Calahorra to Burgos 189km
For the stage from Calahorra to Burgos, the 189km Seventeenth Stage of this year's Vuelta, there was only one criterion for an early breakaway. It had to be small. Plenty were ready for action, but the Astana team of race leader Vincenzo Nibali made it clear: we're hauling back big groups.
So, after some early skirmishes, two riders were allowed to break free: Adam Hansen of Lotto-Belisol and Javier Aramendia of Caja Rural. This worked for the teams of sprinters as well. The two were quickly given a gap. And the leash was pulled when the lead reached seven minutes.
The escape and lead weren't ideal for Cannondale Pro Cycling's Daniele Ratto. Ratto, sitting second in the King of the Mountain competition, started the day six points down on Cofidis' Nicolas Edet, and the two relatively gentle third-category climbs en route favored his abilities.
On the first climb, Edet's Cofidis teammate Nico Sijmens took off to claim the final point for third place. On the second, Sijmens set up Edet to take the final point. Ratto was unable to use his more powerful kick to close down the six-point gap at all, and dropped to seven points behind.
All the while, the gap to the break was coming down. With 26km remaining, and the crosswinds whipping up, Saxo-Tinkoff Bank pulled their patented attack, the crosswind maneuver for their leader, Nicolas Roche. The attack worked at splitting the field. No more than 40 riders were ready for the acceleration; the rest were left behind. Saxo caught the rider ahead of Roche on time out of position and gapped him. They wanted the gap to grow all the way to the finish. Such a move helped not only Saxo, but Chris Horner of RadioShack and race leader Nibali; so three teams collaborated and grew the gap nicely.
Hansen and Aramendia were swept up with 20km remaining. A hill with nine kilometers left dropped several more out of the lead group. Only four sprint specialists remained. Astana kept the pace high by attacking in the narrow streets of Burgos. With a kilometer remaining, Garmin-Sharp was set to lead out their fastest man, Tyler Farrar, when Belkin's Bauke Mollema jumped clear on the right side of the road. The chase down was furious, Garmin spent their last leadout man, and the sprinters jumped early in desperation. But it was for naught. Mollema stole the stage and sprinters were foiled yet again. Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen and Lampre-Merida's Maximiliano Richeze took third.
The general classification shakeup was minimal. Roche moved into fifth, while the sixth and seventh placed riders lost time to the rest of the top ten.
After this relatively easy stage, the riders face more hills again on Stage Eighteen, the 186.5km ride from Burgos to Peña Cabarga. The race is flat and downhill for the first 75km, then the hills begin. The course takes in three third-category climbs, then tackles a second-category climb before hitting a short, steep first-category climb to Peña Cabarga. The punchy general classification riders will duke it out on the final wall. Expect Cannondale Pro Cycling to be active early. If Ratto can get in the early move, he has a chance to regain the KoM lead.
Vuelta a España 2013
Stage 17: Calahorra to Burgos
1. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 4:44:28
2. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling same time
3. Maximiliano Ariel Richeze (Arg) Lampre-Merida same time
4. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp same time
5. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack Leopard same time
Stage Results Cannondale Pro Cycling
64. Cayetano José Sarmiento Tunarrosa (Col) 0:01:31
96. Maciej Paterski (Pol) 0:01:44
101. Daniele Ratto (Ita) 0:04:18
102. Tiziano Dall'Antonia (Ita) same time
103. Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) same time
105. Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg) same time
137. Cameron Wurf (Aus) 0:07:04
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 68:50:29
2. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard 0:00:28
3. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:14
4. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha 0:02:29
5. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:03:43
General Classification Cannondale Pro Cycling
42. Cayetano José Sarmiento Tunarrosa (Col) 1:15:43
58. Maciej Paterski (Pol) 1:43:18
83. Daniele Ratto (Ita) 2:17:42
92. Cameron Wurf (Aus) 2:22:26
98. Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) 2:32:07
120. Tiziano Dall'Antonia (Ita) 3:02:06
145.Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg) 3:23:39
1. Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 37 pts
2. Daniele Ratto (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling 30
3. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard 22
4.Andre Fernando S. Martins Cardoso (Por) Caja Rural 20
5. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 19