No one won the 2012 Giro d'Italia in the climbs of Stage 17, but for a handful of riders the race was lost. The GC contenders knew this was their first opportunity to make the really big attacks, and led by Ivan Basso and Team Liquigas-Cannondale, they took full advantage. Basso and his crew drove a relentless pace, and by the time the peloton approached the final climb it had been whittled down to 25 men.
From there, the favorites jumped out to battle on the slops of Passo Giau: Basso, overall leader Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), second place man Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda), defending Giro champion Michele Scarponi (Lampre), stage eight winner Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago), and Rigoberto Uran (Sky Procycling). Team Astana had two men well placed in the GC standings, Roman Krueziger and Paolo Tiralongo. Unfortunately for Astana, they were the men who likely lost the race today. Among the first to be dropped from the leaders group, it's likely both saw their hopes of winning the overall race ride away from them today.
The pace had cracked some of their rivals, but the remaining GC contenders knew that there were more mountains to come, and so they refrained from all-out efforts or relentless attacks. Scarponi and Pozzovivo got dropped from the run to the finish, but neither loses much time in the standings. Joaquim Rodriguez, current holder of the Maglia Rosa, was the man who had the legs at the line, coming from behind a driving Basso to make off the with the stage win. Basso took second, followed by Hesjedal and Uran.
The provisional GC standings following stage 17:
1) Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 74:46:46
2) Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Barracuda -:30
3) Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale -1:22
4) Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD -1:36
5) Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling -2:56
6) Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team -3:04
7) Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox -3:19
8) Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro Team -4:13
Stage 18 is the final stage for the sprinters, a flat run from San Vito di Cadore to Vedelago. After that it's two more high mountain stages, where Rodriguez, Hesjedal, Basso and the rest will finally settle things.
Stay tuned to this storystream for previews, updates, results and more from the 2012 Giro d'Italia. As always, Podium Cafe is your source for cycling news and quality analysis.