Bardet's team had hoped for more leniency from Pogacar, but why did Arensman give up seconds for Thomas?

The seventeenth stage of the Giro d'Italia finally turned out to be one for the breakaway. Georg Steinhauser from EF Education-EasyPost stayed ahead despite several teams stepping on the gas behind him in the peloton. With a dominant Tadej Pogacar benefiting, Team dsm-firmenich PostNL and INEOS Grenadiers have some explaining to do...

The Dutch team set the pace for most of the stage, driving hard at the front for Romain Bardet. They maintained a manageable gap to the breakaway, and everyone was expecting an attack from Bardet. It turned out to be only a half-hearted effort. "We aimed to make the race tough, and after the race fractured post the penultimate climb, we continued to apply pressure. Kevin (Vermaerke, ed.) and Romain gave it a try together, but Pogacar immediately caught their wheel," team director Matt Winston explained in a post-race interview with Eurosport.

"That didn't work," he says with a sense of understatement. Could that really have been a surprise? Despite this, Winston and dsm-firmenich PostNL had hoped for a bit more leniency from the pink jersey. "We wanted to make the race hard to win another stage with Romain. However, we didn't get any room, so we then tried to gain some time for the classification. All in all, we rode well. It's tough. You need to have a plan and as a team, we believed in Romain today. We wanted to make it as tough as possible and focused on ourselves. That's all we can do and make the best of it."

Bardet echoed these sentiments when asked. "I attempted to join the breakaway, but the peloton wouldn’t let me break free. By the time we caught up with the breakaway group, it wasn’t the right moment to make a move. Pogacar is always eager to race... I don’t think he specifically wanted to block me; he’s just competitive. When adrenaline is running through your body and he sees others are hurting, he wants to go. Anyone in the same position would have done the same."

Continue reading below the photo.

bardet's team had hoped for more leniency from pogacar, but why did arensman give up seconds for thomas?

Romain Bardet

Arensman loses time working for Thomas

After dsm-firmenich PostNL ran out of men in the finale, INEOS Grenadiers took control. The entire team was pushed to their limits, and even Thymen Arensman ended up leading on the final climb. Why? "In the end, no one really took responsibility heading into the final climb, and we were at the front. I know Geraint likes a steady pace, so that's what we did. When we heard that Ben O'Connor had dropped, I pushed myself to the limit to widen the gap for G's podium," the Dutchman said on Eurosport.

A striking switch in tactics, since INEOS had indicated towards the third week that it was prepared to sacrifice Thomas's podium for more than that. Arensman's pacing only resulted in the Dutchman losing thirteen seconds, including to Antonio Tiberi in the youth classification battle. "When others took over, I didn't have the legs to follow. It wasn't ideal, although I didn't lose much time. I'm still in the running and happy with the work I could do for Geraint. It's not ideal to lose some time, but it's just a few seconds and I'm still in the competition. We'll see if Tiberi has a bad day, but our priority is the podium with G and everything else is a bonus."

It all sounds somewhat logical, until we hear from Thomas himself in his flash interview. The Welshman admits he didn't have very strong legs. "We tried to set a good pace to attempt an attack. I just didn't have the legs to really go for it. I seem to be on par with Martínez," he refers to Daniel Felipe Martínez from BORA-hansgrohe, the second in the classification.

Continue reading below the photo.

bardet's team had hoped for more leniency from pogacar, but why did arensman give up seconds for thomas?

Movistar smirks at Tuesday's attempt

Movistar kept out of the fray on Wednesday, after the Spanish team had already been burned by Pogacar the day before. The blue shirts led the entire day on the front in stage sixteen, which allowed Pogacar to win the stage. "Yesterday didn’t turn out perfectly," team director Maximilian Sciandri smiles. "It’s clear this Giro has one leader. The rest of us have to try something and we keep going."

That other teams took the initiative on day seventeen doesn’t surprise the Brit. "We can’t attack Pogacar one on one, so you have to try something earlier. It's the last week of this Giro and the other teams are trying too. It doesn’t always result in success, but we must not give up."

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