Esteban Chaves climbed his way to success after attacking numerous times during the final kilometres in stage 19 of the Giro d’Italia that finished in San Martino di Castrozza today.
Andrea Vendrame (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) finished second on the 151km stage, with Amaro Antunes (CCC Team) completing the podium.
“It’s unbelievable, I don’t really have words for this. A lot of work has been put in together, all my family, my team, my friends, everyone knows how hard we’ve worked but I never gave up,” said Chaves.
“The climb today showed that, I attacked many, many times until I dropped everyone and life is like that as well. You have to keep attacking, attacking, attacking until the line because you never know how close you are until everyone arrives at the finish line.”
With 5km to the finish, Chaves, Vendrame, Marco Canola (Nippo-Vini Fantini), Pieter Serry (Deceuninck-Quick Step) and Francois Bidard (AG2R La Mondiale) were at the front of the race.
Chaves attacked and took the rest with him, except for Canola. The latter joined up with Giovanni Carboni (both Bardiani-CSF) and Antunes.
Chaves, Bidard and Serry remained up front, while Antunes and Carboni were on the chase with 3km to the line. Vendrame and Canola were further back.
Chaves, who placed second on stage 17, attacked again and successfully soloed his way to the stage win.
Soon after the start of the stage, a group of 12 riders broke away from the peloton.
This group consisted of Antunes, Canola, Ivan Santaromita (Nippo-Vini Fantini), Manuele Boaro (Astana), Marco Marcato (UAE Team Emirates), Oliver Le Gac (Groupama-FDJ), Bidard, Serry, Chaves, Vendrame, Manuele Senni (Bardiani-CSF) and Carboni.
They built a maximum gap of nine minutes and 20 seconds when they reached the 35km to go mark.
Boaro lept from the break as they neared the top of the Lamon climb, which was 7.4km long, and crossed the top first.
The Italian had a maximum lead of 13 seconds on the rest, before he drifted back to the break with 20km remaining.
They were all together as they made their way to the final climb, which was 13.6km long and averaged 5.6%.
Canola, who is competing in his third Giro d’Italia, attacked under the 15km banner and gained 18 seconds on the rest.
Chaves, Vendrame, Serry and Bidard formed a chasing group and almost immediately caught the lone leader.
The group remained together until the final attacks, which resulted in Chaves winning the stage.
“I’m really happy, I cannot describe in words especially in English. It’s unbelievable, you’re crying, everyone is crying, it’s a beautiful day,” said the stage winner.
Richard Carapaz (Movistar Team) held on to the maglia rosa.
Tomorrow’s penultimate stage consists of a 194km route from Feltre to Croce d’Aune Monte Avena.