Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac) won the 17th stage of the Giro d’Italia after a late solo attack. Rui Costa (UAE Emirates) finished in 2nd place and Gorka Izagirre (Movistar) was the rider in 3rd position.
It was another long day at the Giro d’Italia with 219km on the menu for the riders, as they left Tirano for Canazei. A fast start saw 3 riders get over the first climb of the day in the lead, with another large group of 40 riders also cresting the first climb of the day ahead of the peloton. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka had 4 riders in this big chase group, Omar Fraile, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Daniel Teklehaimanot and Kristian Sbaragli all representing our African colours.
The peloton had no initial interest to chase the attackers and so the gap ballooned to over 11-minutes during the course of the stage. The big chase group would lose a few riders as they made their way over the 2 other categorised climbs of the day and began to reel in the 3 riders up front. Fraile, Janse van Rensburg and Teklehaimanot were on the right side of all the splits and eventually made it into a lead group of 25 riders with the final 46km to go.
It was a long constant drag to the line but the UAE Team kept the pace high in the big break as they were trying to put Jan Polanc into the white young rider jersey. Once the last of their workers pulled off with 16km to go, the attacks came flying from the front group. Janse van Rensburg showed he was extremely strong today and he pulled back everything on his own, until he had nothing left to give with 8km to go.
Rolland attacked as soon as our former South African champion was done and nobody could respond. The Frenchman rode away to a good stage win, the chase group coming in 24″ later with our Basque climber finishing 8th on the stage. Janse van Rensburg rolled across the line in 16th and Teklehaimanot claimed 19th position. A strong overall performance by our African Team today.
Daniel Teklehaimanot – Rider
I was really excited for this stage on Eritrean Independence Day. The sports directors told me to try and get into the early breakaway and I managed to do that. Towards the end of the stage, there was a lot of attacks because the group was still very big. Unfortunately, in the last 10km I was completely empty. Omar and Jacques were still up there for us but it was a very difficult day.