Would today’s Stage 17 of the Giro d’Italia, which had a sting in its tail, prove as exciting as yesterday’s? Absolutely! Nans Peters (Ag2r La Mondiale) seized his chance, attacking out of the 18-strong break with 16km to go, building a respectable advantage which saw him solo across the line in the Antholz Biathlon stadium arms aloft, to savour his first ever professional victory. Breakmates Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) finished second, with David Formolo (BORA-hansgrohe) third. But there was more excitement 3km back down the course as Mikel Landa (Movistar) attacked from the GC group, followed by Hugh Carthy (EF-Education First). Then race leader Richard Carapaz (Movistar) followed the wheel of Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) leaving Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) and Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) flailing in their wake. Birthday boy Carapaz is now 1:54 ahead of his nearest rival.
Rider of the race
There’s just one winner of this prestigious award today and it’s the stage winner, Nans Peters, a 25-year-old in his third season with Ag2r La Mondiale. He’s something of a homegrown rider for the French team as he’s from Grenoble, not far from their base in the French Alps, and came through their development team. You may recall, he wore the white jersey for a couple of stages earlier in the race.Embed from Getty Images
Peters got into the day’s initial break, which subsequently grew in number, and built a sizeable advantage over the GC contenders. Once the group realised that one of them would win today’s stage, there was a flurry of unsuccessful attacks. Peters seized the initiative with his attack 16km from the finish to drop his breakmates. He quickly established a 30sec gap and set off in search of glory and his maiden professional victory. He probably reckoned that the rest might be reluctant to initially give chase, and he was right. As is so often the case, there was a lot of looking around in the group with riders all hoping someone else would do the work and though a handful eventually took up the challenge, it was too late, the bird had flown the coop to finish an impressive 1:34 ahead of Esteban Chaves.
Let’s hear about the stage from our winner:
It’s huge. It’s my first professional victory, and to do it at a Grand Tour is magic.
On the first climb eight of us went away, with guys like De Gendt and Bakelants, and then more came across including Jungels and Formolo, so only big names. I tried not to wear myself out. I knew I needed to save some freshness for the finale, to respond to the attacks from those guys with the big palmares. So I didn’t do any more work than the others. I wanted to focus on the finale, and didn’t want to go after people on the first climbs, so when the attacks came I was happy to follow. Then I put in one big attack and behind they looked at each other a little. I managed my effort well and that was it.
With 1.5km to go, I said to myself I could do it. My director was shouting that there was no one behind and I knew that in the final kilometre it flattened out and then was technical so it would be hard for anyone to come back there. So I felt confident from 1500 metres.
Quel panache! We had tears from pretty much everyone on the team, including Team Manager Vincent Lavenu, as it’s their first Giro victory since 2011.
Today my VeloEye has fallen on Pavel Sivakov (Ineos). The 21-year-old Russian, whose parents are former professional cyclists, joined Team Sky last year. He’s another top climbing talent who has put together an impressive string of performances, culminating in his Grand Tour debut at last year’s Vuelta a Espana. A former winner of the Baby Giro, after a rapid rise through the under-23 ranks, Sivakov recently won a stage and the overall in the Tour of the Alps. He may have lost the best young jersey yesterday but battled valiantly to retain his ninth place overall on the brutal queen stage and on today’s tricky stage.
Movistar played an impressive hand today with maglia rosa Richard Carapaz putting time (7 secs) into his principal rivals but more importantly seizing the psychological advantage. Vincenzo Nibali is now 1:54 back and Primoz Roglic 2:16 behind. Crucially Mikel Landa took back 20 secs on the latter and is clearly lusting after that third spot. Miguel Angel Lopez gained 30 secs to leapfrog over Rafa Majka into 6th place, while David Formolo made up 3 mins which takes him into the overall top 10. Coincidentally, Movistar are leading the team competition by 27:01!
Many happy returns to the race leader, Richard Carapaz. Where’s his cake? If I’d known, I’d have baked him one.
Stage Results – Top 5
1 Nans Peters (Ag2r La Mondiale) 4:41:34
2 Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) +1:34
3 David Formolo (BORA-hansgrohe) +1:51
4 Fausto Masnada (Androni-Sidermec) same time
5 Krists Neilands (Israel Cycling Academy) s/t
General Classification – Top 10
1 Richard Carapaz (Movistar) 74:48:18
2 Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) +1:54
3 Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +2:16
4 Mikel Landa (Movistar) +3:03
5 Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) +5:07
6 Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) +6:17
7 Rafal Majka (BORA-hansgrohe) +6:48
8 Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) +7:13
9 Pavel Sivakov (Ineos) +8:21
10 David Formolo (BORA-hansgrohe) +8:59
All the jerseys
Maglia rosa – Richard Carapaz (Movistar)
Maglia blanca – Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana)
Maglia azzurra – Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo)
Maglia ciclamino – Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ)
For full stage review and race results, go to cyclingnews.