Giro d’Italia leader Richard Carapaz suffered a setback to his title bid on Friday, with his key mountain lieutenant Richie Porte withdrawing during the 19th stage.
Ineos Grenadiers rider Porte was dropped from the peloton on the first climb of the day, the third-category Villanova Grotte, after 70km of racing.
Organisers confirmed the 37-year-old Australian had dropped out of the Giro, which finishes in Verona on Sunday.
Porte had announced this would be his final Giro, a race in which he finished seventh in 2010. He also finished third in the 2020 Tour de France.
Carapaz, the 2019 Giro winner, has a three-second overall lead on Australian Jai Hindley before the final three days in the mountains.
Friday’s ride from Marano Lagunare to Santuario di Castelmonte features four climbs.
But Saturday’s high-altitude affair will be the real showdown as it reaches over 2,000m above sea level three times.
Sunday’s final stage is a 17.4km individual time-trial into Verona where Ecuadorian Carapaz claimed overall victory three years ago.