The time gap between Romain Bardet (Team DSM) and the Giro d’Italia podium stretched out a little further on stage 17 as he slipped out of the leading group of GC contenders halfway through the steep final climb but he still managed to move up a place on the overall as he was far from the only rider left behind on the Sega di Ala.
Bardet was shaken out of the increasingly select group with more than five kilometres of the 12 kilometre final ascent to go, shuffling the top ten, but others also suffered under the pace being set on the front by Egan Bernal’s Ineos Grenadiers teammates, Jonathan Castroviejo and Dani Martínez.
Third-placed Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo) and ninth-placed Tobias Foss (Jumbo-Visma) went backwards at the same time as Bardet while others had already fallen by the wayside earlier in the climb, including Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech), who had started the day in fourth on the GC, and Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), who started in sixth place.
“The guys positioned me really well going onto the first climb,” said Bardet.
“Over the top there were three of us in the front group which was great, they brought me onto the final climb in good position. From there on it was full gas and I just focused on pacing my own climb. It was a hard one and Michael [Storer] did a really great job to help bring me all the way to the line.”
Bardet ultimately finished in 14th place, 2:52 back from stage winner Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation), 2:22 from the best placed GC rider on the stage, Simon Yates, and 1:29 back from the maglia rosa Egan Bernal. Yet it was enough for Bardet to take Ciccone’s sixth place on the overall and shave a little more off the gap to fourth and fifth, with Carthy and Vlasov now both within 30 seconds.
"We crossed the line losing a bit of time but we moved up another place in the overall standings and will keep fighting through the rest of the week to move up the GC places again,” said Team DSM directeur sportif Matt Winston.
Bardet has consistently been moving up on the overall through the stages, shifting up into the top ten after Monte Zoncolan and to seventh on stage 16, when Bernal was the only rider to cross the line in front of him.
The 30-year-old rider, who is no stranger to Grand Tours but is making his Giro d’Italia debut, said he’d come into the Italian race at less than 100 per cent, planning to build to his peak in the third week.
The next two places up the GC rung may be a little closer after stage 17 but the podium, which the team stepped onto last year after Jai Hindley came second overall, slipped a little further away.
Bardet is now more than three minutes back from the third placed Yates – more than doubling his time gap to a podium place – and sits 4:10 back from Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) and 6:31 behind Bernal.
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