HTC’s Peter Velits upset Rabobank’s Denis Menchov and Big Swiss Fabian “Fabu” Cancellara to win the individual time trial in today’s stage of the Tour of Spain. Velits also jumps to third place overall. Nibali is now in the red jersey 39 seconds ahead of Mosquera, Rodriguez drops to 5th and Schleck is 4th.
After a rest day on Tuesday, today’s Stage 17 of the Vuelta a Espana was the individual time trial of 46 km (28.6 m) on a flat circular route starting and ending in Peñafiel. It wasn’t technical and had wide, long, flat roads, making it much easier for men not known as good time trialists. HTC’s Peter Velits and 6th place overall upset Denis Menchov and Fabian Cancellara to win today’s individual time trial with a time of 52 minutes 43 seconds. Menchov was second with 12 seconds more, Cancellara came in third with 37 seconds more.
Today was a battle between the top five in the overall category. Coming into today’s stage Joaquin “Purito” Rodgriguez was the red jersey wearer, Vincenzo “Shark” Nibali was 33 seconds behind, Ezequiel Mosquera 53″ behind, Frank Schleck behind 2’16” and Nicholas Roche, 3’01”. Rodgriguez told the Vuelta newspaper As: “I’m going to die on the bike to win this Vuelta”
The top five all left the podium last with a three-minute gap between riders. By kilometer 15 Nibali lead Mosquera by 2 seconds, Roche by 11, Schleck by 45 and Rodriguez by 1:18. At Km 31 Nibali lead Mosquera by 12 seconds, Roche by 49, Schleck by 1:23 and Rodriguez by 2:54. Nibali finished the time trial 19 seconds ahead of Mosquera, 1 minute 23 ahead of Roche, 2:01 ahead of Schleck and 4:01 ahead of Rodriguez.
The overall category changed drastically when Peter Velits put on the gas today to win the stage and jumped from 6th place overall to 3rd. He’s now 1 minute 44 seconds ahead of 4th place Frank Schleck. It will be Nibali and Mosquera who will battle on Saturday’s stage to determine the overall winner and runner up. Unless something drastic happens to Velits he should be safe to stay in 3rd position. Despite Roche’s fairly decent ride today he dropped to 8th overall, 4:03 behind.
– There are only three real stages left in this race. The next two stages are sprinting stages and the last decisive stage for the overall category will be Saturday’s mountainous climbs and finish up the steep uncategorized Bola del Mundo. The last stage on Sunday is largely ceremonial for the overall winner, sprinters do make a go for it to make up points.
Thursday’s Stage 18 will go 148.9 km (92.5 m) from Valladolid to Salamanca. It’s fairly flat and a day for the sprinters.
Stage 18 predictions:
– This stage is for the sprinters so all the favorites should try for the win.
1) VELITS, Peter – HTC-Columbia: 52:43
2) MENCHOV, Denis – Rabobank: + 12″
3) CANCELLARA, Fabian – Team Saxo Bank: + 37″
4) LARSSON, Gustav – Team Saxo Bank: + 50″
5) SÁNCHEZ, Luis León – CAISSE D’EPARGNE: + 1’03”
1) NIBALI, Vincenzo – Liquigas: 71:19:49
2) MOSQUERA, Ezequiel – Xacobeo Galicia: + 39″
3) VELITS, Peter – HTC-Columbia: + 2’00”
4) SCHLECK, Frank – Team Saxo Bank: + 3’44”
5) RODRIGUEZ, Joaquin – Katusha: + 3’45”