Cardenas Wins Stage 17 of Vuelta, Race Heats Up
Felix Cardenas (Cafes Baque) has won Stage 17 of the Vuelta a Espana.
Felix Cardenas (Cafes Baque) has won Stage 17 of the Vuelta a Espana. Cardenas, the sole survivor of an early breakaway, won the mountainous, 170-km ride from Plasencia to La Covatilla in 4:52:08. Santiago Perez (Phonak) finished second at 0:29, and Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) finished third at 1:01. Heras remains the overall leader, but Perez is within 1:15 of him.
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In the first km, Cardenas joined an escape that contained Constantino Zaballa (Saunier Duval), Volodimir Gustov (Fassa Bortolo), Tadej Valjavec (Phonak), Jose Luis Arrieta (Illes Balears), and Alberto Lopez De Munain (Euskaltel). At 89 km, the break led the bunch by nearly nine minutes. Then, the peloton began to chase.
Liberty Seguros set a torrid pace. The pursuit put overall second placer Alejandro Valverde (Comunidad Valenciana) into difficulty, and for a time, he was at the back of the peloton. On the Category 3 Cerro, Liberty Seguros took a relative breather, and the escapees extended the lead a bit. At the base of La Covatilla, the break led the bunch by nearly five minutes.
With seven km left, the break was down to Arrieta, Valjavec, and Cardenas. Cardenas attacked and dropped his companions. Behind him, Liberty Seguros continued its pacemaking. At the base of the final climb, the peloton was down to 30 riders. With about 10 km remaining, Carlos Sastre (CSC) attacked. Dariusz Baranowski (Liberty Seguros) rode him down. Marcos Serrano took over from Baranowski.
Francisco Lara (Paternina) attacked. Serrano towed the eight-man lead group to Lara. Heras attacked. Only Perez could follow.
With three km left, Cardenas led Heras and Perez by 1:01, Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears) by 1:21, and Valverde by 3:11. Perez jumped Heras. He finished 0:32 ahead of the defending champion.
In the overall, Heras leads Perez by 1:13 and Valverde by 2:15. Stage 18 has the potential to shake up the standings. The 196.6-km ride from Bejar to Avila will feature the Category 3 Alto de Vallejera, the Category 1 Puerto de la Pena Negra and Puerto de Serranillos, and the Category 2 Puerto de Navalmoral. Look for fireworks on the Serranillos and the Navalmoral. Who will provide them? Heras? Valverde? Perez? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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