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GIRO’23 Stage 19: Stage Win for Buitrago-Thomas Saves Pink!

The last mountain stage

Stage Report: Santiago Buitrago won the nineteenth stage of the Giro d’Italia. The Colombian of Bahrain Victorious was part of the break of the day and proved to be the strongest on the final climb to Tre Cime di Lavaredo. His fellow escapee Derek Gee took his fourth second place of this Giro. Primoz Roglič managed to take 3 seconds back on Geraint Thomas with a final effort, João Almeida lost time.

Giro d’Italia 2023 | Stage 19 | Last KM

The stage 19 route
A colossal stage across the Dolomites, featuring five consecutive climbs linked with no pause for breath. After travelling up the Val Cordevole (through Belluno, Agordo and Alleghe), the route climbs the Campolongo, Valparola, Giau and Tre Croci passes, before taking on the closing climb to Rifugio Auronzo. The roads are in excellent condition and quite wide, with some well lit tunnels in the first part. The climbs feature many hairpins, and the descents are fast and technical, on average.

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Final kilometres
The final ascent is really challenging. The road rises with maximum 18% gradients over the first 1.5km, becomes a false flat at Lago di Antorno and then descends quickly to the 4km marker (the roadway narrows at the end of the descent, as the route passes the toll gate). The pitch hovers around 12% in the last 4km, topping out at 18% in the closing part. The finish line sits on a 400m long and 7m wide asphalt straight, with a 12.5% gradient.

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Another day in pink for Geraint Thomas

On the approach to the mountains the road gradually started to go up more and more, Veljko Stojnić (Corratec-Selle Italia) and Larry Warbasse (AG2R Citroën) managed to take a gap. The two were ahead of the pack for a while, but the many attacks didn’t stop in the peloton. Warbasse’s teammate Alex Baudin and Derek Gee were able to cross. Magnus Cort also succeeded a little later.

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Primoz Roglič thinking how to beat Thomas

Next to make the jump were Nicolas Prodhomme, Vadim Pronskiy, Patrick Konrad and Davide Gabburo. Some riders from INEOS Grenadiers, Jumbo-Visma and UAE Team Emirates also wanted to join the group, but the teams of the GC men neutralised each other’s attacks. Santiago Buitrago was able to connect, just like Michael Hepburn and Stefano Oldani. Mattia Bais, José Joaquín Rojas and Carlos Verona after a long chase. There were fifteen riders in the break.

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The Giro competition leaders

Peace returned to the peloton and they allowed the break to extend their lead to about 5 minutes. Before the Passo Campolonga really started, Ben Healy, second in the King of the Mountains classification, attacked. This led to a reaction from blue jersey wearer Thibaut Pinot. The Frenchman, who is also 7th overall, closed the gap, after which the two shook hands and dropped back to the peloton again. Healy was not finished, a few kilometres later the Irishman went again.

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Thibaut Pinot in the KOM jersey at the start

This time Pinot was straight on Healy’s wheel, so he didn’t get anywhere. Again the two came back to the already thinned peloton. The bunch then gave more space to the leading group: on the Passo Valparola the difference increased to 8 minutes. Stojnić was dropped, while Verona crashed due to the AG2R team car hitting him from behind. He was able to continue.

The break eventually got together

The break didn’t get much more than 8 minutes due Jayco AlUla started to chase in the peloton. Eddie Dunbar’s 4th place was in danger due to Buitrago in the leading group. The Colombian was just over eight minutes behind the Irishman. UAE Team Emirates also contributed to the pursuit, but when the difference was reduced, both teams left the work to INEOS Grenadiers again.

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The bunch let them go

On the Passo Giau Verona accelerated. Buitrago, Gee, Hepburn and Cort joined him on the climb, followed by Prodhomme and Pronskiy on the descent. Warbasse, Oldani, Konrad and Gabburo also eventually got back. In the favourites group nothing happened. Would it come on the Passo Tre Croci? The seven up front looked like they would compete for the stage victory as the started the climb with an advantage of 6:30.

