8th place for Dani after big effort en route to Los Machucos as break companion Stefan Denifl (ABS) took day's honours. Pedrero, Carapaz also into the fight at GC group
One day after turning 36 years young, Dani Moreno came really close to getting himself the best present and reward the Movistar Team's confidence with a long-awaited first stage win in the 2017 Vuelta a España. The Spaniard was part of the six-man break on stage 17 of the course -180km from Villadiego to the infamous final climb of Los Machucos (HC)-, one which teams like Bora, Astana, Bahrein or Orica put into jeopardy until the very last climb, pushing into the ascents and wet descents of the Lunada (Cat-1) and Alisas (Cat-1) cols. However, the lead group managed to reach the bottom of the last climb with 1'30" over the main field.
Despite Moreno – who got onto the day's podium as most courageous rider – even went solo in the lead into the opening slopes of the climb, Austria's Stefan Denifl (ABS) overtook Dani and went for an eventual stage victory. As Moreno was caught by the main GC group following a tremendous effort, the Madrilian took 8th place, 1'17" down on his break companion. Two minutes later finished Antonio Pedrero (23rd) and Richard Carapaz (27th), who also went on the attack from the main field at Alisas and the foot of Los Machucos, respectively.
The Movistar Team will keep on searching for a success in the remaining three mountainous stages before Madrid. Thursday will bring another tough course in Cantabria, the 169km stage eighteen from Suances featuring the 'colladas' of Carmona (Cat-3), Ozalba (Cat-2) and Hoz (Cat-2) before another hilltop finish in Santo Toribio (Cat-3): 3.2km at 6.4% average gradient.
Dani Moreno: "It's awful to come so close to the stage win. It was a really hard day from the very beginning. With those headwinds before the first climb and being a lightweight one, the day was extra difficult for me. I was also a bit of motivation early into the stage, because I knew it could be a good day for the break to succeed, but with only six riders – that made it more complicated against the big peloton. In the end, seeing that we still had a good gap, I regained some motivation and strength. It was also a stage I had marked down as one for me. I had inspected it a month ago, the final route suited me really well and we tried everything to take the win, but in the end, there was one man stronger than me into that escape.
"Once I saw Denifl going away I just set my own pace, because I know how my body works on such steep ramps and it's important for me to just stay near the limit, not over it ,and reach as far as possible. I gave everything I had, and we made sure we featured in the finale. I'm one who rides best at the third week in the Vuelta, and I still feel like I've got a shot at another stage. I'll try to rest up a bit tomorrow and seek for a chance in the two days still left in Asturias."
Tour of Britain: It's TT time
Four days in the Tour of Britain, four bunch sprints. Wednesday's finish in Newark-on-Trent (165km) saw Fernando Gaviria (QST) claiming his first win in the summer into a final kick where Daniele Bennati wasn't able to feature, the veteran Italian boxed in near the finish despite great positioning heading into the final three kilometers. The race will get to Thursday's 10-mile, 16km ITT in Clacton with all big riders tied. Alex Dowsett -riding on home soil in Essex- will seek, together with Bennati himself, Castroviejo or Gorka Izagirre to get in the mix of a world-class battle. The day's negative note came from Rory Sutherland, who suffered a crash with 45km to go and sustained some bruises to his ribs, fortunately being able to complete the stage.
TT start times (Thursday 7th, local time): 12.56pm Sutherland, 1.04pm Castroviejo, 1.07pm Erviti, 1.17pm Izagirre, 1.28pm Dowsett, 1.38pm Bennati.
Imagen (c): Photo Gomez Sport