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Pirazzi takes stage 17 as Quintana retains lead

ESPN staff
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Italy's Stefano Pirazzi celebrated his maiden Giro d'Italia stage victory © Getty Images
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Italy's Stefano Pirazzi held on to win stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia in Vittorio Veneto as Nairo Quintana retained the race leader's pink jersey.

Pirazzi was part of a five-man break and edged out his rivals for a maiden Giro stage victory, breaking down in tears after securing the win. It was the Bardiani team's third victory of this year's Giro.

Colombian Quintana retained his lead of one minute 41 seconds over compatriot Rigoberto Uran in the overall standings as well as his three minutes 21 seconds gap over third-placed Cadel Evans after crossing the line as part of the peloton almost 15 minutes after the breakaway group.

However the controversy over Quintana's actions during Tuesday's 16th stage still dominated the day, after he took the race lead partly aided by making up time during a descent off the Passo dello Stelvio that many teams thought had been neutralised by race organisers due to treacherous conditions in the snow and rain.

Some of the riders had not raced the section, with Quintana able to put time between himself and his rivals before powering up the ascent to the summit finish at Val Martello.

Team principals held meetings before racing began on Wednesday to discuss the situation, with team owner Oleg Tinkoff calling for the stage 16 result to be cancelled.

In an interview with cyclingnews.com on Wednesday morning, Patrick Lefevre, of Uran's Omega Pharma - Quick Step team, called for race organiser Mauro Vegni to resign.

"Mr Vegni should go home. For me he should resign," Lefevere said. "He's not from this cycling any more. He doesn't care about the riders. This isn't the first time, it's always him. I pay the riders, not him and I had a few million Euros riding around and they give us s***, 60,000 to ride the race. We put a lot into riding that race.

"The men in charge are the race organisers, not the UCI commissars and we have proof that on the top of the Stelvio the radio said there would be motorbikes with flags and that no risks would be taken and that at the end of the descent every group could start with the gaps they had at the top. Then afterwards the Giro d'Italia removed their tweet about the neutralisation.

"Then, and how can you be more of a coward than this, they put the guilt on the man from radio. It wasn't his decision. I think they just changed their minds because they were happy that Quintana, [Ryder] Hesjedal and [Pierre] Rolland were in a break and it was nice for the Giro."

Lefevere also said other team managers were angered over the issue, adding: "They were all upset because their riders were stopping on the Stelvio, changing clothes because of the things that were said.

"The Giro hasn't been stolen from us, but the pink jersey has. It's not about whether Quintana is the best climber, it's about principles. Uran might have lost the jersey, he might have lost it later in the race. Cycling wants to become a big sport but it's never going to become a big sport if it's run like this."

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