Alberto Dainese darts to stage 17 victory – Giro d’Italia

Giro d’Italia 2023

Stage 17

Alberto Dainese (Team DSM) claimed stage 17 of the Giro d’Italia, beating Jonathan Milan (Bahrain Victorious) and Michael Matthews (Jayco-AlUla) in a tight sprint in Caorle.

In a final week dominated by mountains, this was as gentle a day as you could imagine, with no climbs and net downhill on the 197 kilometres from Pergine Valsugana to the coastal finishing town above Venice.

Team DSM have largely backed Marius Mayrhofer in the bunch sprints so far at this Giro, but they pivoted to Dainese, who clinched his second victory in two editions of the Giro.

Team DSM were the most organised collective on the corner-heavy run-in, and they took pole position through the final left-hander 600 metres from the line. Dainese, though, had to bide his time as his lead-out man pulled off with 400 metres still to go, leaving Michael Hepburn to come through and slingshot Matthews into a long-range sprint.

Dainese let the wheel go to Simone Consonni (Cofidis) in front, but ran at it and then sprinted into Matthews’ slipstream before hitting out to the right. Meanwhile, maglia ciclamino Milan came from even further back to burst into contention in typical head-bobbing fashion.

The three of them came together on the line, and Dainese just about managed to keep his wheel in front of Milan’s by the tightest of margins, with Matthews less than half a wheel back sandwiched in the middle of them.

“This is insane,” said Dainese, who revealed he’d been struggling with stomach sickness and breathing difficulties in the past five days.

“We rode an insane final with the boys. I was a bit overtaken by the guys on the left, so had to squeeze and try to catch Matthews. The last metres I had to dig so deep. I saw Jonny coming. I couldn’t really throw my bike I was so on the limit, but it was nice to get my wheel a few centimetres in front and get the win.”

Niccolo Bonifazio (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) came late with speed to take fourth place ahead of the fading Consonni, while Fernando Gaviria (Movistar) had to settle for sixth place.

Alberto Dainese narrowly wins the sprint finish.

The Colombian was one of a number of high-profile sprinters left out of position through the technical final kilometres, with stage 11 winner Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) only managing 10th. Mark Cavendish (Astana Qazaqstan) was left well down in 19th place, having locked onto Milan’s wheel but then switching to follow teammate Luis Leon Sanchez with 2.3km to go and soon after losing huge ground and with it any hope of a 17th Giro stage win.

There was no change in the general classification as the peloton enjoyed its calmest day yet on this chaotic Giro, although there were still a few spots of rain. Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) was kept safe by his teammates on the run-in and retained the pink jersey, with no change to the general classification.

“It was a bit of a crazy bunch finish but I’m happy to get that done,” said Thomas. “We were sat nicely, just trying to save as much as possible for the next three days.”

The 197km stage took the riders away from the mountains in the north of Italy, starting at an altitude of 530 metres and finishing by the coast north of Venice. There were a couple of tiny inclines early on but it was effectively false flat downhill for the first half and then flat for the second.

Final-week flat stages are not always clear-cut sprint opportunities given the accumulated fatigue and the depletion of personnel that has been particularly marked at this Giro, but a small and unthreatening move went early and was kept well under control all day.

The four riders in the breakaway were: Thomas Champion (Cofidis), Charlie Quarterman (Corratec-Selle Italia), Diego Sevilla (Eolo-Kometa), and Senne Leysen (Alpecin-Deceuninck).

It didn’t settle immediately as Green Project-Bardiani-CSF-Faizane missed the boat and looked to fire riders across, with Davide Gaburro caught in no man’s land for several kilometres. There was even a little flurry of drama as Matthews launched a speculative attack, forcing Milan into action, but it was short-lived and the peloton settled into a familiar pattern for the rest of the day.

Bahrain Victorious, Movistar, DSM, and Astana were the teams working at the head of the bunch as they allowed the escapees a rather meagre maximum advantage of 2:40. The gap fluctuated in the first half of the race but never went above that.

