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Garcia Quesada kisses glory

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Carlos Garcia Quesada (Comunidad Valenciana)

Carlos Garcia Quesada (Comunidad Valenciana) (Image credit: Unipublic)
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The peloton

The peloton (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Carlos Garcia Quesada (Comunidad Valenciana)

Carlos Garcia Quesada (Comunidad Valenciana) (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears)

Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears) (Image credit: AFP)
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What a load of bull

What a load of bull (Image credit: AFP)
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The pace is on

The pace is on (Image credit: AFP)
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Passing over a bridge during stage 17

Passing over a bridge during stage 17 (Image credit: AFP)
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Heras and Baranowski descending

Heras and Baranowski descending (Image credit: AFP)
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Denis Menchov (Rabobank) descends

Denis Menchov (Rabobank) descends (Image credit: AFP)
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Tom Danielson (Discovery Channel) hurting a little in the final week

Tom Danielson (Discovery Channel) hurting a little in the final week (Image credit: AFP)
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Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Comunidad Valenciana) helps his teammate Carlos Garcia Quesada get away

Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Comunidad Valenciana) helps his teammate Carlos Garcia Quesada get away (Image credit: AFP)
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Carlos Sastre (CSC) forces the pace

Carlos Sastre (CSC) forces the pace (Image credit: AFP)
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Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears) not wanting to let Garcia Quesada go

Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears) not wanting to let Garcia Quesada go (Image credit: AFP)
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Carlos Garcia Quesada (Comunidad Valenciana) gets his photo taken

Carlos Garcia Quesada (Comunidad Valenciana) gets his photo taken (Image credit: AFP)
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Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears) finishing a strong second

Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears) finishing a strong second (Image credit: AFP)
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The organisers of the World's in Madrid

The organisers of the World's in Madrid (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) looking happy to be here

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) looking happy to be here (Image credit: Unipublic)
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The peloton was always active

The peloton was always active (Image credit: Unipublic)
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The bunch catches an early break after the first descent

The bunch catches an early break after the first descent (Image credit: Unipublic)
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The peloton under the impulse of Liberty Seguros

The peloton under the impulse of Liberty Seguros (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Liberty Seguros strings 'em out

Liberty Seguros strings 'em out (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Heras and Menchov riding together

Heras and Menchov riding together (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Joaquin Rodriguez (Saunier Duval) climbing towards more points for the red jersey

Joaquin Rodriguez (Saunier Duval) climbing towards more points for the red jersey (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) follows the wheel of Scarponi

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) follows the wheel of Scarponi (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Concentrating in the gold jersey group

Concentrating in the gold jersey group (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Joseba Beloki drives the Heras group

Joseba Beloki drives the Heras group (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) keeping his composure

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) keeping his composure (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Carlos Sastre (CSC) on track for a podium place

Carlos Sastre (CSC) on track for a podium place (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Pain

Pain (Image credit: Unipublic)
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The various teams protecting their leaders in the peloton

The various teams protecting their leaders in the peloton (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Menchov leads Sastre and Heras

Menchov leads Sastre and Heras (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Heras and Menchov in the peloton

Heras and Menchov in the peloton (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Perdiguero and Gonzalez leading the chase group behind the big break

Perdiguero and Gonzalez leading the chase group behind the big break (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) stayed attentive

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) stayed attentive (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Lastras and Rodriguez drive the pace in the break

Lastras and Rodriguez drive the pace in the break (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Paco Mancebo (Illes Balears) starts to split the chase group behind Garcia Quesada

Paco Mancebo (Illes Balears) starts to split the chase group behind Garcia Quesada (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Paco Mancebo (Illes Balears) was very active today

Paco Mancebo (Illes Balears) was very active today (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Mancebo's group chasing on the Navacerrada

Mancebo's group chasing on the Navacerrada (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Carlos Garcia Quesada (Comunidad Valenciana) powering along alone

Carlos Garcia Quesada (Comunidad Valenciana) powering along alone (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Carlos Garcia Quesada (Comunidad Valenciana) on his way to winning

Carlos Garcia Quesada (Comunidad Valenciana) on his way to winning (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Carlos Garcia Quesada (Comunidad Valenciana) wins the 17th stage

Carlos Garcia Quesada (Comunidad Valenciana) wins the 17th stage (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) king for another day

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) king for another day (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) is still the points leader

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) is still the points leader (Image credit: Unipublic)
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And Heras is still the best all-round rider

And Heras is still the best all-round rider (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Joaquin Rodriguez (Saunier Duval) is awarded the mountains jersey by Abraham Olano

Joaquin Rodriguez (Saunier Duval) is awarded the mountains jersey by Abraham Olano (Image credit: Unipublic)

Big solo win for Comunidad Valenciana

Carlos Garcia Quesada (Comunidad Valenciana) achieved a great win today in La Granja in stage 17 of the Vuelta a España, crossing the line alone 46 seconds ahead of Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears) and Santos Gonzalez (Phonak). Roberto Heras (Liberty-Würth) retained the golden jersey, finishing in ninth place at 1'40, with Denis Menchov (2nd on GC, Rabobank) finishing in the same time.

