TRE CIME DI LAVAREDO, Italy —
Geraint Thomas remains in contention to become the oldest champion of the Giro d’Italia, although he narrowed his lead slightly on Primož Roglič after Friday’s most difficult stage.
Roglič crossed the finish line of the so-called “Queen’s Stage” three seconds ahead of Thomas at the end of the last mountain.
There were no flat sections and five tricky climbs in the 183 kilometer climb on the route between Longarone and Tre Cime di Lavaredo were filmed with steps of up to 18 degrees.
Colombian Santiago Buitrago took stage 19, finishing 51 seconds ahead of Derek Gee and one minute and 46 seconds ahead of Magnis Cort and Roglič, who was left with a good second.
“I am very happy with this victory. It was the most difficult moment in a difficult Giro personally”, said Buitrago, who competes with the victorious Bahrain team.
“It’s the middle for everything I’ve done… It’s a great move for me and for the team, to be able to see the fruits of our labor.”
37 Thomas fights with Ineos against the Grenadiers. Roglič leads by 26 seconds in what could be the decisive penultimate stage on Saturday.
João Almeida is third and has lost more time sitting 59 seconds behind Thomas.
Roglič switched bikes shortly before the start of the penultimate climb and accelerated in the last kilometer. But Thomas kept his pace and the British rider attacked in the last 500 meters to keep a small gap to his rival.
Roglič recovered and Vitalis grabbed the second.
The winner will certainly be judged on Mount Saturn during the trial, which ends at the request of Mount Lussari, which has an elevation of 1,000 meters and 22 degrees.
“Tomorrow we will go all over again,” said Roglič. “We got our legs back and tomorrow we go with everyone. If I don’t have confidence, I won’t go out. The best finish wins.”
The competition ends on Sunday with a ceremonial scene in Rome. Thomas was able to surpass the record of Fiorenzo Magni, who won at the age of 34 in 1955.