Where's that GPS?
Stage 17 Re-cap:
As expected, Stage 17 ended in a sprint and our Points Leader Giacomo Nizzolo rolled in second - always the GT bridesmaid never the bride it seems .
Time to threaten our Maglia Rosa, Steven Kruijswijk is quickly running out and it might be safe to assume that the current race in the GC is not so much aimed at displacing the young Dutchman as it is securing one's position, or podium place, in the top ten of the General Classification.
The Italian Champion and Race Favorite is being thrashed in the press for what is being seen as a very poor and half-hearted engagement in this race. The thinking seems to be that it is not a lack of legs or luck, but a lack of will that has haunted Nibali during this ill-fated Giro.
General Classification Standings after Stage 17 (Top Ten):
1. Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo)
2. Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) 0:03:00
3. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 0:03:23
4. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) 0:04:43
5. Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) 0:04:50
6. Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) 0:05:34
7. Bob Jungels (Etixx - Quick-Step) 0:07:57
8. Andrey Amador (Movistar) 0:08:53
9. Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondiale) 0: 10:05
10. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Dimension Data) 0: 11:03
Jersey Distribution after Stage 17:
Race Leader (Pink) - Steven Kruijswijk
Points Leader (Red) - Giacomo Nizzolo
Mountains Leader (Blue) - Damiano Cunego
Best Young Rider (White) - Bob Jungels
Stage 18: Muggio - Pinerolo, 244 km
The dominant impression of this stage's race profile is fairly flat until the peloton reached the Cat 2 climb of the Pramartino shortly before the finish, a little bump in the road follows and then it's just flat out to the finish line.
On the surface, this appears to be a fairly benign stage for the GC crew and will probably end in a bunch sprint. As we are closing in on the end of this race, I suspect breakaways will dominate the proceedings here as the win-less teams and non-sprinters try to wrestle a stage win away before the course returns to the steep - the very steep - stuff.
Could this route provide an upset? Recall Contador's killer attack during what was thought to be a similarly uneventful stage of the Veulta a few years back, when he broke Purito's heart during a stage the race leader thought would be a "gimme"? This Giro has not lacked for plot twists and surprises - so stay alert during this stage.
Stage 18 Map:
Stage 18 Profile: