No changes in the overall standings as Steven Kruijswijk retains his three-minute lead over Esteban Chaves with four days remaining.
Molveno - Cassano d'Adda
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Germany's hot run in the Giro continues... what a win today from Kluge.
Here's the moment Roger Kluge became the third German to win a stage on this year's Giro - after Messrs Kittel and Greipel...
You don't see finishes like that often on Grand Tours - what a special day for Kluge and IAM Cycling.
Nikas Arndt took third place for Giant-Alpecin.
As expected, Giacomo Nizzolo wins the sprint - but it's for second place and not for the win. What does the Italian have to do to win a stage on the Giro...?
It wasn't Stake Laengen but Kluge who powered past Pozzato and held the peloton at bay! The experienced German can't believe it as he approaches the line and sits up with his head in his hands... almost getting caught by the pack in the process.
VICTORY FOR ROGER KLUGER OF IAM CYCLING!
Pozzato clear under the flamme rouge. Bak has been caught and the Italian veteran has a few seconds... what an exploit this would be. Vegard Stake Laengen is in pursuit...
Lars Bak jumps clear just as the break is swallowed up - a defiant last stand for the Dane. And it's Pippo Pozzato who counters!
Sonny Colbrelli won't be contesting the sprint: the Bardiani rider veers off onto the grass verge and he won't be catching them up now...
It's pretty much over for the break now as the pack closes the gap to about four seconds...
Wilier-Southeast and Gasprom, oddly, have come forward too. Just eight seconds now for the defiant six-man break, who must be tiring. Zhupa is the first to look over his shoulder - a sign that the game is up.
Now Lampre-Merida come forward to pave the way for their man Sacha Modolo. The gap is 12 seconds.
The race is passing through Treviglio, the HQ of Bianchi. The spectators are out in their droves - and they're getting a great show, with this break still holding the peloton at bay by 17 seconds.
Still 17 seconds to play with, this six-man group. Giant-Alpecin, meanwhile, have joined the chase for their man Nikas Arndt...
It's getting really fiesty out there with LottoNL-Jumbo bringing the maglia rosa to the front to keep Kruijswijk out of trouble.
The six leaders still have 22 seconds over the pack, which is rampaging along at a fast tempo. Etixx-QuickStep and Tinkoff are near the front too, alongside Trek and IAM Cycling.
Lars Bak is controlling this break and making sure everyone has a pull. They're combining really well together and doing it in a team time trial mode, swapping tirelessly in a series of pulls. It's poetry in motion and it's working: the gap's up to 30 seconds now.
Six Dimension Data riders on the ront now, tucked in behind one LottoNL-Jumbo rider and one FDJ rider, the latter presumably trying to disrupt the chase to aid Konovalovas.
The gap is up to 20 seconds now as Lampre-Merida leave it for Trek-Segafredo and Dimension Data to lead the chase. This one is shaping up to be a battle between Nizzolo, Modolo and Sbaragli.
The connection is made but they only have 12 seconds to play with...
The gap is 10 seconds back to the chasing trio and 25 back to the pack, so it looks like it will all come back together soon for the ding-dong bunch sprint finale.
That has certainly spiced up what was looking to be a rather routine finale. If the three chasers can catch the three leaders, they'll be a better chance they can all hold the peloton at bay.
COUNTER ATTACK: Lars Bak (Lotto Soudal), Ignatas Konovalovas (FDJ) and Maxim Belkov (Katusha) ping off the front of the peloton in pursuit of the three leaders. They're 38 seconds down, with the pack at 55.
Giacomo Nizzolo shows just why he's favourite for the win today by beating Ulissi and Trentin for fourth place in the intermediate sprint - and he did so without too much exertion.
BACK OF THE NET: Daniel Oss pips Eugert Zhupa for the intermediate sprint at Calcio. And that's about it for the break, whose lead is down to 1:20.
The second half of this stage certainly lacks drama. The gap is still two minutes for these three escapees, who have been away since the second kilometre.
Nippo-Vini Fantini have joined Trek and Dimension Data on the front of the pack ahead of Lampre-Merida. They're keeping the three riders at around 2:05 and there's no huge concern right now.
Just two minutes now for Oss, Brutt and Zhupa. Can they hold on to the next intermediate sprint?
