Giro d'Italia: Astana focused on stage wins - News Shorts

Astana aiming for Giro d'Italia stage wins

Animators of the Giro d'Italia thus far riding in memory of Michele Scarponi, Astana is still aiming to finish the 100th edition of the Italian Grand Tour with a stage win. Having lost GC man Tanel Kangert to a severe arm injury, the team has turned its attention to victory in the final three mountain stages of the race.

On stage 16 of the race, Luis Leon Sanchez won the 'Scarponi Climb' on Mortirolo Pass, with stage 17 an opportunity for Jesper Hansen to try his luck in the breakaway. Sports director Stefano Zanini explained Hansen was feeling good but ultimately couldn't match the pace and rolled in with the peloton 7:54 minutes down on stage winner Pierre Rolland.

"We tried with Jesper and we thought it could have been a good one at the front of the race, on the Giovo climb there has been some scrumble (sic) of the cards and he was able to get into the front group," Zanini said. "Unfortunately in the final up-and-down km he wasn’t able to answer to all the attacks at the front and so his breakaway finished there."

Zanini added the team isn't giving up on its aims and will look to infiltrate the early breakaway to fight the stage win.

"We are going to live the last three tough stages (a part from the Sunday's final ITT), where we will try with all the remaining energies to take any possible chance it will come to us," Zanini said. "It won't be easy because the fight for the Giro's victory is still open and the GC contenders won't leave much space but we will do our best!"

Team Sunweb lose Phil Bauhaus to fatigue

Tom Dumoulin will be down a man at the Giro d'Italia as he and Team Sunweb attempt to defend his maglia rosa all the way to Milano on Sunday. Having lost Wilco Kelderman to a broken finger on stage 9, the team made the decision to withdraw Phil Bauhaus with the German suffering from fatigue in his debut Grand Tour.

"It's been a really good experience to be part of the team and great to have been part of a really successful race so far. I feel like I have learned a lot and developed whilst being here with the team," said Bauhaus. "Unfortunately the last few days I have become really tired and after a huge effort today my tank was completely empty. It's a shame to leave but I am proud to have played a role in the team's fight for the Maglia Rosa and I look forward to my next Grand Tour."

Bauhaus has been one of the key men for the flat stages, doing early work for Sunweb in setting the tempo before the likes of Chad Haga and Laurens den Tam look after Dumoulin in the mountains. The German also managed to record three top-ten results in the sprint stages

Sunweb's physician Anko Boelens explained the decision was made to withdraw Bauhaus from the race with an eye on the remainder of the season and his goals.

"The decision was made for Phil to abandon after a tough few weeks of racing. He was experiencing some fatigue and we decided that the best way forward was for him to leave the Giro on a positive note and head home for some well earned rest in preparation for his coming races," said Boelens.

Großschartner's earns first top-ten of the Giro d'Italia for CCC Sprandi Polkowice

Polish wild card squad CCC Sprandi Polkowice secured its first top-ten result of the Giro d'Italia in Canazei with Felix Großschartner finishing seventh. The 23-year-old, who was a stagiaire with Tinkoff-Saxo, made his way into the day's breakaway and was part of the first group to finish after Pierre Rolland jumped off the front to secure the stage win. 

"In the morning I felt tired, after yesterday's breakaway. When I got into escape I thought to myself - two in a row, it's going to be a hard day. But surprisingly I felt very good. I was able to stay with the strongest and despite the fact, that I'm not a sprinter I finished 6th from the group, behind Rolland. I think I could have done even better, since my legs were quite solid in the end," said Austrian Großschartner. "In the finale we had headwind so it was really hard to pull away. Rolland picked perfect moment, just after we caught previous attackers and everyone was on the limit."

Großschartner's previous best result in the Giro came in the Montefalco time trial where he placed 26th. A day after he rode to 47th on Blockhaus. Großschartner added he will take confidence from his result and aim for another top-ten result in the three mountain stages to come.

"I'm very happy with my today's performance, especially if I look back to first week, when I was sick and didn't feel good. That's really a big improvement. I hope I will be able to keep that form until the last stage."

In the general classification, Jan Hirt sits in 16th place overall with the 26-year-old aiming to secure his best possible result on his Grand Tour debut.

Teklehaimanot gives it his all on Eritrean Independence Day

Stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia was an important day for Daniel Teklehaimanot with the Dimension Data rider aiming for a top result on Eritrean Independence Day. The Eritrean national champion had already been a regular feature in the Giro breakaways, enjoying a stint on the climber's blue jersey on his debut at the Italian Grand Tour, with the stage to Canazei a major goal of the race for the 28-year-old.

Joining Teklehaimanot in the stage 17 breakaway were teammates Omar Fraile, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, and Kristian Sbaragli. The quartet worked well together in the fast run with Janse van Rensburg particularly active on the front. However, when Janse van Rensburg hit a wall, Pierre Rolland made his winning move with Fraile, already a stage winner at the Giro, ending the day as the best-placed rider for Dimension Rider in eighth place.

Teklehaimanot crossed the line in 19th, explaining he was running on fumes after another tough day in the saddle and was unable to fight for the win as he wished.

"The sports directors told me to try and get into the early breakaway and I managed to do that," Teklehaimanot said. "Towards the end of the stage, there was a lot of attacks because the group was still very big. Unfortunately, in the last 10km I was completely empty. Omar and Jacques were still up there for us but it was a very difficult day."

Teklehaimanot will have three more opportunities to chase stage wins at the Giro before the final day time trial from Monza to Milano.

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