Carapaz keeps slim Giro lead, Buitrago wins tough 17th stage

Santiago Buitrago of Colombia crosses the finish line in 4 hours and 27.41 minutes to win the 165 kilometers 17th stage of the Cycling Giro D'Italia from Ponte Di Legno to Lavarone in northern Italy, Wednesday, May 25, 2022. (Gian Mattia D'Alberto/LaPresse via AP)

LAVARONE, Italy — Race favourite Richard Carapaz maintained his slim overall lead of the Giro d’Italia after a tough 17th stage which was won by Santiago Buitrago for his first grand tour victory.

Carapaz remained three seconds ahead of 2020 runner-up Jai Hindley — with just four days of racing remaining — after both crossed the line together at the end of the 168-kilometre route from Ponte di Legno to Lavarone, which packed in almost 4,000 meters of climbing.

Mikel Landa finished six seconds behind the duo but moved into third overall, 1 minute, 35 seconds behind Carapaz. He surpassed João Almeida who was dropped on the second of the two top-category climbs that came in the final 40 kilometres of the race.

Buitrago had been in tears after finishing second on Sunday’s 15th stage. There were more tears from the Colombian cyclist on Wednesday, but this time of joy after soloing to victory.

The 22-year-old recovered from a crash halfway through the day to get back to the breakway and then launched his attack towards the top of the final climb, cresting it alone and speeding down the final eight kilometres.

Buitrago finished 35 seconds ahead of Gijs Leemreize — who had been leading on the steep climb to Monterovere — and 2:28 ahead of Jan Hirt.

Thursday’s 18th stage should see a sprint finish after a flat circuit around Treviso at the end of a 156-kilometre route from Borgo Valsugana, that includes two fourth-category climbs.

The Giro ends on Sunday in Verona.

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