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"I was just hoping and hoping to get the good opening and then I started my sprint and it was perfect. It’s cool to have a victory in a Grand Tour and it’s always nice behind your name."

Photo: Tim De Waele/TDW Sport

VUELTA A ESPAÑA

RACE PROFILE
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NEWS
05.09.2016 @ 21:24 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Jempy Drucker (BMC) finally took the stage win that he was close to at last year’s Vuelta a Espana when he made the most of a rare chance for the sprinters on stage of the Spanish race. Having positioned himself perfectly on Gianni Meersman’s (Etixx-QuickStep) wheel, he easily came around the Belgian and held off Rudiger Selig (Bora-Argon 18) and Nikias Arndt (Giant-Alpecin) to take a dominant victory. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) finished safely and so retained the lead.

 

We have gathered several reactions.

 

Jempy Drucker: It’s great to have a grand tour stage win to my name

Jempy Drucker battled it out in a tricky sprint finish on stage 16 of the Vuelta a Espana to claim his first individual Grand Tour stage win and second individual win of the season.

 

The 156.4km stage was expected to come down to a bunch sprint and it was in the final 10km that Drucker made his way to the front of the bunch.

 

Excellent positioning from Danilo Wyss in the final 3km, where numerous roundabouts made for a tricky finale, put Drucker in the perfect position for the sprint.

 

Drucker came out from Gianni Meersman’s (Etixx-QuickStep) wheel with 100m to go and won by a clear margin over Rudiger Selig (Bora-Argon18) and Nikias Arndt (Team Giant-Alpecin).

 

Silvan Dillier formed part of a 6-rider breakaway that escaped after just 4km of racing and stayed away until the peloton reeled them in 12km before the line.

 

Although the group maintained a 3-minute advantage for much of the stage, the sprinters’ teams were motivated to bring them back and set the scene for a bunch sprint in Peniscola.

 

With no changes to the General Classification going into the final rest day, Samuel Sanchez maintains sixth place overall and BMC Racing Team continue to lead the team classification.

 

Jempy Drucker said:

 

“I suffered a lot in the last few days, especially the day on Col d’Aubisque, and I always kept believing in the sprint stages. I did a good Vuelta a Burgos and I was confident in my sprints, and was taking my chances. It was all about choosing the good wheels and I had Danilo Wyss who did a perfect job until almost the last kilometer. I was just hoping and hoping to get the good opening and then I started my sprint and it was perfect. It’s cool to have a victory in a Grand Tour and it’s always nice behind your name. It’s the greatest victory in my career and it’s great to have a grand tour victory to my name.

 

“I was not really lucky in the first sprint stages but today was perfect. There was bit of good positioning but also luck, being at the right place at the right moment.

 

“The last 10km, with all of the roundabouts and entering cities, was pretty hectic but I had Danilo Wyss who did a great job in keeping me out of trouble. The final kilometer we had a tail wind so it’s good to go a bit early. I was placing myself a little bit behind to be able to go from behind with speed. It was actually perfect as Gianni Meersman went and I could come in his slipstream and then went over him.

 

It was pretty hectic but I had Danilo Wyss to keep me out of trouble. I was pacing myself a bit behind to be able to go from behind with some speed. It was actually perfect. Gianni went and I went into his slipstream.

 

“Now we have a rest day and directly the day after it’s a hard stage and there is still the time trial, and Saturday’s stage on the Aitana so I think the Vuelta a Espana is far from over. Sky will be motivated to take revenge after yesterday’s disaster. Movistar look pretty strong so we’re going to see what happens. I think we’re going to still see some action.”

 

Sports director Valerio Piva added:

 

“It was clear from the beginning that the sprinters’ teams had let the breakaway go but controlled them. We had Silvan Dillier in front so it was quiet and we didn’t have to chase. We also had a chance there, you never know as in the last few days anything has happened. The other teams worked and then we planned a move with Danilo Wyss in the final 3km which was tricky. Danilo brought Jempy in the perfect position and Jempy was strong. I saw the sprint and he was really, really strong and he was the best today, also thanks to the good job of Danilo and the rest of the team. We are very happy.

