Damiano Cunego played the role of faithful super-domestique to Gilberto Simoni in stage 17, helping the Lampre-Caffita team leader to move up from third to second on general classification. "[Directeur sportif Giuseppe] Martinelli told me to lead the bunch on the Colletto del Moro climb to make selection into the bunch," said Cunego in a team statement. That reduced the peloton to 20 riders, with Simoni crossing the summit in second place behind Ivan Basso (CSC).
When a six-rider break got away on the last climb, Cunego rode tempo for Simoni until the the last 6km, when Simoni responded to an attack by Wim Van Huffel (Davitamon-Lotto), along with Rujano, and Garate. Cunego's previous assistance had left Simoni fresh enough to stay with Rujano to the finish, and the two took third and second respectively, just over a minute behind Ivan Basso. More importantly, Simoni gained 42 seconds on Savoldelli, 1:43 on Di Luca, and now looks like a serious threat to Savoldelli's maglia rosa.
"The day has been positive" said Giuseppe Martinelli. "We are now second, at less than one minute from the pink jersey. We thought the last climb would have been harder. When we reconnoitred the stage at the end of March it was impossible to see the last 15 km because of the snow. Nevertheless, now we think to the time trial."