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La Vuelta Ciclista a España. Stage 17. Balcon de Bizkaia shakes GC

A stage in Basque Country from Getxo to the top of a super steep climb Balcon de Bizkaia shook the general classification one more time, becoming a place of another battle between the race favorites.

Miguel Angel Lopez made an attack within 1,5 km to go from a small group of GC contenders, but later was caught back. The group stayed together until the last few hundred meters, where in uphill sprint split in parts. Alejandro Valverde and Enric Mas were the first GC riders, who crossed the finish line, taking 8 seconds on the red jersey Simon Yates and 10 seconds on Miguel Angel Lopez. Today’s performance allowed Astana’s captain to move up back to 4th place in the general classification, 1 minute 36 seconds behind Yates, who still keeps the leadership.

- Today, I just gave my best on the final climb. The team once again did a great job for me and I just tried to stay in front and to gain some seconds over my rivals. It was a very hard day, but in the end I moved up to 4th, - said tired Miguel Angel Lopez.

- I think it was a good stage for us. The main goal was to win back the seconds, we lost in yesterday TT and we did it. Yes, we lost 10 seconds to Valverde and Mas and 2 seconds to Yates, but we took time on other favorites and this is good. In the end of the day we are just 14 seconds behind the podium. We are looking forward to the stages in Andorra, it will be two very hard days for everyone, - added sports director Dmitri Sedoun.

Despite a battle among the favorites, the stage was played not by them but by the riders from a huge breakaway group. The Canadian Michael Woods attacked the other escapers with a few hundred meters to go to get a victory over Dylan Teuns and David De La Cruz.

Astana’s Omar Fraile made part of the daily breakaway and became the most aggressive rider of the day. After the finish Fraile was awarded as the most combative rider of stage 17.

- It was a special day for me, since the route has passed next to my home and alongside the road my family and my friends were cheering for me. I thank Astana Pro Team for giving me an opportunity to go in a breakaway and to fight for a stage victory. Yeah, I did my best today even I knew well the final climb would be too hard for me. In the end I just tried to stay in front and to give my all. When I saw I can’t keep the pace of the others, I just dropped down, waiting for Miguel Angel Lopez and providing him some small help in the final kilometers. I am happy to step on the podium here atop Balcon de Bizkaia. It is something special, - said Omar Fraile.

Stage 18 of the Vuelta a España will be held tomorrow: 186,1 km from Ejea de los Caballeros to Lleida. It could be a good opportunity for the sprinters.

Photo credit: ©Bettiniphoto

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