Vuelta (st. 17) / ToB (st. 4)
Lots of little climbs plus final cobbles in A Coruña split peloton; Valverde stays firmly in 2nd after marking front group. Mountain-top finish in Castrove tomorrow
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Through the profile didn’t suggest those difficulties, the usual scheme of Vuelta a España stages in Galicia was repeated today on the 17th act of the Spanish grandtour, over 191 kilometers from Ortigueira to A Coruña, full of small climbs and including a final route through the cobbles of the Esplanade in the city, which splitted the bunch and forced all favourites to keep maximum attention. Alejandro Valverde, always well protected by his seven Movistar team-mates until that point, even went on a brief attack into the final kilometer, quickly responded by the selected group (40 units) where John Degenkolb (GIA) claimed his fourth stage win. Alejandro made it safely into the group and kept his second place overall.
“It’s true that everything went more or less under control, but even though there wasn’t much stress either, the stage was really fast, there were slopes everywhere and it ended up being quite demanidng”, conceded Alejandro after stepping off the podium. “Tomorrow’s stage is a beautiful one, but it will depend on our legs, how we’re able to control the race, if we choose to take another strategy.. we’ll see tomorrow.” Stage eighteen will keep the riders rolling on rough roads in the opening part and features two tough passages through the Monte Castrove (Cat-2, 7km at 7%) in the finale – 157km that are expected to be really intense.
Izagirre still at the fore in Britain
More at north than their team-mates, the Movistar Team riders present in the Tour of Britain did another good job on stage four Wednesday -185km between Worcester and Bristol-. An early break by Alex Dowsett, abruptly interrupted by a double puncture with about 60km remaining, anticipated a second top-10 placing on a row by Ion Izagirre. The Basque allrounder made the decisive split into the late, Cat-2 climb of Valley Bridge Road to finish in 5th spot behind new race leader Michal Kwiatkowski (OPQ), while Giovanni Visconti, still in 10th overall – Ion is also 5th in the standings-, couldn’t enter that group after a crash before the flamme rouge, with no injuries. Coming up tomorrow is day five, with 177km to Exeter and another ascent, Stoke Hill, near the finish.