Roux Wins Stage 17 of Vuelta
Laurent Roux (Francaise des Jeux) has won Stage 17 of the 2009 Vuelta. Roux, the last survivor of the break of the day, won the rolling, 193.6-km run from Ciudad Real to Talavera de la Reina in 4:28:14. William Bonnet (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) outsprinted Andre Greipel (Columbia) for second. Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) remains the overall leader.
From the gun, the racing was aggressive. After a couple of early attacks were reeled in, five men got clear at 10 km. They were Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil), Markel Irizar (Euskaltel), Francisco Jose Martinez (Andalucia), Roux, and Martijn Maaskant (Garmin). The quintet had run up a seven-minute lead by 25 km, at which point the peloton began riding tempo. The bunch pegged the lead at five minutes.
With 75 km to go, a crash took down riders from Rabobank, Cofidis, Contentpolis, and Xacobeo Galicia. Among the felled riders were Robert Gesink (Rabobank) and Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo Galicia), who are second and sixth, respectively, overall. Both riders were able to continue, and the peloton slowed to allow them to get back on.
With 68 km remaining, Milram, Columbia, and Liquigas took command at the front. The gap came down slowly, and at times the break widened the lead. With 20 km left, the break led the bunch by 2:58, and it appeared that the fugitives might stay away.
Columbia, Milram, and Liquigas redoubled their efforts. With two km remaining, 0:20 separated bunch and break. A late catch seemed to be in the cards.
Maaskant attacked. For a time, he looked like a winner, but Roux countered and caught the Dutchman. With 500 m left, the Frenchman took the lead. The peloton chased furiously and captured Maaskant. With 50 m remaining, however, it became obvious that Roux would win. The exhausted cyclist raised one hand as he crossed the line.
In the overall, Valverde leads Gesink by 0:31 and Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) by 1:10. Stage 18 will be rugged but should not change this state of affairs. The 165-km ride from Talavera de la Reina to Avila will feature the Category 1 Puerto de Mijares at 57.2 km, the Category 2 Alto Collado Mediano at 114.5 km, and the Category 3 Alto del Boqueron at 148 km. Who will be in the break? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!