Pierre Rolland wins Stage 17, Dumoulin keeps Giro lead
CANAZEI, Italy (AP) Pierre Rolland launched a late solo attack to win the 17th stage of the Giro d'Italia on Wednesday, and Tom Dumoulin's overall lead remained unchanged.
Rolland, a Frenchman who rides for the Cannondale-Drapac team, accelerated from a large group of breakaway riders with about five kilometers (three miles) to go in the 219-kilometer (136-mile) leg from Tirano to Canazei, which featured three categorized climbs.
Rolland had been part of the breakaway from the start of the stage, which included climbs over the Aprica and Tonale passes. His decisive breakaway came in the Val di Fassa.
''At the end it was a question of courage,'' Rolland said. ''I caught the right moment. It's a huge relief.''
It was Rolland's first career win in the Giro, having won two stages in the Tour de France in 2011 and 2012. He hadn't posted a win since taking overall victory in the Castilla and Leon tour at the start of 2015.
''I've waited for this moment for such a long time,'' Rolland said. ''In 2015 I finished second in a Tour de France stage, and last year was just a year to forget for me. I crashed twice in the Tour. It's been a long wait.''
Rolland credited his form to his work over the winter with Cannondale general manager Jonathan Vaughters, a former teammate of Lance Armstrong.
''My winter was so so hard, and now I've won because of my work,'' he said.
Rui Costa, the 2013 world champion, won a sprint for second, crossing 24 seconds behind Rolland.
Basque rider Gorka Izaguirre crossed third.
The main pack including Dumoulin and all of the other contenders finished nearly eight minutes behind.
Dumoulin remained 31 seconds ahead of 2014 champion Nairo Quintana, with two-time champion Vincenzo Nibali third, 1:12 behind.
Dumoulin struggled with stomach problems a day earlier during the race's toughest stage, losing most of his lead due to a nature break. He was untroubled Wednesday, which was welcome ahead of another grueling leg Thursday across the Dolomites Range.
However, Dumoulin's Team Sunweb had to pull at the front to make sure nobody in the breakaway gained too much time on him.
''We were never worried,'' Dumoulin said. ''We just had to chase harder than we expected. I knew other teams would stress for their jerseys, and come to help. But they waited very long to pull. It was their decision... My boys did an amazing job and my jersey is safe.''
Stage 18 is a 137-kilometer (85-mile) leg from Moeana to Ortisei in the Val Gardena that features four categorized climbs, including an uphill finish.
''I expect Vincenzo and Nairo to make it very hard for me tomorrow,'' Dumoulin said.
The 100th Giro ends in Milan on Sunday with an individual time trial.