Madrid, Sep 6 (IANS): Spain’s Alberto Contador launched an astonishing attack to win the 17th stage of the Vuelta de Espana (Tour of Spain) cycle race and also to replace Joaquin Rodriguez as the leader of the overall classification.
The 17th stage Wednesday didn’t appear on paper as if it would present any problems to Rodriguez, who began the day with a 28-second lead over second place Contador. The 187 kilometres from Santander to Fuente De included a third category and two second category climbs, but after Tuesday’s rest day, the stage profile didn’t look as if it would allow for any major attacks between the race favourites, reports Xinhua.
However, Contador’s Saxo Bank team along with the Movistar team of third placed Alejandro Valverde kept up a ferocious pace early in the stage and the first climb of the day split the main peloton into various groups.
Contador attacked again on the second climb of the day and was part of a group of riders who were able to ride off the front, eventually finding himself with Paulo Tiralongo.
Meanwhile, Rodriguez was clearly struggling and unable to respond, something that became clear when Valverde attacked him with around 12 kilometres to go and the Katusha rider was unable to respond.
Rodriguez had received little support from his team-mates, while Contador’s Saxo Bank had riders up the road to help Contador maintain his pace, until there was nobody left.
Meanwhile, Valverde, who was riding with a small group of riders giving chase to Contador, finished second just six seconds behind, while Rodriguez trailed in a painful 2.37 minutes behind Contador.
His incredible ride means Contador is now race leader with a 1.52 minutes lead over Valverde, who is now second with Rodriguez 2.28 behind with just four stages left to ride.