Giro d’Italia 2016 : Stage 17 – Kluge upsets the sprinters

The sprinters had hoped that this stage would finally offer some respite from the punishing climbing of the last few days – and it did. However, even then the Giro contrived to ruin their day, with the fast finishers pipped to the post by a thoroughly impressive Roger Kluge (IAM Cycling) attack in the final half-kilometre. He held off the charge from behind to take his maiden major victory. All of the general classification riders managed to finish safely in the bunch, meaning Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) holds his comfortable lead in the maglia rosa.

Rider of the race

There’s always something to cheer when the sprinters are upset by a lone attacker against all odds, but even more in the case of Roger Kluge. That’s because the German has never before won a WorldTour race, despite having turned professional back in 2008. The 30-year-old East German must have wondered if he’d ever know what it was like to taste glory on the biggest of stages, and now he certainly does. It is the fourth consecutive stage that the Giro has thrown up a first-time winner.

To be sure, Kluge has form as a quick man. He’s been considerably more successful on the track than he has the road, and has in his cabinet an Olympic silver medal from the 2008 points race, a gold from the 2010 European Championships’ omnium, and a silver in the same event from this year’s Worlds. However, there are plenty of riders who’ve tried and failed to make the transition from wood to tarmac, and Kluge has every right to celebrate such an impressive victory. Could it be a sign of greater success when he returns to the track in Rio this summer? [It’s also a much-needed win for IAM, as it was announced earlier this week that the team will fold at the end of the season. We want them to go out in style – Ed]

Pozzato’s agony

As astutely noted in The Whispers’ 1980 disco classic, And the Beat Goes On, whenever there’s a winner, there’s a loser. Of course, technically there are lots of losers, but today one man in particular will be feeling rather down. Filippo Pozzato (Wilier Triestina-South East) – former Italian national champion and all-round home hero – must have thought he’d sealed the victory when he attacked with a kilometre to go and glanced clear grey tarmac behind his back wheel.

However, he faded dramatically inside the dying 500 metres, and fell victim to Kluge’s excellent attack from the bunch. It served as a real hammerblow for the 34-year-old Venetian, who subsequently ran completely out of steam and found himself crossing the line way down in 21st position. If it’s any consolation, he already knows what it’s like to win a stage at his home grand tour: he did so in the 2010 edition of the Giro.

Stage results

1 Roger Kluge (IAM Cycling) 4:31:29

2 Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) same time

3 Nikias Arndt (Giant-Alpecin) s/t

4 Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) s/t

5 Matteo Trentin (Etixx-Quick Step) s/t

GC standings

1 Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) 68:11:39

2. Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) +3:00

3. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +3:23

4. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) +4:43

5. Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) +5:50

All the jerseys

Leader’s jersey: Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo)

Point’s jersey: Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo)

KOM jersey: Damiano Cunego  (Nippo-Vini Fantini)

Best young rider: Bob Jungels (Etixx-Quick Step)

For full review of the stage, go to Cycling News

Header image: Roger Kluge. © Giro d’Italia/Twitter

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