The strong wind during the whole day impacted a lot the stage and a huge group of 47 riders went away shortly after the start of the stage. The Colombian Nairo Quintana as well as a few more GC contenders were among the escapers, so it created a dangerous situation for the first positions in the overall classification. The gap has increased dramatically to 6 minutes, while the wind did not allow to organize a good chasing of the breakaway. Inside the last 60 km it was Astana Pro Team who took the responsibility in the race, trying to chase down the break. The Kazakh team did a great job, protecting Miguel Angel Lopez, but, finally, the peloton arrived 5 minutes 29 seconds behind the leading group.
- We did not get the information about Quintana in the break immediately after that group went away. Once, we realized he is there, we gave the leader’s team a possibility to organize chasing as the situation was quite dangerous. It did not work out and later we decided to come in front to chase by ourselves because we had to protect our interests. We believe in our leader Miguel Angel Lopez and he still has all chances for a podium place, so we did our best to try to get some time back. It was not easy at all since the group in front was really big, the wind was very strong and the pace of the race was incredible high! Well, we spent some energy today, but the other team left their forces on the road too. Tomorrow we will have a very tough day in the mountains, let’s see what will happen there, - said Alexandr Shefer, sports director of Astana Pro Team.
The Belgian rider Philippe Gilbert won today’s stage after an attack inside the last 500 meters.
The Slovenian Primoz Roglic kept his overall lead, while Quintana moved up to the second position, 2.24 behind the leader. Miguel Angel Lopez is now 5th, 4 minutes 9 seconds behind Roglic.
Stage 18 will be held tomorrow: it will be a super mountain stage of 177.5 km from Colmenar Viejo to Becerril de la Sierra with 4 climbs of the first category.
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