Vendrame breaks away to win Giro stage 19, as Pogacar cruises

cycling24 May 2024 16:02| © AFP
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Andrea Vendrame © Getty Images

Andrea Vendrame won the 19th stage of the Giro d'Italia after slipping away from the other survivors of a long breakaway on a hilly 157 kilometre run from Mortegliano to Sappada.

The Italian, who rides for Decathlon-AG2R La Mondiale, crossed the line 55 seconds ahead of Pelayo Sanchez with Georg Steinhauser third another seven seconds behind.

The peloton, with runaway leader Tadej Pogacar and all the other main contenders for podium places was more than 15 minutes behind as the winner crossed the line.

Vendrame, who also won a Giro stage in 2021, was part of a long breakaway as the riders skirted the high mountains through Friuli, in the far north-east corner of Italy.

Six men escaped after 40 kilometres, pursued by a second group.

For a while the escapees struggled to pull away, but when the peloton, nearing the end of a long Giro, often raced in bad weather, lost their enthusiasm for the chase, the lead burgeoned.

By the time the groups merged with 64km to go, they led by eight minutes, a rare classic grand-tour escape on a Giro when the peloton has mostly kept breakaways on a tight leash.

Julian Alaphilippe shattered the 19-man breakaway with an attack on a steep climb with 60 kilometres to go, but Vendrame made the decisive move as he escaped on a descent with 30 kilometres left.

After a shower hit, and the powerful climbers in the five-man chasing group started to look at each other, Vendrame built a lead of a minute heading into the final climb.

Far behind, Pogacar was untroubled as the peloton broke up on the final climb heading to a finish barely 100 kilometres from the Slovenian border where many of the leader's countrymen awaited the likely winner, waving national flags.

Saturday's mountainous 184km run south from Alpago to Bassano del Grappa gives Pogecar's rivals one last chance to attack him before the race ends Sunday with a flat circuit starting and ending in Rome.

The Slovenian however has suggested he hopes to collect a sixth stage victory in this year's race.