Vino takes the jersey in thriller; Danielson big winner in Granada
Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) has taken the leadership in the Vuelta a España after a brilliant ride in stage 17 to finish second behind American Tom Danielson (Discovery Channel). Danielson was the lone leader when Vino attacked on the Alto de Monachil with around 2 km to the summit to drop Valverde and catch teammate Andrey Kashechkin and Saunier Duval's Jose Angel Gomez Marchante. The three were caught by Valverde on the descent, but Vino powered away again and closed the gap to Danielson with 5 km to go, the pair working together to put 1'39 into Valverde at the finish. That was enough to give Vinokourov gold by 9 seconds, setting things up for another great stage tomorrow.
The 17th stage was marked by a lot of aggression on the first climb of the day, which eventually saw Danielson escape with Sergio Paulinho (Astana), Lars Bak (Team CSC), Stéphane Goubert (AG2R), Dmitriy Fofonov (Credit Agricole), and Eric Leblacher (Française des Jeux). The group managed to gain 4'30 on the Valverde bunch, but Caisse d'Epargne pulled them back to just over two minutes with 30 km to go as the last climb started. Danielson rode away from the rest of the break, as Kashechkin and Gomez Marchante attacked Valverde's group. Then Vinokourov played his card, using his teammates to perfection to eventually take the jersey while Danielson took a well deserved stage win.
"Today was an amazing day for me. I got away in the early breakaway and worked really hard to make the break work. I began to tire on the final climb but focused on just turning the pedals over and on trying to win the stage. This is the biggest win of my career," said Danielson.