LAVARONE, Italy — Race favorite Richard Carapaz maintained his slim overall lead of the Giro d’Italia after a tough Stage 17 which was won by Santiago Buitrago for his first grand tour victory.
Carapaz remained three seconds ahead of 2020 runner-up Jai Hindley – with just four days of racing remaining – after both crossed the line together at the end of the 168-kilometer (104-mile) route from Ponte di Legno to Lavarone, which packed in almost 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) of climbing.
Mikel Landa finished six seconds behind the duo but moved into third overall, 1 minute and five seconds behind Carapaz. He surpassed Joao Almeida who was dropped on the second of the two top-category climbs that came in the final 40 kilometers of the race.
“It’s been a really hard stage,” said Carapaz, who rides for the powerful Ineos Grenadiers team. “I think we’re happy, every day everything is being defined a bit more, everything is clearing up in the (general classification) and I’m happy to have the jersey for another day.”
Buitrago had been in tears after finishing second in Stage 15. There were more tears from the Colombian cyclist, but this time of joy after soloing to victory.
The 22-year-old recovered from a crash halfway through the day to get back to the breakaway and then launched his attack towards the top of the final climb, cresting it alone and speeding down the final eight kilometers.
Buitrago, who rides for Team Bahrain Victorious, finished 35 seconds ahead of Gijs Leemreize – who had been leading on the steep climb to Monterovere – and 2:28 ahead of Jan Hirt.
“I’m really emotional. It’s my first Giro,” Buitrago said. “I needed to have a cold head on the final climb . I felt like I had the legs and I wanted to try and I went for it. I knew I had to go over on my own to try and win the stage.”
Stage 18 should see a sprint finish after a flat circuit around Treviso at the end of a 156-kilometer (97-mile) route from Borgo Valsugana, that includes two fourth-category climbs.
“Tomorrow will still be an important day,” Carapaz said. “We have to get through the remaining days, no day is easy and we’ve got a really difficult weekend coming up.”