The stage winner was very pleased with his victory. "I wanted so much to win," said the rider from Granada. "And in the end I had my reward. The medal I wear is one my grandmother gave to my little son. I took it from him and it gave me good luck and confidence." This is not his first win of the year: "This is my sixth," he explained. "And I want to dedicate it to my brother Fito [Adolfo] who always supported me and gave me hope in cycling."

Santos Gonzalez had chances to win, but he couldn't follow Quesada's wheel on Navacerrada. "I had to push hard on the last climb [Navacerrada]," said a tired Gonzalez after the stage. "It was silly to stay quiet after being part of the breakaway. If I caught Carlos [Garcia Quesada], I could have won the stage."

Juan Miguel Mercado (Quick Step) wasn't very happy after finishing 12th. "Garcia Quesada has attacked and also [Carlos] Sastre," said Mercado. "They attacked and I couldn't keep their pace. The truth is that everyone is finishing the Vuelta in good condition. Let's see if we can do something tomorrow."

How it unfolded

At the start in El Espinar, 139 riders signed on for the stage to La Granja, a little village around 70 km northwest from Madrid. La Granja has a beautiful royal palace with a gorgeous garden built by the Spanish king Philip V in 1724 and ended by Charles III in 1761. Despite this, Fabio Sacchi (Fassa Bortolo) decided not to take part today.

After some attacks that were neutralized by the peloton, 15 riders made a breakaway including Eladio Jimenez (Comunidad Valenciana), Gilberto Simoni (Lampre-Caffita) and Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) after 38 km. At km 55 the breakaways numbered 13: Eladio Jimenez (Comunidad Valenciana), Gilberto Simoni (Lampre-Caffita), Joan Horrach (Illes Balears), Pablo Lastras (Illes Balears), David Blanco (Comunidad Valenciana), Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Comunidad Valenciana), Koos Moerenhout (Davitamon-Lotto), Stijn Devolder (Discovery Channel), Aitor Gonzalez (Euskaltel), David Lopez (Euskaltel), Rik Verbrugghe (Quick Step), Constantino Zaballa (Saunier Duval) and Manuel Calvente (CSC). The leaders were 2'10 ahead of the peloton at km 84.

There were more changes on the Puerto de Morcuera (km 93) and 19 riders led the race at km 105, with Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears), Eladio Jimenez, Miguel Martin Perdiguero (Phonak), Constantino Zaballa and Gilberto Simoni among them. The break was too big and the peloton didn't want such a massive breakaway.

Carlos Garcia Quesada (Comunidad Valenciana) was in the break and attacked when the leaders climbed Navacerrada for the second time. Mancebo and Santos Gonzalez (Phonak) chased him. At the summit of Puerto de Navacerrada with 22 km to go, Garcia Quesada was the solo leader, 1'40 ahead of Gonzalez and Paco Mancebo, and 2'18 ahead of Denis Menchov (Rabobank), Roberto Heras (Liberty) and Carlos Sastre (CSC).

On the descent of Navacerrada, Garcia Quesada didn't want to risk anything. So, his chasers reduced his advantage by some seconds. With 7 km to go, the leader was 1'09 ahead of the duo of chasers and 1'47 ahead of the Heras, Menchov and Sastre group. The Comunidad Valenciana rider maintained the good tempo and was the first to across the finish line. In his celebration, he kissed the medal and clenched his left fist.

Stage 18 - September 15: Avila-Avila, 197.5 km

This will be a good stage for the riders looking for breakaways, especially for the ones who climb well. It's a long stage with four climbs: Puerto de la Paramera (Category 3, 1395 m, km 13.9), Puerto de Mijares (Cat. 1, 1570 m, km 66.4), Alto de Pedro Bernardo (Cat. 2, 1260 m, km 123.2) and Puerto de Serranillos (Cat. 2, 1575 m, km 135). Roberto Heras shouldn't have any problems with this stage, as his team will certainly help him pass the mountainous zones.

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