Giro d’Italia stage 17 review: Rodriguez wins to keep the maglia rosa

Stage 17 – Falzes/Pfalzen to Cortina d’Ampezzo, 186km

Joaquim Rodriguez retained the maglia rosa in emphatic fashion, taking the win in one of the toughest stages of this year’s Giro. The Spaniard outsprinted Ryder Hesjedal and Ivan Basso to take victory, and moved one step closer to taking his first ever Grand Tour title.

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Giro shorts: Stage 16 review

Stage 16 – Limone sul Garda to Falzes/Pfalzen, 173km

Stage profile: The final week opens with a profile which is uphill virtually all day. A sting in the tail sees a 2.3km section at 8.6% inside the final 5km which includes a short section of pavé for good measure, but this is a day tailor-made for the breakaway artists rather than the GC contenders.

Top three: 1. Jon Izagirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi), 2. Alessandro De Marchi (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela) +0:16, 3. Stef Clement (Rabobank) same time.

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Giro analysis: Can a sprinter win the points jersey this year?

The Giro d’Italia is a little bit different to the norm in the way it handles its points competition. In most major stage races this jersey is the domain of the sprinters. Not so the Giro.

Last year, due to the excessively mountainous nature of the parcours, the points competition effectively became a shadow version of the GC. The one-two-three in both classifications were identical (Contador-Scarponi-Nibali), with the top-placed sprinter being Roberto Ferrari [yes, him – Ed] in a distant eighth.

In 2010 the maglia rosso was won by the redoubtable Cadel Evans, who is many things but would never claim to be the new Robbie McEwen. 2009? Overall champion Denis Menchov doubled up as that year’s points winner. You have to go back to Daniele Bennati in 2008 to find the last sprinter to win the red jersey. Continue reading