Rome, May 26 (BUS): Belgian rider Dries de Bondt won a four-man race to take the final stage of the Giro d’Italia that appears to have been set for the final day Sunday.
2019 Tokyo Olympic champion and gold medalist Richard Karapaz held the overall lead by three seconds over Australian Jay Hindley, who was runner-up in 2020.
Hindley had a puncture during the final three kilometers of the stage – he was neutralized, meaning he had the same finishing time as the other leaders he was riding when he had to stop for mechanical assistance. Mikel Landa remained third, 1:05 behind Carapaz.
The three remaining stages will determine the winner: exhausted mountain legs on Friday and Saturday followed by a single time trial on the hills ending the race in Verona on Sunday.
Joao Almeida, the Portuguese rider who finished fourth overall, withdrew before the 18th stage after testing positive for COVID-19. Almeida was 1:54 behind Carapaz.
Twice-winner Vincenzo Nibali – who plans to retire at the end of the season – climbed to fourth, although he stayed off the lead by nearly six minutes.
The stage ended with a flat circuit around Treviso to conclude a 156 km (97 mi) route from Borgo Valsugana which included a Class 4 climb.
De Bondt, who rides with the Alpecin-Fenix team, was part of an early four-man breakaway and raced past Edoardo Affini and Magnus Cort Nielsen in the line.