Vuelta a Espana 2017

August 19 - September 10, Nimes, Nîmes, Road - WorldTour

Complete Live Report

Live commentary by:
Barry Ryan

2017 Vuelta a España race hub
Vuelta a España start list
Stage 16 report: Froome wins time trial to extend lead
Vuelta a España to scale 28 per cent Los Machucos wall
Nibali pessimistic despite solid time trial

Vuelta a Espana 2017 stage 17 profile

  1. 12:29:55 CEST

    The peloton is lined up at the start in Villadiego and just about to tackle the neutralised section. The riders are expected to reach kilometre zero at 12.40 local time for the official start of what promises to be one of the most demanding stages of this Vuelta. There are three climbs on the agenda today, the category 2 Portillo de Lunada, the category 1 Puerto de Alisas and the final, exceedingly steep haul to the finish at Alto de los Machucos. The special category climb is 7.2km in length at an average gradient of 8.7% - but with stretches of 26% at the base. 

  2. 12:31:30 CEST

    Chris Froome's victory in yesterday's time trial saw him effectively double his advantage atop the overall standings. The general classification is as follows ahead of today's stage:

     

    1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 62:53:25
    2 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:01:58
    3 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:02:40
    4 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin 0:03:07
    5 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Trek-Segafredo 0:04:58
    6 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 0:05:25
    7 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:06:27
    8 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky 0:06:33
    9 Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica-Scott 0:06:40
    10 Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac 0:07:06

     

  3. 12:39:22 CEST

    There are two non-starters to report this morning, as Daniel Oss (BMC) and Lennard Kämna (Sunweb) have abandoned the Vuelta overnight. Kämna placed a fine 8th in yesterday's time trial, but the 20-year-old has been complaining of knee pain, and the team's staff took the decision to pull him from the race. "Lennard has started to experience some pain in his right knee and if he continues with these symptoms there is a likelihood that these problems will worsen," said team doctor Mannes Naeff. "After yesterday's time trial he experienced some irritation in the knee so the best decision is for Lennard to take some rest for a fast recovery and to avoid possible long-term symptoms, which could impact on his goals for the remainder of the season and beyond." 

     

  4. 12:42:14 CEST

    Conditions are dry and (relatively) sunny as the peloton rolls through the neutralised zone, but the finish line is reportedly covered by low cloud. The wet roads on the final ascent will only make those 26% gradients even more treacherous. Shades of the Angliru in 1999 or 2002, perhaps...

     

  5. 180.5km remaining from 180.5km

    12:49:02 CEST

    The flag drops and the stage begins. The peloton will ride 99 kilometres over rugged terrain before hitting the base of the first climb of the  Portillo de Lunada. We can expect a flurry of early attacks, though the early exchanges are not quite as frantic as they were on Sunday's short, intense mountain leg.

     

  6. 177km remaining from 180.5km

    12:54:15 CEST

    There have been a few early attempts to forge clear, but faced with a brisk headwind, the putative escapees are struggling to gain any traction.

     

  7. 12:54:59 CEST

    Matej Mohoric (UAE-Team Emirates), meanwhile, is at the rear of the peloton and being treated by the race doctor after falling in the opening kilometres. 

     

  8. 173km remaining from 180.5km

    13:02:54 CEST

    • Attack

    Alessandro De Marchi (BMC), Stefan Denifl (Aqua Blue) and Dani Moreno (Movistar) have opened a small gap over the peloton.

     

  9. 171km remaining from 180.5km

    13:04:17 CEST

    This trio has a lead of 100 metres or so over the peloton, but with the long, straight and exposed roads in these opening kilometres, it is exceedingly difficult for a break to escape out of sight.

     

  10. 168km remaining from 180.5km

    13:09:29 CEST

    De Marchi, Denifl and Moreno have been joined on the front by Magnus Cort (Orica-Scott). More riders are trying to bridge across, and so the speed has yet to abate in the peloton.

     

  11. 165km remaining from 180.5km

    13:12:54 CEST

    De Marchi et al have a lead of 30 seconds over the peloton. The quartet are collaborating well, and as the peloton spreads across the road, it looks as though our early break is established.

