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Having again been perfectly delivered by Richeze and Ferrari in a hectic finale, Modolo easily held off Nizzolo and Mezgec to win his second stage of the Giro d’Italia; Contador defended his lead

Photo: Sirotti












27.05.2015 @ 17:40 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Sacha Modolo continued what has been an amazing Giro d’Italia for Lampre-Merida when he powered clear of Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) and Luka Mezgec (Giant-Alpecin) to win the bunch sprint on stage 17 of the Giro d’Italia. After a perfect lead-out by Maximiliano Richeze and Roberto Ferrari, he was clearly the fastest in the final dash to the line while Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) was on the right side of the splits in the tricky finale and defended his overall lead.


Going into the Giro d’Italia, Lampre-Merida generally flew under the radar and no one expected the team to play a dominant role in their home grand tour. However, the team has had a dream start to the race and when they recovered on the second rest day, they had already won three stages with Jan Polanc, Diego Ulissi and Sacha Modolo.


Today they firmly established their position at the top of the list of most successful teams in the race when Modolo took his second win. After a hectic bunch sprint with a very tricky finale, he was clearly the fastest and easily held off Giacomo Nizzolo and Luka Mezgec to take the second grand tour stage victory of his career.


After his first win, Modolo had dedicated the win to lead-out men Roberto Ferrari and Maximilano Richeze, claiming that 60% of the victory belonged to the Italian and 40% was due to the Argentinean. Again he benefited from perfect support from his two domestiques and it was a perfect lead-out that allowed him to start his sprint from the ideal position.


However, it was no easy task to set up a bunch sprint on the short stage that included a tricky finale with two small climbs and a tricky descent in the very finale. Hence, the sprint teams had kept the early break on a short leash and as they hit the first of the late ascents with 27km to go, the trio were already back in the fold.


BMC had plans with Philippe Gilbert and so they put Amael Moinard on the front. The Frenchman rode hard on the front and made the group splinter before Patrick Gretsch (Ag2r) and Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal) attacked near the top. Darwin Atapuma (BMC) managed to bridge the gap as they crested the summit while Tinkoff-Saxo took control of the peloton.


Atapuma was not in his ideal terrain and as he was unable to keep up with Hansen, the Australian suddenly got clear. Gretsch tried to chase him down but the duo constantly lost ground to the strong Lotto Soudal rider.


With 20km to go, Hansen had a 25-second advantage over the peloton which was being led by Tobias Ludvigsson (Giant-Alpecin). He later got some assistance from teammate Simon Geschke and they gradually brought the gap down.


Gretsch dropped Atapuma but it was all in vain as they were both brought back with 18km to go. Meanwhile, Hansen fought hard to maintain a 15-second advantage while Ludvigsson and Geschke chased hard.


With 10km to go, they approached the final climb and here Hansen was brought back as Tinkoff-Saxo again took control. Sergio Paulinho did the early work before Ivan Rovny took over.


Manuele Boaro was next in line and led the peloton onto the climb where Matteo Tosatto took over. He made the peloton explode to pieces but had no response when Tom-Jelte Slagter (Cannondale) attacked.


Salvatore Puccio immediately started to chase for Sky before Philippe Gilbert (BMC) managed to bridge the gap to Slagter as they started the descent. However, Ivan Basso was now riding hard for Tinkoff-Saxo and the front duo were dangling just a few metres ahead of the peloton.


Luca Paolini (Katusha) bridged the gap and he used the many hairpin turns inside the final 3km to get clear. Further back, Gilbert and SLagter had been joined by Puccio, Matteo Montaguti (Ag2r) and Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-QuickStep) but that group was quickly caught as Trek had started to chase with Fabio Felline.


Paolini also ran out of legs and with 1.4km to go, it was over. Felline rode on the front until Lampre-Merida kicked into action at the flamme rouge. Roberto Ferrari took a huge turn before Richeze did the lead-out that allowed Modolo to take what looked like another easy sprint win.


Alberto Contador was on the right side of the many splits in the finale and so he defended his 4.02 lead over Mikel Landa (Astana). He takes that into tomorrow’s next mountain stage which can be split into two parts. After a flat first section, the riders climb the very steep Monte Ologno whose summit is located 35.6km from the finish. Then there’s a small lumpy section before a long descent leads to a flat final few kilometres.


A tricky stage

After the queen stage, the GC riders were expected to get a chance to recover a bit in stage 17 which brought the riders iver just 134km from Tirano to Lugano. After a short flat section, the riders went straight up the 7.4km Teglio climb before they descended to a long flat section. In the finale, there were two smaller climbs, making it a day that could both suit a breakaway or the sprinters.


The riders had perfect sunshine when they gathered in Tirano for the start. There were no no non-starters when the riders headed out on the short flat stretch that led to the Teglio climb and as expected they got the race off to a fast start with lots of attacks.


The break gets clear

Iljo Keisse (Etixx-QuickStep), Giacomo Berlato (Nippo) and Marco Bandiera (Androni) managed to escape after just 2km of racing and while the peloton prepared for the climb, they built an advantage of 30 seconds.


Surprisingly, the group was allowed to build an advantage of 2.10 as they headed up the Teglio climb where Luca Chirco (Bardiani) took off in pursuit. He was quickly brought back and later Maciej Paterski (CCC) and Davide Villella (Cannondale) also tried to bridge the gap.


The chase gets organized

Berlato took maximum points at the top of the climb while Tinkoff-Saxo took control of the peloton with Paulinho. Villella quickly decided to sit up and with 105km to go, Paterski was also back in the fold.


At this point, the sprint teams had got organized and it was Fabio Silvestre (Trek) and the Giant-Alpecin pair of Cheng Ji and Tom Stamsnijder who rode on the front. At this point, the gap was 3 minutes but with the situation under control, they gradually got closer.


Viviani beats Nizzolo in intermediate sprint

Lampre-Merida started to work as Tsgabu Grmay joined forces with the workers on the front of the peloton before Keisse led Bandiers and Berlato across the line in the first intermediate sprint. A little later Nikola Boem (Bardiani) tried to do a long sprint but it was Bernhard Eisel who gave Elia Viviani the perfect lead-out, allowing his Sky sprinter to hold off Nizzolo in the sprint for fourth.


With 70km to go, the gap was only 1.40 and Grmay, Ji, Stamsnijder and Silvestre had already gone back to work. They rode pretty fast in the windy conditions and with 55km to go, a few riders were briefly dropped when they hit an exposed crosswind section. However, it quickly came back together.


IAM hit the front

With 50km to go, the gap was only 1.15 and it dropped to 50 seconds 5km later. Here Calvin Watson also started to work for Trek but the escapees still managed to extend their advantage to 1.10.


However, they were now just 10km from the bottom of the first of the late climbs, meaning that the fight for position had started. Things didn’t get any easier when IAM hit the front with Roger Kluge and Aleksejs Saramotins and when Berlato led Bandiera and Keisse across the line in the second intermediate sprint at the bottom of the ascent, they were in sight of the peloton.


Nizzolo beat Viviani and Eisel in the sprint for fourth and it was Eisel who set the pace on the lower slopes. Watson briefly took over before Moinard upped the pace and brought the break back to start the animated finale.



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