 

“For us it was already perfect. We are leading the team classification, we have Samuel Sanchez in a good position in GC and we had Darwin Atapuma in the red jersey for four days. But of course we wanted to win a stage because the day that you win you are the best, and today we had this. For me this is what we deserve as every day the riders have been trying.”

 

Silvan Dillier eyes time trial after day in the breakaway at the Vuelta

Silvan Dillier said:

 

“It was pretty windy at the start and then I saw that a few guys moved and I also jumped and we immediately had a gap. I think the peloton was quite happy that it wasn’t the crazy start again and for us it was really good as we didn’t have to chase the breakaway back. We never had a really big gap and we knew that it would be hard to finish in front. We tried hard and the fact that Jempy could win at the end is really nice for the team after some good teamwork. I think they did a good job to give him the best support possible and that he could finish it off is perfect.

 

"It very hard here. Very hot and very hard. I went into the break so that my team mates would not have to work in the peloton.

 

“I will ride the time trial full gas to show that I'm ready for the world championships. I think the Vuelta a good preparation for the world championships. "

 

Two second places with two different sprinters for Bora-Argon 18 at the Vuelta

For Bora-Argon 18, José Mendes was a little angry after yesterday´s stage and he was riding on the front to help to prepare a sprint finish. The team decided to go for Rudi Selig. Together with Michael Schwarzmann, who was already 2nd on the 2nd stage, the team has a young and fast duo in the Vuelta. In the final sprint, Meersman (Etixx- Quickstep), Arndt (Giant-Alpecin), Jean-Pierre Drucker (BMC) and Rudi Selig were fighting hard for their positions. For all of them it was a very demanding and long sprint after they all hit the front a little early. Drucker was the fastest in the end, with Selig crossing the line in superb second place. This means the second podium finish for BORA - ARGON 18 in this year's Vuelta a Espana. 

 

"The team did an amazing job today and I was perfectly placed with 2k to go. Then in the last roundabout Valverde crossed the Etixx train and let a gap open. Meersman closed the gap, but on the home straight we were on the front too early then. Everone tried to ease a little and Drucker used that moment to go hard and take the win. Still I am happy with my second place because this is my first Grand Tour and we are already in the 3rd week after a lot of climbing. This result is a very good sign for me,” said Rudi Selig.

 

“Michael Schwarzmann and Christoph Pfingsten did a really good lead-out for me and put me in a perfect position into the wheel of Gianni Meersman and then Alejandro Valverde flicked a little bit because in the last roundabout he let a little gap and Gianni closed it. It was one kilometre really full gas it was not a real sprint. Today I had good legs. Michael Schwarzmann was also really fast but we decided that we’d go for me and I hope it was the right decision.  I’m happy to get a good result in the last race of the year.”

 

Nikias Arndt: We ran out of guys in the end

Nikias Arndt sprinted to 3rd place in the bunch sprint on stage 16 after Team Giant-Alpecin controlled the field much of the day.

 

The team was at the head of the onrushing field as the bunch sprint approached. Nikias Arndt went for the win but it was Jean-Pierre Drucker (BMC Racing Team) who was the fastest to take his first Grand Tour win of his career.

 

Nikias Arndt said: “Today we wanted to go for the sprint and from the beginning, the team controlled the race. We had six guys at the front controlling the gap to the breakaway and we showed really good teamwork throughout the whole stage.

 

“In the finale, we had the plan to be there with 20km remaining and that worked out very well. However, we ran out of guys in the end. I had to go on the wheel of Quick Step but of course, they didn’t want to do the lead-out for me. With 500 meters I was then at the front. I just had a little moment of hesitation in the sprint, and then the guys came with speed from behind me. I tried to jump on their wheels but I could not pass them. It’s a bit disappointing but we tried our best today.

