Carapaz On Brink Of Giro Victory As Tempers Fray On Eve Of Finish

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Richard Carapaz closed in on his first Giro d'Italia triumph on Saturday after keeping hold of the leader's pink jersey in a tumultuous 20th and penultimate stage that saw Miguel Angel  Lopez lash out at a spectator who knocked him over.

Ecuadorian Carapaz gave nothing to his rivals on the summit finish at Monte
Avena after the 193km ride through the northern Dolomites mountains where Astana rider Pello Bilbao snatched the stage victory.

Movistar rider Carapaz, whose expected Giro win would be his first Grand Tour victory, even helped teammate Mikel Landa in the final climb before the Spaniard lost out to compatriot Bilbao.

Landa finished second with Carapaz fourth.

The South American leads former two-time winner Vincenzo Nibali of Italy by 1min 54sec in the overall standings -- a lead that has never been overtaken in the final time-trial stage.

Landa moved third 2min 53sec adrift at the expense of Slovenian Primoz Roglic, who is 3min 06sec adrift.

"I'm already thinking about tomorrow and that 1min 54sec gap we're holding," said Carapaz ahead of Sunday's final stage which finishes in Verona's Roman amphitheatre.

"I think it should be enough, yet anything can happen into a race. The only thing I hope from tomorrow: enjoying the day to the fullest. The entire team did a remarkable job."

It was a heated final day in the mountains. Roglic picked up a 10-second penalty after a fan pushed him for over 15 seconds along the narrow roads at Croce d'Aune.

Astana rider Lopez lashed out twice at a spectator who made him crash as he headed into the final climb at Monte Avena.

A clearly frustrated Lopez got back on another bicycle but finished in 18th position, 1min 49sec behind Spanish teammate Bilbao.

"The fans should have more respect," fumed Colombian Lopez, who is trying to defend his white jersey as the best young rider. "I am sorry for my emotions, but in the rush of the race, especially in
final of the queen stage it is hard to control it. It's pity I lost my chances today because this situation happened."

Historic Win

Bilbao's success, his second of this year's Giro after stage seven, was a boost for his Astana outfit after Lopez's mishap.

"My first win was special," he said. "This second is even better than the first one because it's a big mountain stage. When the GC riders caught us I thought it would be hard but they were tired too," added the Spaniard.

Carapaz, Landa and Lopez were the strongest in the main climb of the day, the Manghen Pass, where they gained up to 15 seconds on their rivals Nibali and Roglic. 

A breakaway group of seven riders formed in the final two climbs with French rider Valentin Madouas attacking with 16km to go before being reeled in at the Croce d'Aune.

But Carapaz was in a generous mood up Monte Avena, the final climb of the Giro over 6.9km and with a 7.3 percent gradient.

"We've tried to win the stage with Mikel Landa as well as myself to retain the Maglia Rosa (pink jersey) but we've missed out by very little," said Carapaz. 

"I knew that Carapaz would try to give the win to Mikel Landa so I followed the best wheel," said Bilbao.

Carapaz is now poised to become the first Ecudorian to win a Grand Tour after last year becoming the first to win a stage on the Giro d'Italia.

The 26-year-old would be the second rider from the Andes to win the Giro after Colombian Nairo Quintana in 2014.

"Right now I can't express how I feel," said the Ecuadorian. "These days are a sensation and a situation I haven't experienced before. My family, my wife and kids, have come over from Ecuador to live this moment together with me, and now it's only one stage left. 

"I'm emotional and happy with everything the boys have done for me. It's been a spectacular Giro d'Italia from the whole team, a really tough race, yet with a spectacular performance from all members."

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The second monument of 2020 arrives on the second weekend of the season's resumption. Milano-Sanremo, often known as the sprinter’s classic is much less straightforward than the nickname implies.

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Russian Vlasov Wins French Mountain Challenge

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Russian champion Aleksandr Vlasov of Astana won the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge on Thursday following his third in last weekend's Route d'Occitanie.

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How To Watch: 2020 Criterium du Dauphine

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Here's how to watch the 2020 Criterium du Dauphine on FloBikes.

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Wout van Aert opened up his 2020 2.0 account with a big win at Strade Bianche. The Belgian’s performance at Strade Bianche showed that he clearly came out of lockdown with a lot of strength and fortitude, but he has also shown signs of a return to sprinting form.

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The first stage of the Tour of Poland ended in a horror crash on Wednesday which saw Dutch rider Fabio Jakobsen thrown over a barrier at 80km/h while others crumbled to the ground in a desperate attempt to avoid a pile-up.

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All Access: Warbasse's Sketchy Strade Bianche

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Defending Tour de France champion Egan Bernal secured the overall victory in the Route d'Occitanie on Tuesday, underlining his prowess ahead of cycling's most prestigious race which starts later this month.

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Bernal Triumphs In Pre-Tour Mountain Test

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Team Ineos' defending Tour de France champion Egan Bernal marked out his territory on Monday climbing to a summit finish victory on stage three of the French Route d'Occitanie.

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Kuss Eyes Explosive Tour Route

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The planned start of the Tour de France from Copenhagen, scheduled for 2021, has been pushed back to 2022 to avoid an overlap of sporting events disrupted by Covid-19, the city's mayor said Monday.

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Chasing The Pros: Piazza del Campo Party

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Italian sprinter Sonny Colbrelli of the Bahrain-McLaren team won a bunch sprint on stage two of the four-day French Route d'Occitanie race on Sunday after a 174.5km run from Carcassonne to Cap Decouverte.

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How to Watch: 2020 Challenge du Mont Ventoux

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Here's how to watch the 2020 Challenge du Mont Ventoux on FloBikes.