The first Intermediate sprint came after 83km, with 114km remaining, and saw Champion edge out Sevilla for maximum points. From the peloton behind, Milan mopped up with ease to extend his lead in the points classification, with second-place Derek Gee (Israel-Premier Tech) up there and challenging again.

The peloton passes through the town of Valstagna.

After a quiet middle section, the gap between break and bunch started to come down with 75km to go, ducking under the one-minute mark with just under 40km to go. The second intermediate sprint came with 31km to go and saw Quarterman prevail ahead of Champion, with no points on offer for the maglia ciclamino, so no contest from the bunch.

The gap continued to fall until the point that, with just 15 seconds and 22km to go, Leysen decided to attack his companions. Champion dropped immediately, while Quarterman and Sevilla lasted a little longer before drifting back, but Leysen stormed ahead on his second wind. The Belgian moved back out to a minute, and held it there as the peloton bided its time ahead of the true sprint wind-up.

Leysen was finally caught with 5km to go, at which point Ineos led the peloton, with Ben Swift and then Salvatore Puccio guiding Thomas all the way to the safety net of the 3km-to-go banner. Then it was over to the sprint teams, and DSM took charge with three riders on the left. Milan was free-styling behind two from Trek-Segafredo, with Cavendish on his wheel until his switch to Sanchez and his sudden plummeting through the pack.

A Jacyo-AlUla rider had a brief spell on the front, before DSM took it into the final kilometre and through the final bend. Jayco were back for the final lead-out and nearly launched Matthews to a canny victory, but Dainese had the run at him and had his measure. Milan, coming from way further back, launched another impressive sprint but, for the second time in this Giro, had left himself with too much to do, leaving Dainese to celebrate an “insane” victory on a day that was as mundane as they come.

Tomorrow’s stage 18 opens a trilogy of decisive high mountain stages with a lot of vertical metres. The 161 kilometres route takes in four climbs before a promising finale in Val di Zoldo.

The race sets off from Oderzo to enter a flat phase of 30 kilometres. Then La Crosetta kicks in with its 11.6 kilometres at 7.1%. Following an undulating phase shortly after the summit the route descends towards the foot of the hill on which Pieve d’Alpago is perched. This is a 3.4 kilometres climb at 5.4%.

Back in the valley, in Ponte nelle Alpi, the race enters a more quiet phase. For tens of kilometres the route climbs false flat to the ascent to Pieve di Cadore, which is – at 7.3 kilometres and averaging 4.8% – a gentle reminder that the finale is about to begin.

First up, the Forcella Cibiana. The 9.6 kilometres climb at 7.8% is crested with 25.8 kilometres remaining. The first half of it goes downhill, the second half is the finish climb. Which is an interesting one.

The first 5 kilometres climb at 9.8% to Coi before a sharp descent makes way for a more moderate climb to Refugio Palafavera in Zoldo Alto. It’s 2.7 kilometres long and goes up at 6.4%.

Stage 17 result:

  1. Alberto Dainese (Ita) DSM, in 4-26-08
  2. Jonathan Milan (Ita) Bahrain-Victorious
  3. Michael Matthews (Aus) Jayco Alula
  4. Niccolò Bonifazio (Ita) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty
  5. Simone Consonni (Ita) Cofidis
  6. Fernando Gaviria (Col) Movistar
  7. Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Bahrain-Victorious
  8. Alex Kirsch (Lux) Trek-Segafredo
  9. Stefano Oldani (Ita) Alpecin-Deceuninck
  10. Pascal Ackermann (Deu) UAE Team Emirates, all at same time

General Classification:

1. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, in 71:58:43
2. João Almeida (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 18s
3. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, at 29s
4. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious, at 2:50
5. Eddie Dunbar (Ire) Jayco-AIUla, at 3:03
6. Lennard Kämna (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 3:20
7. Bruno Armirail (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 3:22
8. Andreas Leknessund (Nor) DSM, at 3:30
9. Thymen Arensman (Ned) Ineos Grenadiers, at 4:09
10. Laurens De Plus (Bel) Ineos Grenadiers, at 4:32

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