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The 2019 Giro d’Italia was a back weighted grand tour. The final ten days of the tour were so daunting that the favorites allowed massive breakaways to steal the show on many of the intermediate stages.
When the mountains came on stage 12, Primoz Roglic and Vincenzo Nibali were the two clear favorites for the maglia rosa, yet they remained cautious to not overextend themselves before the third week.
The conservative and perhaps narrow focused tactics displayed by Roglic and Nibali ultimately opened the door for another rider to steal the show.
Read on to preview the most decisive and iconic mountain stages of the 2019 Giro.
Stage 13 Pinerolo to Ceresole Reale
Stage 13 was the first summit finish of the 2019 Giro d’Italia. The stage was won by Ilnur Zakarin, but in hindsight the biggest winner of the day would prove to be Richard Carapaz.
Carapaz launched a perfectly timed attack to ride away from Primoz Roglic and Vincenzo Nibali, who were locked in a stalemate on the climb to Lago Serru. Nibali was focused solely on Roglic, who appeared to be the strongest challenger for the maglia rosa. Roglic however was beginning to show signs of fatigue as the duo marked each other between the snowbanks of Ceresole Reale.
Nibali and Roglic’s negative tactics allowed Carapaz to finish over a minute ahead of them. Nobody knew at the time how consequential stage 13 would prove to be.
Stage 14 Saint Vincent to Courmayeur
The mountainous stage 14 finished in the shadow of Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco) and sent shockwaves through the general classification.
Richard Carapaz powered away from the lead group on the penultimate climb, then produced the best 25 kilometers of his career to hold off the chasing pack of favorites by a significant margin.
Carapaz took the lead of the race that day and finally earned the full attention of his rivals.
Stage 16 Mortirolo Lovere to Ponte di Legno
Stage 16 was supposed to include the legendary Passo Gavia, however the 2019 Giro had been plagued by cold and rainy weather throughout much of the tour. That same rainy weather in the southern stages was resulting in consistent dumping of snow on top of the Gavia.
In the days leading up to stage 16, it became clear that the peloton would be unable to pass over the Gavia. Despite the absence of the year’s Cima Coppi climb, the stage still offered some of the most epic racing of the tour.
The images of the frozen peloton cresting the infamous Mortirolo as the skies opened up were iconic.
Stage 16 is simply a must-watch.
Stage 19 Treviso to San Martino di Castrozza
Stage 19 finished at the top of a massive category two climb. The climb itself is technically only 13 kilometers long, but the final 31 kilometers are effectively all uphill to San Martino di Castrozza.
The stage provided a heart warming finale as Esteban Chaves was swarmed by his family immediately after he soloed across the finish line.
Esteban Chaves won the stage through sheer tenacity and determination. Chaves repeatedly attacked his breakaway companions on the final climb until they could no longer respond.
The victory marked a new chapter in Chaves’ career. The Colombian was on fantastic form during the 2018 Giro, but halfway through the race he fell apart. Chaves managed to finish the Giro, but something was clearly wrong. Chaves was eventually diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus and did not compete for the remainder of the 2018 season.
Chaves’ victory in San Martino di Castrozza was an emotional one. It was plain to see how hard he fought, not only on that mountain, but throughout the past year.
Watching Esteban Chaves celebrate with his family might just be what the world needs right now.