     

  12. 163km remaining from 180.5km

    13:14:16 CEST

    King of the mountains Davide Villella (Cannondale-Drapac) is trying to bridge across alone to the four leaders. The Italian would be disappointed to miss the boat here. He has proven adept at hoovering up points on the early climbs thus far on this Vuelta.

     

  13. 162km remaining from 180.5km

    13:15:13 CEST

    Villella's chances of bridging across improve considerably when Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) joins him. This tandem is 40 seconds down on the four leaders. The peloton is at 1:40.

     

  14. 161km remaining from 180.5km

    13:18:19 CEST

    Alessandro De Marchi (BMC), Stefan Denifl (Aqua Blue), Magnus Cort (Orica-Scott) and Dani Moreno (Movistar) continue at the head of the race. Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step) and Davide Villella (Cannondale-Drapac) chase at 35 seconds. The peloton enjoys the early respite, and is now at 2:36.

     

  15. 157km remaining from 180.5km

    13:24:55 CEST

    Alaphilippe and Villella are on the cusp of joining the four riders at the front. They are just 15 seconds down on De Marchi and company. The Sky-led peloton, meanwhile, is now at 4:15. Froome and his teammates will not be unhappy at the composition of this break, which contains no foils for Vincenzo Nibali, Wilco Kelderman, Ilnur Zakarin or Alberto Contador.

     

  16. 154km remaining from 180.5km

    13:27:55 CEST

    Alaphilippe and Villella join with Moreno, Denifl, De Marchi and Cort to swell the leading group to six riders. They have an advantage of 4:50 over the peloton.

     

  17. 13:30:42 CEST

    There may be no categorised climbs in the opening 100 kilometres this afternoon, but these are heavy, rolling roads that are sure to extract a toll as the day draws on. Alaphilippe and Villella caught the leaders on a rather stiff little hill outside Masa, and they are now swooping down the other side.

     

  18. 151km remaining from 180.5km

    13:33:58 CEST

    The clouds are darkening overhead, but for now at least. the roads are dry. De Marchi, Alaphilippe, Villella, Denifl, Moreno and Cort stick to their task at the front, and extend their advantage to 5:50.

     

  19. 147km remaining from 180.5km

    13:41:16 CEST

    Ian Stannard (Team Sky) sets the tempo on the front of the peloton, which continues to yield ground steadily to the six-man break. The gap now stands at 6:30.

     

  20. 13:44:41 CEST

    The final climb of Alto de los Machucos is a new discovery for the Vuelta a Espana, and - as he did for the Angliru back in the winter of 1999 - Alasdair Fotheringham provides a fine insight into what faces the Vuelta peloton this afternoon. "Like the Angliru, Los Machucos has its origins in cattle herding. It started life as a track for shifting cows from one upland pasture to another. Indeed, the Machucos stage's 'subtitle' of Monumento al Vaca Pasiega means the "Monument to the Pasiega Cow", and there is a metal version of said bovine at the top of the Machucos climb," writes Alasdair. Read the full preview here.

     

  21. 140km remaining from 180.5km

    13:51:18 CEST

    Bora-Hansgrohe join Sky in keeping tabs on the break's advantage, which now stands at 7:15. A sign that Rafal Majka has designs on another stage win on this Vuelta.

     

  22. 134km remaining from 180.5km

    14:01:55 CEST

    The bunch splits briefly on a long and very false flat, but the pace promptly relents on the front and the peloton reforms once again.

     

  23. 14:12:49 CEST

    Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) put in a decent display in yesterday's time trial, where his 3rd place was, remarkably, only his second top 10 finish in an individual time trial since he won the 2014 Tour de France. However, his deficit to Chris Froome now stands at 1:58, and he is running out of road. "What you feel in a time trial is a good indication of where you're at in terms of form," Nibali said after yesterday's stage, "and it's going to be very difficult to beat Froome." Read the full story here.

    Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) on stage 16 of the Vuelta a Espana

     

  24. 124km remaining from 180.5km

    14:17:46 CEST

    The break's lead yawns out to eight minutes and at this rate, Villella has every chance of picking up maximum points towards his king of the mountains jersey on the day's first two climbs of the Portillo de Lunada and the Puerto de Alisas. His lead over Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana), seemingly untouchable on steep final ascents, is a precarious 8 points, and he needs to pad out that buffer wherever he can. 

     

  25. 118km remaining from 180.5km

    14:20:29 CEST

    The break reaches Valdenoceda with a lead of 9 minutes over the peloton. Bora-Hansgrohe, incidentally, have long since stopped offering a hand to Sky at the head of the bunch, hence the lack of urgency in the chase.

     

  26. 115km remaining from 180.5km

    14:27:32 CEST

    A reminder of the situation, with 16 kilometres to go to the base of the first categorised climb, the  Portillo de Lunada (8.3km at 5.7%): Davide Villella (Cannondale-Drapac), Dani Moreno (Movistar), Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors), Alessandro De Marchi (BMC), Stefan Denifl (Aqua Blue) and Magnus Cort (Orica-Scott) have 9 minutes in hand on a peloton being led by Team Sky.

     

  27. 112km remaining from 180.5km

    14:31:32 CEST

    The break's advantage stretches to its highest extent of 9:15, and, as if on cue, Miguel Angel Lopez's Astana teammates hit the front and infuse a bit of urgency to the pursuit of the escapees.

     

  28. 14:34:25 CEST

    The sun is occasionally and very fleetingly poking through the clouds here, but the finish on the Alto de los Machucos is draped in curtains of low cloud, as Sadhbh O'Shea's photograph from the final ascent shows.

     

  29. 110km remaining from 180.5km

    14:35:14 CEST

    Astana have been joined by Bora-Hansgrohe at the head of the peloton, and they are chasing with rather more haste than Team Sky. The break's lead drops to 8:20.

     

  30. 14:47:56 CEST

    Away from the Vuelta, the big news of the past 24 hours is from the United States. Two years after placing 5th overall at this very race, Andrew Talansky has decided to retire from cycling at the age of 28

     

  31. 103km remaining from 180.5km

    14:48:46 CEST

    Meanwhile, the speed is ratcheting upwards in the peloton, and the break's advantage has diminished accordingly. 5:40 the gap.

     

  32. 100km remaining from 180.5km

    14:52:37 CEST

    Into the final 100 kilometres for the escapees, who are on the long, shallow preamble towards the start proper of the day's first climb with 81 kilometres remaining. 

     

  33. 15:04:55 CEST

    AG2R La Mondiale riders Alexandre Geniez and Nico Denz were sent home from the Vuelta by their team on the rest day after footage emerged showing them holding onto a team car on Sunday's stage. Today's edition of L'Equipe reports that the video was captured by Team Sky, though the team has declined to comment

     

  34. 91km remaining from 180.5km

    15:06:52 CEST

    The six escapees are forced out of the saddle on a long rise that serves as an hors-d'oeuvre for the Portillo de Lunada proper. They have 5:15 in hand on the peloton.

     

  35. 85km remaining from 180.5km

    15:15:38 CEST

    Astana's pursuit has shaved the break's lead to more manageable dimensions as they hit the feed zone at Espinosa de los Monteros. The gap is down to 5:07.

     

  36. 82km remaining from 180.5km

    15:23:25 CEST

    Alberto Contador delivered a solid performance in the final time trial of his career yesterday, limiting his losses on Froome to 59 seconds. Though he was cautious about his prospects of making it onto the final podium in Madrid, he suggested he would mark his final week as a professional by on the attack. "I think a lot of things will happen in the next days; there'll be a lot of movement. There are riders who will make another move, like Lopez who will surely be on the attack. I think tomorrow will be very hard for everyone giving the difficulty of the climbs, and the ramps on Los Machucos," said Contador, who lies 5th overall, at 4:58. Read the full story here.

    Alberto Contador (Trek Segafredo)

     

     

  37. 80km remaining from 180.5km

    15:24:35 CEST

    Alaphilippe, De Marchi, Moreno, Villela, Denifl and Cort begin the category 2 Portillo de Lunada (8.3km at 5.7%) with a lead just north of 5 minutes over the peloton.

