Cima wins dramatic sprint finish as Carapaz maintains lead
Damiano Cima claimed a dramatic sprint-finish victory on stage 18 of the Giro d'Italia.
Brescia-born Cima had been one of three riders – along with Nico Denz and Mirco Maestri – to have formed a breakaway, which led for the majority if the 222km stage from Valdaora to Santa Maria di Sala on Thursday.
However, the trio's advantage was reduced to just 15 seconds heading into the final kilometre, and it looked likely that the chasing group would overtake them before the line.
Cima had other ideas, however, and raced off with 200 metres to go, and though the sprinters caught Denz and Maestri, they could not reach the 25-year-old, who claimed a first ever stage victory at the Giro for Nippo-Vini Fantini and his first professional triumph.
Pascal Ackermann, who moved to the top of the points classification with a second-place finish, and Simone Consonni crossed the line just behind him, clocking the same time.
There was no change at the top of the general classification standings, meanwhile, with overall leader Richard Carapaz taking it easy to carry a 1:54 lead over Vincenzo Nibali into the final three stages.
CIMA OVERAWED BY 'INSANE' WIN
"I can't believe what just happened," Cima said at the finish line. "I've spent so many kilometres in breakaways during this Giro. I thought I'd never make it but I've won today. It's insane. It's the dream of a lifetime."
Pink jersey holder Carapaz, meanwhile, is readying himself for a testing stage as the race approaches what is sure to be a fascinating conclusion.
"It's been a quiet stage but a long one, intense at the beginning only. Tomorrow will be an important test but I'm confident to keep the Maglia Rosa," he said.
1. Damiano Cima (Nippo-Vini Fantini) 4:56:04
2. Pascal Ackermann (BORA-hansgrohe) +0:00
3. Simone Consonni (UAE Team Emirates) +0:00
4. Florian Senechal (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) +0:00
5. Ryan Gibbons (Team Dimensions Data) +0:00
1. Richard Carapaz (Movistar) 79:44:22
2. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) +1:54
3. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +2:16
1. Pascal Ackermann (BORA-hansgrohe) 226
2. Arnaud Demare (Groupama) 213
3. Damiano Cima (Nippo-Vini Fantini) 104
King of the Mountains
1. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) 229
2. Richard Carapaz (Movistar) 66
3. Fausto Masnada (Androni Giocattoli–Sidermec) 57
Stage 19 brings a 151km mountain route from Treviso to San Martino de Castrozza. The stage descends and levels out before travelling across the Val Cismon through a series of tunnels, with the final kilometre levelling out 100m from the finish.