Astana’s Bilbao wins Queen Stage at Giro d’Italia
NUR-SULTAN. KAZINFORM - The 20th stage of the Giro d'Italia (Feltre - Croce D'Aune-Monte Avena, 194 km) from the one side became a successful day for Astana's Pello Bilbao, who won his second stage in this race, but from the other side it was a day of a bad luck for Miguel Angel Lopez, who crashed down with 5 km to go because of a cycling fan, the team's press office informs.
Pello Bilbao became the winner of stage 20 with 5 categorized climbs, in a powerful uphill sprint from the pink jersey group outsprinting Mikel Landa. Together with Dario Cataldo, Pello Bilbao made part of the daily breakaway. Working hard in the leading group during the whole day, Bilbao was able to stay in front even in a moment, when the escapees have been caught by the pink jersey group on the final climb of the day Monte Avena. Despite a few attacks, everything ended with a sprint, where the Astana rider was the strongest.
"I am so happy with my second win! The first victory was a special moment for me, but now this is something huge! It's incredible! We had a plan to go in a break to help Miguel Angel in case he attacks from the peloton. I was ready to support him. The whole day I was working hard in front, but when the GC riders caught us, I was a bit on the limit. Anyway I was ready to provide my help to Miguel Angel. When he crashed, my sports director told me he is ok and he is trying to come back, so he advised me to stay in the group and to try to fight for the stage. I knew I have to follow Mikel Landa in the sprint and to try to do my best inside the last 200 meters. Everything worked out perfectly and I won this stage! It was a tough Giro for me, something different from the last year, but, anyway, I am super happy with these two victories I was able to bring to the team and to our sponsors, to our main partner Samruk Kazyna," said Pello Bilbao.
Miguel Angel Lopez was very active during the whole stage, attacking for several times in the first part of the distance on the slopes of Passo Manghen and later in the final. He was among the favorites with 5 km to go when a man, running alongside the road touched him causing a bad crash. Unfortunately, the Astana leader reacted too emotional to this crash.
"I am sorry for my emotions, but in the rush of the race, especially, in the final of the queen stage it is hard to control it. It was a bad situation, but, anyway, I am very sad because of the bad security level of the riders during the race. It is a pity I lost my chances today because this incident happened, but, unfortunately, this kind of situations happen regular and this is not good. I'd like to see more respect to the riders, who are doing their best during a cycling race. Today we had a plan to fight for the stage and to improve my position in the general classification. I am happy with Pello Bilbao, who did a great race, winning another stage for our team. I was good as well today, I was trying for several times and in the final I still was there with the best riders. I hoped for more today, but in the end of the day I am happy I could keep the white jersey," said Miguel Angel Lopez.
After the crash with the help of Jan Hirt, Miguel Angel Lopez tried to come back in the race as fast as possible. He did his best chasing the group of GC favorites, but, in the end he lost 1 minute 49 seconds to the first riders. With only one stage to go the Astana leader is 6th in the general classification of the Giro d'Italia, having a deficit of 7 minutes 18 seconds to Richard Carapaz, who successfully protected his overall lead and the pink jersey. Despite a crash, Lopez was able to keep the while jersey of the best young rider, still having 1 minute 53 seconds on Pavel Sivakov, second in the classification.
The final stage of the Giro d'Italia 2019 will be held tomorrow in Verona: the riders will do an individual time trial of 17 km.