CASTELMONTE, Italy, May 27 (Reuters) – Richard Carapaz held on to the pink jersey as Dutchman Koen Bouwman won stage 19 of the Giro d’Italia, a mountainous 178-kilometre ride from Marano Lagunare to Santuario di Castelmonte, in bizarre fashion on Friday.

Colombian Carapaz held a three-second lead over Jai Hindley in the general classification going into Friday’s stage, and was joined by three Ineos Grenadiers team mates in a packed peloton right up until the final few kilometres.

Third in the general classification before a stage that passed through parts of Slovenia and needing to close the gap, Spaniard Mikel Landa made the first move as the top three riders were left alone as the leaders’ group approached the stage end.

Carapaz led Australian Hindley and Landa in that order ahead of the final sprint, with the Colombian coming home in front of his rivals at the crucial moment to keep the “maglia rosa”, with only one more mountainous stage to come on Saturday, before Sunday’s time trial finale.

There had already been plenty of drama further ahead of the overall leaders, as a bizarre finale for the five riders vying to win the stage saw three of them overshoot the final corner, allowing Bouwman to come through with ease for his second stage victory of this year’s Giro.

“I knew there was a corner to the left but I didn’t know it was this sharp,” Bouwman said. “I had to brake quite hard and I knew I had to take the inside (of the corner).

“Now to win two stages in the Giro – I’m just so happy I don’t have words.”

There was some bad news for Carapaz on Friday, however, as team mate Richie Porte dropped out of the Giro through illness, leaving the race leader missing a key domestique for the final two stages this weekend.

The 20th and final mountainous stage of the 2022 Giro is a 167-kilometre ride from Belluno to Marmolada on Saturday. (Reporting by Peter Hall Editing by Toby Davis)

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