Giro d'Italia, Buitrago wins at the Tre Cime di Lavaredo. Thomas remains in the squad, with Roglic he will decide everything in the last time trial
THREE PEAKS OF LAVAREDO - The big stage in the Dolomites doesn't make revolutions in the standings, but perhaps the fight for the final success has been limited to just two riders. After the effort of Val di Zoldo, Almeida still loses 20” on the climb to the Auronzo Hut. Instead, Roglic was the winner of the day: fourth stage, 3” earned right on the finish on a very solid Thomas, who went on the attack in the last km. In the uphill time trial of Monte Lussari, decisive for the final success, Thomas will start with a 26” advantage over Roglic and 59” over Almeida, with the undoubted advantage of being able to know the progress of his opponents' time trial. The Tre Cime go for the second time in history to a Colombian: after Lucho Herrera, who triumphed in 1989, it's the turn of Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain-Victorious), who makes an encore after his success a year ago in Lavarone. A step forward in the standings is also made by the captain of the Colombian Damiano Caruso, who takes advantage of Dunbar's crisis to secure fourth position. Many climbs, five hills, but the show lasted only one km, the last one. He won back, as almost always in this Giro, the breakaway. Of the big three, only Almeida won a stage, on the Bondone.
The escape was born on Campolongo: Buitrago, Cort Nielsen, Gee, Verona and Hepburn went on the attack. The Giau, probably the hardest climb of the day, does not put the group in difficulty and Ineos decides to do it without forcing, with Puccio above all in the lead. At the Giau gpm it is Gee who doubles the success on Valparola. The pink jersey group passes placidly, 7 minutes late. At the foot of Passo Tre Croci the attacking group becomes eleven and at the beginning of the climb the American Warbasse sets off.
The change of bike for Roglic
At the entrance to Cortina Roglic changes bike and opts for a single chainring, the so-called single chainring, a sort of intermediate solution useful for agility uphill: a programmed change, clearly. On the Tre Croci the escape finds a strong and sudden downpour. Buitrago, Gee, Hepburn and Cort leap on Warbasse and detach him, the rest of the group falls apart. Thomas, always escorted by De Plus and Arensman, seems in full control.
It is the Canadian Gee, one of the biggest surprises of this Giro, who approaches the ascent of the Tre Cime in the lead with a few seconds on the Colombian Buitrago and 3 and a half minutes on the Thomas group. De Plus slips out of the pink jersey platoon, Arensman takes the lead, flanked by Zana and then by Caruso: a very large group, however, of at least twenty riders, evidence of a pace that was never exaggerated throughout the stage. At 1600 meters from the finish, Buitrago catches up with Gee and detaches him, flying off all alone at the finish line. Among the big names, once Arensman's work is finished, Almeida takes command of operations, while Dunbar, the fourth in the general team at the start from Lavarone, struggles a lot. But the first real attack is from Roglic. Thomas holds the wheel without difficulty, Almeida a little further back, while the climb becomes terrible. The Portuguese returns and takes the lead to set the pace.
At 500 meters it is Thomas who attacks, only Roglic responds, struggling a lot, but right on the finish line he overtakes him, finishing in 4th place and gnawing at 3”. Almeida loses another 20”. Thomas in the pink jersey will have 26” to defend in the Lussari time trial, Almeida goes to 59”, Caruso is fourth at 4'11” and gains a position at the expense of Dunbar. The time trial is divided into two parts: a 10 km flat stretch after the start in Tarvisio, then a change of bike – from the time trial one to the uphill one – for the last terrible 8 km, almost all in double figures.