Giro d’Italia: De Plus and Devenyns spend day in the break
Fernando Gaviria and Bob Jungels continue to lead the points, respectively the best young riders classification.
There's no such thing as an easy day at the Giro d'Italia, and the riders got to see and feel this again on stage 17, which at 219 kilometers was one of the longest at this edition. Wednesday, the race started from Canazei and had two important climbs jammed in the first 60 kilometers: Aprica and Passo del Tonale, which was introduced on the course back in 1933, when the legendary Alfredo Binda was the first at the top.
The profile looked perfectly suited to an escape, and for that reason a big battle to make it to the front began between the riders eager to book a place in the front group. When things finally settled down, the breakaway counted 40 riders, including two of Quick-Step Floors: Laurens De Plus, who got himself infiltrated into the escape for the third time in the past week, and Dries Devenyns.
As the peloton took it easy, the gap swelled to 14 minutes at the midway point, and that marked the moment which saw Quick-Step Floors take the reins in the bunch, because Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates) – who posed a serious threat to Bob Jungels' white jersey – also made it into the large group. Eros Capecchi, Fernando Gaviria, Iljo Keisse and Pieter Serry all took long turns at the front, clawing back time until the Slovenian's advantage didn't represent a problem anymore.
Once the breakaway entered in the final 20 kilometers, the cohesion between the riders hit the skids and everyone had a go at victory. Dries Devenyns twice tried to slip away, last time with ten kilometers left, but he was brought back each time. The decisive move came with eight kilometers remaining and saw Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac) solo to victory, 24 seconds ahead of the chasing group, from which Dries sprinted to sixth for Quick-Step Floors' 17th top-10 finish at the Corsa Rosa.
Bob Jungels concluded the stage between Tirano and Canazei in the peloton led by teammate Eros Capecchi and kept the white jersey which he won at the previous edition, while Fernando Gaviria, who arrived a few minutes later, also held onto his maglia ciclamino.
"It was another long and difficult day, but we are satisfied with the fact we were again among the protagonists. Laurens and Dries, who tried a few times to go away, rode a solid stage and put in a really impressive effort. When the gap of the break reached 13 minutes, we stepped in and took the responsibility in the peloton, as we are doing every single day since the start of the race. The guys were committed and worked hard to protect Bob's jersey, so chapeau to them, it was another beautiful team effort", said sport director Davide Bramati at the end of the day.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele