SEGA DI ALA: The steep slopes of the brand-new Sega di Ala welcomed the peloton on stage 17 of the Giro d’Italia as the general classification contenders took up arms once again in southern Trentino, east of Lake Garda, and Bahrain Victorious’ Damiano Caruso kept his second position, much to the acclaim of cycling commentators.
Ireland’s Dan Martin completed a hat-trick of grand tour victories when he prevailed in the 17th stage.
Caruso came here with the task of supporting Mikel Landa at Bahrain Victorious, only to be elevated to the role of team leader when the Basque was forced out by a crash in Cattolica in the opening week.
A podium finish at this Giro might be a once in a lifetime chance. “I feel good, because I have a great opportunity,” he said. “I have the opportunity to crown my career. It’s the kind of opportunity that doesn’t present itself very often to a rider like me. It might only come around once, so I’m very determined to achieve it.”
Although Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) proved the master of the Passo Giau, the Colombian showed his first signs of weakness yesterday after getting into trouble three kilometres from the top of the climb.
He had followed Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) on the attack a kilometre earlier but couldn’t hold Yates’ pace as the Briton pushed on to take third on the stage.
Caruso (Bahrain Victorious), who had been dropped earlier, soon made it across to Bernal and his teammate Dani Martínez, but the gap had already been established. In the end, Bernal trailed in 53 seconds (plus four bonus seconds) behind Yates, while Caruso finished just ahead to limit his loss to a total of 54 seconds.
The result sees Yates move up into third place overall, 3:23 behind Bernal and 1:02 behind Caruso. He leapfrogs Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) and Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo), who were among the big losers of the day, timewise.
“Today was a tough day for me, the last kilometres were really steep and I tried to follow Yates, but today he was stronger than me and I just tried to arrive at the finish with Caruso who is the closest in the GC, I didn’t want to take any risks,” said Bernal.
“Yates was impressive and I just did my best. I am happy because I didn’t lose too much time to Yates in today’s stage, today’s stage was perfect for him and then with Caruso who is second in GC I lost just a few metres.”