Zakarin was one of a handful of riders left chasing stage winner Ben O’Connor (NTT Pro Cycling) after he attacked inside the final ten kilometers to ride solo to victory at the top of the 20.2-kilometer category one climb.
The Russian rider was joined by CCC Team teammate Víctor de la Parte in the day’s almost 20-rider breakaway that was eventually able to snap elastic and go clear from the peloton on the first of four categorized climbs, the Forcella Valbona.
Zakarin and de la Parte worked well together in the large move and despite the group splitting over the next two climbs, both riders amongst the 15 leaders that remained out in front with 50km to go on the category three Passo Duron.
With the maglia rosa group over seven minutes back, it was clear that the stage would be won by someone from the breakaway as the race reached the foot of the final category one climb up to the finish.
As the group started fracture for the final time, Zakarin, a two-time Giro d’Italia stage winner, continued to look strong at the end of the race, driving the pace before the stinging attack from O’Connor that saw him ride away.
A determined Zakarain maintained a solid pace over the remainder of the climb before and, in a hard-fought finish for the final podium spot, he was narrowly judged into fourth place on the line.
After his earlier efforts, de la Parte was eventually swept up my the GC contenders as they continued to fight behind before finishing around one-minute behind the maglia rosa group.
Quotes From the Finish Line
“Today’s stage started with a tough battle to make it into the breakaway, and I worked hard, and I think did a good job, to stay up at the front of the bunch ready for the moves to go. My form was really good and I felt fresh out there today but, in the end, I just didn’t have the kick needed in the finale so, to be honest, I am a bit disappointed with my performance. However, I want to say thanks to the team for their support today, it was good to have Víctor in that group with me, and I will try again soon.”
Víctor de la Parte:
“It was hard work right from the beginning of the stage until we were able to go clear with the breakaway. However, even after that, we were still pushing really hard all day out at the front of the race to make sure that the breakaway would be able to fight for the stage win. I felt good out there today and so I was trying to help Zak, who was one of the best climbers in the group, as much as possible for the last climb. It didn’t work out like we maybe hoped but we gave it our best and can keeping trying in the mountains to come.”
Stage 17: Bassano del Grappa > Madonna di Campiglio (203km)
Top 3: 1. Ben O’Connor (NTT Pro Cycling) 2. Hermann Pernsteiner (Bahrain – McLaren) 3. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal)
CCC Team Top 3: 4. Ilnur Zakarin 23. Víctor de la Parte 38. Attila Valter