The updated score-sheet after stage 17 can be downloaded here: V17_le tipping personale
Stage 16 was the third of the three mountain stages that were expected to decide the Vuelta. Perhaps Astana had given up hope of MiguelAngel LOPEZ contesting the GC as they placed Jakob FUGLSANG in the day’s strong break.
FUGLSANG proves as hard to follow as he is to pronounce or spell; and a pair of attacks on the final climb was enough to dispatch all challengers and deliver a stage victory.
The Movistar team – avoiding looking at each other, just like in the race.
In the GC bunch, LOPEZ hadn’t given up on himself and his attacks sorted the GC contenders by form with only Tadej POGACAR able to follow immediately. Primoz ROGLIC did bridge across and was happy to follow wheels to the finish as it ensured he lost no time to LOPEZ and POGACAR, while distancing VALVERDE and the others.
The stage 16 tipping glory was showered on bugwan (Dave Bugden) whose Total Psyclepaths used a mix of breakaway riders and the little-known training supplement chicken tendies to take victory.
There was little movement elsewhere other than Matthias Pantani (Matthew Patton) taking the lead in mountain tipping.
Stage 17 was a downhill stage, late in a grand tour when even the mountain stages were leading to few changes in the GC standings. It stands to reason it would be a straightforward break-chase-sprint, right? Wrong!
The first inkling of a different outcome was the size and strength of the break. Add in some significant crosswinds, and the recipe was there for one of those classic out-of-the-blue Vuelta stages.
Deceuninck-Quickstep, love a one-day race, and crosswinds, and though they lost their sprinter, Fabio JAKOBSEN, on one of the late non-climbs, they still had sufficient strength to deliver a one-two punch to the remaining threat, Sam BENNETT. Zdenek STYBAR attacked to draw BENNETT out early and as the Irishman faded, Philippe GILBERT finished him off to take the stage victory.
Deceuninck-QuickStep – won nearly everything on stage 17.
Elsewhere in the leading bunch, was the day’s other big winner, Nairo QUINTANA, who elevated himself to second overall and first in the hotly contested category: Best Movistar Rider (for the moment).
It was a testing day for the GC riders and their teams with the threat of significant time gaps and yet, like most other days, Primoz ROGLIC poker-faced his way through, with or without team help, and maintains what looks to be Vuelta-winning lead.
The Masked Banooer (Finn Marsland) was the tipster for the stage, placing five scoring riders in the break for a hard-fought victory. Finn said it for all tipsters when on the podium: “About bloody time”.
For the first time in this Vuelta, the tipping score-sheet includes points for the final top twenty, best four teams, best three young riders and the winners of the overall points and mountains competition (for the riders). These are provisional only at the moment and will be adjusted after each stage. Let’s hope your riders hang in there, or your points could go backwards.
It didn’t scare Chrysler (Chrisel) whose overall lead was sufficient to withstand a push from a new range of challengers. Has he got enough to hold on to virtual Madrid? Time will tell.
Stage 18 sees the mountains return and, despite the descent from the final climb to the finish, it should be a testing one of the GC contenders. Stage 19 looks like it should present no threat – but by now we know better. We will return with an update after stage 19 has revealed its secrets.
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