Giro d’Italia 2010, Stage 17: Quiet before the storm

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The Giro d’Italia finally had a predictable, routine stage today, but merely as a prelude to expected fireworks later this week in the climactic mountain stages. Damien Monier finally got Team Cofidis on the board by peeling off the front of a long 19-rider breakaway in the 173-kilometer stage.

No change in the general classification: It’s still David Arroyo (Caisse d’Epargne) followed by Ivan Basso (Liquigas), Richie Porte (Saxo Bank) and Cadel Evans (BMC).

The Australian Porte, a genuine surprise in this year’s Giro, doesn’t think he can win but wants the top young rider’s title. Arroyo isn’t on par on the climbs with Evans and Basso so far, but has enough of a cushion that he may be able to hold onto the leader’s jersey just long enough for the overall title. Smart money is on Basso, but Evans has shown some real grit and also really wants to win his first Grand Tour. The other pre-race favorites, Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) and Carlos Sastre (Cervelo), have fallen off the pace and not shown top form in the mountain stages. But they shouldn’t be counted out quite yet either.

It all will make for fascinating racing, particularly on the punishing mountain stages of Friday and Saturday.

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