After the magnificent efforts of yesterday, the peloton must have been delighted to wake up to face the Giro’s shortest stage today. In the end the sprint teams worked hard to keep the breaks under control, especially on the climbs and descents at the end. As they tore through the Swiss border control with 7km to go and into the mazy streets of Lugano, Lampre-Merida positioned Sacha Modolo perfectly to take his second win and his team’s fourth. The GC remains unchanged.
Rider(s) of the day
We could so easily have chosen Sacha Modolo today. After all, two sprint wins deserves praise. However, I’m playing fast and loose with the rules again and instead I’d like to highlight his sprint train duo Roberto Ferrari and Max Richeze. Lampre-Merida don’t have the manpower of a Giant-Alpecin or Lotto-Soudal, but they are fighting above their weight in this Giro. In both of Modolo’s wins, this pair have been positioned well in the crucial final corners, carrying their speed through perfectly to give their sprinter a superb launchpad. It may not always be pretty, and they still have more work to do, but it has been very effective at this Giro and Modolo was quick to praise them today.
Perhaps we could do with one more rider but, after months of hard work, in Max Richeze and Roberto Ferrari, I have one of the best lead-out trains going. I’m afraid of no one. If you can’t make three riders gel, you’ll never make a train work. Now, Ferrari is strong, Max too, and so am I, and today we showed it.
Four things we noticed
1. Maglia rossa. The points jersey has been fiercely contested and was made even closer when Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) was penalised five points yesterday for holding on to cars. Elia Viviani rolled out at the start of the stage looking resplendent in red with matching shoes, but with only ten points separating the top three spots and sprint stage on the cards, it was going to be another battling day.
The three-man break mopped up the top points on both intermediate sprints, leaving the peloton to scrap for minor placings. Viviani beat Nizzolo to fourth place at the first sprint, and the positions were reversed at the second. It was all to play for at the finish and although Nizzolo must be heartily sick of finishing second, it was enough to put him into the red jersey. He holds a 17-point advantage over Modolo and 25 over Viviani. With intermediate sprint bonus points likely to be hard to come by for sprinters over the next three stages, it looks like Trek may yet come away with something from the Giro.
2. Flying solo. The two uncategorised climbs and swooping, twisty descent towards the end of the stage all provided ideal terrain for breakaway attempts and many made both GC and sprint teams sweat. All the breakaway artists fancied a stretch of legs today. First Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal), freed from sprint team duties, made a brilliant attack with 20km to go, If Partick Gretsch (Ag2r) had stayed with him, instead of waving his arms angrily at BMC’s Darwin Atapuma who had only just joined them, they may have had the firepower to stay the distance. The final little kicker saw Tom Jelte-Slagter (Cannondale-Garmin) try his luck on the ascent and Luca Paolini (Katusha) attack on the downhill. Both caused splits in the peloton, but the fast men were not to be denied.
3. Breakaway Bandieri. It’s a tough job getting into a breakaway. Everyone wants to be there, the speeds in the peloton are high and it takes a real effort to ride off the front. We love that there is also a competition for the rider who has spent the most kilometres in a break, and how fitting that it should be an Androni-Sidermec rider, Marco Bandieri, who leads this classification. You really have to hand it to Gianni Savio’s team, they have worked hard to show their colours in the break at every single opportunity.
4. Mind Bernie, please. This race has been crash-ridden enough without the riders having to face any more risks than they do. There was a collective gasp today at the near miss #LadiesFavourite Bernie Eisel had with a race motorcycle. With the race in full flow and the rider fighting for position on one on the small climbs, the motorcycle simply got too close going into a corner. It’s a difficult job to give the audience the information they require, but a little more gap would be a lot safer for all concerned.
Stage 17 result
1. Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) 3:07:51
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) same time
3. Luka Mezgec (Giant-Alpecin) s/t
4. Heinrich Haussler (IAM) s/t
5. Davide Appollonio (Androni-Sidermec) s/t
1. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) 68:12:50
2. Mikel Landa (Astana) +4:02
3. Fabio Aru (Astana) +4:52
4. Andrey Amador (Movistar) +5:48
5. Yuri Trofimov (Katusha) +8:27
6. Leopold Konig (Sky) +9:31
7. Damiano Caruso (BMC) +9:52
8. Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) +11:40
9. Alexandre Geniez (FDJ) +12:48
10. Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin) +12:49
Points leader: Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek),
King of the Mountains leader: Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo).
Best young rider: Fabio Aru (Astana).
Team classification: Astana.
Link: Official race website