Brutal Crosswinds shakes up Vuelta’s longest stage as Quintana takes back time

Philippe Gilbert outsprinted Sam Bennett from the breakaway, as Quintana moved up to second overall as La Vuelta enters the final week

Almost 220 kilometers from Aranda de Duero to Guadalajara with a short but 3% steep uphill finish awaited the peloton today.  With strong winds along the route, echelons made the race even harder.

It was a fast first hour with an average race speed of 50 km/h, a large group of 47 riders took advantage and built the day's breakaway, including CG favorite Nairo Quintana.

BORA – hansgrohe’s fast man, Sam Bennett, was among them and together with his breakaway companions they opened up a lead of more than four minutes.

With some of the GC contenders also being part of the break, the Jumbo-Visma had no choice but to chase and helped to drive the pace which cause even more splits in the peloton.

Movistar took over the reigns and forced the pace which dropped the whole of the Jumbo-Visma, leaving Roglic vunerable and isolated in the favorites group.

After 88kms of racing eleven riders from the breakaway were also dropped, sprint Favorite Sam Bennett was still there, winning the intermediate sprint he collected four extra points in the battle for the green jersey. The race headed towards the finish in Guadalajara.

Meanwhile the favorites tried hard to limit his losses together with Roglic, Pogacar, Valverde Rafal Majka nd the other GC contenders. At the front of the race Sam Bennett saw himself battling for the victory against six Deceuninck - Quick Step riders. He fought hard the last kilometers but it was Philippe Gilbert who crossed the line two seconds ahead of the Irish Champion, who took a strong second place.

Nairo Quintana who finished in the breakaway moved second place ahead of Valverde, Pogacar losing his podium spot, now in fourth. The Colombian rider was at the right place and at the right time at the start of the stage when echelons caused a break in the peloton that left behind most of the GC contenders. At the end of the day, Quintana managed to climb to the second overall position after crossing the finish line five minutes and 19 seconds before the Red Jersey group.

"We made the right moves, and I hope I can recover from my recent illness because this was a spectacular stage," said the Colombian after the finish line. "We made huge gains into a stage where anything could happen. Here we are, back again. I’m steadily improving from my flu, but I have to wait for tomorrow in the mountains to see how I’m really doing. "It’s nice to do so well in what you could call an ‘anti-Nairo’ stage, flat and so windy. I always said I’d give my everything until the very end. Our plan was to make the race leader’s team suffer from those attacks, and ahead in my group, gain as much time as possible. We’re back in contention for La Roja; my health didn’t help me much due to the coughing, but we’ll keep on fighting. And if our legs get tired, we’ll pedal with our heart."

Wilco Kelderman and James Knox, who were also in the breakaway, are now in the top 10 on GC.

Rafal Majka lost two places, sitting in seventh place now, more than seven minutes down on Primoz Roglic.

“The team saved me with a big effort,” Roglic said. “I made a mistake, I shouldn’t have been where I was, I should have been at the front. They just went full gas from the very beginning and that was it for the rest of the day. In the end, we couldn’t anymore so other teams had to work also. We’re still in a really good position. It was a hard day for everyone. We lost a battle today, but not the war. I never felt like the Vuelta was lost. Other guys wanted to finish as fast as possible so it was full gas until the finish line.”

“We will see if I have saved the Vuelta in Madrid. It’s looking really good for us. This Vuelta is really unpredictable, and for sure we can expect a big fight in the days to come.”

VIDEO: 2019 La Vuelta Stage 17 Highlights

2019 La Vuelta Stage 17 Top 10

1    Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep    4:20:15
2    Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe    0:00:02
3    Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep  
4    Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Merida  
5    Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb  
6    Jonas Koch (Ger) CCC Team  
7    Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Education First  
8    Tim Declercq (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep  
9    Silvan Dillier (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale  
10    James Knox (GBr) Deceuninck-QuickStep    0:00:06

2019 La Vuelta GC after Stage 17

1    Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma    66:43:36
2    Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team    0:02:24
3    Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team    0:02:48
4    Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates    0:03:42
5    Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team    0:03:59
6    Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb    0:05:05
7    Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe    0:07:40
8    James Knox (GBr) Deceuninck-QuickStep    0:08:03
9    Carl Fredrik Hagen (Nor) Lotto Soudal    0:10:43
10    Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Merida    0:12:21

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