It was a long, hard day in the saddle with plenty of fireworks on the final climb, but probably not quite what everyone was expecting. Fabio Aru attacked from the leading group of contenders to take a solo victory, leapfrogging teammate Mikel Landa to reclaim second place overall. Landa came in with race leader Alberto Contador, who passed up the chance to battle for stage honours today.
I’m plumping for Italian Movistarlet Giovanni Visconti, who today ignited the battle for the King of the Mountains jersey. While incumbent Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) was protecting his position on GC and Visconti’s teammate (and second in the competition) Benat Intxausti shepherded Andrey Amador, Visconti took centre stage as Movistar made their intentions plain. He’s now 14 points clear of Kruijswijk and 16 ahead of Intxausti with bumper points on offer tomorrow atop Colle delle Finestre – the Cima Coppi – and the Sestriere summit finish.
Three things we noticed
1. Will he or won’t he win a stage? Just when you thought Alberto Contador would follow Fabio Aru’s attack to try to win today’s queen stage, he didn’t. He remained tranquillo at the back of the lead chasing group. Of course, with the sizeable lead he’s forged, he can afford to sit back and enjoy the view and leave something in the tank for tomorrow or for the Tour de France. Whatever, we’re loving the unpredictability and daily excitement.
2. Consolidation. Today was all about Astana securing those last two podium places. There’s now plenty of clear daylight between the Astana duo and fourth-placed Andrey Amador. Due order was restored in the Astana camp with Aru leapfrogging teammate Mikel Landa to assume his place as runner-up to Contador. Astana will leave the Giro content that Aru has improved upon his third place last year, won a stage and secured the jersey of best young rider while Landa has taken two stages and an unanticipated third place overall. And let’s not forget the team prize – not bad pickings from a grand tour. In addition, the team have been strong throughout which will give them confidence for Vincenzo Nibali’s upcoming defence of his Tour de France title.
3. All shook up. If the top of the general classification was about consolidation the remaining places were shaken not stirred today. Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin) showed once more his insatiable appetite for racing and continued his assault on the overall. He’s moved up into seventh overall. Sky’s Leopold Konig also moves up a place from sixth to fifth. Could there be further surprises in store on tomorrow’s penultimate stage, the last in the mountains? You wouldn’t bet against it.
Stage 19 result
1. Fabio Aru (Astana) 6:24:13
2. Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin) +0:28
3. Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-Quick Step) +1:10
4. Tanel Kangert (Astana) +1:18
5. Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) same time
1. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) 78:48:40
2. Fabio Aru (Astana) +4:37
3. Mikel Landa (Astana) +5:15
4. Andrey Amador (Movistar) +8:10
5. Leopold Konig (Sky) +10:47
6. Yuri Trofimov (Katusha) +11:11
7. Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin) +12:05
8. Damiano Caruso (BMC) +12:14
9. Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) +12:53
10. Alexandre Geniez (FDJ) +15:07
Points leader: Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek).
King of the Mountains leader: Giovanni Visconti (Movistar).
Best young rider: Fabio Aru (Astana).
Team classification: Astana.
Link: Official race website