The Movistar rider finished the 194km stage 20 in fourth, only four seconds behind stage winner Pello Bilbao (5:46:02), and in the same group as his closest rival for the title, Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida).
More importantly, the Ecuadorian was able to put more time into Jumbo-Visma’s Primoz Roglic, who will be a threat to all the riders ahead of him in the general classification in tomorrow’s individual time-trial.
Roglic won both time-trials – stage one and nine – in this year’s Giro and is expected to gain time on his rivals in his strongest discipline.
Carapaz will take a lead of 1:54 over Nibali (second) and 3:06 over Slovenian Roglic (fourth) into the 17km test against the clock in Verona and, by all accounts, that should be enough. Movistar’s Mikel Landa, who is third overall, 2:53 behind the pink jersey, is not expected to trouble Nibali or Carapaz.
Astana’s Miguel Angel Lopez, sixth overall, was able to retain his position and the young rider’s jersey after he was knocked off his bike by a spectator on the lower slopes of the final climb. Television images showed a frustrated Lopez take a swipe at the offender before remounting his bicycle and chasing the leaders.
He was however unable to make up lost ground and lost just under two minutes on Carapaz. It possibly also cost him the opportunity of catching Trek-Segafredo’s Bauke Mollema (fifth) in the overall standings as he finished the day just under a minute and a half down on the Dutchman.
With Nibali setting the pace, the Italian, Carapaz and Landa were able to gap Roglic and the other GC contenders on the descent before the final climb and they never recovered.
Nibali also attacked several times on the last climb in an effort to get rid of the Movistar duo but was unable to break them.
Carapaz said afterwards the team tried to get Landa to win the stage and keep the maglia rosa but they missed out by a small window.
“We are, however, still happy with the outcome today.”