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Healy put in two cheeky attacks, but Pinot didn’t want to lose his KOM jersey and chased him down

At the start of the climb, Warbasse attacked. The American rode ahead for a while, but Buitrago then closed the gap with Cort on his wheel. Warbasse was dropped immediately, Gee was able to return as did the surprisingly strong Hepburn. There were now four leaders. Meanwhile, the peloton had also started the climb, but not after Primoz Roglič had changed bikes.

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Santiago Buitrago made it into the break to move up the ‘virtual’ GC

The GC peloton didn’t set the race on fire for a long time

It looked like it was all going to happen on the climb to Tre Cime di Lavaredo as nothing happed amongst the favourites on the Passo Tre Croci either. Everything was still possible at the front, because on the plateau between the two climbs, the leading group grew again. Hepburn didn’t like it and put the pressure on again. It was the same riders who could follow: Buitrago, Cort and Gee. The Canadian saw his moment with 7 kilometres to go and took off.

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The stage winner would come from the break

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The break was getting smaller

Buitrago lagged behind the Canadian for a long time. He didn’t lose ground, but he didn’t get any closer either. At 1.5 kilometres from the finish, the Colombian closed the gap and immediately left Gee behind. The Bahrain Victorious rider managed to keep up his effort to the finish-line. Like last year, when he also had a stage victory in the Giro d’Italia. Gee finished second for the fourth time in this Giro.

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The last big descent of the 2023 Giro d’Italia

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Gee looked like he would take the stage

The favourites stayed together for a long time on the final climb. Eddie Dunbar had to let go about 2 kilometres from the line, but little else happened. João Almeida took the lead, but there was no split. Primož Roglič attacked just over 1 kilometre from the finish. This did cause some damage, but Geraint Thomas returned easily. Almeida also rejoined again and took the lead. Damiano Caruso and Thymen Arensman also managed to pull them selves back.

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Buitrago had something left in his legs for the last kilometre

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Roglič and Thomas were an even match for each other

Five hundred meters from the finish, it was pink jersey wearer Thomas who gave it a kick. Roglič struggled to close the gap, Almeida cracked. The Slovenian returned, then lost some metres, but eventually went past the Welshman of INEOS Grenadiers. Roglič gained 3 seconds on his biggest competitor for the overall victory. He crossed the line in fourth, just behind Magnus Cort, who took the bonus seconds from him. Thomas finished fifth. Almeida came in sixth and lost 23 seconds to Roglič.

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A tough stage win for Santiago Buitrago

Stage winner, Santiago Buitrago Sanchez (Bahrain Victorious): “It’s an epic victory, on a perfect day. I am very happy because I fought so hard to get into the breakaway. To win in front of this crowd is something special. It was a good Giro for our team, with two stage wins. I am very happy.”

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Three seconds for Roglič over Thomas

The Maglia Rosa, Geraint Thomas (INEOS Grenadiers): “I think it was a difficult day, especially for the altitude. I tried in the final km but Roglič came back well and I’ve lost a couple of seconds on the line. Tomorrow it will be great to watch, horrible to do.”

It’s all down to the time trial on Saturday

# Stay PEZ for the final Giro weekend. #

Giro d’Italia Stage 19 Result:
1. Santiago Buitrago (Col) Bahrain Victorious in 5:28:07
2. Derek Gee (Can) Israel-Premier Tech at 0:51
3. Magnus Cort (Den) EF Education-EasyPost at 1:46
4. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma
5. Geraint Thomas (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 1:49
6. João Almeida (Por) UAE Team Emirates at 2:09
7. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious
8. Thymen Arensman (Ned) INEOS Grenadiers
9. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 2:16
10. Einer Augusto Rubio (Col) Movistar at 2:26.

Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 19:
1. Geraint Thomas (GB) INEOS Grenadiers in 81:55:47
2. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma at 0:26
3. João Almeida (Por) UAE Team Emirates at 0:59
4. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious at 4:11
5. Eddie Dunbar (Itl) Jayco AlUla at 4:53
6. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 5:10
7. Thymen Arensman (Ned) INEOS Grenadiers at 5:13
8. Lennard Kämna (Ger) BORA-hansgrohe at 5:54
9. Andreas Leknessund (Nor) DSM at 6:08
10. Laurens De Plus (Bel) INEOS Grenadiers at 7:30.

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