Richard Carapaz took a huge step towards winning the Giro d’Italia after preserving his overall lead in Saturday’s penultimate stage in the Dolomites.
The Ecuadorian comfortably held off two-time champion Vincenzo Nibali in the 194-km ride from Feltre as the 20th stage was won by Spaniard Pello Bilbao.
Carapaz, who rides for Movistar, remains 1 minute 54 seconds in front of Nibali ahead of the final time trial in Verona on Sunday.
Mikel Landa leapfrogged Primoz Roglic into third, 2:53 behind Carapaz, after finishing second in a sprint with Bilbao at the end of the 194-kilometer (121-mile) leg from Feltre to Croce d’Aune-Monte Avena, which had five long, categorised climbs in the Dolomites.
Giulio Ciccone was third, two seconds behind the front two.
It was a chaotic ride throughout with Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez, who holds the white jersey for the best U25 rider, lashing out at a fan after tangling with him in the final few kilometres.
The Astana rider crossed the line 18th, 1:49 off the pace and could face an exclusion from the race following his actions.
Another incident with a fan also cost Roglic – the Slovenian was pushed by a spectator and didn’t attempt to push him away and so was penalised 10 seconds by the race jury.
After the stage, Carapaz said: “We’ve tried to win the stage with Mikel Landa as well as myself to retain the Maglia Rosa but we’ve missed out by very little.
“However, we’re happy with how it went today. I believe 1:54 over Nibali is enough, although anything can happen in a final time trial.”