It was somewhat of a throwback breakaway that animated stage 17 of the Giro d’Italia on Wednesday: a group that included riders who have either performed well at the Giro in past years – Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) and Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-QuickStep) – or indeed earlier at this year’s race in the case of UAE Team Emirates‘ Valerio Conti, who wore the pink leader’s jersey between stages 7 and 12.
While the GC contenders were content to watch each other behind, the breakaway group – with no real danger men contained within it – was allowed some rope to fight it out for the stage win, and the 18-rider move had built up a lead of over six minutes by the mid-point of the 181km stage.
Arguably the biggest name in the break was Mitchelton-Scott’s Chaves – runner-up to Vincenzo Nibali at the 2016 Giro and a stage winner last year – who returned to the race this year having recovered from mononucleosis, which kept him away from racing for much of last season following the Giro.
He came to this year’s race with the aim of riding himself back into something like his previous form, and supporting team leader Simon Yates, who has been unable to match the front-runners this year.
And while young, up-and-coming star Nans Peters (AG2R La Mondiale) won Wednesday’s stage, taking off alone with 16km to go and taking an emotional victory in Anterselva, second place behind him gave Chaves the boost of confidence that he’d been looking for.
“Second is good, but also you have this strange taste in your mouth,” said Chaves on his team’s website. “But we’ll continue to try until the end of the Giro.
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