It was in the final kilometers of the 151-kilometer stage that Antunes, who initially lost contact with the front of the race when the decisive attacks began, fought back to regain contact with the leaders.
The initial 11-rider breakaway, which went on to become 12 riders strong, went clear early and was able to extend its advantage out to more than seven minutes over the opening, uncategorized climbs.
As no one threatened the overall lead of the Maglia Rosa, Richard Carapaz (Movistar Team), the group’s lead over the main bunch continued to grow on the category three Passo di San Boldo and the category four Lamon climb.
After working well together throughout the day, the leaders were over nine minutes up the road at the foot of the 13.6-kilometer long climb up to the finish line, and it was clear that the stage win was up for grabs.
On the slopes of the category two ascent, which had an average gradient of 5.6 percent, the breakaway, unsurprisingly, started to split as every rider looked to take the opportunity to claim the day’s honors.
With less than five kilometers to go, Antunes was sitting around ten seconds shy of the then leading trio, however, after a gutsy effort, he was able to bridge across just before Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-SCOTT) launched his ultimately winning move.
Antunes continued to dig deep as the flamme rouge came into view and, after a strong solo effort in the closing meters, the Portuguese rider went on to cross the line just 12 seconds behind the stage winner.
Quotes From the Finish Line
“Today, was a good stage for me. Maybe it was my last chance to win a stage here at the Giro d’Italia. In the finale of the stage, I started the climb at a steady and regular pace but, Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-SCOTT) had better legs so, in the end, it was third place for me. I am happy but, of course, the best would be to win the stage.”
“I had an injury before the Giro d’Italia so, I wasn’t able to train well in the month before, so I am happy with my performance and with the team, especially as it is my first Grand Tour. It was hard to bridge back to the front group but, that’s cycling, and cycling is hard. Now, I’m just thinking about recovering ahead of tomorrow’s long and hard stage.”
Stage 19: Treviso > San Martino di Castrozza (151km)
Top 3: 1. Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 2. Andrea Vendrame (Androno Giocattoli – Sidermec) 3. Amaro Antunes (CCC Team)
CCC Team Top 3: 3. Amaro Antunes 30. Víctor de la Parte 86. Francisco Ventoso