Tour.
- Going into Saturday’s TT, the GC battle looks to be all about Thomas vs. Roglič now, with Almeida a more distant third and basically nobody else in the picture for the pink jersey.
Landscape appreciation moment:
Saturday’s stage 20 time trial will decide the general classification at this Giro d’Italia. An 18.6 km stage with a brutal climb, the looming TT has been in the back of everyone’s mind over the past few days, and it’s finally here. The first 10.5 km are mostly flat, but then the road kicks upward in the form of a Cat. 1 climb to Monte Lussari, 7.8 km at a 11.2 percent average gradient. The gaps could be significant. Whoever stands atop the GC at the end of the day will have, for all intents and purposes, won the Giro.
Quote of the day:
Derek Gee described his motivations, his emotions, and how the finale played out after stage 19:
“I mean, I just wanted to go in the break for the ciclamino points so I could secure second at 65 but they just gave us a bigger and bigger gap. … I just had to wrap my head around the finish because the legs were done. I had no idea where I was. … I knew Buitrago was gone once he caught me, the acceleration was ridiculous. I didn’t know where they GC guys were so I just went full gas. There isn’t much oxygen here.
I think it’s going to take a while to sink in, I can’t even wrap my head around it. I’m glad I’ve moved into second in azzuro, that’s cool. If I stay in the peloton there’s no chance I win, so I might have gotten second a lot but at least I gave myself a shot.”
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