Josef Cerný takes a superb solo victory on Giro d’Italia stage 19
Josef Cerný was able to celebrate in style as he rode down the finishing straight on Giro d’Italia stage 19 after an impressive 20-kilometer solo effort saw him secure the biggest victory of his career to date
Cerný, the Czech national time trial champion, showed off his power and speed in the closing kilometers of the shortened stage after a stinging attack off the front of the day’s 14-rider breakaway saw him ride away from the rest of the group, which had amassed a sizeable advantage of more than 10 minutes after the peloton sat up.
Despite a concerted effort from the five remaining chasers behind him, Cerný dug deep and was able to maintain an advantage of around 20 seconds going into the final three kilometers of the 124-kilometer race before finally raising his hands in the air with delight after securing the stage win.
Cerný’s first Grand Tour stage win, and his first WorldTour victory, comes off the back of two strong time trial performances already at the Giro d’Italia, sixth in stage one and fifth on stage 14.
What was originally the Giro d’Italia’s longest road stage became the shortest today, with the planned 258km route being cut in distance to just 124.5km a short time before the day started. Heavy rain fell on the roads, which saw most of the riders start the day in jackets and leg warmers as the flag finally dropped to commence the stage in Abbiategrasso, some 130km further up the road from the original start location.
Immediately, attacks came from the peloton as riders looked to make up for lost racing time, with BORA-hansgrohe trying to close this down, only for an unlucky puncture for Cesare Benedetti to slow their efforts. In spite of this setback, the team was constantly at the head of the peloton, keeping the pressure on the break as the fourteen-man group splintered with the high speeds, leaving six on the front and a chasing group of eight trying to stay in touch.
With 55km to go and no other teams taking over on the front, the break was allowed to go, its advantage going out quickly from less than a minute to more than ten minutes as the stage entered its final 20km. The win coming from the breakaway, the mood in the peloton shifted to one of trying to save energy for the last big day in the mountains tomorrow, there were no changes in the GC standings as the Giro d’Italia approached its important, penultimate day.
Josef Cerný said afterwards, "“I still cannot believe it but it is a really nice feeling. I didn’t believe it until I was about 500 meters to go. I still had about 25-30 seconds in the last ten kilometres but it was a full headwind. I thought I could I could do it and I was pushing hard and now I’m here after crossing first in the finish line. It’s unbelievable. I cannot describe it, it was just incredible. I try so much and today, I have achieved my dream. I am really happy for my team, my family, and my girlfriend.”
“It was a strange day and it was a very difficult moment. We had three really heavy days in the mountains in the last days and today, it was raining full gas. I was really happy the organizer shortened the stage but it was still a hard day. I think history will not ask me if I won a shortened stage or a longer stage, I just won the stage. It’s really nice to have the hands in the air in the finish line. I was lucky in the breakaway and we were working well together and in the final, it was just about who had the better legs.”
“This Giro d’Italia has been really special for me. I was happy with my results in the time trials and I’m looking forward to the final one in Milan. But to win a road stage is really special. I enjoy the fight in the breakaway because it’s a lottery. I was happy that I had good legs after the Stelvio yesterday and I’m happy I was able to show what I can do.”
Wilco Kelderman spoke about his first day in the pink jersey, "It's a really special day. I really enjoyed every minute of it. It's really special to wear the pink jersey. It was still cold and a bit rainy but I really enjoyed it. For me it was a good group away, Bora couldn't close the gap anymore and then we started controlling to get safe over the line. I'm looking forward to tomorrow - the last hard day, I'll give everything and then we'll see what happens in the time trial."
Jai Hindley said to the media, "It was pretty weird day in the end, early morning wake up then the stage got shortened. It was a nice day out to have Wilco in pink."
"I think (tomorrow) is going to be an all-out day, the do or die day, to make time or gain time back for the final time trial. It's going to be a big fight tomorrow, that's for sure. I think Tao has proven he's riding really well and his form is really good. He's going to be the guy to follow."
VIDEO: Giro d'Italia Stage 19 Highlights
Giro d'Italia Stage 19 Top 10
1 Sam Bennett (Irl) Deceuninck-Quickstep 03:53:29
2 Jasper Philipsen (Bel) UAE Team Emirates
3 Jakub Mareczko (Ita) CCC Team
4 Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
5 Gerben Thijssen (Bel) Lotto Soudal
6 Matteo Moschetti (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
7 Max Kanter (Ger) Team Sunweb
8 Mihkel Räim (Est) Israel Start-Up Nation
9 Emmanuel Morin (Fra) Cofidis
10 Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) EF Pro Cycling
Giro d'Italia GC after Stage 19
1 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma 16:30:53
2 Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation 00:00:05
3 Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers 00:00:13
4 Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team 00:00:32
5 Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Pro Cycling 00:00:38
6 Sepp Kuss (USA) Team Jumbo-Visma 00:00:44
7 Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:01:17
8 Esteban Chaves (Col) Mitchelton-Scott 00:01:29
9 Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team 00:01:55
10 George Bennett (NZl) Team Jumbo-Visma 00:01:57