Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam) won his second stage of the Giro d'Italia, soloing to victory on stage 19's mountaintop finish at Vesuvio. Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) followed in second place, 21 seconds back, while Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes) out-sprinted Denis Menchov (Rabobank) for third, nine seconds after Pellizotti.
Sastre escaped the peloton early on the finishing ascent of Vesuvio, bridging to Ivan Basso (Liquigas), the climb's early aggressor. Inside of five kilometres remaining in the stage, Sastre dropped Basso and ascended at a steady tempo all the way to the summit finish. While Sastre climbed away to stage honours, Di Luca and Pellizotti repeatedly attacked on the ascent trying to crack the maglia rosa Menchov.
Pellizotti succeeded in distancing himself from Di Luca and Menchov with three kilometres to go, joining forces with Basso who sat up to wait for his teammate. With two kilometres to go Basso could no longer match the pace of Pellizotti and was dropped and passed by the surging duo of Di Luca and Menchov.
Pellizotti managed to close the GC gap by several seconds on Menchov, but Menchov's attention was clearly focused on staying with Di Luca who he led by only 26 seconds at the start of the stage.
Menchov successfully defended his general classification lead over Di Luca, now narrowed to 18 seconds, while Pellizotti lies in third place 1:39 behind the race leader.
Early in the stage, after only 16 kilometres of racing, Mauro Facci (Quick Step) and Yuriy Krivtsov (AG2R La Mondiale) attacked and built a lead of seven minutes over the peloton. The duo maintained their escape for nearly the entire stage, but were no match for a LPR Brakes-led peloton which swept them up at the beginning of the 13-kilometre climb of Vesuvio.