28 May 2016 - 1:38 AM  UPDATED 28 May 2016 - 7:25 AM

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) emerged the strongest on the ascent of the final climb after one of the most dramatic stages in recent memory. Going into the foot of the climb with a two minute advantage on maglia rosa wearer Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) after the race leader had crashed on the descent from the first summit of the day, he and Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) worked well together with Nibali taking the win and moving into second and the Colombian moving into the pink jersey despite losing time to Nibali.

Extended Highlights: Giro d'Italia Stage 19

The dramatic action on the final climb happened a hot start to the stage. The peloton set an average speed of 50 kilometres an hour into the foot of the first big ascent. 21 riders jumped into the move at the bottom of the climb, with Orica-GreenEDGE and Astana well-placed with riders in the move.

Michele Scarponi (Astana) went clear on the climb and crested with over a minute advantage on the nearest chasers. Behind him Orica-GreenEDGE strung things out on the climb. A few attacks from Chaves were covered seemingly easily by Kruijswijk with others joining back on as soon as Chaves realised that he couldn't distance the race leader.

Over the top of the climb, Nibali went to the front and drove the pace on the descent. Coming round a fast turn, Kruisjwijk took a wide line and ended up flipping over his handlebars spectacularly into the snow.

Kruijswijk wasn't the only one to crash with Illnur Zakarin (Katusha) coming off off his bike and almost falling straight into a mountain stream. He abandoned immediately with a suspected broken collarbone. His team sent him to hospital for scans.

After hearing the news of the Kruijswijk crash, Astana called back leader on the road Scarponi to work to extend Nibali's lead on the race leader, with Ruben Plaza doing the same for Chaves.

Nibali and Chaves, who was in second place overall, worked well to drive the pace moving Chaves into virtual pink with seven kilometres remaining on the stage. With five kilometres to go, Nibali suddenly accelerated, catching Chaves off-guard and riding away.

The gap between Nibali and a fatiguing Chaves grew in the final kilometres and the Italian champion crossed the line in first and almost fell in the arms of his handlers after the finish line. Chaves hung strong to finish 53 seconds behind, enough to propel him into the maglia rosa. Steven Kruijswijk cut a lonely figure crossing the line four minutes and 53 seconds behind Nibali, also falling behind the Italian in the general classification. 

"I've won by rage today," said Nibali. "It hasn't been easy to handle everything that has happened over the past few days. I dedicate this victory to Rosario (a young pupil of his who accidentally died two weeks ago). I'm very happy. It's been a terribly hard stage. I want to keep my feet on the ground. There's another hard stage to contest tomorrow."

The result leaves Orica-GreenEDGE on the cusp of winning their first Grand Tour with only tomorrow's hard climbs and the ceremonial final stage left to decide who will wear pink in Turin.

“It’s is a special day for me, my team and my country," said Chaves who is the third Colombian to wear the Maglia Rosa after Rigoberto Uran and Nairo Quintana both wore the leader's jersey in 2014.

"Ruben (Plaza) went into the break. I was up there when the attacks started five kilometres from the top of the Agnello. It was an early move but it was the right time to attack to make a difference," said Chaves.

"It’s not easy to follow Nibali downhill. He’s crazy to do that, but I must be crazy too to follow him. I’m sorry for Steven Kruijswijk. Crashes are part of cycling. He behaved like a warrior. It’s a dream to be in the Maglia Rosa. If I bring the jersey home, it’ll be great, if not, I’ll have done everything I could."

Saturday 28 May 2016