Stage 17: Ciudad Real - Talavera de la Reina
Proycling's Analysis: It’s flat and open here, so the wind could play an important role. This is the last chance for the sprinters to race elbow-to-elbow before the final fling in Madrid and they’re unlikely to pass up the chance.
Culture Vulture: Founded by the Romans and developed by the Moors, Talavera became renowned for the production of world-class pottery in the 16th century and the tradition continues. During the Peninsular Wars of the early 19th century, the French under Bonaparte captured most of the town.
Local hero: The last act by David Arroyo before he packed his bags to join his Caisse d’Epargne team-mates at the start of the Tour de France in Monaco was to open a new velodrome in Talavera. He’s ridden the Vuelta twice.
Vuelta Retro: Two years ago, a finish in Puertollano was followed by a stage between Ciudad Real and Talavera. Daniele Bennati won that day.
Neil Stephens says: It's more likely that a long break will try and stay away on a stage like this - whether it be one of the local riders or someone else. They'll probably stay away for 120km then get pulled back before a big sprint. It's all about which sprinter's team has the firepower at the finish.
Hopefully we'll have Alejandro Valverde in a good position by now but there's no way our team would be targeting the stage win on a day like today. If they cover a break and find themselves in it, then that's OK, but they'd be thinking about waiting for another day. We've got a solid team based around Alejandro so hopefully by now we can enjoy a bit of time off the front - see if the break goes and just tap away at the front if need be.
If Alejandro isn't going that well, we've still got some bloody good firepower and last year we picked up a couple of stages. We've got some riders who can get themselves in the break if need be but I hope that by this stage we'll be up there on general classification.
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