 

“It was a hectic sprint again. We tried everything with the team to make a proper lead-out. The team did really great but towards the end we ran out of guys and with three kilometres to go we were still in the best position. Then I was with Koen (De Kort) but he dropped his speed a little bit and Quick Step took over with two guys and I jumped on their wheel and I thought maybe they won’t make a perfect lead-out for me until 200 metres to go but if I wait there and go out of their wheel and try to go in again… but getting back in cost me a lot of energy because nobody wanted to let me in. Then when they dropped off I could not go around anymore.”

 

Coach Luke Roberts added: “We had the goal to set up the sprint for Nikias. In the beginning, everything went to plan with a six rider break going away. We took control directly with Sindre [Lunke] working on the front and it was a very good performance from him to control the gap during most of the stage

 

“In the finale, the guys rode to a good plan, we were in an ideal position as we entered the local area along the beach front. It was quite a difficult sprint and the team did a good job for Nikias. Unfortunately, Nikias was one or two wheels too far in the front and he would have had to open up his sprint too early. He then hesitated and lost a bit of momentum and he could only manage a 3rd place. Overall it was really good teamwork and we were a bit unlucky with this result.”

 

Gianni Meersman blames Valverde for missed opportunity at the Vuelta

A late attack of Daniele Bennati (Tinkoff) made the finale difficult to control, and even though the Italian was reeled in with less than 300 meters to go by Etixx – Quick-Step, who led a strong chase behind him, the bunch gallop turned out to be a chaotic one. For that reason, Gianni Meersman – who was vying for his third win in the race – had to be content with 4th at the finish, behind Jean-Pierre Drucker (BMC), Rudiger Selig (Bora-Argon 18) and Nikias Arndt (Giant-Alpecin).

 

“With 300 metres left it was already over. Valverde flicked and left a gap that I had to close but I could not catch Drucker. It's a pity."

 

Lorrenzo Manzin can’t wait for Madrid sprint after fifth place at the Vuelta

Lorrenzo Manzin (FDJ) was 5th in the stage. He said:

 

"It was a tough sprint. The pace was high at the end of a quiet day. I'm in the top 5  but I would have liked to be in the top 3, I'm a bit disappointed. I will satisfy myself with this because a few months ago I was not able to contest a sprint. Today there was some tailwind with six strong riders in front but when you stay in the wheels it's fine. Matthieu Ladagnous helped me a lot until the last two kilometres. Since the beginning of the Vuelta, we have a good mindset. My fifth place will go unnoticed after my team mates' good results but I can't wait for Sunday's sprint in Madrid."

 

Dimension Data had hoped for more with Sbaragli at the Vuelta.

Kristian Sbargali managed to get another top 10 finish for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka after Nic Dougall had joined in on the pace making from the pack and made it clear that the African team had ambitions today with Sbaragli. Coming into the finishing straight Sbaragli was positioned well. He got boxed in a little though and finished 7th respectively.

 

Sports director Alex Sans Vega said:


“We hoped for a small break today and this is exactly how the race unfolded. We were happy with the situation. The break didn't really get a big gap. In the finale the guys worked really well to position Kristian. Maybe we were a little bit too early at the front, as Kristian was on his own inside the last kilometer. He had to invest some energy to stay there, too much maybe as he missed a bit for the final acceleration. Obviously we had hoped for a better result today. All in all, it wasn't too bad and we're positive that our time at this Vuelta will come.”

 

Bad legs for Felline give Reijnen rare opportunity at the Vuelta

Kiel Reijnen was handed an unexpected chance to contest the bunch finish of stage 16 and sprinted to 8th place, a result he quickly shrugged off when his team caught up to him after the race:

 

"It wasn't much of a sprint," Reijnen laughed when asked about his finish. "It was more of a drag race. The lead-out was too fast, and they blew up with like 300 meters to go. I had really good speed, I was 8th wheel or something, and I thought I could maybe do a podium. But when they lolled everyone slowed down, and I didn't shift gears, and when they jumped I was in too big of a gear, and I could only hold the wheel in front of me."

