With its brutally intense start to the day, Stage 17’s 155km route from Riva del Garda to Iseo, appears to be ideal terrain for the breakaway to strike it lucky in the final week of the race. Beginning with a ludicrously steep incline from the start line, the attacks will come thick and fast, as riders are eager to make the cut to be part of a breakaway which is unlikely to be hotly pursued by the bunch. Much of the day is rolling, despite the fact there is only one official categorised climb present, though the final 50km could prove intriguing if there is enough interest from the bunch to begin reeling the escapees back in late.
Gianluca Brambilla will have certainly been disappointed with how the race has played out before him so far, but Stage 17 could be the perfect opportunity for him to ride aggressively and end the day with a strong chance of the win. Tough enough to deal with the amount of climbing today, Brambilla has a good pedigree for days like these, possessing the important turn of pace required to finish things off once the line draws into sight. Of course, his greatest issue right now is that he looks to be far from his best, but the third week of a grand tour has a levelling effect and could play to the class of such a talented rider.
Enrico Battaglin could close the gap to Elia Viviani’s lead of the maglia ciclamino considerably if he is able to execute the perfect day of racing here. No stranger when it comes to all day breakaways and clearly enjoying the form of his career right now, Battaglin could cause a stir by taking victory on Stage 17. He is one of the few contenders who, if the break’s ranks swell considerably, may even find himself protected by a fellow teammate for much of the day. There is no concern has to his ability to win a sprint either, simply whether he can keep hold of the wheel as his rivals seek to cut him loose before the finish.
Diego Ulissi has been disappointing on far more fitting stages than this, but given the arduous nature of the start today, he is likely to be tempted out once again to try his luck for the win. Talented in both climbing and sprinting, the Italian is an obvious pick to make the day’s breakaway and should find himself as one of the strongest present in such a move, finally able to target glory without the general classification contenders crashing the party.
Matej Mohoric found success earlier in the Giro d’Italia after having timed his breakaway efforts to perfection and he has a very good chance of doing the same once again on Stage 17. A powerful rider who can churn over a big gear to keep the peloton at bay, Mohoric has the firepower necessary to make life very difficult for any late pursuit of his ambitions to collect another win. Admittedly, he was lucky to have won the sprint which decided the honours on Stage 10 and will do well to avoid being beaten to the line on this occasion as well.
Alessandro De Marchi, a seemingly ever present name within the composition of a grand tour breakaway, it almost seems rude to not mention the combative Italian rider. By simply being in the mix, he always as a chance of victory, especially on Stage 17 where life is a lottery and you simply have to be in it to win it.
1st Gianluca Brambilla 2nd Diego Ulissi 3rd Matej Mohoric