Giro Stage 17: Pellizotti wins, but Menchov stays in pink
Stage win for Liquigas, but Menchov IS the man to beat for the overall
Franco Pellizotti won today's charge from Chieti to Blockhaus with an audacious escape on the slopes of the Pass Lanchiano to give his Liquigas team a much needed stage win and to move himself up to third place overall in the general classification two minutes back on Denis Menchov in the maglia rosa.
Carlos Sastre (Cervelo Test Team) paid the price for his efforts in winning Monday's epic mountain stage finishing over two minutes back in the chasing group and dropping from 3rd to fifth in the general classifcation in the process.
Danilo Di Luca's efforts to steal time back on Menchov ahead of the individual time trial came to nothing – he managed to pull back five seconds on the Russian in the race to the line, but Stefano Garzelli (Aqua & Sapone) snaffled valuable bonus seconds.
Ivan Basso finished nine seconds back on Menchov in fifth place to move up to fourth on the general classification – Liquigas now have riders in third and fourth places and the issue of who the team should be riding for remains unresolved going in to the last few days as either Pellizotti or Basso seems to be in the ascendant from day to day.
Levi Leipheimer might still be the highest placed Astana rider on the GC, but it seemed to be every man for himself today as Lance Armstrong rode for himself when the race hit the big hill – he looked strong in parts at one point trying to bridge up to Pellizotti and Sylvester Szmyd (Liquigas) (who helped pace his teammate up the final climb). But Armstrong was visibly hurting by the finish – mind you 20Km at six per cent will do that even to immortals. Armstrong was in good company too finishing in the same groups as Carlos Sastre.Top 10 Giro d'Italia Stage 17 1) Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) 2.21.06 2) Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone - Caffe Mokambo) 0.42 3) Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini) 0.43 4) Denis Menchov (Rabobank) 0.48 5) Ivan Basso (Liquigas) 0.57 6) Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre - N.G.C.) 1.54 7) Sylvester Szmyd (Liquigas) 1.55 8) Michael Rogers (Team Columbia - Highroad) 1.59 9) Lance Armstrong (Astana) 10) Carlos Sastre (Cervelo Test Team)
General classification after stage 17
1) Denis Menchov (Rabobank) 72.28.24
2) Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini) 0.26
3) Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) 2.00
4) Ivan Basso (Liquigas) 3.28
5) Carlos Sastre (Cervelo Test Team) 3.30
6) Levi Leipheimer (Astana) 4.32
7) Michael Rogers (Team Columbia - Highroad) 7.05
8) Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone - Caffe Mokambo) 8.04