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Thomas Giro sees the lead bit by Roglič; Buitrago wins stage 19

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TRE CIME DI LAVAREDO, Italy – Geraint Thomas maintained his bid to become the oldest Giro d’Italia champion, although he saw his lead narrowed slightly by nearest rival Primoz Roglic on Friday in the race’s penultimate stage.

Roglič crossed the summit of the so-called “Queen’s Stage” three seconds ahead of Thomas at the end of the final mountain road leg of the race.

The 183-kilometre (114 mi) route from Longarone to Tre Cime de Lavaredo had no flat sections and five difficult, graded climbs with gradients of up to 18%.

The 19th stage was won by Santiago Buitrago, who finished 51 seconds ahead of Derek Gee and 1 minute, 46 seconds ahead of Magnus Cort and Roglic, who missed out on the bonus seconds.

The 37-year-old Thomas, who rides for Ineos Grenadiers, is 26 seconds ahead of Roglic in what will be a decisive final stage on Saturday.

Third place João Almeida lost more time and finished 59 seconds behind Thomas.

Roglič changed his bicycle shortly before the start of the final climb and made his move inside the final kilometer. However, Thomas was able to stay on his wheel and the British cyclist launched his attack in the final 500 meters and seemed to be pulling away a bit from his rival.

Santiago Buitrago of Colombia celebrates winning the 19th stage of the Giro d’Italia, Tour of Italy cycling race, from Longarone to Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Italy, Friday, May 26, 2023. Credit: AP/Massimo Paolone

But Roglič came back and gained some crucial seconds.

The winner will be decided in Saturday’s mountain time trial, which culminates in a demanding climb of Monte Lucari, with an elevation gain of over 1,000 m (3,000 ft) and a gradient of up to 22%.

The race culminates in a mostly ceremonial finale in Rome on Sunday, where Thomas can beat the age record held by Fiorenzo Magni, who was 34 when he won in 1955.