Steinhauser soloes to first pro win in Stage 17, Pogacar extends Giro lead to nearly eight minutes

PASSO BROCON, Italy (AP) — Georg Steinhauser soloed to his first professional victory in the brutal 17th stage of the Giro d’Italia, and overall leader Tadej Pogacar extended his already considerable advantage to nearly eight minutes.

Steinhauser was smiling over the final 400 meters, knowing he was riding to the biggest success of his career in his grand tour debut. The young German then shook his head in disbelief before sitting up and raising his arms above his head as he crossed the summit finish at Passo Brocon.

“It’s something unbelievable. Already on Stage 8, I noticed I have good legs. I thought maybe I have the legs to win a stage," Steinhauser said.

“Today when I rode to the sign-on, I thought to myself ‘I have good legs, maybe I will win today,’ and then I went from the beginning in the break. It was a little bit strange because we got caught by the peloton again but at one moment I decided I have to try again and I did and it worked out.”

The 22-year-old Steinhauser has a strong cycling pedigree. His father, Tobias, was also a professional cyclist, while his uncle, Jan Ullrich, won the Tour de France as well as the Spanish Vuelta.

Pogacar had threatened to spoil the German's day with a late attack but the Slovenian rider finished 1 minute, 24 seconds behind Steinhauser. Antonio Tiberi led a reduced gap of overall contenders over the line for third, 1:42 behind.

“I heard on the radio and I was super nervous on the last climb," Steinhauser said with a laugh. "I knew I had to push all the way to the finish. I heard at one point that he’s attacking but I was already two (kilometers) to go so I thought I will make it.”

Pogacar, a two-time Tour de France champion, still extended his lead to 7:42 over Daniel Martinez and 8:04 over Geraint Thomas.

“I’m satisfied how it is, even if I don’t win anything else now, everything is just bonus from now on,” Pogacar said. “The main goal is always to keep the jersey into Rome, not to do anything stupid.

"But there is one really nice stage, Monte Grappa close to Slovenia. We can see what can happen there.”

There was none of the drama and chaos of the previous day but the weather was still wet and freezing in parts on a tough day in the Dolomites.

Apart from one short stretch, the riders were constantly climbing or descending on the 159-kilometer (99-mile) route from Selva di Val Gardena, with four classified climbs before the top category ascent to the finish on the Passo Brocon.

Steinhauser had been part of the first breakaway of the day but they were caught by the peloton. Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier then set off on his own toward the top of the third climb, with 60 kilometers remaining, and he was followed by Steinhauser.

And Steinhauser attacked near the top of the first ascent of the Passo Brocon, on the penultimate climb of the day, to solo to victory over the final 34 kilometers.

Thursday’s 18th stage offers some respite from the mountains in a mainly flat, 178-kilometer route from Fiera di Primiero to Padua that will likely end in a sprint finish.

The Giro ends in Rome on Sunday.


AP cycling:

The Associated Press