MARMOLADA, Italy ( Associated Press) – Jay Hindley led the Giro d’Italia on the dreaded Marmolada on Saturday with one day remaining.
A mighty mountain stage was won by Alessandro Covi for his first Grand Tour victory after a long singles attack.
Race favorite Richard Carapaz, the 2019 champion and Olympic gold medalist in Tokyo, has led the Giro since last Saturday, but by only three seconds. The Ineos Grenadiers cyclist broke inside the last three kilometers of the final stage on Saturday and Hindley sprinted away for potential glory.
Hindley, who rides for Bora-Hansgrohe, will take a 1 minute, 25 second advantage in the race-ending individual time trial in Verona.
“I knew it was going to be a crucial stage with the finish, I knew it was just a brutal finish, and if you had the legs you could make a difference here,” Hindley said. “We were patient and we really defended ourselves till date and it was really right.
“I just walked out when I heard that Carapaz was dropping the wheel. It was an epic stage.”
Hindley went to the trials for the last time in 2020 in the same position but was runner-up to Australian Tao Geoghegan Hart. However, they were both at the same overall time and, barring an incident or disaster, Hindley should have done one better on Sunday.
“We’ll see how it goes. It’s always hard to say how a time trial is going on the last day of a three-week race, but I’ll die for the jersey tomorrow,” Hindley said.
Mikel Landa finished third, 1:51 behind Hindley.
The 20th stage was given a maximum difficulty rating of five stars and consisted of three grueling climbs: the Paso San Pellegrino, the Paso Pordoi – the highest point of the race – and the final 168 – from Paso Fedaia Belluno to the foot of the Marmolada glacier – kilometer (104-mile) route.
About 4,500 meters of climbs were packed into the day, with all three top classified climbs.
Covi attacked the lower slopes of Paso Pordoi and went alone at Seema Coppi to collect the prize for crossing the highest point of the first Giro.
He had more than two minutes on the remnants of the breakaway at the start of Paso Fedia and more than six minutes on the peloton.
Covi blocked Dom Novak’s attack, and the Italian had time to raise his head over his head as he crossed the line with a 32 second advantage. Giulio Ciccone was third, 0:37 behind Covi.
“I attacked from afar because I’m not really a climber, I had to try to get away from everyone before the final climb,” Covey said. “I ride very well, always full gas, move without worrying about the legs – because they are always painful.
“It’s fantastic for the team to win a stage and especially in the legendary mountains.