Astana's Fabio Aru regained a small measure of time and a large measure of stature with a solo attack to win the 19th stage of the Giro d'Italia at the Cervinia ski resort in the shadow of the Matterhorn. Aru went for the glory with an attack on the road to the finishing station, dropping race leader Alberto Contador of Tinkoff-Saxo and his Astana teammate Mikel Landa, placed second overall, to win the stage by over a minute, enough to swap positions on GC with Landa.
Giovanni Visconti of Movistar escaped from an early break after the day's first ascent and scooped up the top points prize at the next two KOMs, putting him in contention for the climber's jersey. Holder Steven Kruijswijk did manage to collect secondary points, but had lost control of his jersey by the start of the final climb to Visconti, who was reeled in at the start of the climb to Cervinia. Tomorrow's stage includes the largest cache of KOM points, the Cima Coppi, so the battle for the maglia azzurra is likely to come down to the very end.
Ryder Hesjedal opened hostilities on the Cervinia road but was kept in sight by the Astana riders massing on the front. With 7km remaining Aru launched an attack, and another one, to get away from the group, which was quickly narrowed down to Contador, Landa, Kruijswijk and Leo Konig of Sky. Contador did not respond, preferring to shadow Landa, who began the day 5:15 in arrears of the Spaniard, 50 seconds closer to threatening Contador than Aru. Landa, with a teammate up the road, chose to stay put and take one for the team.
Up ahead, Aru briefly made contact with Hesjedal, but the Sardinian had grown wings and wasted no time going up the road alone. Tongue wagging, standing out of the saddle and rocking the bike furiously from side to side, Aru gained 45 seconds pretty quickly, then a minute as Rigoberto Uran attacked the Contador group. Hesjedal remained alone in second, well ahead of Uran, but nobody could reel in the Sardinian. Aru hammered his way home on the lesser slopes of the final kilometer, pumping his fists and banging his bars in joy as he crossed the line. Hesjedal was next, then Uran, and Landa's teammate Tanel Kangert led the favorites home ahead of Kruijswijk, Contador and Landa.
Ultimately the stage changes the overall picture very little, except with respect to the KOM jersey, plus the odd shuffling of minor GC ranks. The points jersey is clearly now a battle between sprinters Sacha Modolo and Giacomo Nizzolo (currently in red), to be determined Sunday. The maglia rosa will stay with Contador until someone figures out a way to add five minutes or so to his time, and the battle will be for second only -- between two teammates. Andrey Amador held on to fourth place, but lost over a minute, and no longer threatens to sneak on to the podium. The maglia bianca prize -- best young rider -- is sitting on a shelf in Milan waiting for Aru to claim in two days' time.
- Fabio Aru, Astana, 6.27.13
- Ryder Hesjedal, Cannondale, +0.28
- Rigoberto Uran, Etixx-Quick Step, +1.10
- Tanel Kangert, Astana, +1.18
- Steven Kruijswijk, Lotto-Jumbo, s.t.
- Alberto Contador, Tinkoff-Saxo, s.t.
- Mikel Landa, Astana, s.t.
- Leopold König, Sky +1.21
- Mikel Nieve, Sky +1.24
- Alexandre Geniez, FDJ, +2.24
- Contador, 78:48:40
- Aru, +4:37
- Landa, +5:15
- Andrey Amador, Movistar, +8:10
- König, +10:47
- Yuri Trofimov, Katyusha, +11:11
- Hesjedal, +12:05
- Damiano Caruso, BMC Racing, +12:14
- Kruijswijk, +12:53
- Geniez, +15:07
- Giovanni Visconti, Movistar, 125 points
- Kruijswijk, 109
- Benat Intxausti, Movistar, 107