Pirazzi wins 17th Giro stage; Quintana keeps lead
VITTORIO VENETO, Italy (AP) — Stefano Pirazzi won the 17th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Wednesday, the first professional victory of his career while Nairo Quintana retained the overall leader’s pink jersey.
Pirazzi made an obscene arm gesture as he crossed the finish line and was reduced to tears following his win.
“It wasn’t a nice gesture, I’m sorry, forgive me,” Pirazzi said. “But it’s been five years of anger, five years of criticism. As the days went by, my moral was going down. I was here to get this victory finally, that was the target.
“I was unleashing all that. Five years of criticism is a lot for a young guy. I really had to deal with a lot. Today I reached a goal that I wanted since I was a young boy watching the Giro. I’m very happy. I’ll enjoy it and never forget this moment.”
Pirazzi, who had led from the breakaway, made his move with little more than a kilometer remaining and edged out Tim Wellens and Jay McCarthy in a sprint at the end of the 204-kilometer (127-mile) stage from Sarnonico to Vittorio Veneto.
The peloton crossed the line 15:36 behind Pirazzi as the top overall standings were unchanged.
Quintana remained 1:41 ahead of fellow Colombian Rigoberto Uran and 3:21 ahead of Cadel Evans, with Pierre Rolland only five seconds further back.
Quintana had moved into pink after Tuesday’s tough leg, which was marred by confusion after some teams believed part of the route had been neutralized — meaning the times for that section wouldn’t count.
“In reality there is no controversy,” Quintana said. “I know what happened. They’re creating a story which isn’t there.
“It would be unjust (if they took time away from me). The organization said the race wasn’t neutralized so why remove an advantage that I won?”
The peloton remained together for almost half the route before a group of 26 riders managed to get away.
After the previous tough stage — where the cyclists had to deal not only with both the legendary Gavia and Stelvio climbs, but with snow and rain as well — the peloton was happy to keep a steady pace and let the escape go.
The best-placed rider in the break was Damiano Cunego, who was more than 48 minutes behind Quintana, and so the pink jersey group allowed the gap to go out to more than 12 minutes.
Thomas De Gendt attacked from the breakaway on the approach to the last of three classified climbs, the ascent up the Muro di Ca’ del Poggio.
Pirazzi followed and caught the Belgian cyclist near the summit, and they were soon joined by Wellens, McCarthy and Matteo Montaguti.
There were attacks off the chasing group but the quintet’s advantage continued to grow and it swiftly became apparent they would not be caught before the finish.
The Giro returns to the mountains in Thursday’s 18th stage, a 171km (106-mile) leg from Belluno, with a summit finish up to Rifugio Panarotta.
The race ends on Sunday in Trieste.