 

The team's strategy for the 156-kilometer race was to work for Fabio Felline in the projected bunch sprint, but Reijnen was backup for the fast finish if Felline felt he didn't have the legs. All was going to plan with 10 kilometers to go, explained Reijnen.

 

"The plan was to go for Fabio today, he has had great legs the whole race, so we are 100 percent behind him," said Reijnen. "With 10kms to go we were in good position, fighting all the time, and then he told me with 7k to go that his legs weren't good. I tried to convince him to keep following me anyways. In the end, it was a really hot day, and I think the big effort he put in yesterday maybe hurt him a bit today. But it was worth it with him being third yesterday."

 

Handed the reins to contest the bunch finish, Reijnen was ready to put his legs to the task and positioned well in the final meters. However, a late attack that was only caught 200 meters from the line threw everything out of balance, profiting Jempy Drucker (BMC) who sprinted to his first Grand Tour win.

 

"I don’t think any of the sprinters had such a good sprint today, everyone was in the saddle going as hard as they could with their head down," Reijnen continued. "I mean, it's better to have a top 10 than nothing, but the whole team is motivated to fight for Fabio – he's still the number one goal."

 

Tomorrow is the welcomed second rest day of the three-week race, and Reijnen pulled no punches when expressing his desire for a day off from competition:

 

"I need the rest day badly! I am more tired than the last rest day, for sure. It's been a crazy race; this is my first one, but a lot of guys who have done many Vueltas have said this has been the hardest one. There has been no easy day's this year."

 

Injured Tosh van der Sande sprints to top 10 in the Vuelta

Also Lotto Soudal set up their sprint train. Tosh Van der Sande felt confident enough to participate in the sprint after yesterday’s crash. He finished ninth in the same group as winner Drucker.

 

His teammate Maxime Monfort said:

 

"It was a pretty nervous stage. The breakaway of six riders was formed rapidly but because of the wind, the day was not really quiet. I suffered a lot in the heat and in the final, I was not ideally placed. I missed a small split but it's not very serious. The rest day will be good to recharge the batteries as much as possible before the last 5 stages.”

 

Sven Erik Bystrøm shows himself in Vuelta breakaway

Monday’s stage 16 in the 71st Vuelta a España came just before the second rest day and was finally one for the sprinters. For those teams like Team KATUSHA at this Vuelta without a pure sprinter, it meant another opportunity to go into the break, this time with Sven Erik Bystrøm and for non-sprinter Jhonatan Restrepo to try his legs in the final anyway and wind up with a tenth place.

 

”It was a nice day to be in the breakaway and to represent the team. But I will say it was really hot today for a Norwegian like me. 35C is a lot. I enjoyed being in the spotlight but in the end the peloton was able to catch us. We never really had enough minutes today. It was quite windy and I think the peloton was nervous about a crosswind situation. In the end they had full control over the breakaway. The percentage of chance for winning is always very small. I did my best to keep going all the way until they caught me so that’s all I could do,” explained Sven Erik Bystrøm.

 

KATUSHA’s Jhonatan Restrepo was tenth in the fast sprint.

 

Caja Rural sprinter hopes for more power in final two sprint stages

As expected, Monday’s stage 16 of Vuelta a España finished in a bunch sprint after the flat run-in next to the beach in Peñíscola. Caja Rural - Seguros RGA’sEduard Prades did well to get in the mix to finish 13th as Jean-Pierre Drucker (BMC Racing Team) took the win. 

The stage didn’t create any changes in the general classification, which meansSergio Pardilla still sits in 13th place, 10:09 minutes behind the overall leader Nairo Quintana (Movistar).
 
