Giro d'Italia: Giovanni Visconti claims second victory with another solo triumph on stage 17
By Matt Westby. Last Updated: 23/05/13 3:33pm
Giovanni Visconti rode solo to his second victory of the race
Giovanni Visconti claimed his second win in three stages and Movistar's third victory in a row at the Giro d'Italia with another superb solo ride on stage 17.
The 30-year-old Italian, who won stage 15 on the Col du Galibier on Sunday, repeated the feat by attacking on the day's only climb and then holding on down the remaining 16km to the finish line in Vicenza.
The chasing peloton failed to organise a serious chase as riders instead attacked each other, setting up a bunch sprint in which Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Sharp) took second place ahead of Luka Mezgec (Argos-Shimano) in third.
Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) crossed the line safely in the chase group to remain 1min 26sec in front of Cadel Evans (BMC) and 2min 46sec ahead of Rigoberto Uran (Team Sky) in the general classification.
Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) had been the bookmakers' favourite for victory but was dropped on the category-four, 5.3km climb to Crosara, the 12 per cent maximum gradient of which proved too steep for the Briton.
He retained the points classification leader's red jersey, yet despite picking up four points at intermediate sprints, he saw his lead cut to four points after second-placed Evans picked up 10 points for finishing 10th on the stage.
"There is nothing we could have done," Cavendish said afterwards. "We knew it was going to be hard but we thought we would try it anyway.
"I cracked on the climb. The guys stayed with me and gave everything right until the last kilometre, but there was nothing we could do. I've got to keep getting stronger on the climbs - more resilient."
The Crosara climb was the only hill on an otherwise pan-flat, 214km route that began in Caravaggio, in northern Italy.
A four-man breakaway group containing Miguel Angel Rubiano (Androni-Venezuela), Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEDGE), Gert Dockx (Lotto-Belisol) and Maxim Belkov (Katusha) moved clear almost straight after the start but were only allowed a maximum lead of just over five minutes.
After a leisurely and incident-free first half of the stage, the Omega Pharma - Quick-Step-led peloton stepped up its chase inside the last 50km and reduced the gap to just over one minute by the time Belkov dropped out of the break with 30km to go.
Visconti goes solo
Durbridge and Dockx followed suit as they started up the climb, with 21.5km remaining, but Rubiano ploughed on alone and was soon joined by Visconti and Danilo Di Luca (Vini Fantini), who had both attacked out of the peloton on the lower slopes.
Di Luca couldn't keep up the pace, though, and soon fell away, before Visconti also shed Rubiano with a second attack just short of the summit.
He descended down the other side with a 33-second lead over a reduced peloton of around 30 riders, but when the road levelled out, that fell to 22 seconds and it appeared that his valiant effort would be in vain.
However, rather than work together to haul Visconti back, several riders in the chasing bunch began making solo bids for glory and the gap consequently held.
Visconti had a scare when he almost overran a corner 1.5km out, but he quickly regrouped to win by 19 seconds and secure another deserved win.
"The Galibier ressurrected me," Visconti said afterwards. "If someone had told me some days before I would be attacking on such a climb [the Crosara), I wouldn't have believed them, but mental power changes everything. It was already a dream to win a stage in the Giro and I took two of them in just three days."
It was Movistar's fourth stage victory of the Giro, with Visconti's double coming either side of Benat Intxausti's triumph on Tuesday's stage 16 and after Britain's Alex Dowsett won the the stage eight time trial.
Stage 17 result
1 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar, 5:15:34
2 Ramunas Navardauskas (Lit) Garmin-Sharp, +19secs
3 Luka Mezgec (Slo) Argos-Shimano, st
4 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida, st
5 Danilo Hondo (Ger) RadioShack-Leopard, st
6 Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky, st
7 Sacha Modolo (Ita) Bardiani Valvole - CSF Inox, st
8 Fabio Felline (Ita) Androni-Venezuela, st
9 Francisco Ventoso (Spa) Movistar, st
10 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC, st
19 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, st
1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, 73:11:29
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC, +1:26
3 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Team Sky, +2:46
4 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida, +3:53
5 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida, 4:13
6 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini, +4:57
7 Carlos Betancur (Col) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +5:15
8 Rafal Majka (Pol) Saxo-Tinkoff, +5:20
9 Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar, +5:47
10 Robert Gesink (Ned) Blanco, +7:24
Red (points classification) - Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step)
Blue (mountains classification) - Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani Valvole - CSF Inox)
White (best young rider) - Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale)