By Alasdair Fotheringham
VICENEZA, Italy (Reuters) - Italian Giovanni Visconti recorded his second stage win of the Giro d'Italia on Wednesday to give his Movistar team their third straight victory and their fourth overall in the 2013 race.
His compatriot Vincenzo Nibali retained the overall lead as the race reached its crucial final three mountain stages.
Visconti, who won the Galibier climb on Sunday, broke away on a minor climb on Wednesday's 17th stage, the Cote de Crosara, with 17 kms to go.
Lithuanian Ramunas Navardauskas finished second in the lead group of 39 riders, 19 seconds back, with Slovenian Luka Mezgec in third.
"Things couldn't have gone better, this is the first victory of my new career," Visconti said after Movistar's triple run of victories.
"I went through a very difficult period in the last year on a personal level, but after winning on the Galibier, everything has changed.
"Today to win I needed to be bold to have a chance of victory and believe in myself when I dropped the bunch. Victory on the Galibier gave me that confidence.
"There was a time when I was worried that I couldn't show the level of talent I had when I was a young amateur because of personal problems.
"After today's win, which was like a one-day race, now I can look at doing something in the Classics and the world championships."
The field now tackles three high mountain stages, starting with a 20.6 kms individual uphill time trial on Thursday.
Astana rider Nibali heads the overall standings ahead of Australian Cadel Evans with Colombian Rigoberto Uran in third place.
"I've taken second and fourth in previous uphill time trials in the Giro, so my reference points are good," Nibali siad.
"But if I can get between 30 or 40 seconds on Evans, I'll be satisfied. But Evans is a very tenacious rival, I won't be taking anything for granted tomorrow."
(Editing by John Mehaffey)