     

  38. 78km remaining from 180.5km

    15:30:09 CEST

    Alaphilippe is very active at the head of the break on this ascent of the Portillo de Lunada, but the Astana delegation's brisk pace-making continues unabated in the peloton behind, and the gap drops to 4:30.

     

  39. 76.5km remaining from 180.5km

    15:33:47 CEST

    Villella takes over in an attempt to breathe more life into this breakaway. The Italian will be able to mop up the points atop this climb, but at Astana's current rate of knots, the escapees might not survive in front until the second climb of the Puerto de Alisas.

     

  40. 75km remaining from 180.5km

    15:38:21 CEST

    Leaden drops of rain fall on the six escapees as they reach the final two kilometres of the Portillo de Lunada. Dani Moreno calls for his arm warmers and gilet in preparation for the descent.

     

  41. 74km remaining from 180.5km

    15:40:06 CEST

    Villella and company reach the low cloud at the summit of the Portillo de Lunada. The Italian continues to lead the escapees and surely nobody will try to deny him maximum points at the KoM.

     

  42. 15:40:52 CEST

    Visibility is very low indeed at the top of this climb, and the peloton would be advised to proceed with great caution on the descent.

     

  43. 73km remaining from 180.5km

    15:42:17 CEST

    • Climb

    The break disappears into the low cloud at the crest of the mountain, so it wasn't possible to decipher the first rider to the top from the television pictures - but it would be a surprise if it was anybody other than Davide Villella. 

     

  44. 15:44:03 CEST

    The Astana-led peloton reaches the fog at the top of the climb 3:33 down on the break. A number of riders are being jettisoned off the back of the bunch thanks to their pace-making. It's interesting to see Fabio Aru, Miguel Angel Lopez and Alberto Contador move towards the front near the summit.

     

  45. 15:44:49 CEST

    And at that, a delegation from Team Sky - Froome among them - zip to the front of the peloton just before the summit of the Portillo de Lunada. The visibility is even worse over the other side...

     

  46. 68km remaining from 180.5km

    15:48:01 CEST

    The leading group has split up on the descent and Davide Villella is alone. It seems he has been tailed off by his fellow escapees, but his position is not entirely clear...

     

  47. 15:49:22 CEST

    The low cloud and misted camera lenses make it very difficult to provide entirely reliable information on how this descent is unfolding, but it seems very much as though Vincenzo Nibali has hit the front of the peloton on the way down...

     

  48. 15:50:11 CEST

    The word reaching us from the finish, meanwhile, is that the rain has stopped and the cloud has lifted slightly.

     

  49. 63km remaining from 180.5km

    15:51:56 CEST

    No such comfort for the peloton on this slippery, low visibility treacherous descent of Portillo de Lunada, where Nibali continues to test the mettle of his fellow overall contenders.

     

  50. 15:52:59 CEST

    The break emerges from the cloud near the base of the descent, and we can confirm that Villella has been distanced. Moreno, De Marchi, Denifl, Alaphilippe and Cort have a lead of 3:20 over the main peloton.

     

  51. 15:54:21 CEST

    Gianni Moscon (Sky) has taken over at the head of the peloton with Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) on his wheel. Plenty of gaps have formed in the bunch on this descent...

     

  52. 57km remaining from 180.5km

    15:58:34 CEST

    Vincenzo Nibali is returns to the front to force the issue in the main peloton, though it's unclear as yet whether his onslaught has put any of the podium contenders in difficulty.

     

  53. 52km remaining from 180.5km

    16:06:20 CEST

    The red jersey group hits the base of the descent, and there are around 40 or so riders left after Nibali's show on the descent. Nibali's Bahrain-Merida team are now setting the pace en masse at the front. It seems as though all of the GC contenders are still in this group, which is 2:46 down on the break. Villella is in no man's land, 40 seconds behind the leaders.

     

  54. 46km remaining from 180.5km

    16:13:37 CEST

    The red jersey group continues to expand in size as dropped riders latch back on after that white knuckle descent. Bahrain-Merida hold the reins, 2:36 down on Alaphilippe and the break.

     

  55. 42km remaining from 180.5km

    16:17:56 CEST

    Villella, meanwhile, seems to have been definitively distanced by the break. The king of the mountains now trails Alaphilippe and the others by 1:10.

     

  56. 16:20:33 CEST

    Bahrain-Merida have been replaced by Orica-Scott at the head of the red jersey group. Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) is among the riders who were dropped by the peloton on the descent and now he trails by a minute, but it's unclear if any of the podium contenders missed the bus.

     

  57. 16:23:45 CEST

    Villella has sat up and is awaiting the arrival of the red jersey group. The Italian picked up 5 points on the Portillo de Lunada, but he seems unlikely to score anything more in the king of the mountains classification today.

     

  58. 37km remaining from 180.5km

    16:25:25 CEST

    The escapees are a little under 10 kilometres from the base of the penultimate climb, the category 1 Puerto de Alisas (10km at 6%). They will hoover up all of the bonus seconds on offer at the imminent intermediate sprint in Solares.

     

  59. 35km remaining from 180.5km

    16:28:41 CEST

    Alaphilippe leads the break through the sprint in Solares. Orica-Scott and Bahrain-Merida lead the peloton, 2:50 down on the break. The Majka group is 4:11 down. A trio of Bora-Hansgrohe riders have dropped back from the red jersey group to try to pace him up, but it seems likely to be in vain.

     

  60. 16:32:21 CEST

    At the finish atop the Alto de los Machucos, meanwhile, the heavens have opened once again and visibility is severely reduced amid the low cloud.

     

  61. 30km remaining from 180.5km

    16:36:01 CEST

    Cort is now beginning to sit on at the rear of the break as word reaches him of Orica-Scott's pursuit at the head of the peloton. 2:30 the gap.

     

  62. 28km remaining from 180.5km

    16:37:44 CEST

    Alaphilippe, De Marchi, Cort, Denifl and Moreno hit the base of the Puerto de Alisas with a lead of 2:20 over the peloton.

     

  63. 16:40:44 CEST

    Astana put their shoulders to the wheel once again at the head of the bunch on the approach to the beginning of the penultimate climb. Miguel Angel Lopez is chasing a hat-trick of Vuelta stage wins this afternoon, and the terrain seems well-suited to his talents.

     

  64. 25.5km remaining from 180.5km

    16:42:19 CEST

    A fine piece of chasing from Bora-Hansgrohe has brought the Rafal Majka group back up to the peloton just as the Puerto de Alisas begins. Much will depend on how much additional energy the Pole used up during the pursuit, but for now at least, he is where he needs to be if he wants to triumph atop the Alto de los Machucos.

     

  65. 24.5km remaining from 180.5km

    16:44:56 CEST

    Moreno and De Marchi exchange turns as they set the early tempo in the break on the Puertos de Alisas. They still have 2:08 in hand on the red jersey group, where Astana are imposing their rhythm. Drops of rain are again beginning to fall over the race.

     

  66. 23km remaining from 180.5km

    16:49:23 CEST

    • Attack

    Adam Yates and Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) attack together from the main peloton almost 6 kilometres from the top of Puertos de Alisas. Team Sky have taken over the pace-making in the red jersey group.

     

  67. 16:52:05 CEST

    Chaves lost 4 minutes in yesterday's time trial to slip to 9th overall at 6:40, and in theory ought to be allowed a degree of freedom. Sky maintain their tempo on the front as some riders attempt to bridge across to Chaves and Adam Yates.

     

  68. 16:54:02 CEST

    David De La Cruz (Quick-Step), Jarlinson Pantano (Trek-Segafredo), Antonio Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Antonio Pedrero (Movistar) have bridged across to Chaves and Adam Yates to swell the group to six riders.

     

  69. 20km remaining from 180.5km

    16:55:29 CEST

    There has been no major injection of pace from Sky in response to the Chaves group, despite the arrival of proxies for both Vincenzo Nibali and Alberto Contador therein.

