Giro d’Italia – Stage 17 – J-Rod rises to the top.

That’s them. You’re looking at the elite of the 2012 Giro d’Italia. Joaquim Rodriguez, Ivan Basso, Michele Scarponi, Domenico Pozzovivo, Rigoberto Uran and Ryder Hesjedal. That’s right, Ryder Hesjedal. He knew it. Garmin knew it. We knew it. Now the world knows it. It’s no longer: Can Ryder stay with the “bigs”? It’s can the “bigs” hold off Ryder? The only guy to attack the Basso-paced group in the final 2km. The only guy to attack the group on the descent. Ryder wants to win the Giro… and most of all… he can.

In what was one of the most compelling Giro d’Italia stages in years, the elite of this year’s race have shown themselves while a number of riders have fallen from the upper echelon. The 186km, 4 pass stage has shaken the overall GC in a major way. Perhaps more than expected. Astana had a terrible day today with both Paolo Tiralongo and Roman Kreuziger losing massive time. Numerous riders who unexpectedly found themselves in the top 20, have fallen behind.

The first GC rider to animate the day was Mikel Nieve, who was looking to chip away time from the 17 rider ahead of him. Attacking on the slopes of the Passo Duran, Nieve set out after the four man break which included Kevin Seeldreyers (AST) and Bramilslou Stanilslou (MOV). He caught the group on the decent to the base of the Forcella Staulanza but quickly realized that the group was not wanting to do more than sit on his wheel as Liquigas closed the gap. They were caught minutes later and a large main group started being shattered apart by the Liquigas pace. The first big name to drop was Roman Kreuziger (+11’26” on the stage).

Over the third pass of the day an onto the base of the Passo Giau and Liquigas turned on the heat yet again, blowing there own team to bits. Sylvester Szmyd, who normally is dishing out the hurt was jettisoned out the back with cramps just a few hundred meters into the climb. He went along with numerous others. Nieve, Gardet, Cunego, Haneo all fell out the back. Then it was Tiralongo, Intxausti and Moreno. As the smiling Assassin Ivan Basso turned the screws the GC was splattered all over the sides of the Giau.

Eventually, it was the elite group of six cresting the top with Mikel Nieve and John Gadret hot on their heels. Over the top Scarponi was dropped with 500m remaining with cramps and Ryder bombed the mountain side looking for time. He was eventually joined by a non-willing breakmate in Rodriguez and slowly the elite group of six came back together. The sprint was lead out by Basso but it was Joaquim Rodriguez coming around him to take the stage, with Basso second and Hesjedal third.

Tomorrow, it’s a flat stage and time to recover for the favorites, and time to think of a new strategy for some of the riders who got left behind today.

Stage 17 Top Fifteen
1. Joaquim Rodriguez (KAT)____5h24’42”
2. Ivan Basso (LIQ)
3. Ryder Hesjedal (GRM)
4. Rigoberto Uran (SKY)
5. Michele Scarponi (LAM)
6. Domenico Pozzovivo (COG)______+2″
7. Benat Intxausti (MOV)_________+1’22”
8. Daniel Moreno (KAT)
9. Thomas De Gendt (VAC)
10. Johann Tschopp (BMC)
11. John Gadret (ALM)
12. Mikel Nieve (EUS)
13. Damiano Cunego (LAM)
14. Sergio Pardilla (MOV)
15. Gianluca Brambilla (COG)_____+1’44”

Complete Stage 17 results: Gazzetta Official

General Classification after 17 stages
1. Joaquim Rodriguez (KAT)____74h46’46”
2. Ryder Hesjedal (GRM)_____+30″
3. Ivan Basso (LIQ)___________+1’22”
4. Michele Scarponi (LAM)_____+1’36”
5. Rigoberto Uran (SKY)_______+2’56”
6. Benat Intxausti (MOV)_______+3’04”
7. Domenico Pozzovivo (COG)___+3’19”
8. Paolo Tiralongo (AST)_______+4’13”
9. Thomas De Gendt (VAC)_____+4’38”
10. Sergio Luis Haeno (SKY)____+4’42”
11. Johann Tschopp (BMC)______+4’46”
12. John Gadret (ALM)__________+4’46”
13. Daniel Moreno (KAT)________+4’55”
14. Dario Caltaldo (OPQ)_______+4’59”
15. Damiano Cunego (LAM)_____+5’07”
16. Mikel Nieve (EUS)__________+5’42”

20. Roman Kreuziger (AST)_____+12’53”

Complete General Classification: Gazzetta Official

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