Cycling: Stage 19 of Giro d'Italia shortened to 124km after rider protest

Czech Josef Cerny has won the Giro d'Italia's 19th stage, after it started amid chaos and was halved in length, after a rider protest over wet conditions. 

The stage was was scheduled to run 258km from Morbegno to Asti, but shortly before the start, the riders protested about racing so far in wet conditions the day after a brutal mountain stage.

After organisers agreed to their demands, the race started as planned, but after eight kilometres, the riders got on their team buses and were taken to a new starting point at Abbiategrasso.

"We were standing in the start-line and the organiser said we could shorten it a bit," says Cerny.

"It was very nice, because we had the last three days really heavy and it was a hard day, especially with the rain."

Cerny (CCC) broke away from the leading group about 22km from the end of the 124km stage and managed to hold onto his lead until the finish-line in the town of Asti to claim the biggest win of his career.

Victor Campenaerts (NTT Pro Cycling) finished 18 seconds adrift in second place, after a late attack, while Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb) kept the 'maglia rosa' leader's jersey, after finishing with the peloton that crossed the line nearly 12 minutes behind Cerny.

A bus takes the riders to the new start point.
A bus takes the riders to the new start point. Photo credit: Getty

With two stages left to the finish in Milan, Kelderman is 12 seconds ahead of Australian teammate Jai Hindley, with Britain's Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) another three seconds behind in third, setting up a dramatic finale between the trio.

Former Team Sky rider and now Eurosport expert Bernie Eisel says the protest was handled badly.

"[It] was really bad publicity for our sport," he says. "The temperature and the weather were good enough to do the full distance, and they could have discussed way before, if they were not happy."

Meanwhile in Spain, Deceuninck-Quick-Step's Sam Bennett sprinted to victory on stage four of the Vuelta a Espana, pipping rival Jasper Philipsen for victory, as Primoz Roglic retained the red jersey.

Kiwi George Bennett remains 10th in the general classification.