Eduard Prades said: 

 

“I didn’t start the sprint as well-positioned as I would have liked to but at the end, I didn’t have the power I would have liked to either. I tried to use the last corners to move up a bit but it wasn’t enough. Now, I’m looking forward to the rest day and then the stages to Gandía and Madrid”.

 

No major injuries Simon Yates after Vuelta crash

ORICA-BikeExchange produced a controlled team performance on stage 16 of theVuelta a Espana today with Esteban Chaves and stage six winner Simon Yates holding on to third and fifth on the general classification ahead of tomorrows rest day.

 

A fairly uneventful yet tense stage resulted in a fast finale with the stage victory going to Jean-Pierre Drucker (BMC) from a reduced bunch sprint, with Chaves placing 14th on the day and retaining third place on the general classification behind race leader Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

 

Fifth place Yates and New Zealander Sam Bewley both went down in a crash around the 90kilometre mark, but thankfully suffered no serious injuries and duly made it back into the peloton.

 

ORICA-BikeExchange held good positions throughout the stage and the team’s diligent work was rewarded by successfully retaining two top five positions on the general classification with five more days of racing to come.

 

Sport director Neil Stephens spoke of the tension throughout the stage.  

 

“Today was a less hard day physically but the level of stress remained really high,” said Stephens. “I think it was a combination of yesterday’s action from the breakaway and the splits that followed.

 

“We knew there would be a cross wind, knew that it was going to be on and everyone was ready for it, resulting in high tension throughout the day.

 

“The finish was technical and twisted and turned all the way to the line and that made the finale quite demanding mentally.

 

“Simon (Yates) and Sam (Bewley) were involved in a standard sort of crash mid way through the stage, Sam didn’t hit the ground but got tangled up and Simon actually did go down but they’re both fine.

 

“We occupy two good positions on the general classification going into a well deserved rest day tomorrow. We’ll be taking a look at where we are, a realistic look at where we can go, recharge our batteries and get ready for some good racing in the final few days of the Vuelta between here and Madrid.”

 

Chris Froome: I am not going to stop trying

Chris Froome held station in second overall heading into the final rest day at the Vuelta a Espana, with a sprint finish deciding stage 16.

 

The Brit remains on the overall podium, three minutes and 37 seconds back on Nairo Quintana (Movistar), after finishing safely inside the bunch in Peniscola.  

 

Team Sky hit the front with 10 kilometres to go to ensure Froome was well positioned, with the eventual sprint victory going the way of Jempy Drucker.

 

“There was a lot of talk about potential crosswinds and you could see all the teams were thinking about that,” Froome told Cyclingnews. “It was quite a nervous peloton, everyone was really on guard today and didn’t want to see a repeat of yesterday certainly.

 

“It was a technical run-in, so we wanted to be on the front end of it, you could see Tinkoff were thinking the same thing, they had numbers up there. But it was more about being up there and not getting caught out today.


"I’m still in second place, which obviously I’m happy about, but I am a lot further back than I was going into yesterday, so obviously that was a big blow. But that’s cycling, things can change in the blink of an eye and I’ve got to keep fighting to the end. Of course I’m not just going to give up now. It’s less possible than it was before but it doesn’t mean I’m going to stop trying.

 

“It’s difficult to say what’s actually better out on the road. Yesterday’s stage on paper was not the hardest stage but we’ve seen the biggest gaps in the race so far. It really depends on what the riders decide and what tactics prevail.”

 

Nairo Quintana: In 2012 I learned always to be wary of Contador

The hangover of Sunday's big day in the mountains of the 2016 Vuelta a España wasn't harsh for the Movistar Team and Nairo Quintana, under terribly hot conditions from the flatlands of Alcañiz down to the coast in Peñíscola, Castellón. Luxembourg's Jempy Drucker (BMC) took a bunch sprint win which Italian Daniele Bennati (TNK) unfruitfully tried to break with a 'finisseur' action in the last 2.5km. Behind, Quintana, well supported until the very finish by the likes of Herrada, Sutherland, Erviti, Castroviejo and Rojas, came home safely in 19th spot, just next to his overall classification contenders.

