Giovanni Visconti celebrated his second solo win at the Giro d’Italia claiming the 17th stage to Vicenza in what is his Movistar team’s fourth victory of the race.
Visconti launched his winning attack on the sole climb with some 17km remaining and was not caught despite repeatedly checking his shoulder. Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin Sharp) led the maglia rosa group across the line 19 seconds later for runner-up with Luka Mezgec (Argos-Shimano) third.
There was no change to the top three in the overall standings with Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) holding onto the pink jersey ahead of Cadel Evans (BMC). Sky’s Rigoberto Uran is third with four days remaining.
“It’s incredible. I found myself again. The Galibier gave me back my energy and belief. I feel very well indeed,” Visconti said referring to his previous stage 15 victory.
“We had chosen this stage and we wanted to try it on the climb. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to manage all the way but I did and I’m happy.”
The stage had been classified as flat but some had suggested a category four climb featuring narrow roads, where Visconti made his move, may have been too much for the few pure sprinters left in the race like Mark Cavendish.
Cavendish’s Omega Pharma-Quick Step team clearly had faith in its sprinter, who has picked up four stages thus far, controlling the pace at the front of the peloton for most of the day with Argos-Shimano.
But the 28-year-old did lose contact on the 5.3km ascent that topped out at 12 per cent. Four teammates attempted to pace him back to the chase group but to no avail.
Cavendish started the day with a six-point advantage over Evans in the red jersey standings and a victory today would have given him a handy buffer with just one sprint stage remaining on Sunday. The former world champion picked up intermediate bonuses but that advantage was narrowed to a slender four-points after Evans’s 10th place.
Cavendish finished more than one minute down on the race winner, directing his frustration at another rider who rode across the line half a wheel in front of him to bring the trailing group home.
“We could [not] have done more,” Cavendish said. “We knew it was going to be hard but we thought we’d try anyway. I cracked on the climb. The guys stayed with me. They gave everything right until the last corner but there was nothing we could do.”
Australian national road and time trial champion Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEdge) spearheaded the main breakaway of the day that included Maxim Belkov (Katusha), Gert Dockx (Lotto Belisol) and Miguel Rubiano (Androni Giocattoli). The quartet achieved a maximum time advantage of around four minutes but was kept in check for most of the day before dropping back on the Crosara climb.
Nibali has a one minuted and 26 second advantage over Evans ahead of tomorrow’s mountainous 20.6km time trial and two high mountain stages Friday and Saturday, which may yet be altered depending on weather.
Girod’Italia 2013, stage 17: Caravaggio to Vicenza, 214km
1. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar 5-15-34
2. Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin-Sharp at 19sec
3. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Argos-Shimano
4. Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida
5. Danilo Hondo (Ger) RadioShack-Leopard
6. Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Sky
7. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox
8. Fabio Felline (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
9. Francisco Ventoso (Spa) Movistar
10. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing all same time
Overall classification after stage 17
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana 73-11-29
2. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC at 1-26
3. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Sky at 2-46
4. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 3-53
5. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida at 4-13
6. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia at 4-57
7. Carlos Betancur (Col) Ag2r La Mondiale at 5-15
8. Rafal Majka (Pol) Saxo-Tinkoff at 5-20
9. Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar at 5-47
10. Robert Gesink (Ned) Blanco at 7-24
Luke Durbridge heads the escape group
Giovanni Visconti takes a solo win
Ramunas Navardauskas celebrates… coming second