It was not a simple, formulaic, sprint friendly day, because this is the Giro d’Italia and it rarely is.
Stage 17 didn’t so much follow a script, as follow several scrips, each one torn up and cast to the winds to be replaced by a new act. Attack followed attack, and break followed break, until the closing stages when everyone decided to settle in for a sprint finish.
The pink jersey was safe, and the sprinters were flexing their sun-baked muscles for a technical run through the town of Iseo and a gallop for the line.
“Too simple,” decided race organiser Mauro Vegni, spinning round menacingly in a leather swivel chair and stroking an angry looking cat with a leather gloved hand: “…more drama!”
With barely two kilometres to race he reached for the button marked “monsoon” and the heavens opened. Performance enhancement: for the tension, the jeopardy, and the viewing figures.
We’re talking meteorological doping.Embed from Getty Images
The lead-out men sped through town, an actual wake in their wake – Bennett’s Bora Hansgrohe and Viviani’s Quick Step to the fore. Salmon were seen leaping against the flow of bikes, a cruel rip-tide put paid to local boy Sacha Modolo’s challenge.
Van Poppel attacked early – WAY too early – all but aquaplaning through the small lake that sat where the finishing straight once was. Viviani, on his man Sabatini’s wheel, waited patiently, as he does.
Sabatini peeled off, Van Poppel prepared to fade, and Viviani cranked his outboard motor and leapt clear. Bennett slotted in, a dominant second.
“Eccellente,” purred Vegni, from his lair.
(Rain image: via pngimg.com)