By Gregor Brown with additional reporting by Bjorn Haake in Valladolid
Team Quick Step made it two stages in a row at the Vuelta a España with a win on Wednesday at the end of 148.2km from Zamora to Valladolid. But it wasn't Tom Boonen taking the win as he did in stage 16; instead, it was Wouter Weylandt, 23, taking the final dash to the line ahead of Matti Breschel of Team CSC-Saxo Bank and Alexandr Kolobnev of AG2R La Mondiale. A timely bike throw by Weylandt gave him the final advantage.
"It's amazing. It was not a good year for me. In 2007 I had seven wins, this year just seconds," said Weylandt. "This makes up for a lot."
Weylandt's win came at the end of a day with no categorized climbs. Spaniards Pedro Horrillo (Rabobank) and José Ruiz (Andalucía-Cajasur) spent much of the day off the front, but the duo was swept up with six kilometres to go, just four kilometres after the two main groups of the peloton reunited for the run - in to Valladolid.
Caisse d'Epargne launched a move by Imanol Erviti in the final four kilometres. The action brought Liquigas to the front for Filippo Pozzato, who was second yesterday. A wave of Quick Step men on the right cleared a surge of Pozzato's green men. Instead of Boonen, who was driving at the back of the pack, it was Weylandt sitting in last wheel of the train.
Quick Step kept it going under the final kilometre banner despite a surge by Rabobank. Tosatto was on the front after the final corner a 90-degree left at 750 metres. The Italian pulled off early to give the advantage to Weylandt.
Weylandt charged on the left of Kolobnev and he kept Denmark's Breschel at bay on his other side. A bike throw topped his long charge to the line and netted him his first win since March's win at Nokere-Koerse.
"I found out that I was going to be the main guy for the team today 20 kilometres from the finish," Weylandt added. "Yes, it made me nervous. You feel a bit stressed. I don't have many opportunities to sprint, so if there is one you want to win.
"Boonen had already decided before [the break in the peloton] to not go for the sprint, that's why he was stuck behind. He took it easy because he is going home tonight to prepare himself for the Worlds."
Breschel was happy with his second spot. "Yes, it's a good result, but unfortunately it wasn't good enough. I was really hoping for today, as all the big sprinters aren't there anymore, so it was a big chance for me today," he said.
Spain's Alberto Contador, 25, continues to lead the race. The Team Astana rider controls the maillot oro by 1:17 over teammate Levi Leipheimer and 3:41 over CSC-Saxo Bank's Carlos Sastre.
Boonen concluded his run in the Vuelta with two stage wins and leaves Spain to prepare for his second World Championships title. The blue points jersey will now rest on the shoulders of Van Avermaet, who finished sixth in the stage.
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of stage 17 the Vuelta a España.
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