There was an unexpected winner and a bit of a feel-good factor for IAM Cycling on stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia
You’ve got to feel sorry for the sprinters
The sprinters waited days for a flat stage and they get done over by a plucky late break! After the antics of stage 16 on Wednesday, where the sprinters went balls to the wall for three hours just to make the time cut, you’d have thought the peloton would just let them have their fun on this harmless stage.
It’s something to smile about for IAM Cycling
Two days after the team announced it would be closing at the end of the season, Kluge delivered IAM Cycling‘s first WorldTour win of the year and their first Grand Tour win of their four-year history.
Some may argue that if their riders had put in such performances over the rest of the year they may have secured a sponsor in order to continue, but let’s not take away a lovely moment for the Swiss team.
It looked as though Filippo Pozzato was going to send the crowd into raptures by breaking away in the last kilometre to win the stage but Kluge put down some Watts to overhaul the Italian and cross the line first.
Nizzolo still can’t win a Giro stage
Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) finally won a sprint at the Giro d’Italia, but it was for second place, meaning his winless streak continues.
The Italian has now finished in the top 10 at his home Grand Tour on 27 occasions without winning a stage and this was by far his best opportunity to do it.
Wearing the red jersey, Nizzolo is one of the few actual sprinters left in the race, with all the other big names jetting off after stage 12 or even before.
The red jersey will be some consolation, and Nizzolo extended his lead in that competition to 48 points, but he’ll be pretty desperate for a win on the final stage in Turin.
The breakaway and the art of not giving up
The breakaway in this stage had pretty much no chance of staying away, with long, flat, straight roads in the final kilometres, but the riders weren’t just out there for the fun of it.
Come the last 10km their lead was down to a matter of seconds, but with some good cohesion up front they managed to hold off the sprint trains in the peloton until inside the final two kilometres.
Even then, the peloton didn’t have things under control. A Lotto-Soudal rider counter-attacked as soon as the break was caught and then Pozzato had a go, and finally Kluge churned his way to the finish line for the win.
Now back to the real competition
As nice as it is to see a sprint stage in among the mountain challenges, the real excitement of this Giro d’Italia is the general classification.
The sprint competition lost all its enjoyment when all the sprinters buggered off in the second week and the mountain classification seems to be pretty pointless.
From Thursday through to Saturday we’ll be back to the real racing, with a gruesome, but short, climb to finish stage 18 and two mega-mountain stages after that.
That’s what we’re here to see.