The Giro d'Italia has worked through its formula, with stage 17 being the traditional flat stage for the sprinters inside the third week, where breakaways could succeed as well. It's a day as easy as it comes with only 500 meters of climbing, a start 500 meters below the finish altitude which is exactly at sea level.
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Trying to prevent the sprinters from getting that much-desired bunch sprint was a four-man breakaway including Senne Leysen (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Thomas Champion (Cofidis) in his seventh breakaway appearance of the race, Diego Pablo Sevilla (EOLO-Kometa) and Charlie Quarterman (Team Corratec - Selle Italia).
The sprint teams though, were not in the mood to give the breakaway any leeway at all and they maintained the gap at around two minutes.
With 50km to go the situation was largely the same as the leading quartet held an advantage of 1:35 over the peloton.
Going into the final 30km and that lead had been slashed to just 27 seconds.
As the peloton was about to pounce, Leysen made one last effort to ride clear on his own as his breakaway companions were caught.
With 15km to go, only Leysen remained and the Belgian had actually increased his lead to 57 seconds, putting time back into the peloton.
Finally, the catch was complete with 5km left and the preparation for the bunch sprint now took over.
The GC leaders were all safely guided through the 3km to go banner but with such a technical finale, the leaders teams were still trying to stay close to the front as time gaps were possible.
Round the final corner and it was Michael Matthews who opened the sprint. With Jonathan Milan on one side and Alberto Dainese on the other all three were so close as they crossed the line with a photo finish needed before Dainese was announced the winner.
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