Fabio Aru (Astana) soloed to victory on stage 19 of the Giro d’Italia to move back up to second overall and claw back a little bit of time to Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) overall.
The Italian, in the white jersey, added another Grand Tour stage win to his name after a well-timed attack on the day’s final climb, after Astana had isolated Contador at the front of the race.
Roaring in delight as he crossed the finishing line, Aru finished more than a minute ahead of the pink jersey group, cutting Contador’s lead to a still imposing 4’37” with two stages remaining.
Earlier on, Vasil Kiryienka (Team Sky), Johan Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE), Marek Rutkiewicz (CCC Sprandi-Polkowice), Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) and Pavel Kochetkov (Katusha) formed the days break.
That was soon down to just one man, however, as Visconti went solo on the Col Saint-Pantaleon and was still leading on his own by the time they reached the final climb.
The Italian could not keep it up, however, as the vastly-reduced front group – in which Astana had plenty of numbers – swept him up.
With Alberto Contador isolated, Astana looked to take advantage with Fabio Aru and Mikel Landa both putting in attacks, before Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin) went clear.
The Canadian acted as the perfect carrot to tempt Aru into another attack, and this time the Italian – in the white jersey – stayed clear of Contador and the GC men.
Aru caught Hesjedal and passed him with relative ease – though his face told a different story as he gurned his way to the finish line.
Tanel Kangert and Landa were both in the Contador group further back, which was joined by Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) in the blue jersey and Team Sky duo Mikel Nieve and Leopold Konig – Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-QuickStep) attacking off the front.
Aru was soon more than a minute in front, however, as he ploughed on determined to seize something from this Giro d’Italia.
As he entered the final kilometre, victory was all-but ensured as the young Italian pressed on to eke out every last second all and move to second overall.
Roaring in delight as he crossed the finish line, with another Grand Tour stage win to his name, he showed just what another Giro d’Italia stage win means to him after all.
Contador’s group crossed more than a minute later, but with time ticking down on this year’s race, his overall lead looks as imposing as ever despite Aru taking a chunk back.
Giro d’Italia: stage 19 – result
1) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Astana – 6.24.13hrs
2) Ryder Hesjedal (CAN) – Cannondale-Garmin +28”
3) Rigoberto Uran (COL) – Etixx-QuickStep +1.10
4) Tanel Kangert (EST) – Astana +1.18”
5) Steven Kruijswijk (NED) – Team LottoNL-Jumbo – ST
6) Alberto Contador (ESP) – Tinkoff-Saxo
7) Mikel Landa (ESP) – Astana
8) Leopold Konig (CZE) – Team Sky +1.21
9) Mikel Nieve (ESP) – Team Sky +1.24
10) Alexandre Geniez (FRA) – FDJ +2.24
1) Alberto Contador (ESP) – Tinkoff-Saxo – 78.48.40hrs
2) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Astana +4.37
3) Mikel Landa (ESP) – Astana +5.15
4) Andrey Amador (CRC) – Movistar +8.10
5) Leopold Konig (CZE) – Team Sky +10.47
6) Yury Trofimov (RUS) – Katusha +11.11
7) Ryder Hesjedal (CAN) – Cannondale-Garmin +12.05
8) Damiano Caruso (ITA) – BMC Racing +12.14
9) Steven Kruijswijk (NED) – LottoNL-Jumbo +12.53
10) Alexandre Geniez (FRA) – FDJ +15.07