Stage three winner Michael Matthews went agonisingly close to his second victory of the 2023 Giro d’Italia with a long range and powerful sprint to third place on stage 17.
The day presented a rare opportunity for the fast finishers and the sprint teams made sure the stage came down to bunch sprint in Caorle. Austrian Lukas Pöstlberger made an early attempt to get into the breakaway, but in the end just four riders were allowed clear as the bunch rolled out of Sabbio Chiese.
The escapees were never given much leeway and the last man from the break was eventually swept up inside the final five kilometres as Team Jayco AlUla made their way to the front with Matthews in tow.
The experienced Australian Michael Hepburn expertly guided his teammate through the technical final and into the finishing straight before swinging off as Matthews launched his kick for the line. The early jump looked to have caught the pure sprinters by surprise, but in the end the stage proved to be five metres too long, as a charging Alberto Dainese and Jonathan Milan ‘just’ edged past the Australian on the bike throw to the line.
With just four stages remaining, the team’s general classification leader Eddie Dunbar made it safely through the stage to finish on the same time as his GC rivals, and heads into stage 18 in fifth place overall.
“It was exciting! I do like a bit of a technical final like this, that lines out the peloton and there’s a little bit less fighting for position. I’m definitely happy with the way the team rode today, Eddie Dunbar stayed safe, and we got a podium finish with myself.
I was just happy to get out in some open wind in the final and be able to do my sprint, but when you are there versus guys that are pure sprinters, it’s always going to be difficult for me, but we put ourselves in the best position and we gave it a shot.
I don’t think [my legs] were too amazing, but I just think the team did an amazing job to position me in the perfect place and then it was up to me to do my thing and it just wasn’t quite enough.”
2023 Giro d’Italia – Stage 17 Results:
1. Alberto Dainese 4:26:08
2. Jonathan Milan ST
3. Michael Matthews (Team Jayco AlUla) ST
2023 Giro d’Italia – GC after stage 17:
1. Geraint Thomas 71:58:43
2. Joao Almeida 0:18
3. Primoz Roglic 0:29
5. Eddie Dunbar (Team Jayco AlUla) 3:03