Richard Carapaz takes Giro d’Italia lead after frenetic Stage 14

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TURIN, Italy — Race favorite Richard Carapaz claimed the overall lead of the Giro d’Italia in an action-packed Stage 14, which was won by Simon Yates.

Carapaz, the Ecuadorian rider who won the Giro in 2019 then the Olympic gold last year, attacked on the steep climb to Superga with nearly 30 kilometers (19 miles) to go then had to hang on when Jai Hindley, Vincenzo Nibali and Yates caught him on the penultimate ascent to Colle Della Maddalena.

Yates surged on the final small climb to Parco del Nobile and immediately created a gap on Hindley, Carapaz and Nibali.

Yates, the British rider with the BikeExchange-Jayco team, finished 15 seconds ahead of Hindley, Carapaz and Nibali, who all crossed the line together, after nearly four hours.

It was the second victory in this Giro for Yates, who also won the individual time trial in stage two, and his sixth overall at the Italian Grand Tour.

Yates fell out of overall contention during the ninth stage that finished atop the fearsome Blockhaus climb.

“My original plan was to make the breakaway today but it didn’t work that way,” Yates said. “In the final move I had the advantage of not racing for GC (general classification) anymore.”

The 147-kilometer (91-mile) route from Santena to Turin included two ascents of the Superga and Maddalena hills in a challenging two-lap circuit in the second half of the stage, which resembled a single-day classic.

With the temperature soaring to 34 C (93 F) and a frenetic pace right from the start, the overall standings were completely rewritten.

Carapaz, who rides for the powerful Ineos Grenadiers team, leads Hindley by seven seconds, and Joao Almeida was third overall, 30 seconds back.

“Now we’ll try to defend the maglia rosa (pink jersey),” Carapaz said. “I didn’t remember that I also took it on stage 14 three years ago but I’m glad to do it again.”

Juan Pedro Lopez, the Spanish rider who wore the pink jersey for 10 days, was dropped when Carapaz attacked on Superga. He’s ninth, more than four minutes behind.

Tom Dumoulin, the 2017 Giro winner, abandoned midway through the stage after struggling with back pain recently.

In 1949, the Superga hill was the tragic crash site of the plane carrying the entire Torino soccer team.

Stage 15 is a 178-kilometer (111-mile) leg from Rivarolo Canavese to Cogne that features three long climbs, including an uphill finish.

The Giro ends next weekend in Verona.

Thomas sees Giro d’Italia lead cut slightly by Roglič; Buitrago wins Stage 19

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TRE CIME DI LAVAREDO, Italy — Geraint Thomas maintained his bid to become the oldest Giro d’Italia champion although his lead was cut slightly by Primož Roglič during the toughest stage of the race.

Roglič crossed the summit finish of the so-called “Queen Stage” three seconds ahead of Thomas at the end of the race’s final mountain road leg.

There were no flat sections and five tough, classified climbs on the 114-mile route from Longarone to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, which had gradients of up to 18%.

Stage 19 was won by Santiago Buitrago, who finished 51 seconds ahead of Derek Gee and 1 minute, 46 seconds ahead of Magnus Cort and Roglič, who just missed out on bonus seconds.

“I’m really happy with this victory. It was the most difficult moment of a difficult Giro for me personally,” said Buitrago, who rides for Bahrain Victorious. “I wanted to try and raise my arms before the end and coming here at Tre Cime di Lavaredo is amazing.

“This is the recompense for all the work that I’ve done. … There’s a lot of motivation for me and the whole team having seen the fruits of our labors.”

The 37-year-old Thomas, who rides for Ineos Grenadiers, is 26 seconds ahead of Roglič going into what will be a decisive penultimate stage

Third-placed João Almeida lost more time and was 59 seconds behind Thomas.

Roglič changed his bicycle shortly before the start of the penultimate climb and he made his move inside the final kilometer. However, Thomas was able to stick to his wheel and the British cyclist made his own attack in the final 500 meters and looked to have slightly distanced his rival.

But Roglič came back and gained what could be a vital few seconds.

The winner will likely be decided in the mountain time trial that ends in a demanding climb up Monte Lussari, with an elevation of over 3,000 feet and gradients of up to 22%.

“Tomorrow we go full again,” Roglič said. “It’s good. We got a bit of legs back, so tomorrow we go full, eh?

“If I wouldn’t be confident then I don’t start. The best one at the end wins.”

The race ends in a mostly ceremonial finish in Rome, where Thomas could beat the age record held by Fiorenzo Magni, who was 34 when he won in 1955.

Thomas celebrates 37th birthday by retaining Giro d’Italia lead; Roglic into 2nd

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VAL DI ZOLDO, Italy — Geraint Thomas celebrated his 37th birthday with another strong ride in the mountains to retain the pink jersey during Stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia.

Thomas crossed immediately behind Primoz Roglic, who moved up from third place to second.

“The legs have been good,” Thomas said. “Need to enjoy these moments.”

Joao Almeida dropped from second to third overall after losing 21 seconds over the 100-mile route from Oderzo to Val di Zoldo, which included two first-category climbs followed by two second-category climbs in the finale – including an uphill finish.

Thomas – the 2018 Tour de France champion – leads Roglic by 29 seconds and Almeida by 39 seconds.

“It’s a pleasant day. I take time on Almeida and didn’t get dropped by Primoz,” Thomas said. “I felt pretty good, always under control but Primoz obviously went hard. It wasn’t easy. … I just want to be consistent until the end.”

Italian champion Filippo Zanna won the stage ahead of fellow breakaway rider Thibaut Pinot in a two-man sprint.

With only two more climbing stages remaining before the mostly ceremonial finish in Rome, Thomas is poised to become the oldest Giro winner in history – beating the record of Fiorenzo Magni, who was 34 when he won in 1955.

Chris Horner holds the record for oldest Grand Tour champion, set when he won the Spanish Vuelta in 2013 at 41.

However, Thomas will still be tested over the next two days.

Stage 19 is considered perhaps the race’s toughest, a 114-mile leg from Longarone to Tre Cime Di Lavaredo featuring five major climbs. Then there’s a mountain time trial.