Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) took his second win of the 2013 Giro d’Italia with another audacious solo move.
The three-time Italian champion, and former client of Dr Michele Ferrari, won stage 15 by riding the Col du Telegraphe and the lower slopes of the Galibier alone last Saturday.
Today, he attacked on the fourth category climb of Crosara, the single interesting feature of an otherwise featureless parcours, bringing to life a stage that had lacked excitement.
Visconti’s assault quickly brought him level with Danilo Di Luca (Vini Fantini) and Miguel Rubiano (Androni-Giocattoli), the latter the sole remaning survivor of a four-man breakaway that went almost from the gun.
The Movistar rider wasted little time in driving clear of the pair, cresting the Crosara alone and with 32 seconds in his pocket, riding ahead of a chasing bunch driven by Tanel Kangert (Astana), a key figure in the denouement to yesterday’s stage.
Crowds at the roadside and television viewers were treated to yet another descending masterclass, this time with Visconti acting as tutor, as he extended his lead before assuming time trial mode for the final, pan flat run to the finish.
Behind him, the peloton had shattered, with the favourites safely clear of a shell-shocked group of sprinters teams, Mark Cavendish and his Omega Pharma-QuickStep men among them.
Robert Gesink (Blanco Pro Cycling), rode aggressively as the finish loomed closer, replicating his performance from the previous stage, in another determined but fruitless display.
Visconti almost came to grief with 1.7km remaining when he seemed to misjudge a corner, but a last second correction through the tight left-hander kept his bid for victory on course.
As he passed under the flamme rouge, it was all over bar the shouting. After a few exploratory punches of the air, Visconti sat up, zipped up his jersey, and allowed himself a full celebration.
Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin Sharp) was second for the second day running, and celebrated with such joy that he seemed to believe he had won.
Luka Mezgec, another of Argos-Shimano’s seemingly inexhaustible supply of sprinters, finished third.
Vincenzo Nibali rode safely in the bunch throughout the day, surrounded by rivals who saw little point in attacking. Tomorrow, however, promises to be quite different.
The stage 18 time trial from Mori to Polsa, a 20.6km test of unrelenting gradient, will be the first of three brutal stages that will unquestionably decide who ends the race in the maglia rosa.
Overall victory looks beyond the Movistar team, but with Visconti’s second victory marking his team’s second win in two days, following Benat Intxausti’s stage 16 victory, the Spanish squad is likely still to consider its campaign in the 96th corsa rosa a success.
Giro d’Italia 2013 – stage seventeen – result
1) Giovanni Visconti (ITA) – Movistar – 5.15.34
2) Ramunas Navardauskas (LTU) – Garmin Sharp +19″
3) Luka Mezgec (POL) – Argos-Shimano – ST
4) Filippo Pozzato (ITA) – Lampre-Merida
5) Danilo Hondo (ESP) – Radioshack-Leopard
6) Salvatore Puccio (ITA) – Team Sky
7) Sacha Modolo (ITA) – Bardiani Valvole
8) Fabio Felline (ITA) – Andrioti-Giocattole
9) Francisco Ventoso (ESP) – Movistar
10) Cadel Evans (AUS) – BMC Racing
1) Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) – Astana – 73.11.29
2) Cadel Evans (AUS) – BMC Racing +1.26
3) Rigoberto Uran (COL) – Team Sky +2.46
4) Michele Scarponi (ITA) – Lampre Merida +3.53
5) Przemyslaw Niemiec (ITA) – 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 (ESP) – Movistar +5.47
10) Robert Gesink (NED) – Blanco Pro Cycling +7.24