Esteban Chaves (Orica-Greenedge) insisted that he fully deserved to pull on the pink jersey after Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) crashed on the descent of the Colle dell'Agnello and lost four minutes in the overall classification during stage 19 at the Giro d'Italia.
The Colombian climber finished third on the stage, 53 seconds down on Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) but gained enough time on Kruijswijk to become only the third Colombian to ever wear the maglia rosa. He now leads Nibali by 44 seconds, with Kruijswijk third at 1:05 but injured and fatigued after his crash and chase.
Kruijswijk was with Chaves and Nibali over the top of the Colle dell’Agnello but then crashed at high speed into a snowbank. He needed to change his bike but lost more and more time as Nibali, Chaves and a combination of other riders drove hard all the way to the finish in Risoul.
"We’ll never know what would have happened. We can’t reverse events in life," Chaves said intelligently. "That’s cycling, the race was on. It only takes one error and you can crash. Zakarin crashed too, and if either I or Nibali had made a mistake, it could have happened to us. I hope that this jersey doesn’t seem to be worth less.
Defending a 44 second lead on Nibali
Chaves could smile and enjoy his moment in the pink leader’s jersey, but the Giro d’Italia is not over until Sunday. Before then Chaves and Orica-GreenEdge will have to defend their 44 second advantage on a resurgent Nibali, with Kruijswijk only 1:05 behind despite his crash and long chase.