Giro Stage 17 – Victory for Dan Martin

Already a winner of two stages in the Vuelta and Tour de France, Dan Martin added one from the Giro with an incredibly fighting ride on Giro Stage 17, Simon Yates too fought hard and dropped Bernal and his rivals for the podium

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Giro Stage 17 – Victory for Dan Martin

Where do I start on a stage of the Giro d’Italia that had so much drama! From the fighting win by Dan Martin, to the attacking ride by Simon Yates to distance Egan Bernal, to Hugh Carthy having a bad day and losing minutes, to the misfortunes for riders such as Ciccone and Evenepoel to name but two. The stage was eventful and thankfully the weather was lovely and the images of the action were beamed around the world.

Unlike stage 16 which had to be shortened, stage 17 was full distance all the way to the summit finish on a brutal climb up to Sega di Ala and including a Cat 1 climb only 40km from the finish. A big breakaway escaped and in that 19 was Dan Martin. Also in there was Cumbria’s James Knox along with Gianni Moscon, Mountains leader Geoffrey Bouchard, Dries De Bondt, Simone Ravanelli, Luis León Sánchez, Giovanni Carboni, Felix Grossschartner, Pieter Serry, Matteo Badilatti, Jan Hirt, Quinten Hermans, Andrea Pasqualon, Matteo Jorgenson, Antonio Pedrero, Jacopo Mosca, Valerio Conti and Alessandro Covi.

Whilst Bernal’s team chased the move at a steady tempo, it was clear Simon Yates was on a good day as his team came to the front and were doing a lot of work to try and bring the break back and give Yates a shot at the stage win. The really fast tempo from Yate’s BikeExchange team saw the Pink jersey group get smaller and smaller. Up front, likewise, the incredible pace setting by Dan Martin, reduced the numbers in the breakaway as well. Only Gianni Moscon and Antonio Pedrero could go with Dan Martin although Bouchard came back just in time to get points in the KoM competition.

Whilst the breakaway descended the first cat mountain with little drama, there was plenty in the Pink jersey group. A big crash took down at least half a dozen riders including Ciccone who had just recovered from a mechanical, Remco Evenepoel, Mark Christian, Nibali, two from BikeExchange (Yates team), and others. Evenepoel was slow to get up after his somersault over a steel barrier, but after the young Belgian received medical attention, he set off again helped by his teammates all the way to the finish where he finished 36 minutes down.

Whilst Ciccone frantically chased the Pink jersey group, eventually catching it, the gap to Dan Martin by Bernal and the riders in his group was coming down. As they hit the final climb, the breakaway wasn’t on the slopes long before Dan Martin dropped his breakaway companions one by one, two by two and was soon on his own after the last of the riders to hold his wheel, Antonio Pedrero, dropped away.

In the pink jersey group, with Yates having lost two teammates in the crash, Astana went to the front briefly before they realised their leader, Vlasov, was not on a good day. As the riders climbed this brutal mountain, the favourites started to pop out the back of the group. Ciccone didn’t last long which was no surprise after the previous efforts, and then Vlasov with a teammate to pace him, were gapped. Quickstep had two riders (Serry & Knox) come back from the break to try and reduce the gap to Martin on behalf of their rider, Almeida who then attacked to try and go it alone.

Bernal was happy for Almeida go clear but when Simon Yates went, Bernal along with Damiano Caruso was quickly on Yate’s back wheel as riders like Hugh Carthy were in trouble and being popped out the back. Almeida kept the pressure on as he was caught by the Yates led trio, but soon shock waves went through the fans watching as for the first time in the race, Bernal was struggling! Whilst Yates and Almeida pressed on, Bernal along with Caruso was losing time to Yates. The Pink jersey’s teammate and countryman Dani Martínez went back to him and was giving him encouragement as well as pacing him up the climb.

Yates pushed on with Almeida on his wheel before Almeida went off to chase Martin but the Portuguese rider fell short of the stage win, finishing second to Martin but ahead of Yates who was third, 53 seconds ahead of Bernal (7th). Caruso (second overall) finished 50 seconds down on Yates. The big losers were Vlasov who lost 2.38 to Yates whilst Carthy lost 3.22 to Yates.

Update …. Following his unfortunate accident, Remco Evenepoel will leave the race. He was able to finish the stage and was then examined by the team’s doctor. This examination has revealed there was no fractures, but the medical team decided that it would be best if Remco was to leave the race and recover completely as fast as possible, before working towards his goals for later in the season.

Remco was obviously disappointed with the outcome: “In the end it was a crash that shouldn’t have happened, I don’t know what really happened in front of me, but I came into the corner and saw some guys on the ground and I couldn’t pass on the right side because I was next to another guy, so I didn’t have any chances to avoid a crash. For now, there isn’t anything broken, but I have a lot of contusions, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to carry on with this pain. So I go back to Belgium and go for some CT scans. Then we will see.”

He reflected further on his first Grand Tour experience: “Of course it’s sad to leave the race, and my first Grand Tour too early, but in the end, it was a nice experience and I hope to be back one day again. I’m wishing the best to all my Deceuninck – Quick-Step teammates.”

