It was a stressful final climb of the 102nd Giro d’Italia, and Superman Lopez exploded at a fan that made him crash at the bottom of the Col Melon, delivering a couple of swats to knock the cap off the cowering man. The sixth place rider from Astana finished 1:58 down on the 20th stage’s winner, teammate Pello Bilbao. Pink jersey Richard Carapaz now has one hand on the winner’s trophy after finishing with Vincenzo Nibali and teammate Mikel Landa, the three of them distancing Primož Roglič. Landa knocked Roglič off the podium with one stage to go.

The Course

The final road race route of the 2019 Giro had close to 6000-metres of climbing, beginning with a 20-km ascent soon after the start in Feltre. The next climb, Passo Manghen, was the race’s Cima Coppi after the Gavia was removed from Stage 16. Another long climb was Passo Rollo, 19.8 km at 4.6 percent. Penultimate climb Croce d’Aune came before the Cat. 1 summit finish, Col Melon at 6.4 km of 7.3 percent.

Frenetic Early Action

A breakaway took a while to gel on the first climb, but Fausto Masnada lit out on his own on Passo Manghen to take the Cima Coppi. The peloton was very reduced by the pace, with Primož Roglič already isolated.

Landa, Carapaz and Lopez attacked on Manghen, dropping Nibali and Roglič and cresting 20-seconds ahead.

On the descent the top-10 on GC came back together, Masnada returning to the fold as well.

Heading towards Passo Rollo, there was a seven rider group in front with the favourites 3:00 back. There were no GC moves or moves out of the break either, just the septet keeping most of its lead.

Movistar led the pink jersey group onto Croce d’Aune. Angel Lopez made the first attack on the steepest grade, but it was tentative. He went again with the same result, but it was Landa’s counterattack that got clear. Roglič had to lead the chase before Bahrain-Merida took over.

On d’Aune’s descent, Nibali and Carapaz caught Landa. It was time for the final climb, Col Melon. A fan running alongside Lopez made him crash and the usually affable Colombian gave the man a couple of swats.

Nibali, Carapaz and Landa climbed together, satisfied to distance Roglič. They swept up the remains of the breakaway with 3.7 km remaining. With 1.8 km to go the Shark of Messina launched his last bid thrust but only rid himself of a couple of the day’s fugitives.

Bilbao clung on and then beat Landa to the line as the Movistar man took the last turn a little wide.

Sunday is the Giro’s climax, a 17-km time trial with a 4.1 km, 4.8 percent climb in its middle. Carapaz isn’t like to ship 1:54 to Nibali and the Shark should be able to keep second. Landa will have a very difficult time holding back Roglič from reclaiming the last podium spot.

2019 Giro d’Italia Stage 20
1) Pello Bilbao (Spain/Astana) 5:46:02
2) Mikel Landa (Spain/Movistar) s.t.
3) Giulio Ciccone (Italy/Trek-Segafredo)

2019 Giro d’Italia GC with one stage remaining
1) Richard Carapaz (Ecuador/Movistar) 89:38:28
2) Vincenzo Nibali (Italy/Bahrain-Merida) +1:54
3) Mikel Landa (Spain/Movistar) +2:53
4) Primož Roglič (Slovenia/Jumbo-Visma) +3:06
5) Bauke Mollema (The Netherlands/Trek-Segafredo) +5:51

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