With his second sprint victory in this year’s Giro d’Italia coming on stage 17, Sacha Modolo confirmed his role as Italy’s leading sprint star.
Modolo was cued up perfectly by his Lampre-Merida teammates, Roberto Ferrari and Max Richese, in the final kilometer of a 134km stage from Tirano to Lugano. The 27-year-old Italian jumped before the final, sweeping left-hand corner and held off Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek Factory Racing), who finished second. Giant-Alpecin’s Luka Mezgec finished third.
“Yesterday was very hard, but I had good legs today and it was nice and hot — the sort of day I like,” said Modolo. “Perhaps we could do with one more rider but, after months of hard work, in Max Richeze and Roberto Ferrari I have one of the best lead-out trains going. I’m afraid of no one.”
The general classification remained unchanged after the Giro’s shortest non-time trial stage, with Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) holding a lead of more than four minutes over the Astana duo of Mikel Landa and Fabio Aru.
“So far, something has happened almost every day — a crash, a puncture,” said Contador. “I’m very happy because I got through the stage safely and arrived in Lugano, where I live, on my home roads. Yesterday was much more wearing than I would have liked, but I’m one day closer to Milan.”
Giacomo Berlato (Nippo-Vini Fantini), Iljo Keisse (Etixx-Quick-Step), and Marco Bandiera (Androni-Sidermec) made the early breakaway.
With 40 kilometers left, the gap hovered just over one minute.
Inside of the final 30km, the break was caught as the sprinters’ teams cued up for the finale.
On an uncategorized climb with about 25km to go, Patrick Gretsch (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal) attacked.
Rolling over the top of the hill, BMC’s Darwin Atapuma bridged to the two leaders.
Hansen soon got a gap on his two companions. As Atapuma and Gretsch bickered, the solo leader extended his advantage to 17 seconds.
The peloton caught the two chasers with less than 20km remaining.
Giant-Alpecin drove the pace at the front, and with a little over 10km to go, Hansen was caught.
Cannondale-Garmin’s Tom-Jelte Slagter attacked next, with 5.5km to go, as Tinkoff-Saxo rode tempo on the front of the bunch.
BMC was keen to get a rider involved in a late break, sending Philippe Gilbert to chase. However, the peloton was not willing to forgo a chance for a bunch sprint and brought the duo back with three kilometers left.
On several hairpin turns dropping to the finish beside Lake Como, Luca Paolini (Katusha) countered. But Trek Factory Racing chased the Italian back in time for the final kilometer.
Lampre put three riders on the front to start the sprint.
Modolo went early as he was challenged on the left by Mezgec, and he would not be denied his second stage win at the Giro.
On Thursday, the peloton rides stage 18 from Melide to Verbania, a 199km day with one category 1 climb, Monte Ologno, late in the day.