FABIO Aru won stage 19 of the Giro d’Italia to move second in the overall standings as Alberto Contador retained the leader’s pink jersey.
Team Astana’s Aru pulled away on his own in the final kilometres into Cervinia to win the stage by 28 seconds from Cannondale-Garmin’s Ryder Hesjedal, with Rigoberto Uran third for Etixx-Quick Step but over a minute behind Aru.
The Italian said: “I knew the final 100km by heart from the Tour of the Val d’Aosta, which was one of my favourite under-23 races. I feel very tied to this region. I didn’t know what to think in the final metres. For 20 days the team has always been close to me, even in the difficult moments, and today my team-mates made the race. The team was fantastic from start to finish, every one of them.”
He still trails Contador by four minutes and 37 seconds in the general classification, with Aru’s team-mate Mikel Landa a further 38 seconds back in third. Movistar’s Andrey Amador and Team Sky’s Leopold Konig complete the top five.
Contador, who did not respond to Aru’s attack, said: “Obviously, I’d like to win a stage, but it is hard. The final group is always small and I don’t have team-mates with me because they work hard early in the stage, so the result today is perfect for me.
“Anyway, if you ask anyone which they would prefer, a stage win or the Maglia Rosa, they’ll say the Maglia Rosa, so I’m very, very happy because I’ve got through another very hard day.
“The final climb was very hard and Aru was strong and took a great stage win. He’s second in the general classification and I wish him a great future.”
Today’s 20th stage runs 199km from St Vincent to a mountain finish in the Alpine resort of Sestriere.
The race finishes tomorrow with a stage into Milan.