SANTUARIO DI CASTELMONTE, Italy (AP) — Dutch cyclist Koen Bouwman won the penultimate mountain stage of the Giro d’Italia on Friday and Richard Carapaz kept the pink jersey heading into the final two days.
Bouwman, who rides for Team Jumbo–Visma, edged Mauro Schmid and Alessandro Tonelli in a sprint to the line at the end of the 19th stage an incident on the final corner.
Schmid complained that Bouwman cut him off around the final corner, causing him to force Andrea Vendrame and Attila Valter wide when they were also vying for the stage win.
“In my opinion it was not a fair sprint, pretty clear, because my handlebars were still in front and he nearly crashed in the last corner. He just knows that he’s slower in the sprint so he pushed me away,” Schmid said. “You’ll see when you watch the last 100 metres, I can do nothing.
“It was not fair in my opinion. Second place is first loser, so I’m not happy with that. I had it in the legs today.”
It was a second victory in this Giro for Bouwman after he also won the seventh stage for his second ever professional win.
“After my first victory I said it would be really nice if I could have another one, but then I also said I need to be realistic, it was only my second victory as a pro,” Bouwman said. “Now, winning two stages in the Giro, wow, I’m just so happy.
“I knew there was a corner to the left but I didn’t know it was this sharp. I had to brake quite hard and I knew I had to take the inside. I don’t know if anyone crashed and otherwise I will be sorry for that.”
The 178-kilometer (111-mile) route from Marano Lagunare had four classified climbs, including the second-category ascent up to the summit finish at Santuario di Castelmonte. The stage also crossed briefly into Slovenia.
A breakaway of 12 riders went early and was allowed to build a large advantage of about 10 minutes. That broke up on the top-category Kolovrat climb and there were only five escapees remaining on the descent.
There were attacks behind in the general classification group, towards the top of the final climb, but nothing stuck and the main rivals crossed together, nearly four minutes behind Bouwman.
Carapaz, the 2019 champion and Olympic gold medalist in Tokyo, remained three seconds ahead of 2020 runner-up Jai Hindley and 1:05 ahead of Mikel Landa in third.
There was bad news for Carapaz, however, as Ineos Grenadiers teammate Richie Porte — his main support rider in the mountains — had to pull out of the Giro with sickness early in the stage.
“Truth is, it’s been a really difficult day,” Carapaz said. “I’m really disappointed about Richie, it’s unlucky. But the team is doing a good job and of course we’re dealing with everything the best we can. We’re all at a great level.
“It was a little bit give and take today but we’re all pretty much on the same level at the top.”
All could be decided on the race’s penultimate leg on Saturday. The 20th stage has been given the maximum difficulty rating of five stars and features three grueling climbs: the Passo San Pellegrino, the Passo Pordoi — which is the race’s highest point — and the final Passo Fedaia to the foot of the Marmolada glacier at the end of the 168-kilometer (104-mile) route from Belluno.
“Tomorrow is a good day, it’s at altitude, which I like,” said Carapaz, who prepared for the Giro with altitude training in his home country of Ecuador.
The Giro ends on Sunday in Verona with an individual time trial.
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