Wilco Kelderman retained his pink leader’s jersey on Friday without any problems in the chaotic nineteenth stage of the Giro d’Italia. Josef Cerný soloed to victory in a stage that was shortened from 258 to 124 kilometers after a protest by the riders.
Cerný drove 22 kilometers from the finish from a leading group that originally consisted of fourteen riders. The CCC time trial rider held up well until the finish in Asti. The Belgian Victor Campenaerts finished second in eighteenth seconds.
Kelderman, just like his competitors, entered the peloton, which crossed the line just under twelve minutes after Cerný. The rosette wearer still has a lead of twelve seconds on his teammate Jai Hindley, fifteen seconds on Tao Geoghegan Hart and 1 minute and 19 seconds on Pello Bilbao.
The last mountain stage of this Giro is scheduled for Saturday. The riders have to climb three times to Sestriere in the last 80 kilometers. The final climb is 6.9 kilometers long and has an average gradient of 7.2 percent. The Tour of Italy will be decided on Sunday in a flat time trial of 15.7 kilometers.
The riders completed the first part of the original course in the team bus. (Photo: ANP)
Riders take the initiative for shortening
Friday’s stage was supposed to be the longest of this Giro at 258 kilometers, but after a protest from the peloton, the start of the stage was postponed for a few hours and the route shortened to only 124 kilometers.
Many riders complained to the organization before the start of the stage about the length of the stage and the long journeys between the different stages. Moreover, the weather was very bad in the north of Italy and the peloton was not waiting for a long day in the rain with probably little consequences for the classification.
A little after 2.30 pm the start was still made in Abbiategrasso and it was immediately race. Fourteen refugees, with the Dutchman Etienne van Empel, fought for a long time with BORA-hansgrohe, which was at the head of the peloton in the service of Peter Sagan. With 57 kilometers to go, the German team gave up the fight.
In the last 35 kilometers it rained attacks at the front. Campenaerts was very active and the world hour record holder caused a break in his third gear. Cerný, Sander Armée, Simon Pellaud, Jacopo Mosca and Simon Clarke joined in, while Van Empel was unable to keep up.
With 22 kilometers to the finish, Campenaerts also had to pass when Cerný attacked. The time trial driver from the Czech Republic quickly took a lead of more than half a minute and fought his way to his first victory in a big round.