Pink leader Nairo Quintana emerged victorious during the 2014 Giro d'Italia's uphill time trial on Friday, winning Stage 19 comfortably and all but ensuring himself of the overall win.
|1||Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Movistar Team)||1:05:37|
|2||Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team)||+17|
|3||Rigoberto Uran (Quick Step-Omega Pharma)||+1:26|
|4||Pierre Roland (Europcar)||+1:57|
|5||Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R)||+2:24|
|6||Franco Pellizotti (Androni)||+3:22|
|7||Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo)||+3:28|
|8||Sebastian Henao (Team Sky)||+3:48|
|9||Tim Wellens (Lotto)||+4:00|
|10||Dario Cataldo (Team Sky)||+4:10|
With just two stages left, the Colombian now holds a huge lead over Fabio Aru and Rigoberto Uran, and the 24-year-old looks primed to win his very first major tour win of his career.
|1||Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Movistar Team)||79:06:45|
|2||Rigoberto Uran Uran (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team)||+3:07|
|3||Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team)||+3:48|
|4||Pierre Roland (Team Europcar)||+5:26|
|5||Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondiale)||+6:16|
|6||Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo)||+6:59|
|7||Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team)||+9:25|
|8||Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin Sharp)||+9:29|
|9||Wilco Kelderman (Belkin Pro Cycling Team)||+10:11|
|10||Robert Kiserlovski (Trek Factory Racing)||+13:59|
Via The Sun's Alex Terrell, Jos van Emden felt like Friday's stage was the perfect opportunity for him to propose to his girlfriend:
But possibly the best story of the day is of Belkin's Jos van Emden hopping off his bike mid-ride to propose to his partner. She said yes.— Alex Terrell (@alxterrell) May 30, 2014
Stage 19 was an uphill time trial and would give an opportunity to some of the specialists in both categories (time trial and climbing) to gain some ground on the leader for the pink jersey, Quintana.
As expected, the heavy climb up Cima Grappa made for a clear divider between the contenders and the pretenders in the 2014 Giro, with the best overall time seemingly changing with every new finish.
Belgium's Tim Wellens, who has enjoyed an excellent campaign so far, became the first rider to really set a target for the rest of the pack, diving under the 1:10:00 mark, as shared by the official twitter account of Lotto Belisol:
Cadel Evans, Uran and Quintana all departed during Wellens' climb, setting the stage for an epic finale. The Australian had a lot of ground to make up on his Colombian opponents, and he had a word of advice for the fans:
If you're on Monte Grappa for the TT today, please stand back and 'enjoy the action' - don't 'be a part of it'. #giro14— Cadel Evans (@CadelOfficial) May 30, 2014
Uran had the best start of the three, as the time trial-specialist gained 16 seconds on the leader, as shared by OPQS Cycling team:
The Crankset Blog seemed to think Uran displayed the best technique in the flat sections, making full use of the advantages of a time trial bike. The stage would be decided in the climb, however, with just a 16-second advantage for the challenger:
Uran on the clip-ons. Quintana not so much. Uran, if he has the power numbers, is doing it right. #giro— The Crankset Blog (@thecrankset) May 30, 2014
Italian youngster Fabio Aru seemed undeterred by the climb, meanwhile, setting the fastest time at the second split up until that point after losing nearly a minute at the first split.
This was bad news for compatriot Domenico Pozzovivo, who needed a big result in Friday's stage to keep his chances at a podium finish alive.
Aru couldn't enjoy his lead for very long, however, as race leader Quintana showed everyone why he started the stage in pink. With 10 km to go, the Colombian held a 20-second lead over the Italian, as shared by Mikkel Conde:
Quintana is 20 seconds faster than Aru with 10 km to go. #giro— Mikkel Condé v2.0 (@mrconde) May 30, 2014
Chasing Quintana on the leaderboard, it quickly became apparent that, while Uran was riding a strong race, he simply was no match for either Quintana or Aru on the slopes of Cima Grappa.
With a difference of 36 seconds in favour of the pink jersey, it seemed like Quintana had overcome the final obstacle on his way to Giro d'Italia glory.
Evans never even cracked the 1:10:00 mark and fell out of the top five again, as the Australian finally showed his age during the 2014 Giro.
Pozzovivo briefly took the lead with a time of 1:08:01, but it was clear Aru and Quintana would pulverise that time. Aru's time of 1:05:54 was beyond impressive, and the 23-year-old Italian looks like he could dominate the field for years to come.
It won't be in 2014, however, as Quintana beat his final time by 17 seconds, all but ending the race for the Giro's pink jersey.
Quintana has ridden a very complete Giro, hardly losing any time on Uran and Evans during the early time trials and taking advantage of weaknesses from both in the mountains.
The Colombian told the Associated Press how happy he was with the way the tour had played out for him, praising both his teammates and the fans:
I am very happy with how things are going, there is a good atmosphere, there is joy in the team. Also the Italians are cheering me on, they are supporting me during the race, I am very happy with the warmth that we are feeling on the Giro route.
The riders will face one final stage in the mountains on Saturday, and event organisers have saved the best for last—a narrow climb up the Zoncolan. The climb will favour smaller climbers like Quintana, however, and, barring a catastrophic event, the Colombian should survive comfortably.
Stage 21 to Trieste is little more than a flat race that will allow the overall winners to smile for the cameras, so don't expect any big changes on the leaderboard in the coming days.