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Vuelta a España 2014: Stage 17

It’s a long and bumpy ride today, 190.7 km from from Ortigueira to Coruna. Perfect for a break group!

On the road again: the Vuelta heads into its last week, with Alberto Contador leading Alejandro Valverde and Chris Froome by a little more than a minute and a half.

We are now 82 km into the stage, with a break of five: Lluis Mas Bonet (Caja Rural), Elia Favilli (Lampre Merida), Daniel Teklehaimnot (MTN-Qhubeka), Rohan Dennis (BMC) and Bob Jungels (Trek). They got away just over 20km into the stage, and currently enjoy a lead of 2:40.

Four riders were not at the start this morning. Rigoberto Uran (OPQS) had to give up in his fight against asthmatic bronchitis – no suprise after we saw him suffer on Monday’s stage. Haimar Zubeldia (Trek) and Christian Knees (Sky) are also out due to illness. Astana’s Tanel Kangert also did not start.

This group hasn't been allowed much of a gap today, but that is because the sprinters see today as their last chance. It certainly isn't because they are a threat to GC. Daniel  Teklehaimnot is the highest placed rider and he is 1:32:14 down.

 

Today’s stage started with a moment of silence for the Guardia Civil who lost his life in an accident during Monday’s stage. Cyclingnews extends its sympathies to his loved ones.

Do you have thoughts to share on this stage? Will the break make it to the end, or will we see a bunch sprint? Let me know on Twitter: @WestemeyerSusan

Speaking of a bunch sprint: Giant-Shimano is doing the chase work, pretty much alone. Because why would the other teams want to help John Degenkolb win yet another stage?

Here is a look at where things stand going into the final week of the race:

1 Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) 63:25:00

2 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 0:01:36

3 Christopher Froome (Sky) 0:01:39

4 Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) 0:02:29

5 Fabio Aru (Astana) 0:03:38

97km remaining from 190km

We are just about halfway through the stage, and the gap is 2:50.

 

John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) still leads the points ranking with 124 points. Second is Valverde, with 114 points, and third is Contador with 108 points.

The break has now reached the feed zone.

 

Luis Leon Sanchez (Caja Rural) has a tidy lead in the mountains rankings, with 53 points. As in the points ranking, Valverde is second (30) and Contador third (23).

Valverde does lead one ranking: combination. He is ahead of, you guessed it, Contador, with Froome third.

85km remaining from 190km

We now have the largest gap of the day: 3:40. They sure aren't letting this group get away!

 

Just to round things out, Katusha is the best team, more than 14 minutes ahead of Movistar and 31 minutes ahead of third-ranked Tinkoff-Saxo.

Birthdays today! Lotto’s Greg Henderson is 38 today, and Filippo Pozzato is 33. And oh yes, I am celebrating my 39th birthday (again) today.

76km remaining from 190km

The gap is up to 3:50 now!

Giant-Shimano is no longer alone in leading the chase. Omega Pharma-QuickStep has moved up to help. We guess that this means that  Tom Boonen is feeling up to a sprint in the difficult finish today.

Alberto Contador may well win this Vuelta, but he certainly won’t win the World Championship this year. He said yesterday that he wouldn’t be riding the Worlds’s this year, saying “my priority is to rest.”

There had been some talk of rain today, especially at the end, but that looks to have been wrong. At least it is all staying dry so far.

 

60km remaining from 190km

60km to go, 3:43 gap, and the peloton is strung out single file.

 

Garmin Sharp has a wounded warrior: David Millar broke two fingers when he crashed on Sunday. Doesn’t stop him from riding, though!

With a gap of 3:35, Orica-GreenEdge has now moved in to help with the chase.

Giant-Shimano leading the field again. Frankly, we find it hard to see anyone other that Degenkolb winning today.

Uran was obviously suffering and struggling on Monday, a stage which saw him drop from sixth to 16th overall. "We were hoping that the rest day could help, but in the last 24 hours the situation has become even worse," he said.

48km remaining from 190km

The break group is holding strong. The gap is staying around 3:35.

