Eddie Dunbar and Ben Healy stayed on course for standout results in the Giro d’Italia on Wednesday, avoiding trouble on the 197km 17th stage to Caorle. The race was gradually downhill for much of the way and then flat in the finale, with the last rider from the day’s break caught with five kilometres remaining and then a bunch sprint playing out.
Italian rider Alberto Dainese (Team DSM) was first to the line, just about holding off a fast-finishing compatriot Jonathan Milan (Bahrain-Victorious). Dunbar’s Jayco AlUla team-mate Michael Matthews was third.
“This is insane,” Dainese said. “In the last metres I was really digging so deep. I was really on the limit and I saw Johnny [Milan] coming. I couldn’t really throw my bike as I was really on the limit, but it was nice to get my wheel a few centimetres ahead of Johnny and to get the win. Especially after the last five days, when I was quite sick with stomach issues and also my breathing was not good. To win after such struggle in the last five days is insane. I am super happy.”
Dunbar finished towards the front of the peloton in 26th place and remains fifth overall. He stays 3:03 behind the overall leader Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers), and 2:42 behind the rider in second, João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates). He is just 13 seconds off fourth place in the race.
Healy took over the King of the Mountains competition lead on Tuesday and had a quiet day on Wednesday as no climbing primes were on offer. He stays on 164 points as a result, 20 ahead of closest rival.
Things will be more demanding for both Irishmen plus the rest of the field on Thursday’s stage 18. It includes five climbs, with the first category Passo della Crosetta after 41.5 kilometres offering Healy a chance early on to add to his points tally. Another category one climb occurs with 16.5 kilometres remaining, after which the stage will end with a summit finish.
Friday’s stage is even harder, taking the riders over four climbs before a final battle on the gruelling 2,307 metre-high Tre Cime di Lavaredo. Saturday’s penultimate stage is a 18.6 kilometre individual time-trial, of which the final eight kilometres is a category one climb.
Dunbar is competing in only his second Grand Tour, and his first as a designated team leader. Healy is making his three-week race debut in the event.
Meanwhile, the team for this week’s Paracycling World Cup in Huntsvilla-Alabama has been confirmed as unchanged from the line-up that competed in the Ostend round earlier this month. Tandem World Cup leaders Katie-George Dunlevy and Linda Kelly are hoping to seal series victory, having won the time-trial and taken bronze in the road race in that last round.
Ostend road race silver medallists Josephine Healion and Eve McCrystal are Ireland’s other entrant in the tandem event.
Damien Vereker and Mitchell McLaughlin compete in the men’s tandem races, while Ronan Grimes (C4), Chris Burns (C2), Declan Slevin (H3) and Richael Timothy (women’s C3) will also be in action. They will be joined by independent entrant Allistair MacSorely, who is in the H4 category.
Racing starts on Friday with two days of time-trials, then continues with road races on Sunday and Monday.
“Huntsville represents the end of our Road World Cup Campaign for 2023,” said national Paracycling coach Jamie Blanchfield. “We are looking forward to finishing off this campaign in a strong fashion and putting ourselves in the best place possible at the end of this first phase of Paralympic qualification.”