Giro d’Italia 2022 : Stage 17 – Santiago Buitrago takes the stage, Carapaz remains in pink, the devil is in the detail.

Sum up stage 17 of the Giro d’Italia in two words? BREATHLESS EXHILARATION. Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain Victorious) comes back from a crash then puts in a vicious attack to fly solo for his maiden Grand Tour victory. His team, especially Wout Poels, set Mikel Landa up to displace UAE Team-Emirate’s Joao Almeida on the third step of the Giro podium. Richard Carapaz (INEOS – Grenadiers) is still in pink with Jai Hindley (BORA-hansgrohe) still locked at three seconds adrift in second, and I haven’t even mentioned the exploits of dynamic Dutch duo of Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin Fenix) and Gijs Leemreize (Jumbo-Visma). Hold onto your hats, people!

Races within races

Leaden grey skies lowered menacingly over the riders as they took the start at Ponte Di Legno for a second gruelling day in the Alps that would see them face two Category 1 climbs in the back end of the race. The statistic on most commentators’ lips was that by the end of stage the peloton would have climbed the equivalent of Mount Everest in a little over 24 hours.

I’d be with Cav…

As always, twitter had Jai and his raincoat at the front of our minds

Before any shenanigans could be played out on the Cat 1 climbs the riders had to survive the battle of the Passo del Tonale from the flag drop. What could have been a brutal start was eased as a large group of riders went away relatively early and contained all the usual suspects we’ve seen filling up the breakaways recently. By the time they had descended from the Tonale and started on the steady downhill towards the big climbs, 25 riders were out front holding a lead of over three minutes.

We had our break of the day and the stage was set for one of those fascinating races within races scenarios:

In the break we had Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) versus Jumbo Bee Koen Bouwman for the King of the Mountain points (spoiler Koen took more points to extend his lead). A hatful of stage hunting riders including EF Education EasyPost’s Hugh Carthy for the umpteenth time – surely he has to be lucky at some point.

The tantalising possibility that Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) would climb his way back up the GC (spoiler – he didn’t *cries*)

Wanty corner was in full cry as Jan Hirt  and Rein Taaramae slipped into the break. Could Jan leapfrog his way up the GC (spoiler, YES he could)

… and Mathieu van der Poel – for any reason you care to name, but mainly because he’s so strong, he can’t help himself and the guy LOVES to race.

Behind them, surely the GC riders would seek to out manoeuvre each other.

A Tale of Gijs and Mathieu and double Dutch mayhem

Things got feisty in the break-of-the-day at several points during the stage, but with 65km to go Mathieu launched one those stinging attacks, he was eventually joined by VeloVoices Beloved Guillaume, Allesandro Covi (UAE Team-Emirates) and Felix Gall (AG2R Citroen). They pulled out over a minute on chasers and stretched their lead over the GC group to around seven minutes as they headed towards the first of the category one climbs – the Passo del Vetriolo (11.8km at 7.7%)

Hugh Carthy went full pain face to split the chase group, riding off with an elite group containing  Buitrago, Bouwman, Hirt, and a yo-yoing Leemreize to join the lead four just before the summit.

The summit was wreathed in clouds, the 12km descent was twisty and technical, but luckily dry.

I still can’t quite believe what happened next.  Jumbo Bee Gijs suddenly leapt away with Mathieu in hot pursuit. What followed was a daredevil-double-dutch-descent, at one point everyone held their breath as Mathieu’s back wheel lost traction.

They quickly opened a gap on the more cautious descenders. As they came off the descent they held 30 seconds and that gap only widened as the chasers FAFFED ABOUT arguing over who should put the work in.

By the time they hit the final climb, the Monterovere – 7.9km at 9.9%,  they had over a minute in hand. At which point Mathieu made another of those attacks and stomped away.

Twitter went crazy. Van de Poel looked so powerful, so in control we thought he would go all the way to the finish. But Gijs wasn’t finished and as Mathieu’s legs finally tired Gijs caught and passed his compatriot.

Behind the dynamic duo, the eventual victor was making his move and ultimately neither Dutchman would take the stage. However, they provided a day of racing we won’t forget in a hurry.

Tantalising glimpses of what we might expect

and a new name to add our list exciting young climbers to watch.

A tale of Santiago and the winning move

As the two Dutchman attacked each other on the final climb and the chase group dithered in their pursuit, Santiago took matters into his own hands, determined not to let another chance to add a Giro stage to his palmares. The Colombian made his winning move out of the chase group with a vicious attack and proceeded to dance a storm up the Monterovere, stalking down and passing both Dutchmen before the summit.

It was a masterclass of the swift and clinical climbing attack,  particularly the double kick that finally put paid to Gijs.

No one had the energy to claw their way back to him on the descent, or the run for the line on the plateau and downhill swoop into Lavarone.

He crossed the line arms aloft and in tears, this time tears of joy rather than the despair of finishing second on stage 15.

All this after crashing earlier in the stage

The tale Mikel and Joao

If BORA-hansgrohe came with a plan yesterday, it was Bahrain Victorious red who brought their A-game today. Mikel Landa started the stage only 15 seconds behind third placed Joao Almeida and they made their play for the podium on the final climbs of the stage. The men in red came to front and drove the pace on the the Passo del Vetriolo, winnowing the GC group and immediately putting Joao in trouble off the back of the group. This pressure continued to the Monterovere where Wout Poels, surely the rider of the race today, set Landa up time after time. Every time Wout looked like he could attack no more, somehow he came back to help his leader one more time.

Hindley, Carapaz and Landa stuck to each other like glue on the climbs, not in a mountain train but in a mano-a-mano attack fest

The run to the finish line was a different story. Somehow Landa lost their wheel and managed to lose a precious six seconds to his two closest rivals. It seemed a typical Landa , all that work only to throw it away at the end. He did gain enough time on Almeida to take 3rd on GC. But we all know how persistent the Portuguese rider is, and there is still a TT to survive.

Such thoughts are for the next stages. For now let’s celebrate an attackity Landa and a brilliant day for Bahrain Victorious

Here’s your highlights


The tale of Simon PHILIP Yates

The news from BEX part way through the stage. Let’s hope all he requires is rest.

Final thought

All the results

Stage results 

Embed from Getty Images

1 Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain Victorious) 4:27:41

2 Gijs Leemreize (Jumbo-Visma) +0:35

3 Jan Hirt (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) +2:28

4 Hugh Carthy (EF Education-EasyPost ) same time

5 Richard Carapaz (INEOS-Grenadiers) +2:53

GC Top 10 

1 Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) 73:19:40

2 Jai Hindley (BORA-hansgrohe) +0:03

3 Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) +0:59

4 Joao Almeida (UEA Team Emirates) +1:54

5 Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) +5:48

6 Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) +6:19

7 Jan Hirt (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) +7:12

8 Emanual Buchmann (BORA-hansgrohe) +7:13

9 Juan Pedro Lopez (Trek-Segafredo) +12:27

10 Domenico Pozzovivo (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) +12:30

All the jerseys

Leader’s jersey : Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers)

Points jersey : Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ)

King of the Mountains: Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma)

Best young rider: Joao Almeida (UAE)

Team : Bora-hansgrohe 

For full race results, go to CyclingNews

Official Giro d’Italia website is here

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