Team Israel Start-up Nation rider Dan Martin on Wednesday made a solo break to win the 17th stage of the Giro d’Italia, with Team Ineos Grenadiers rider Egan Bernal struggling in the mountains, but holding onto the leader’s pink jersey.
Martin, 34, resisted his rivals superbly on the final climb — more than 11.2km with an average gradient of 9.8 percent — to snatch his first Giro success, which completed his collection after stage wins on the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana.
Martin crossed the finish line alone, 13 seconds ahead of Team Deceuninck–Quick-Step rider Joao Almeida, with Team BikeExchange rider Simon Yates in third, 30 seconds behind the leader.
“I have no words to describe this success,” Martin said, after the 193km ride between Canazei and a summit finish at Sega di Ala in the north of Italy.
“I came to the Giro to do well in the GC [general classification] and try to win a stage. Today, I wanted to go on the attack and enter in the breakaway,” Martin said. “I didn’t think the peloton would let me go on the attack, but my team did a great job to help me. I have to thank them. I needed a climb like this and the sun to do well.”
Bernal appeared vulnerable for the first time since the race got underway in Turin. He lost time in the final climb, but he still holds the lead with the race finishing in Milan on Sunday.
Bernal lost nearly a minute to Yates, but held almost all of his lead on Team Bahrain Victorious rider Damiano Caruso, overall second at 2 minutes, 21 seconds.
Yates moved up from fifth to third place, at 3 minutes, 23 seconds.
“Today was not my best day, but I didn’t lose much time, just a few seconds from Caruso,” 2019 Tour de France winner Bernal said. “In the end, it’s another day out, now let’s think about tomorrow.”
“Yates went very fast. He rode an impressive climb,” Bernal said. “I tried to follow him and maybe I was wrong to follow him immediately. This Giro ends in Milan. Every day you can lose or gain a lot of time — I have to stay focused.”
As the sun returned after days of rain and freezing conditions, Team EF Education–Nippo rider Hugh Carthy, Team Astana–Premier Tech rider Aleksandr Vlasov and Team DSM rider Romain Bardet were edged out by their podium rivals, with the trio now more than six minutes behind Bernal in the standings.
After Tuesday’s rest day, the race had an animated start and was played out in the final climb with Yates’ Team BikeExchange pursuing a breakaway of 19 riders.
Among a small group of riders, Martin started the climb with a lead of 1 minute, 15 seconds.
The rider’s career wins were two “monuments”: the Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 2013 and the Tour de Lombardy the following year.
Team Deceuninck–Quick-Step rider Remco Evenepoel, making his comeback nine months after a serious crash, again took a tumble.
Evenepoel went over the security barrier in a mass fall on the descent down the San Valentino Pass that involved six other riders, including Team Trek–Segafredo rider Giulio Ciccone.
After several minutes, the 21-year-old managed to get back on his bike and head toward the finish line 28km away at Sega di Ala.
Evenepoel fractured his pelvis after hitting a bridge wall and plunging into a ravine during the Tour of Lombardy in Italy in August last year.
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