 

The 3'37" gap ammassed yesterday atop Formigal over Froome (SKY) remains untouched for Quintana, looking into the final, short week of intriguing stages in the Comunitat Valenciana. A tough uphill finish in the Mas de la Costa (Wednesday); a day for adventurers or fastmen in Gandía (Thursday); the trascendental TT to Calpe on Friday and the agonic 'fête de fin' on Saturday, towards the Alto de Aitana, are the last obstacles between the Cómbita genius and his big aspiration for Sunday: winning his maiden Vuelta a España in Madrid.

 

Nairo Quintana said: 

 

"Last night, the whole team really deserved a glass of cava to celebrate, as we did really well, but we had to remain serene after all. It really was needed to rest up well and keep our feet on the ground for today's nerves and the tough, difficult days ahead in the final week of race. Not only Froome will be a rival: there's also Contador - even if he's also trailing behind, he's one you must keep an eye on for the entire race. Also Chaves, the whole Orica block in fact... Nothing should be taken for granted.

 

 “ In days like yesterday, we see movements and strategy from riders like Alberto Contador but also from others who are not in the peloton like ‘’Purito’’ Rodriguez. Both of them are really great at strategists and my first grand tour was the Vuelta 2012, I was involved in the epic stage of Fuente De when Alberto took the Vuelta from Purito. I told myself that if some day I could become a big name in cycling I would always have to be wary of Alberto. A lot of people expected a lot from me on the Tour but I could not give 100 percent. I came here motivated and I keep learning.

 

”Heat really stroke us all today in the Vuelta, and it's difficult to cope with it, but everything comes a bit easier when you're in the leader's jersey. I stand heat well, actually, I prefer it to cold, even if I do well on cold, rainy conditions."

 

Astana ready to give it all for Scarponi in final Vuelta week

“We're all fine and we are ready to help Michele Scarponi in the last stages of the Vuelta. I'm confident,” - said Dmitri Gruzdev. "I'm also happy with what I've done so far and I'm sure we can do well."

 

"It was a wuiet dayafter the many climbs of recent days. The boys were covered in the peloton without taking too many risks,” commented sport director Alexandr Shefer.

 

Daniele Bennati nearly denies the sprinters with intuitive action

A do or die attack in the final kilometres from Daniele Bennati set up a nail-biting finish on a very hot 16th stage of the Vuelta today, but despite a huge effort from the Italian, he was passed by the sprinters with just 200m left to race. Making his move with 2,200m to go, Bennati came up just short of his seventh Vuelta stage win, eventually crossing the line in 26th place.

 

For Tinkoff’s GC leader, Alberto Contador, it was a safe day before the race heads into its second rest day. Despite the searing heat and the threat of crosswinds, Contador  was kept near the front of the peloton and came over the line safely within the bunch after a hectic, twisty run-in to the line at Peñíscola.

 

“It was another tough day, a very hard stage with the speed and the heat, but all the boys did a good ride, and nobody had any problems,” explained Sport Director Steven De Jongh from the team bus. “The boys in yesterday’s break suffered a bit, but we just wanted to stay out of trouble for much of the stage. With Benna we had somebody for the sprint, and he saw an opportunity to place an attack in the final kilometres. It was well-timed and he very nearly made it – it was the guys that made the decision there and it’s good to see them thinking like this in a hectic finish like today.

 

“Tomorrow we have a rest day. With the warm weather and the hard days in the legs we’ll have an easy ride, really trying to recover. Then after that we have some more very tough days ahead."


