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Vuelta a Espa¤a Stage 17 Report

September 17, 2008
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Quick Step’s young Belgian sprinter Wouter Weylandt won stage 17 of the Vuelta a Espana in an almost carbon copy of yesterday’s stage. The big difference today was the fact that it was 23 year old Weylandt that was the Quick Step rider to raise his arms in victory, not his Quick Step teammate, 2005 World champion Tom Boonen. Second in the mass dash for the line was CSC-Saxo Bank’s Matti Breschel with AG2R-LaMondiale’s Alexandre Usov third.
Just as in yesterday’s Stage 16, a breakaway went early as Pedro Horrillo (Rabobank) jumped clear after 12km and was quickly joined by Jose Ruiz (Andaucia-Cajasur). Between them, the duo quickly built a lead, peaking at 8’26” by 40km, before Silence-Lotto and Euskaltel-Euskadi sent their men to chase for their respective sprinters Greg Van Avermaet and Koldo Fernandez. By the time Ruiz and Horillo crossed the finish line to start the 41km finishing circuit, their lead was cut to 4’38” and began to fall rapidly. Inside the last 20km the Milram team moved forward to join Silence-Lotto and Euskaltel-Euskadi, but after a few kilometres Vuelta a Espa¤a leader Alberto Contador’s Astana team took control to try to take advantage of the crosswinds on the way to the finish. With 10km to go, with the breakaway pair dangling tantalisingly in front, the Astana pressure forced a dangerous split in the peloton, which the Cofidis team worked hard to close.

At 6km to the finish, just as Ruiz Sanchez and Horillo were about to be caught, veteran Milram sprinter Erik Zabel suffered a puncture, effectively ending his chances of victory. Inside the final 2km, Quick Step hit the front, but Boonen was nowhere to be seen and it was “Playboy” Wouter that Quick Step launched to the line instead of Tornado Tom for the win.
Wednesday, September 17
Stage 17: Zamora-Valladolid / 148.2km
1. Wouter Weylandt (Bel) Quick Step / 3h18’48”
(44.73 km/hr. avg. speed)
2. Matti Breschel (Den) Team CSC-Saxo Bank                                     
3. Alexandre Usov (Blr) AG2R La Mondiale                                         
4. Koldo Fernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                           
5. Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                          
6. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Silence – Lotto                                       
7. Oscar Gatto (Ita) Gerolsteiner                                                
8. S‚bastien Hinault (Fra) Cr‚dit Agricole                                       
9. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Lampre                                               
10. Claudio Corioni (Ita) Liquigas                  

63rd Vuelta a Espa¤a General Classification after Stage 17:
1. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana / 69h53’52”
2. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana @ 1’17”
3. Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC-Saxo Bank @ 3’41”
4. Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia @ 4’35”
5. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank @ 5’49”
6. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne @ 6″
7. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne @ 6’11”
8. Egoi Martinez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi @ 8’56”
9. David Moncouti‚ (Fra) Cofidis – Le Cr‚dit par T‚l‚phone @ 9’32”
10. Oliver Zaugg (Swi) Gerolsteiner @ 10’01”


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