Italian Lampre rider Sacha Modolo won his second stage of the Giro d’Italia on Wednesday as he came out on top in a sprint finish following the 17th stage from Tirano to Lugano in Switzerland.
Spaniard Alberto Contador comfortably retained the leader’s pink jersey after a relatively flat day of racing across 134km.
The 27-year-old Modolo, who also won stage 13, finished ahead of compatriot Giacomo Nizzolo, who also finished second last Friday, while Slovenian Luka Mezgec took third spot.
“It was like a family arrival,” Contador said after being greeted by his wife Macarena at the finish and the fact he has a residence nearby in Lugano.
“In theory it was a transitional stage but it was hard. The road went up and down, and we were riding into a headwind for most of the day. The peloton was very nervous, and it was fast, with the three-man breakaway up the road.
“So far, something has happened almost every day: a crash, a puncture. I’m very happy because I got through the stage safely and arrived in Lugano, where I live, on my home roads.
“Yesterday was much more wearing than I would have liked, but I’m one day closer to Milan,” added Contador, who won the Giro in 2008 and is bidding to become the first rider since the late Marco Pantani, in 1998, to win the Tour of Italy and Tour de France in the same year.
The Giro enjoyed a welcome day of sunshine and was brought to life by a three man escape that included Belgian Iljo Keisse and Italian duo Marco Bandiera and Giacomo Berlato who took off at the 2km mark.
The peloton kept their maximum advantage to a miserly 3mins 30sec before reeling in the three riders 26km from home.
Australian Adam Hansen was the next rider to attack but was also caught with 10km to race.
The stage then came down to a sprint finish that was dominated by the Lampre team who set up Modolo perfectly to make the decisive burst for the line.
“On paper, the stage looked easy, but in reality it was hard, with a real ramp at 4km to go,” explained Modolo.
“I looked around me on the ramp and I saw lots of potential sprinters in difficulty but perhaps they were more tired than me.
“Yesterday was very hard but I had good legs today and it was nice and hot – the sort of day I like,” added the Italian.
The Giro now faces three hilly days, including a 170km ride from Melide to Verbania on Thursday, and features a category one climb that peaks 35km from home.
The race finishes Sunday with a flat stage from Torino to Milan.
Leading stage and overall results from the 17th stage of the Giro d’Italia, a 134km run from Tirano to Lugano on Wednesday:
1. Sacha Modolo (ITA/LAM) 3hr 07min 51sec, 2. Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA/TRE) same time, 3. Luka Mezgec (SLO/GIA) s.t., 4. Heinrich Haussler (AUS/IAM) s.t., 5. Davide Appollonio (ITA/AND) s.t., 6. Stig Broeckx (BEZ/LOT) s.t., 7. Juan Jose Lobato (ESP/MOV) s.t., 8. Aleksandr Porsev (RUS/KAT) s.t., 9. Kevin Reza (FRA/FDJ) s.t., 10. Nick Van der Lijke (NED/LNL) s.t., 11. Elia Viviani (ITA/SKY) s.t., 12. Maximiliano Richeze (ARG/LAM) s.t., 13. Alexandre Geniez (FRA/FDJ) s.t., 14. Sonny Colbrelli (ITA/BAR) s.t., 15. Grega Bole (SLO/CCC) s.t., 16. Alessandro Petacchi (ITA/SOU) s.t., 17. Matteo Montaguti (ITA/ALM) s.t., 18. Leopold König (CZE/SKY) s.t.,
19. Philippe Gilbert (BEL/BMC) s.t., 20. Damiano Caruso (ITA/BMC) s.t.
21. Rigoberto Uran (COL/ETI) s.t., 23. Alberto Contador (ESP/TIN) s.t., 24. Fabio Aru (ITA/AST) s.t., 29. Mikel Landa (ESP/AST) s.t.
1. Alberto Contador (ESP/TIN) 68hr 12min 50sec, 2. Mikel Landa (ESP/AST) at 4min 02sec, 3. Fabio Aru (ITA/AST) 4:52, 4. Andrey Amador (CRC/MOV) 5:48, 5. Yury Trofimov (RUS/KAT) 8:27, 6. Leopold König (CZE/SKY) 9:31, 7. Damiano Caruso (ITA/BMC) 9:52, 8. Steven Kruijswijk (NED/LNL) 11:40, 9. Alexandre Geniez (FRA/FDJ) 12:48, 10. Ryder Hesjedal (CAN/CAN) 13:01, 11. Maxime Monfort (BEL/LOT) 14:04, 12. Jürgen Van den Broeck (BEL/LOT) 15:59, 13. Giovanni Visconti (ITA/MOV) 20:12, 14. Rigoberto Uran (COL/ETI) 22:12, 15. Amaël Moinard (FRA/BMC) 26:21, 16. Mikel Nieve (ESP/SKY) 26:30, 17. Tanel Kangert (EST/AST) 26:58, 18. Darwin Atapuma (COL/BMC) 27:55, 19. Carlos Betancur (COL/ALM) 32:33, 20. Paolo Tiralongo (ITA/AST) 38:00
– Agence France-Presse