Damien Monier tore away from his breakaway companions to win the 17th stage of the Giro d’Italia today, a 173km hilly stage to Peio Terme.
The Cofidis rider broke away from the group of escapees – that had broken clear from the peloton in the early part of the race – on the final drag up from the valley to Peio Terme.
“Cofidis brought young riders here to get experience, to ride a Grand Tour,” said Monier after the win. “We are not always there or we are not always winning. I was here two years ago gaining experience and today I am here winning a stage, so it works.”
“My dad died last year and maybe for this reason I have been fighting so hard this year,” continued Monier.
“At first I didn’t believe [I’d won]. The word I said when I crossed the line was “finally”. My wife did not even know I won, I called and explained.”
The Frechman proved to be the strongest as the break began to splinter on the gradual 30km slope, the final test in a lumpy, rather than a mountainous stage.
It was also a day that saw an armistice between the main contenders for the large part of the stage, allowing a large group of riders the freedom to amass almost 11 minutes over the peloton.
It was the perennial attacker Mikhail Ignatiev who ignited the hostilities on the final slopes, but faded as the trio of Monier, Steven Kruijswijk and Danilo Hondo – normally a bunch sprinter – tore past.
Britain’s Steve Cummings tried valiantly to bridge the gap to the leading trio who were working well together, but was left ploughing a lonely furrow in no man’s land.
With the climb really starting to bite with three kilometres left to race, Monier seized his opportunity and kicked hard to open a gap between himself and Hondo and Kruijswijk.
The effort extolled by Monier was clear to see as he rocked back and forth in the saddle, his directeur sportif screaming words of encouragement from the accompanying team car.
In the end, Monier did just enough to stay clear to take France’s second stage win in this year’s event, with Hondo using his sprinting acumen to take second ahead of Kruijswijk on the stage.
Behind, and coming into the final three kilometres – just where the climb really begins to kick – it was Liquigas who decided to turn up the wick on what was left of the main bunch in an attempt to isolate race leader, David Arroyo.
The effort saw Arroyo reduced to just one team-mate, but the Spaniard looked comfortable climbing towards the front of the group. Michele Scarponi tried a last-ditch attempt at clawing back some time in the final few hundred metres, but was shut down by Liquigas and only gained a second back on Arroyo.
Britain’s Steve Cummings finished the stage in fifth with Arroyo keeping a firm grasp on the maglia rosa with just four stages remaining.
Giro d’Italia 2010, stage 17: Brunico-Peio Terme, 173km
1. Damien Monier (Fra) Cofidis in 4-29-19
2. Danilo Hondo (Ger) Lampre at 36secs
3. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank at 39secs
4. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 1-05
5. Steve Cummings (GB) Team Sky at 1-18
6. Simone Stortoni (Ita) Colnago-CSF Inox at 1-48
7. Alexander Efimkin (Rus) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 1-55
8. Marco Marzano (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini at 1-57
9. Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Cervelo at 2-01
10. Carlos Ochoa (Ven) Androni Giocattoli at 2-07
Overall classification after stage 17
1. David Arroyo (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne in 68-32-26
2. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo at 2-27
3. Richie Porte (Aus) Saxo Bank at 2-36
4. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team at 3-09
5. Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervelo at 4-36
6. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo at 4-53
7. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana at 5-12
8. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli at 5-24
9. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini at 9-21
10. Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Liquigas-Doimo at 9-32
The peloton on stage 17
Britain’s Steve Cummings leads the break – he went on to finish fifth
The moment Damien Monier attacked and set the scene for his stage win
David Arroyo maintained his race lead going into the final few days of the 2010 Giro
Giro d’Italia 2010: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index
2010 Giro d’Italia coverage in association with Zipvit