Ulissi handed Giro stage win
Contador maintains race lead
Last Updated: 25/05/11 5:14pm
Visconti: Reacted angrily after being blocked off in the sprint and lost his stage victory
Diego Ulissi sprinted to victory on stage 17 of the Giro in a bad-tempered finish into Tirano.
The Lampre-ISD rider crossed the line in second place but was promoted to the victory after initial winner Giovanni Visconti had been demoted to third place for dangerous sprinting.
Ulissi took up the sprint early and squeezed Visconti towards the barriers, with the Italian national champion reacting by shoving the youngster twice in the final 100 metres.
The penalty handed second on the stage to Pablo Lastras (Movistar) after the quartet had broken clear of a 16-man group of escapees on the final descent of the day.
Race-leader Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard) finished safely in the front group of a peloton that had split on the fast run down from Aprica, maintaining a near five-minute lead over Ulissi’s team-mate Michele Scarponi.
The stage marked a day in the Dolomites that had been earmarked as one for a potential breakaway attempt, sparking a fight to move clear in the opening stages.
Surprisingly it took 67km for a 16-man group to get away, including two men on the fringes of the top-10 in Kanstantsin Sivtsov (HTC-Highroad) and Christophe Le Mevel (Garmin-Cervelo).
With Saxo Bank-Sungard content to sit back with their own man Jesus Hernandez up the road, Liquigas were obliged to take up the chase on the front of the peloton as the gap ballooned to over seven minutes.
Yet as the time dropped down under four minutes cracks began to show in the break as co-operation levels came to a grinding halt.
With 29km to go Hubert Dupont (Ag2r) and Jan Bakelandts (Omega Pharma-Lotto) were the first to put in an attack out of the break, followed shortly afterwards by Svitsov.
No escape was allowed to gain more than a few bike lengths before it was shut down on the approach to the final climb at Aprica.
As the group crested the climb Lastras and Visconti put in the most significant dig as the break was strung out on the fast, technical descent, shelling a number of riders and resulting in four men breaking clear to contest the sprint.
The descent saw Vincenzo Nibali come to the head of the peloton briefly to put pressure onto Contador but to no avail.
The peloton breezed across the line over three minutes down on an angry Visconti, who was denied a famous Grand Tour victory.