Alberto Dainese (Team DSM) claimed stage 17 of the Giro d’Italia, beating Jonathan Milan (Bahrain Victorious) and Michael Matthews (Jayco-AlUla) in a tight sprint in Caorle.
In a final week dominated by mountains, this was as gentle a day as you could imagine, with no climbs and net downhill on the 197 kilometres from Pergine Valsugana to the coastal finishing town above Venice.
Team DSM have largely backed Marius Mayrhofer in the bunch sprints so far at this Giro, but they pivoted to Dainese, who clinched his second victory in two editions of the Giro.
Team DSM were the most organised collective on the corner-heavy run-in, and they took pole position through the final left-hander 600 metres from the line. Dainese, though, had to bide his time as his lead-out man pulled off with 400 metres still to go, leaving Michael Hepburn to come through and slingshot Matthews into a long-range sprint.
Dainese let the wheel go to Simone Consonni (Cofidis) in front, but ran at it and then sprinted into Matthews’ slipstream before hitting out to the right. Meanwhile, maglia ciclamino Milan came from even further back to burst into contention in typical head-bobbing fashion.
The three of them came together on the line, and Dainese just about managed to keep his wheel in front of Milan’s by the tightest of margins, with Matthews less than half a wheel back sandwiched in the middle of them.
“This is insane,” said Dainese, who revealed he’d been struggling with stomach sickness and breathing difficulties in the past five days.
“We rode an insane final with the boys. I was a bit overtaken by the guys on the left, so had to squeeze and try to catch Matthews. The last metres I had to dig so deep. I saw Jonny coming. I couldn’t really throw my bike I was so on the limit, but it was nice to get my wheel a few centimetres in front and get the win.”
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