With one stage win already in the pocket from the first week of the Giro d'Italia, UAE Team Emirates rolled the dice by sending Matej Mohoric, Rui Costa, Valerio Conti and Jan Polanc up the road into the breakaway.
Ultimately the team finished stage 17 empty handed as Pierre Rolland won Cannondale-Drapac's first Grand Tour stage win since 2015. Costa was the best of the rest as he won the sprint for second place at 24 seconds to match his runners-up placing into Bagno di Romagna. For Polanc, the reward for the day in the breakaway was the improvement in his GC position from 13th to tenth and stint as the virtual maglia rosa. However, as Costa explained, the plan was to secure a stage win.
"I missed the victory for the second time and it's a pity because today my legs felt really good," said Costa who is making his Giro debut. "I'm however very proud of the impressive team effort shown by UAE Team Emirates today, there were four of us in the main breakaway driving the pace of the leading group: myself, Polanc, Mohoric and Conti. Towards the end of the race there were a lot of attacks and it was not possible to keep up with them all. Overall I am happy with the results."
Having moved into the top-ten of a Grand Tour for the first time in four starts in a three-week race, Polanc explained he is hoping to hold onto his position ahead of the hilly finale to the Giro.
"Right now my legs feel quite drained. I joined the breakaway because it was such a big group however it proved to be hard. Everybody was playing it safe after yesterday's dramatic stage and I really hope I didn’t overdo it today," said Polanc. "I thank my teammates for helping me move into the top ten of the General Classification."
A key rider on the day for UAE Team Emirates was 22-year-old Mohoric who attacked from the gun alongside Rolland and Pavel Brutt (Gazprom-Rusvelo). With Rolland saving his legs for the stage win and Brutt's legs giving out, Mohoric found himself solo ahead of the race but with 55km to race he came back to the breakaway. As Quick-Step Floors realised the threat UAE Team Emirates were posing to Bob Jungels' white jersey, they moved forward to bring the break back under control. After his long effort, Mohoric was done with 22km to race, explaining he gave it his all and will continue to keep trying until the Milano finale on Sunday.
"I went clear of the peloton from the start and tried my best to help Polanc move up in the General Classification and support Rui to get the stage victory, which was unfortunately won by Rolland," said Mohoric. "We are a strong team and I have not doubt that we will attack again."
There was a minor disappointment for the team with sprinter Sacha Modolo one of two riders to record a DNF on the stage and the first for UAE Team Emirates at this year's Giro.