Not a cloud in the sky as the escapees pass by a pack of donkeys decked out in Italian flags and pink robes. The gap is down to 2:40 now as Brutt takes a pull on the front.
The gap's down to 3:20 for these three leaders, who will surely be caught before the finish ahead of the expected bunch finale, in which Nizzolo will probably contrive to finish second.
Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) extends his lead in the red jersey standings by picking up the points for fourth place at the intermediate sprint, ahead of compatriot Matteo Trentin (Etixx-QuickStep).
Daniel Oss bounds clear to pick up maximum points at the intermediate sprint at Brescia. That will put him above Maarten Tjallingii in the intermediate sprint standings.
The pack is all strung out with Lampre-Merida on the front with Trek. Sacha Modolo won stage 17 last year and will be looking to repeat that today. They have to reel in the escapees first. The gap is still 4:15 for Oss, Zhupa and Brutt.
The break passes through the town of Nave, which apparently doesn't have a main piazza - very uncommon for an Italian town, it must be said. Daniel Oss has amassed the most amount of breakaway kilometres in this year's Giro. He also has the longest hair in the peloton by a country mile.
The peloton is led over the summit of this climb by Ricardo Zoidl of Trek-Segafredo and they trail the break by 4:22. Zoidl's team-mate Giacomo Nizzolo, the favourite for today's likely sprint finish, is currently receiving mechanical assistance alongside his team car. The Italian is not only wearing a red jersey, but red shorts too. In fact, he may well be in a red skin suit. That's how seriously he's taking today's stage as he bids to open up his Giro account...
Daniel Oss leads the break over the summit of this climb but he'll be no threat to the leader of the blue jersey KOM classification, Damiano Cunego of Nippo-Vini Fantini, who has 134 points to Stefen Denifl's 72.
Dimension Data, Lampre-Merida and Trek-Segafredo are on the front of the pack and grappling with their musettes from the feedzone. The gap has grown back to 4:10 accordingly as the leaders tackle the only categorised climb of the day, the Cat.4 Passo Sant-Eusebio.
Here's an image of Bisolti doing his thing in front of his home fans... The 31-year-old is riding his third Giro and has no pro wins to his name. Nevertheless, he's still a popular bloke it seems.
Alessandro Bisolti (Nippo-Vini Fantini) rides through the town of Barghe in front of the pack, waving to all the supporters. He must come from this neck of the woods because he's really milking it. Meanwhile, it's the feedzone for the riders - with the gap at 3:15 for the three escapees. Eurosport's Jonathan Harris-Bass is doing a food blog during the Giro so this is an ideal opportunity to plug today's recipe...
I wonder if any riders went for a swim this morning before the stage...
The route's not so demanding today but they are in the foothills of the Alps and the scenery is rather stunning - as you can see below. The gap is 4:20 for the three leaders.
We also spoke to a confident maglia rosa Steven Kruijswijk today: "I felt really strong in the first two weeks but the last week has always been my best part of Grand Tours so I'm confident ahead of the final stages. I just have to be focused and sharp, and follow the others. Leading in a Grand Tour is a new situation for me but I'm enjoying it and I still feel really good. I don't feel any extra pressure."
Eurosport spoke to Astana DS Paolo Slongo this morning about Vincenzo Nibali's difficulties and the Italian confirmed that the 2013 champion was going to under go tests to find out what the problems are tomorrow morning: "Vincenzo paid for something in the third straight day in the Dolomites and now we have to work out what happened. We can't find an explanation because physically he looks ok but he's losing time. The doctors will do their analysis and we'll take stock after that. He always does his best but now his best isn't enough to keep up with the rest. It's very strange, this situation. We want to know exactly why he's not at his best."
The gap is up to five minutes again for the three leaders as they approach the feedzone. As expected, it's the Trek-Segafredo team of today's hot favourite Giacomo Nizzolo setting the tempo in the peloton and keeping tabs on this break.
The final man in this three-man break is 26-year-old Eugert Zhupa of Wilier-Southeast. The only Albanian in the race, Zhupa is riding his second Giro and is still looking for his first pro win. He did top the podium in the Albanian national time trial championships last year, mind. Although the competition may not have been as stellar as it is here in the Giro, where Zhupa has finished 193rd, 166th and 129th in time trials.