Tinkoff took control of the race on the run in, anticipating a succession of roundabouts and tight corners, looking to keep Contador safe, and it was this technical finish that gave Bennati the belief he could stay clear. After his attack he only ever had a handful of seconds, but he held this onto the long finishing straight before being swallowed up with 200m to go.

 

Alberto Contador: It will be complicated

Contador commented on the stage, saying:

 

"It was an impressively hot day – on the descent the temperature was something close to 90 degrees. In the final part of the stage we were doing 90km/h and we could still feel the heat! We were sweating and I wouldn't exaggerate if I said that sweat evaporated before even coming out.

 

“It was really fast and I was focused on what I was doing, especially after yesterday's great effort. My legs responded well today even though it was a more mentally than physically demanding stage, as we had to be very attentive.

 

“We now head into the second rest day and we will see what will happen in the final week. I am left with very little margin by the other teams, so it will be complicated. Again, we will take it day-by-day and see how my body keeps recovering, assessing each stage and seeing where we can get in the GC."

 

Mario Costa shows himself in Vuelta breakaway

Mario Costa was one of the riders who tried to make a variation to the plot of the 16th stage of the Vuelta whose course seemed to be suitable to the sprinters. After 4km, the Portuguese rider joined, together with Villella, a group of four attackers who had gone clear from the bunch immediatley after the start.

 

LAMPRE-MERIDA, that do not have a pure sprinter, obtained the 29th place with Arashiro.

 

“In our project for the stage, there was the presence of one of our riders in the breakaway,” sports director Pedrazzini explained. “I’m happy that Mario Costa was in the main attack because, after he had done a lot of work for the team in the past stages, he exploited the freedom we gave him today.

 

”We were aware that it was very difficult for the attackers to lead the race until the ginish, however it was worth to try to be in the attack.”

 

LottoNL-Jumbo: We have opportunities in the final week

The Vuelta a Espana’s 16th stage ended in a bunch sprint in Peñíscola today after the sprinters’ teams controlled an early group of six. Jean-Pierre Drucker (BMC) won the kick and Nairo Quintana remained the overall leader going into the second rest day tomorrow. 

 

The six went free soon after the start of the 156-kilometre stage from Alcañiz.

 

"It was a typical sprinter stage with a breakaway and the peloton in control,” said Sports Director Addy Engels. "It was another hot day and the group averaged 46 kilometres an hour. They raced today! Still, compared to what we had over the weekend, it was a reasonable day.

 

“In a stage like today, without a sprinter you don’t have chance. Jos van Emden tried, but could not make any ground. Therefore, we rode to the finish and looked ahead of the coming stages."

 

The race will stop for its second of two rest days tomorrow and re-start on Wednesday for its final five stages.

 

"The riders will ride a few hours easily,” Engels added. “We are coming off a good weekend with Robert’s stage win. That makes up for the loss of Kruijswijk and Battaglin. After this weekend with the stage win, the atmosphere in the team clearly changed. We are motivated for the final few days. There are definitely opportunities for us."

 

Vuelta race director: Wednesday’s stage has the toughest 4km in the Vuelta history

Race director Javier Guillen explained the climbs to Camins del Penyagolosa, finish of the 17th stage:

 

“I discovered this climb a long time ago. I went to see it with my technical team five years ago, we were in a car and suddenly everybody stopped talking. It was tough tough tough. But when we arrived to the top, we saw that the conditions were quite quite difficult. We tried to do something in terms of approach – some people to try to explore some possibilities and at the time we did not find the right conditions (for a stage finish here). But a year ago with the new Province administration we tried again to do this stage and we received a very good welcome. Everything was easy. I told them that we needed more space at the top.

 

”This climb suits the Vuelta’s personality and in terms of cycling. I think it can be a very big success. It’s simply brutal, it’s amazing. It’s the toughest 4km we have in the Vuelta so far. Bola del Mundo (2010) it’s 2.6km, Camperona (2016) it’s 2.8km. Ezaro is 2.5, Cuitu Negru (2012) is 3-something.”

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