     

  70. 19km remaining from 180.5km

    16:57:04 CEST

    Moreno, Alaphilippe, De Marchi, Denifl and Cort remain together, 1:35 ahead of the peloton. Chaves, Adam Yates, Antonio Nibali, Jarlinson Pantano, David De La Cruz and Antonio Perero are about to be pegged back by the peloton, which is being being led by David Lopez for Team Sky.

     

  71. 16:58:24 CEST

    There are five Sky riders at the head of the red jersey group in pursuit of the Chaves group, which is being led by Adam Yates and has swelled to include an Astana rider.

     

  72. 18.5km remaining from 180.5km

    17:00:28 CEST

    Magnus Cort has been dropped by the break on the final approach to the summit of the penultimate climb. Denifl, Moreno, De Marchi and Alaphilippe remain in front in spitting rain, 1:13 ahead of the red jersey group, which has just caught the Chaves group.

     

  73. 18km remaining from 180.5km

    17:02:00 CEST

    • Climb

    Stefan Denifl leads over the summit of the category 1 Puerto de Alisas. The visibility is better than it was atop the previous ascent, but it could well be a treacherous descent. 

     

  74. 15km remaining from 180.5km

    17:04:48 CEST

    Simon Yates attacked at the very top of the Puerto de Alisas and has joined the dropped Magnus Cort on the descent. They are 1:15 down on the broke, and just ahead of the red jersey group.

     

  75. 12km remaining from 180.5km

    17:06:44 CEST

    Alaphilippe leads the break down the descent with an advantage of 1:13 over Yates and Cort, and very slightly over the red jersey group.

     

  76. 17:07:44 CEST

    It is in fact Jack Haig, and not Simon Yates, who bridged up to Cort for Orica-Scott on this descent. The Orica tandem is dangling just ahead of the peloton.

     

  77. 10km remaining from 180.5km

    17:09:59 CEST

    The helocopter shot shows riders from Trek-Segafredo and Bahrain-Merida just ahead of the main peloton, but all of the GC contenders seem to be still together as they hurtle towards the base of the final ascent, the special category Alto de los Machucos, 7.2 kilometres at 8.7%.

     

  78. 8km remaining from 180.5km

    17:11:36 CEST

    Alaphilippe, De Marchi, Denifl and Moreno have 54 seconds in hand on Jack Haig and Magnus Cort, and 1:30 on the red jersey group as they approach the steep final haul to the line.

     

  79. 7.2km remaining from 180.5km

    17:12:52 CEST

    Moreno leads the break onto the steep and narrow opening section of the Alto de los Machucos.

     

  80. 17:13:36 CEST

    Jack Haig distances his teammate Cort as he hauls himself out of the saddle when he reaches the same point, 36 seconds down on the leaders. The peloton is at 1:23.

     

  81. 17:14:33 CEST

    There are around 50 riders in this red jersey group as they begin the final climb, but plenty of riders are beginning to sit up as soon as the gradient starts to bite. 

     

  82. 6.5km remaining from 180.5km

    17:15:22 CEST

    Moreno has led all the way up the climb thus far. Alaphilippe and Denifl stick to his wheel as De Marchi shows signs of struggling. Haig chases alone at 30 seconds.

     

  83. 6.3km remaining from 180.5km

    17:16:15 CEST

    Jarlinson Pantano attacks off the front of the peloton, surely with the aim of laying the groundwork for a later assault from Contador. The Colombian opens a small gap as he weaves from side to side against the gradient.

     

  84. 6km remaining from 180.5km

    17:16:49 CEST

    Dani Moreno edges away from Denifl just before he hits the gradients of 24%. It's every man for himself in the break.

     

  85. 17:17:47 CEST

    • Attack

    Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) attacks from the red jersey group on gradients in excess of 15% and comes past Pantano. He makes it all look so disarmingly easy.

     

  86. 17:18:25 CEST

    Contador is next to attack and he bobs his way across to Lopez. This duo has about 30 metres in hand on the red jersey group.

