Leaders have relatively relaxed day as they prepare for battles ahead

Damien Monier of Cofidis scored the first win of his seven-year professional career in today’s Stage 17 of the Giro d’Italia between Bruneck to Peio Terme on a day when the overall leaders seemed happy to let a 19-man breakaway containing no rider within 15 minutes of the maglia rosa head off up the road.

In the end, the main contenders, presumably happy to enjoy a relatively calm day following the ardours of the previous two stages, which saw a summit finish on the Zoncolan on Sunday followed by a mountain time trial to Plan de Corones yesterday, came in almost 10 minutes behind, with no change to the top of the general classification as they kept a watchful eye on each other during the final climb.

The escapees included Team Sky’s Steve Cummings and Katusha’s Mikhail Ignatiev plus AG2R La Mondiale’s Alexander Efemkin, best placed in the overall standings, 18 minutes 57 seconds down on overall leader David Arroyo.

But as the group headed up the day’s final climb – albeit a much gentler one than those suffered in recent days – three riders got off the front of the escape group, the 28-year-old Monier, who has spent his whole career with Cofidis, Lampre’s Danilo Hondo, who finished second, and Steven Kruijswijk from Rabobank.

Tomorrow's Stage 18 into Brescia may suit the few sprinters left in the race, and is followed by what will be crucial mountain stages featuring the Mortirolo on Friday and the Gavia on Sunday. With the way this year's race has panned out, that may well not resolve the destination of the maglia rosa, setting up a potentially decisive individual time trial in Verona on Sunday.

Stage and race standings to follow.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.