We've seen a huge amount of Daniel Oss in breakaways so far in this 99th edition of La Corsa Rosa. The big-haired 29-year-old rouleur from BMC has just two pro wins to his name - stage 6 of the USA Pro Challenge in 2011 and the Giro del Veneto in 2010 - but is riding his eighth Grand Tour and his third Giro. Oss highest finish in his national tour came in stage 11 in his debut Giro in 2013 where he finished second - albeit more than a minute down on the winner, Ramunas Navardauskas. We saw Oss on the offensive in stage 5 where he crashed badly on a bend and slammed into a fence. He rode on despite needing stitches to his leg...
The riders covered 44km in the first hour today - which mirrors the average speed of yesterday's stage, which was just over 44kmph for the winner Alejandro Valverde, who completed the mountanous 132km ride in less than three hours!
The gap, which swelled to 5:45, is down to 4:15 for the three leaders. Experienced Russian Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff) is the old man of this break, the 34-year-old currently riding his 13th Grand Tour. A stage winner on the Giro in 2008, Brutt's last pro win came four years ago at the Volta Limburg Classic. He joined Tinkoff last winter after six years at Katusha. This is his seventh Giro and he's never improved on his 87th place finish he recorded in his debut in 2007. Brutt is currently 109th in the overall standings.
We haven't seen much of this in the past few days: maglia rosa Steven Kruijswijk riding in a phalanx with some LottoNL-Jumbo team-mates. The Dutchman has been very isolated in the mountains but today's parcours gives him the chance to roll along with some familiar faces. Can anyone beat him? It's going to be hard now given his three-minute lead at the top...
The gap has ballooned to five minutes for these three escapees as they tackle an early uncategorised climb.
So many of the big name sprinters are out of this race - Kittel, Greipel, Demare, Ewan, Mezgec, Hofland, Viviani, Mareczko, Howard - so surely this will be the best chance Giacomo Nizzolo has of winning a stage on the Giro? There's also Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida), Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF), Kristian Sbaragli (Dimension Data), Matteo Trentin (Etixx-QuickStep), Heinrich Haussler (IAM), Nikias Arndt (Giant-Alpecin) and Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff) to consider... perhaps.
The gap is up to 2:30 for the three leaders after the first 15-odd kilometres.
There's a break as early as the second kilometre as Daniel Oss (BMC), Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff) and Eugert Zhupa (Nippo-Vini Fantini) edge clear of the pack. All three tried their luck without success yesterday, so they clearly believe they still have the legs.
It's sunny at the start in scenic Molveno as the riders roll through the neutralised zone to get this stage under way...
That's a shame for Mezgec because he may have been one of the sprinters who could have soared to a win today...
One withdrawal to report today: Luka Mezgec of Orica-GreenEdge - who broke his scaphoid in a crash yesterday. That means 162 riders took to the start in Molveno.
Could today finally see a win for the red jersey Giacomo Nizzolo? The Italian won the points classification last year without notching a stage scalp - and he's on course to do the same again this year, unless he can plunder a win before the finish in Turin.
Astana’s Vincenzo Nibali trickled over the line in eleventh place 1:47 down on stage winner Valverde to drop below the Spaniard to fourth place in the general classification almost five minutes adrift from the increasingly composed maglia rosa, Steven Kriujswijk of LottoNL-Jumbo. Zakarin’s third place on the stage – eight seconds behind Valverde – saw the rangy Russian leapfrog Poland’s Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) into fifth on GC, 17 seconds behind the out-of-sorts Nibali.
Yesterday, Spanish veteran Alejandro Valverde denied the pink jersey Steven Kruijswijk a victory in a short but sharp stage 16 in the mountains of north Italy which all but ended Vincenzo Nibali's chances of Giro d'Italia glory. Riding his maiden Giro at the ripe age of 36, Movistar’s Valverde beat indefatigable Dutchman Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Russia’s Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) in a three-way sprint at the conclusion of the thrilling 132-kilometre stage to the ski resort of Andalo. Valverde’s trademark kick was enough to subject Kruijswijk to his third successive bridesmaid’s finish on a race that he now leads by exactly three minutes over Colombian Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge).
Hello and welcome to live coverage of stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia - a 196km transitional stage from Molveno to Cassano d'Adda that is a tale of two halves: a rolling opening 100km is followed by a flat run to the finish that should reopen the door for the remaining sprinters, or heap glory on one plucky escapee.