Jon Izagirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi) won stage 17 of the Giro d’Italia after attacking on the final climb as the breakaway stayed away for the third time in the race.
Racing resumed after the second rest day for the final six stages with Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) in the maglia rosa, holding a 30-second advantage over Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda).
It took nearly 70km for the breakaway to form on the 173km stage from Limone sul Garda to Falzes/Pfalzen and, with several stages in the high mountains to come, the peloton were happy to let the 10-strong group ride to an advantage of more than 12 minutes.
That advantage remained intact as the finish approached, with the winner to come from the breakaway group, which remained as one until the foot of the final climb – a two kilometre ascent with three sections of pavé and a maximum gradient of 12 per cent.
Jose Herrada (Movistar) made the initial move on the early slopes but it was Izagirre who made the decisive move to open up a 15-second gap at the top of the climb, with two kilometres of flat road to the finish.
Herrada and Alessandro De Marchi (Androni Giocattoli) went in pursuit of the Izagirre but failed to close the gap and the Spaniard rode to a convincing victory, crossing the line 16 seconds seconds ahead of De Marchi, with Stef Clement (Rabobank) third.
With the stage winner decided, attention turned to the general classification with the peloton approaching the climb, which looked like the type of terrain on which a punchy rider in the mould of Rodriguez could gain a valuable few seconds.
But, with Garmin-Barracuda driving the pace, Rodriguez sat in the bunch, no doubt more concerned with the climbs to come in the rest of the race, as the main favourites rolled across the line as one.
Stage 17 sees the race head into the high mountains, with a 186km stage to Cortina d’Ampezzo, featuring four categorised climbs, including the category one Passo Giau less than 20km from the finish. You can get a rider’s eye preview of the stage from IG-Sigma Sport’s Daniel Lloyd and Team Sky’s Michael Barry here.
Giro d’Italia stage 16 – result
1) Jon Izagirre (SPA) Euskaltel-Euskadi – 4:02:00 houra
2) Alessandro De Marchi (ITA) Androni Giocattoli +16″
3) Stef Clement (NED) Rabobank
4) Mathias Frank (SWI) BMC Racing +19″
5) José Herrada Lopez (SPA) Movistar +21″
6) Manuele Boaro (ITA) SaxoBank +37″
7) Matthias Brandle (AUT) Team NetApp +43″
8) Nikolas Maes (BEL) Omega Pharma-QuickStep +45″
9) Lars Ytting Bak (DEN) Lotto-Belisol
10) Luca Mazzanti (ITA) Farnese Vini-Selle Italia +48″
1) Joaquim Rodriguez (SPA) – Katusha – 69:22:04 hours
2) Ryder Hesjedal (CAN) – Garmin-Barracuda +30″
3) Ivan Basso (ITA) – Liquigas-Cannondale +1’22″
4) Paolo Tiralongo (ITA) – Astana +1’26″
5) Roman Kreuziger (CZE) Astana at +1’27
6) Michele Scarponi (ITA) – Lampre-ISD +1’36″
7) Benat Intxausti (SPA) – Movistar +1’42″
8) Sergio Henao (COL) – Team Sky +1’55″
9) Dario Cataldo (ITA) – Omega Pharma-QuickStep +2’12″
10) Sandy Casar (FRA) – FDJ-BigMat +2’13″