AFP/peloton/Yuzuru Sunada

May 29, 2014 – King of the mountains leader Julian Arredondo won the 18th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Thursday as Colombian compatriot Nairo Quintana held onto the overall race lead. Trek’s Arredondo broke clear of an escape group in the final 4km and held off another compatriot, Fabio Duarte, to take the victory by 17sec. Irishman Philip Deignan of Team Sky took third on the stage, 37sec back at the end of the 171km stage from Belluno to Rif. Panarotta.

Australian 2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans was the big loser as he was dropped by the group of favorites and lost his podium place. The 37-year-old BMC rider dropped to ninth overall from third at the beginning of the day. Quintana, who took the leader’s maglia rosa (pink jersey) by winning Tuesday’s 16th stage, leads another Colombian, Rigoberto Uran, by 1min 41sec with Frenchman Pierre Roland up to third overall at 3min 29sec.

Arredondo soloed to the biggest win of his life in a thrilling finish on the final climb in which the lead changed hands several times. After Belgian Thomas De Gendt and Italian Franco Pellizotti had both tried their luck, Arredondo finally made a solo break stick. Duarte, who had covered an earlier dig from Arredondo 6km out, tried to respond but this time could not bridge the gap.

“I have to give a big thanks to my director and coach Josu [Larrazabal]. I wanted to attack at the bottom of the last climb but he told me from the team car, ‘no, no no! take it easy, not yet!’ Then with four kilometers to go he said, ‘Julian now!’ I won this stage to a great degree from his advice.” said Arredondo at the finish.

“I felt good today. I thought it could be my day. After all the difficult moments in this race – like two days ago over the Stelvio when Josu had to put me in the car to warm me up – and being in Italy away from home the last six years, this stage has repaid all my hard work. Today is the beginning, I hope, of great things for me. I want to dedicate this win to Josu, and to my team who stayed around me at all the difficult moments. We are very much a family.”

Behind the breakaway riders, the battle was on for podium places as Movistar’s Quintana expertly marshaled any danger to his overall lead. Evans was the first to crack giving Roland, whose attacks thinned out the favorites’ group, the chance to snatch a podium spot. However, he has two riders just two seconds back after Italian Fabio Aru of Astana pulled back a handful of second on the Europcar rider. Aru is fourth on the same time as fifth-placed Rafal Majka with Italian Domenico Pozzovivo just 23sec behind Roland in sixth.

Results from the 18th stage of the Giro d’Italia: 171km Belluno – Rifugio Panarotta.

Stage
1. Julian Arredondo (COL/TRE) 4hr 49min 51sec
2. Fabio Duarte (COL/COL) at 17sec
3. Philip Deignan (IRL/SKY) 37
4. Franco Pellizotti (ITA/AND) 1:20
5. Edoardo Zardini (ITA/BAR) 1:24
6. Thomas De Gendt (BEL/OPQ) 1:38
7. Ivan Basso (ITA/CAN) 1:43
8. Dario Cataldo (ITA/SKY) 1:59
9. Fabio Aru (ITA/AST) 2:43
10. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) 2:46
11. Rigoberto Uran (COL/OPQ) 2:46,
12. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/ALM) 2:49
13. Pierre Rolland (FRA/EUC) 2:49
14. Rafal Majka (POL/TIN) 2:49

Selected:
16. Ryder Hesjedal (CAN/GRM) 3:02, 21. Cadel Evans (AUS/BMC) 4:24, 34. Samuel Sanchez (ESP/BMC) 5:30, 44. Damiano Cunego (ITA/LAM) 8:17.

Did not start: Diego Ulissi (ITA/LAM), Ivan Santaromita (ITA/ORI)
Retired: Diego Rosa (ITA/AND)

Overall standings
1. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) 77hr 58min 08sec
2. Rigoberto Uran (COL/OPQ) at 1min 41sec
3. Pierre Rolland (FRA/EUC) 3:29
4. Fabio Aru (ITA/AST) 3:31
5. Rafal Majka (POL/TIN) 3:31
6. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/ALM) 3:52
7. Ryder Hesjedal (CAN/GRM) 4:32
8. Wilco Kelderman (NED/BKN) 4:37
9. Cadel Evans (AUS/BMC) 4:59
10. Robert Kiserlovski (CRO/TRE) 8:33
11. Alexis Vuillermoz (FRA/ALM) 15:58
12. Alexandre Geniez (FRA/FDJ) 19:18
13. Ivan Basso (ITA/CAN) 21:25
14. Maxime Monfort (BEL/LTB) 25:16
15. Franco Pellizotti (ITA/AND) 27:04
16. Hubert Dupont (FRA/ALM) 28:15
17. Matteo Rabottini (ITA/NRI) 29:53
18. Damiano Cunego (ITA/LAM) 39:18
19. Andre Cardoso (POR/GRM) 40:42
20. Michael Rogers (AUS/TIN) 41:38.

Selected:
25. Samuel Sanchez (ESP/BMC) 51:42