     

  87. 17:19:25 CEST

    Nibali, Kelderman, Michael Woods and Zakarin are in a group chasing Lopez and Contador. Froome is not among them.. He is another 40 metres back in a group with four Sky teammates...

     

  88. 5.2km remaining from 180.5km

    17:20:00 CEST

    Lopez and Contador are starting to pull away from the chasers as they hit the brief descent that punctuates the climb.

     

  89. 5km remaining from 180.5km

    17:21:06 CEST

    Stefan Denifl is alone at the head of the race, having dropped Moreno. Alaphilippe and De Marchi give chase with Haig behind them. Contador and Lopez are at 1:02 just in front of a group containing Nibalil, Kelderman and Zakarin. Froome is a little further back, but still within sight of Nibali et al.

     

  90. 17:21:59 CEST

    The gradient kicks up to 16% and every man has to ride to his own tempo. Contador kicks away from Lopez and opens a small gap, but the Colombian has not relented.

     

  91. 4km remaining from 180.5km

    17:23:56 CEST

    Contador is picking off the remnants of the break after shedding Lopez. He catches Alessandro De Marchi on another brief downhill section. He is 1:01 down on the lone leader Denifl.

     

  92. 3.7km remaining from 180.5km

    17:25:08 CEST

    Contador drops De Marchi and presses on alone in pursuit of Denifl. Lopez has not given up the ghost and is still within sight of Contador. Nibali leads the fourth group on the road, but we have no time gaps between the Italian and Froome who is a little further behind.

     

  93. 3km remaining from 180.5km

    17:26:41 CEST

    Stefan Denifl leads into the final 3 kilometres, 49 seconds clear of Contador, Haig and Moreno. The Nibali group is at 1:25 and the Froome group is at 1:40.

     

  94. 17:27:39 CEST

    Contador has distanced Alaphilippe and Haig, and is in second place on the road in lone pursuit of Denifl. The gap is 47 seconds.

     

  95. 17:28:38 CEST

    Gianni Moscon leads the Froome group, 1:40 down on Denifl. They are a minute down on Contador and at least 20 seconds behind Nibali, Kelderman and Zakarin.

     

  96. 2.5km remaining from 180.5km

    17:30:12 CEST

    Nibali has pressed away from his chasing group, and his gap over Froome is extending.... Froome is pedalling with leaden strokes, following Moscon and Mikel Nive and steadily conceding ground to all of his GC rivals...

     

  97. 17:31:05 CEST

    Now Froome has only Mikel Nieve for company... Zakarin has clawed his way up to Nibali.  They are in the process of clawing back significant ground on a struggling Froome...

     

  98. 2km remaining from 180.5km

    17:32:04 CEST

    Denifl still leads the stage, Contador is 35 seconds down, weaving from side to side against the gradient. Nibali and Zakarin are riding strongly and are about to catch Miguel Angel Lopez and the remnants of the early break.

     

  99. 17:33:22 CEST

    Froome's eyes are glued to his stem, but his battery seems flat. He is struggling to follow Mikel Nieve's wheel. He is 1:38 down on Denifl and 1:00 behind Contador. We have no time gap for his deficit to Nibali, Zakarin, Lopez and Michael Woods, but it would seem to be approaching a minute.

     

  100. 1.2km remaining from 180.5km

    17:34:07 CEST

    Contador hauls himself from the saddle once again. He has 28 seconds to recoup on Denifl, who is holding strong alone out in front. The gradient eases in the final kilometre...

     

  101. 17:34:49 CEST

    Zakarin accelerates and his surge is helping to drag Nibali further away from Chris Froome. The race for the red jersey has been ignited this afternoon...

     

  102. 1km remaining from 180.5km

    17:35:30 CEST

    Contador enters the final kilometre 25 seconds behind Denifl. He surely won't claim a valedictory stage win today, but he is moving to within touching distance of the podium.

     

  103. 17:36:15 CEST

    Zakarin leads Nibali into the final kilometre about a minute  down on Denfil. Froome is still being led by Nieve and picking off dropped riders...

