Giovanni Visconti of Farnese Vini-ISD Neri crossed the line first in today's Stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia in Tirano, but was relegated to third place after twice pushing Diego Ulissi of Lampre-ISD in the closing metres to try and make room along the barriers. Ulissi gets the win, with the third rider contesting the sprint, Movistar's Pablo Lastras, moving up to second. The trio were the final survivors of a 16-man breakaway group that had been out for most of the 230km stage that started in Feltre. Alberto Contador retains the race lead on a day when there was no change at the top of the overall standings.
The Farnese Vini rider can count himself lucky that he wasn’t disqualified altogether, with Ulissi nearly losing control of his bike metres from the line, and certainly it’s hard to say that his actions were any less dangerous than those of HTC-Highroad’s Mark Renshaw when he was thrown out of last year’s Tour de France for headbutting Garmin’s Julian Dean during a sprint finish.
Visconti, riding in the tricolore jersey as Italian national road race champion, had signalled his intention to go on the attack on today’s stage and proved good to his word, getting into a 16-strong break that besides Ulissi and Lastras included Jan Bakelants of Omega Pharma-Lotto, Christophe Le Mevel of Garmin-Cervelo and Kanstantsin Sivstov of HTC Highroad.
The latter was the highest placed escapee in the general classification, lying 12th this morning, but at 12 minutes 5 seconds down on Contador he presented a minimal threat to the maglia rosa. Although he didn't contest the stage win, his efforts today were rewarded by his moving up to fifth place overall.
Going up the day’s final climb, the Aprica, a number of riders tried to launch attacks off that breakaway group, including AG2R’s Hubert Dupont who had managed to bridge across, but with a number of riders clearly having their eyes on the stage win, gaps were quickly closed down and the Frenchman was one of several riders shelled out of the back as Visconti led Lastras over the summit.
As the remnants of the front group hit the flat roads of Valtellina at the bottom of the descent some 7km out, eight riders from the break remained in contention, and by now it was clear they weren’t going to be caught, with the main group three minutes behind them. Just four men remained in contention going under the kilometre to go banner, the trio who contested the controversial sprint, and Bakelants, who fell away with 700 metres still to ride.
Another rider who had promised to pull out something special today was Vincenzo Nibali, placed third overall, who had demonstrated on Sunday that he is the best descender in this year’s race.
Today’s stage profile featured long descents within the final 64km after the climbs of the Passo del Tonale then the Aprica, the latter crested 19km out, giving the Sicilian an opportunity to try and take time back from Michele Scarponi, who had started the day 47 seconds behind him in the general classification this morning.
Liquigas-Cannondale worked tirelessly at the front of the bunch to keep the breakaway in check and maintain the pace ahead of Nibali’s expected attack, with Scarponi, wearing the red points jersey – a classification actually led by a long way by Contador – tucked in right behind them.
As it turned out, Nibali’s promised move never materialised, Scarponi sticking to him like glue all the way down the Aprica, and the Lampre-ISD man remains second overall behind Contador going into tomorrow’s 151km medium mountain stage from Morbegno to San Pellegrino Terme.
Giro d’Italia Stage 17 Result 1 ULISSI Diego Lampre-ISD 5:31:51 2 LASTRAS Pablo Movistar 0:00 3 VISCONTI Giovanni Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli 0:00 4 BAKELANDTS Jan Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:04 5 TABORRE Fabio Acqua & Sapone 0:08 6 VORGANOV Eduard Katusha 0:08 7 DUPONT Hubert AG2R 0:08 8 HERNANDEZ Jesus Saxo Bank-SunGard 0:08 9 KISERLOVSKI Robert Astana 0:08 10 SIVTSOV Kanstantsin HTC-Highroad 0:10 11 FRANK Mathias BMC Racing 0:40 12 GASTAUER Ben AG2R 2:10 13 LOSADA Alberto Katusha 2:10 14 LE MEVEL Christophe Garmin-Cervelo 2:36 15 MAZZANTI Luca Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli 2:59 16 LANG Sebastian Omega Pharma-Lotto 2:59 17 CARRARA Matteo Vacansoleil-DCM 2:59 18 RABOTTINI Matteo Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli 2:59 19 RUJANO Jose Androni Giocattoli 2:59 20 SELVAGGI Mirko Vacansoleil-DCM 2:59 Giro d’Italia Overall Standings after Stage 17 1 CONTADOR Alberto Saxo Bank-SunGard 68:18:27 2 SCARPONI Michele Lampre-ISD 4:58 3 NIBALI Vincenzo Liquigas-Cannondale 5:45 4 GADRET John AG2R 7:35 5 SIVTSOV Kanstantsin HTC-Highroad 9:12 6 RUJANO Jose Androni Giocattoli 9:18 7 NIEVE Mikel Euskadi-Euskaltel 9:22 8 MENCHOV Denis Geox-TMC 9:38 9 KREUZIGER Roman Astana 9:47 10 RODRIGUEZ Joaquin Katusha 10:25
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.