Caorle, Italy: Alberto Dainese timed his sprint to perfection in a breathless finish to win yesterday’s stage 17 at the Giro d’Italia, a 195-kilometre ride from Pergine Valsugana to Caorle, while Geraint Thomas retained the leader’s maglia rosa jersey.
The Team DSM rider held off Jonathan Milan (Bahrain Victorious) in a mass sprint to prevail by a few centimetres, with Michael Matthews (Jayco-AlUla) taking third place.
“In the last metres, I was really digging so deep. I was really on the limit and I saw Johnny coming. I couldn’t throw my bike because I was really on the limit but it’s nice to get a few centimetres in front and get the win,” Dainese said. “In the last five days, I was quite sick with stomach issues. Today was the first day I was feeling okay, like 80%, and to win after such a struggle in the last five days is insane.”
Briton Mark Cavendish, who announced on Monday that he will end his 17-year career as a professional cyclist at the conclusion of the season, also appeared to be in contention for the stage win, but faded in the final kilometre.
A four-man breakaway comprising of Thomas Champion (Cofidis), Charlie Quarterman (Corratec-Selle Italia), Diego Sevilla (Eolo-Kometa) and Senne Leysen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) built an advantage of over two minutes.
Leysen attacked with 22km to go and put in a valiant performance as he battled a challenging headwind, but he never stood a chance as Movistar and Groupama-FDJ took control of the surging peloton, which swallowed up the Belgian rider with 5km left. Ineos Grenadiers rider Thomas continues to lead the overall standings, 18 seconds ahead of Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) with Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) in third place.
“It was a crazy bunch finish. Luckily it didn’t rain that much today,” said Thomas, who turns 37 today. “We are all safe and ready for the next three stages. Wearing the Maglia Rosa on my birthday will be definitely nice, I hope I can keep it until Rome.” Today’s stage 18 takes place on a mountainous 161-km route from Oderzo to Val Di Zoldo, with two category one ascents.
‘I am not a robot’: Evenepoel says after Giro criticism hurtBelgian cycling star Remco Evenepoel took a swing at his critics yesterday as he announced he was back in training nine days after abandoning the Giro d’Italia with Covid even though he was in the lead. “Ups & downs are part of our job and I can accept that,” the 23-year-old, who held a narrow lead when he dropped out, posted on Faceboo. “What is hard to accept is all the fake and negative comments I got after having to leave the race,” he said.
“I just want to ask everyone to remember I am not a robot, but also a normal human being, husband, son, teammate etc. with normal feelings,” he wrote adding that he would use it as motivation. “After today’s check-ups and medical screenings, I got the green light to start training again.”
Evenepoel, the Giro favourite, left the race on May 14 after testing positive. The rider, who won the world championship and the Spanish Vuelta last season, said leaving the race was tough.
“Definitely one of the hardest setbacks in my still very short career,” he wrote. “A very brutal end of what could have been a beautiful story. 6 months of full preparation for only this race. Sacrifices, long days in the rain, long periods away from home. Everything was going according to plan but that is how sport goes.”
Team DSM’s Italian rider Alberto Dainese (second left) sprints to the finish line to win the 17th stage ahead of Bahrain - Victorious’s Italian rider Jonathan Milan (right) and Team Jayco AlUla’s Australian rider Michael Matthews (second right) during the Giro d’Italia 2023 cycling race, after covering a distance of 197km between Pergine Valsugana and Caorle, near Venice, on Wednesday. (AFP)