MONTE AVENA, Italy (VN) — Vincenzo Nibali  (Bahrain-Merida) will leave the Giro d’Italia second overall and with no regrets, knowing he tried all he could to crack pink jersey leader Richard Carapaz (Movistar Team).

The Sicilian sits 1:54 back, the same gap that he held for the last week. He was unable to make a dent in Carapaz’s lead.

“I have no regrets with my Giro,” Nibali said.

“I’m on the podium if everything goes well in the time trial.”

Nibali faces a 17km time trial to Verona’s famous Arena on Sunday to close out the 2019 Giro. If all goes as expected, he should be able to hold his second place. But he is too far off to reach Carapaz.

Carapaz, 26 years old, is positioned to be the first Ecuadorian grand tour winner.

“I congratulated him at the finish because I respect his performance,” Nibali said.

“He told me that he watched me on television and admired me when he was young and still to turn professional.”

Nibali was unable to break the stranglehold on the race lead. First it was Slovenian Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) and then in the last half, Movistar with Carapaz, Mikel Landa – now in third overall – and several strong mountain helpers.

That strength was clear in the last week, from Ponte di Legno through the Dolomite stages at San Martino di Castrozza and today, Monte Avena.

“I tried to the very end but it was difficult to do much with Carapaz and Landa so strong. The Movistar team was strong too, they have four riders on the front in the finale and there’s not much you can do when a team is so strong,” explained Nibali.

“The last climb was hard and came after a long, hard day out and a hard Giro, so one attack could have made a big difference.

“I tried to go on the attack whenever possible. Carapaz raced smart and was also a bit of a surprise. Who really thought he could win the Giro at the start?

“People said we let him get away but that’s not the full picture. While all the big-name riders marked each other, he was quick-thinking and went on the attack at the right moment and in the right way. He had the legs to get away on the road to Courmayeur.”

Nibali, now 34, will change teams to Trek-Segafredo in 2020. His last grand tour with Bahrain-Merida could be the Tour de France this summer.

“34 can be a limit in some ways but Chris Froome is just six months younger than me and he’s still going strong,” Nibali added.

“We’re very professional in how we approach our training, racing and our lives. That makes a difference.”