Giro d'Italia: O'Connor wins stage 17 as Almeida leads

Ban O'Connor
The stage win is NTT's first in Italy for three years

Ben O'Connor claimed his first Grand Tour stage win with victory on stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia.

The NTT Pro Cycling rider broke away from a lead group of 14 riders on the final ascent of the day to win by 31 seconds atop Madonna di Campiglio.

Britian's Tao Geoghegan Hart remains fourth overall after finishing with the general classification leaders.

Deceuninck-Quick Step's Joao Almeida leads Sunweb's Wilco Kelderman by 17 seconds in the overall standings.

O'Connor had finished runner-up to Jan Tratnik on the previous day's stage, missing out over the final climb, but atoned on Wednesday's 203km route, which featured four categorised ascents.

The 24-year-old was involved with the day's breakaway, which built a six-minute advantage, and then attacked eight kilometres from the finish.

"The second place left me feeling pretty bitter," said the Australian, who does not have a contract for 2021 and his NTT team are without a sponsor so could yet be forced to fold.

"I was able to bounce back and get this success, it's a dream to get a victory in a Grand Tour."

Almeida successfully negated an attack from Sunweb to protect his slim general classification advantage over Dutchman Kelderman.

Jai Hindley is third, two minutes, 58 seconds adrift, with Geoghagen Hart one second further back.

"It was a hard day, a lot of climbing, but I had the perfect team with me," said Almeida.

Thursday's 18th stage will cover 207km from Pinzolo to Laghi di Cancano for the penultimate mountain stage, and feature a testing trek up the Passo dello Stelvio.

Meanwhile, Covid-19 restrictions in France have forced the organisers to change Saturday's final mountain stage to Sestriere.

The French town of Briancon has declined to let the race pass through due to sanitary measures.

The race will no longer climb the 2744m-high Colle dell'Agnello and cross into France for the Col d'Izoard, instead climbing to Sestriere three times.

The new 181-kilometre 20th stage will include around 4,000 metres of climbing instead of the 5,500 vertical metres of the original 198km route.

Stage 17 result

1. Ben O'Connor (Aus/NTT Pro Cycling Team) 5hrs 50mins 59secs

2. Hermann Pernsteiner (Aut/Bahrain - McLaren) +31secs

3. Thomas De Gendt (Bel/Lotto - Soudal) +1min 10secs

4. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus/CCC Team) +1min 13secs

5. Kilian Frankiny (Sui/Groupama - FDJ) +1min 55secs

6. Harm Vanhoucke (Bel/Lotto - Soudal) 2mins 49secs

7. Davide Villella (Ita/Movistar Team) 3mins 29secs

8. Oscar Rodríguez (Spa/Astana Pro Team) same time

9. Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier (Eri/NTT Pro Cycling Team) +3mins 30secs

10. Jesper Hansen (Den/Cofidis) +4mins 32secs

Other:

11. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GB/Ineos Grenadiers) + 5mins 11secs

General classification after stage 17

1. Joao Almeida (Por/Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 71hrs 41mins 18secs

2. Wilco Kelderman (Ned/Sunweb) +17secs

3. Jai Hindley (Aus/Sunweb) +2mins 58secs

4. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GB/Ineos Grenadiers) +2mins 59secs

5. Pello Bilbao (Spa/Bahrain-McLaren) +3mins 12secs

6. Rafal Majka (Pol/Bora-Hansgrohe) +3mins 20secs

7. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Trek-Segafredo) +3mins 31secs

8. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita/NTT Pro Cycling Team) +3mins 52secs

9. Patrick Konrad (Aut/Bora-Hansgrohe) +4mins 11secs

10. Fausto Masnada (Ita/Deceuninck-Quick-Step) +4mins 26secs

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