Dan Martin: ““I came to the Giro to win a stage,” Martin said after the finish. I had information from [DS] Nicki [Sørensen] the whole climb. I knew what was going on, and I knew from a recon I did of the climb that I just needed to get to 2 K to go, so I rode my pace on the steepest section, just rode a good tempo, and then I really went full gas with 2 and a half km to go, just to… because I knew they were getting close. So, yeah, it wasn’t until then I went really all in. I think the shake of the head there [he is watching himself on TV] at the end, it says I can’t really believe it’s happening. And I still can’t believe it’s happening. The race has been a rollercoaster for us on the team.

We lost Kris [Neilands] on the first day, and then we had some really good stages, we had some 2nds, 3rds, a lot of podiums, and then we lost Dema [Alessandro De Marchi]… obviously, Dema in the pink jersey, and then we had Dema crash out and Alex [Dowsett] get sick, but our spirit has always been amazing. We’ve had a great tream atmosphere, and that showed this morning. We had a plan to put me in the breakaway. Everybody worked for that. Everybody played a part in this.

I didn’t think it was going to happen for a bit with the strong headwind. The strong headwind was…. it killed the speed in the breakaway and it killed our legs, but somehow we managed to hang on. That’s what I came here for, to try and win a stage, and I knew that today was one of my last opportunities, and with the extra time I lost the day before the rest day, I knew it was possible I go in the breakaway, and then, it’s incredible.” Dan added that he came to win a stage and is very pleased to have done so…

Egan Bernal: “Today was a tough day for me, for sure. I mean, the last kilometres were like really steep and I tried to follow Yates but today he was stronger than me, and then I just tried to ride with Caruso who is the closest on the GC. I didn’t want to take any risks. But, yeah, for sure, I mean, Yates today was impressive and I just did my best. I’m happy because I don’t lost too much time with Yates in today’s stage, and today was perfect for him, and then with Caruso who is 2nd on GC I lost just a few metres. On a bad day today I just lose almost nothing to 2nd on GC, I have some advantage with Yates, so I need to… just to arrive with some time to Milan, and then if I win the Giro it’s with 1 second or 2 minuites for me it will be the same.”

João Almeida: “I don’t think we could have done more than this. The guys protected and worked for me, they produced a strong effort in the valley as we approached the last ascent. Then, as I was feeling good, I just tried on the last climb I just tried, and to be sincere, I didn’t expect to have those gaps or to gain more places in the general classification. Second on this hard climb and eighth overall gives me more motivation and confidence for the remaining stages”.

Simon Yates – 3rd place overall: “I attacked and I didn’t realise Egan was dropped until a bit later. I was already going full gas so it wasn’t like I could accelerate any more to try and increase the gap. We missed the breakaway and I wanted to have a go for the stage today. By the time the breakaway had gone, there was only 60km or so before the first climb of the day, it wasn’t a huge job for us. It wasn’t like we had to ride 200km on the front and burn all the team. They did a great job, so chapeau to them and now we will see what I can do the next days. I hope the weather stays like this, everyday it has rained I have not had a good day, so hopefully the weather stays the same and I can see what I can do in these final days.”

Damiano Caruso was pleased with his performance: “Today was one of the hardest stages of this Giro. The last hour and a half was really full gas, especially the last climb, which was super hard, and as I expected, Yates attacked, and he made the difference on the last climb. But I felt good, and even then, I kept my tempo to the finish, and the gap was quite okay and under control. Well, I couldn’t follow him, so, in any case, I didn’t have any options left but to keep my tempo. Then when I saw the Maglia Rosa, Bernal, suffering like me, my morale went up because I realized that it is really hard for all of us at this moment”.

Diego Ulissi: “I’m happy with the result, the form is getting better each day and I feel like the troubles I had earlier in the year are behind me, my morale is strong. The last climb was very tough but the legs were good and I could dig in and get a good result. We’ll try for more opportunities on the stages that are left.”

Koen Bouwman (22nd) “Today was a very difficult day. The final climb was tough with very steep parts. I did my best to bring George and Tobias to the front. Then I gave everything to hang on for as long as possible. I think that went well. At about six kilometres from the end I had to let go. Tobias fought to the end in the presence of George and is doing well in the general classification. I am doing very well uphill. My 14th place in the general classification also shows that. I am in good shape. In the coming days I hope to be able to compete for a stage win. I am happy with the freedom that I get from the team.”

Tobias Foss: “I look back on today’s stage with a good feeling. Koen and George, but also Paul Martens and Edoardo Affini did a good job. We were well placed in the final. The final climb was particularly tough. Maybe a bit too steep for me, but with the help of George, who was constantly near me, I was able to ride up at a good pace. I’m a little surprised that I can mix in among the favourites in the third week of a grand tour. That’s a nice feeling. There are still some tough days ahead. We will try to win a stage as a team and ride full throttle in the remaining stages. I hope to be in the top ten after Sunday’s time trial.”

Romain Bardet: “It was a fast start to the stage today before the breakaway went clear.” explained Bardet. “The guys positioned me really well going onto the first climb. Over the top there were three of us in the front group which was great, they brought me onto the final climb in good position. From there on it was full gas and I just focused on pacing my own climb. It was a heavy one and Michael did a really great job to help bring me all the way to the line. We’re another day closer to Milan and we’ll continue giving it our all to move up the GC.”


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