 

 

Today's stage in the Tour of Britain is over, and the winner is...... 

 

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is grimly hanging on to second place in this Vuelta, and says the race is far from over. “Anything can happen,” he said, “The race is not over till the last day, we mustn't surrender.”

42km remaining from 190km

Slowly the gap is indeed coming down: now at 3:02.

 

40km remaining from 190km

40 km and three minutes. Not a lot happening other than break and chase.....

 

Finally I'll watch LIVE #LaVuelta tomorrow from the car.I guess Bjarne missed me there.Vamos @albertocontador .@Benna80 today? #tinkoffsaxo

@olegtinkov Wed, 10th Sep 2014 15:34:33

Making the chase more difficult is the fact that the road is basically never straight or flat. Curves, turns, ups and downs all along the way.

 

Giant-Shimano, OPQS and Orica-GreenEdge are still sharing the lead work. But there is still roughly 30km and 3 minutes. 

 

30km remaining from 190km

The chase is finally showing fruit. The gap is now down to 2:33.

 

Dennis feels that Teklahiaimanot is not doing his share in the break group. The MTN rider seems to be struggling a bit.

 

The Eritrian is not the only one with difficulties. Mas Bonet has been dropped from the lead group.

 

Mas Bonet is in fact now back in the peloton.

 

19km remaining from 190km

19 km and 2:02. We think they will be caught. 

 

Lampre has now sent two riders to the front of the field.

 

As expected, the gap continues to diminish, now only 1:43.

 

The Brambilla-Rovny match wasn't the only fisticuffs in this Vuelta. Sky's Philip Deignan says that on Sunday Purito Rodriguez smacked him in the face. 

 

The finish today features climbs and cobbles. Sounds like a Classic.  Sounds like Boonen? Or Gilbert?

 

Daniele Bennati (TInkoff-Saxo) had an ill-timed puncture.

 

Teklehaimanot is still hanging on to the lead group, but not much more than that. He may be having some cramps.

 

The gap is under a  minute! With 10km to go, it is now 54 seconds.

 

An uphill section and Teklehaimanot looks to be finally dropped. 

 

Two riders have now jumped from the field, Laverlet of FDJ and a Cofidis rider. They have only a few seconds. 

 

How about Levarlet of Cofids and Le Bon of FDJ.

 

6km remaining from 190km

There three leaders are still riding furiously, and the finish is approaching, but it looks as if their chance is over. 

 

Le Bon is alone now, but only a few seconds in front of the field. 

 

6km and 39 seconds. 

 

Sky has moved to the front of the chase. Giant-Shimano has disappeared -- except for Degenkolb who is still up there.

The three leaders hit the cobbled section.

 

Barguill has taken over the head of the chasing field. 4km to go.

 

17 seconds and the field hits the cobbles. 

 

Froome on third wheel. Will he try something?

 

The leaders go under the 3km banner and the gamp is about 5 seconds. 

 

The cobbles did in the lead group. They lost too much time there. 

 

With 1.5km to go, Dennis attacks. 

 

Dennis and Favelli still alone as they enter the final km!

 

caught in the last km!

 

A large group neared the finish line. Degenkolb was the first to jump. Bling Matthews gave furious chase but was unable to catch the speedy German, who took his fourth win of this Vuelta.

 

Our top ten on the stage:

1 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano

2 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica Greenedge

3 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing

4 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek Factory Racing

5 Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida

6 Koldo Fernandez (Spa) Garmin Sharp

7 Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) FDJ.fr

8 Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team

9 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale

10 Vicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) IAM Cycling

That was a close one! The last two escapees were only caught within the last kilometre. And even the sprint was a relatively close one. 

 

No one still had the usual sprint train at the end, and Degenkolb won it alone on his raw strength and speed.

 

Here is GC after today's stage:

1 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo

2 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team

3 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky

4 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha

5 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team

6 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin Sharp

7 Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team

8 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team

9 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Shimano

10 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale

That's it for today! Join us again tomorrow for more fun and games!

 

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