Alberto Contador keeps Giro lead, Sacha Modolo wins stage 17
LUGANO, Switzerland (AP) Alberto Contador maintained his grip on the overall lead of the Giro d'Italia, while Sacha Modolo won a bunch sprint at the end of the 17th stage on Wednesday for his second victory in this year's race.
A superb leadout from Modolo's Lampre-Merida team saw him beat Giacomo Nizzolo by a bike length to win the 134-kilometer (83-mile) leg from Tirano to Lugano, Switzerland, which featured just one Category 3 climb.
Nizzolo edged out Luka Mezgec on the line.
''I looked around on the hill about 4K from the finish and I saw that my rivals were maybe more tired than me,'' Modolo said. ''Yesterday was very difficult but I had good legs, today was nice and warm - my ideal day.
''Max Richeze and Roberto Ferrari have shown they are one of the best leadout trains around. I don't fear anyone.''
The stage saw Marco Bandiera, Iljo Keisse and Giacomo Berlato break away very early on and stay out front - albeit not by much - for most of the day. There were late attacks from Adam Hansen and Luca Paolini but both were unsuccessful.
There was no change at the top of the overall standings, where Contador leads Mikel Landa by 4:02, with Fabio Aru third, 4:52 behind.
''In theory it was a transition stage but it was more difficult than we thought,'' Contador said. ''The road was always going up and down and we had the wind against us for most of the day. The group went fast to follow the three-man break.
''But up until today something different had happened almost every day: a crash, a puncture, a mechanical problem. I am very happy because I got through the stage safely and arrived at Lugano, where I live, on my home roads.''
The Spaniard is attempting to become the first rider since Marco Pantani in 1998 to win the Giro and Tour de France in the same year.
A two-time Tour champion, Contador won the Giro in 2008 and was also triumphant in Milan in 2011 but was stripped of that title for testing positive in the 2010 Tour.
Thursday's stage is a 170-kilometer (106-mile) leg from Melide, Switzerland, to Verbania, with one top category climb shortly before the finish.
The 98th Giro ends Sunday in Milan.