MILAN, May 28, 2014 (AFP) – Italian Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani-CSF) held off
a small group of chasers in the home straight to claim his maiden Giro
d’Italia victory from the race’s 17th stage on Wednesday.
Race leader Nairo Quintana (Movistar) crossed the finish line with the main
peloton and his closest rivals nearly 15 minutes later following a 208km trek
from Sarnonico to Vittorio Veneto that saw a breakaway go unchallenged all the
way to the finish.
Quintana, the runner-up on last year’s Tour de France, spent his first day
in the race’s fabled ‘maglia rosa’ (pink jersey) to retain his 1min 41sec lead
on Rigoberto Uran (Omega-Pharma) and 3:21 cushion on Australian Cadel Evans
But it was a tense day in the saddle for the 24-year-old Colombian, who was
accused of foul play following his victory on stage 16 when he took the jersey
from Uran, last year’s runner-up.
Uran’s Omega-Pharma team were on Tuesday one of several to accuse
organisers, and Quintana, of foul play following an official radio
announcement during the rain-plagued 16th stage that suggested the descent of
the treacherous Stelvio climb would be ‘neutralised’ — effectively not raced
– because of the dangers posed by cold and wet conditions.
Organisers later claimed they had simply announced that a motorbike rider,
with a pillion passenger waving a red flag, would be placed at the front of
the race to warn of any dangers on the road ahead.
As some teams and riders heeded the organisers’ ‘advise’, others, like
Quintana, forged on ahead regardless. Quintana claimed the win, the pink
jersey and put himself in contention for a first Grand Tour triumph four days
before the finish.
“The results should have been cancelled,” said the owner of Tinkoff, Oleg
Tinkoff, whose team leader Rafal Majka dropped to 3:28 behind Quintana on
Two meetings between several unhappy cycling teams were held, while the
International Cycling Union (UCI) attempted to defuse the situation by
tweeting that the organisers had “taken the initiative by putting motorbike
riders ahead of the peloton” and that “security remains the main concern of
all race organisers and the UCI.”
With moods tense, there was little reaction from the main bunch when an
early breakaway formed and went on to build a healthy lead that stood at 12
minutes with a little over 50km remaining.
After a series of attacks and counter-attacks in the closing kilometres,
Pirazzi broke free in the final 1.3km and just thwarted a small chasing group
from ending his bid metres before the line.
His first Giro win was celebrated by a defiant gesture at the finish, after
which Pirazzi explained: “It’s my response to all my critics.”
It was also Bardiani-CSF’s third win inside a week, following successes by
Marco Canola and Enrico Battaglin on the 13th and 14th stages.
On Thursday the race moves back into the mountains on the 18th stage from
Belluno to Panarotta Refuge.
Two mountain passes, the San Pellegrino and the Redebus, will be crossed
before the peloton tackle the 16.8km rise to the finish.
Results from the 17th stage of the Giro
d’Italia, a 208 km ride from Sarnonico à Vittorio Veneto:
1. Stefano Pirazzi (ITA/BAR) 4hr 38min 11sec, 2. Tim Wellens (BEL/LTB) same
time, 3. Jay McCarthy (AUS/TIN) s.t., 4. Thomas De Gendt (BEL/OPQ) s.t., 5.
Matteo Montaguti (ITA/ALM) s.t., 6. Jussi Veikkanen (FIN/FDJ) at 28, 7. Simon
Geschke (GER/GIA) s.t., 8. Fabio Felline (ITA/TRE) s.t., 9. Marco Canola
(ITA/BAR) s.t., 10. Serge Pauwels (BEL/OPQ) s.t.
1. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) 73hr 05min 31sec, 2. Rigoberto Uran (COL/OPQ)
at 1min 41sec, 3. Cadel Evans (AUS/BMC) 3:21, 4. Pierre Rolland (FRA/EUC)
3:26, 5. Rafal Majka (POL/TIN) 3:28, 6. Fabio Aru (ITA/AST) 3:34, 7. Domenico
Pozzovivo (ITA/ALM) 3:49, 8. Wilco Kelderman (NED/BKN) 4:06, 9. Ryder Hesjedal
(CAN/GRM) 4:16, 10. Robert Kiserlovski (CRO/TRE) 8:02