Joaquin Rodriguez wins 18th stage of the Giro d'Italia to keep his grip on the pink jersey

Associated Press

CORTINA D'AMPEZZO, Italy - Joaquin Rodriguez won the tough 17th stage of the Giro d'Italia on Wednesday to keep his grip on the overall lead.

Rodriguez led a group of Giro favourites over the line in 5 hours, 24 minutes, 41 seconds, to claim his second stage victory of this year's race.

Defending champion Michele Scarponi struggled with cramps on the descent from the Passo Giau which looked to prove costly, but he rode powerfully to catch up with the group.

The main contenders were expected to be at the front of Wednesday's stage in the Dolomites, with four tough climbs along the 186-kilometre (115.58 mile) route.

Thursday's 18th stage is a mainly flat and descending 149-kilometre (93-mile) route from San Vito di Cadore to Vedelago.

The Giro ends on May 27 in Milan.

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