     

  104. 17:36:36 CEST

    Stefan Denifl (Aqua Blue) wins stage 17 of the Vuelta a Espana.

     

  105. 17:36:55 CEST

    Contador takes second place, 28 seconds down... 

     

  106. 17:37:30 CEST

    Miguel Angel Lopez beats Nibali, Zakarin and Majka to third on the stage, 1:07 down on Denifl. They had 40 seconds in hand on Froome at the flamme rouge. What's the final verdict?

     

  107. 17:38:20 CEST

    Froome struggles to follow Nieve again in the final kilometre. He crosses the line 1:46 down on Denifl. He has conceded 39 seconds on Nibali this afternoon...

     

  108. 17:40:17 CEST

    Riders were battling in ones, twos and threes all the way up that climb, and there simply weren't enough television motorbikes to keep tabs on all of the GC men. The flash news story is that Nibali has made inroads into Froome's lead, and Contador has also clawed back a minute or so. 

     

  109. 17:41:51 CEST

     

    Result:

     

    1 Stefan Denifl (Aut) Aqua Blue Sport 4:48:52
    2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:28
    3 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 0:01:04
    4 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:01:04
    5 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin 0:01:04
    6 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:01:04
    7 Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac 0:01:13
    8 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:17
    9 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:01:19
    10 David de la Cruz (Spa) Quick-Step Floors 0:01:42

     

     

  110. 17:42:25 CEST

    General classification after stage 17:

    1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 67:44:03
    2 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:01:16
    3 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:02:13
    4 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin 0:02:25
    5 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Trek-Segafredo 0:03:34
    6 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 0:04:39
    7 Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac 0:06:33
    8 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky 0:06:40

     

  111. 17:45:36 CEST

    General classification after stage 17:        

     

    1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 67:44:03
    2 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:01:16
    3 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:02:13
    4 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin 0:02:25
    5 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Trek-Segafredo 0:03:34
    6 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 0:04:39
    7 Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac 0:06:33
    8 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky 0:06:40
    9 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:06:45
    10 David de la Cruz (Spa) Quick-Step Floors 0:10:10

  112. 17:51:36 CEST

    With the cavernous Angliru still to come on Saturday, Nibali will have seen enough this afternoon to feel that he might yet bend this Vuelta to his will.

     

  113. 17:56:03 CEST

    For Stefan Denifl, this is the biggest victory of a career that began in 2006. "I was waiting the whole Vuelta for this day. I paced myself the whole Vuelta, and today I went all in. It’s just amazing. For me team, Aqua Blue we’re at our first Vuelta here, and winning a stage …I’m over the moon. Thanks. Thanks. You always have to believe to win, and when I felt my legs I was like, ‘Oh my God. These legs are super good.’ And I just kept on pushing. The climb was perfect for me with some flats parts in between for recovery. Now I won a stage in the Vuelta. It’s the best day in my cycling life."

    Stefan Denifl at the Vuelta a España

     

  114. 18:03:29 CEST

    Was Froome's time loss the result of a simple jour sans or an indication of a deeper malaise as the Vuelta reaches its third week? His immediate post-stage reaction was to put a positive slant on a disappointing day. "It's still a great position to be in," he says. "It was reallly tough final, especially with the weather condition. With three days of racing, I’m feeling good. It was a typical Vuelta summit finish, and the same for everyone. I don’t think anybody enjoys gradients over 25 percent. It's never nice to lose to time, but I’m confident we can get the job done."

     

  115. 18:13:51 CEST

    Stefan Denifl (Aqua Blue Sport) wins stage 17 at the Vuelta a Espana

     

  116. 18:14:30 CEST

    Alberto Contador finishes stage 17 at the Vuelta

     

  117. 19:03:06 CEST

    Thanks for following our live coverage on Cyclingnews this afternoon. You can find a full report, results and pictures here from a dramatic day of racing the Vuelta a Espana. We'll be back with more tomorrow, and in the meantime Alasdair Fotheringham and Sadhbh O'Shea will have all the news and reaction from a misty Alto de los Machucos.

    Vincenzo Nibali finishes stage 17 at the Vuelta

     

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