With 7 km to go on the final climb of the day the group of Ion Izagirre still had 50 seconds over the chasers. But later, the French rider David Gaudu made a strong counterattack, which brought him the stage win. Izagirre did his best, but in the end of the day he finished 3rd, 1.05 behind Gaudu.
- I think I did a nice stage. Of course, I would prefer to win today, but anyway it was a good performance for me. The stage was a tough one, and our group pushed really hard in front. On the cobbles I went together with Mader and Donovan, it was a good move and we opened a nice gap. Later I tried for myself, but behind me there were several really strong riders, so in the end, Gaudu and Mader passed me. Well, it was a nice opportunity to win another stage, but today a few riders were just stronger, - said Ion Izagirre.
A huge breakaway group went away on the first part of stage 17 (Sequeros – Alto de la Covatilla, 178.2 km). Two Astana Pro Team riders, Ion Izagirre and Omar Fraile joined this group, while Aleksandr Vlasov remained in the peloton, surrounded by Gorka Izagirre, Merhawi Kudus, Alex Aranburu and Dmitriy Gruzdev.
The break opened a 3-minute gap, which, in the end of the day, was enough to play the stage win. With 17 km to go Gino Mader and Mark Donovan launched an attack on a short but steep cobble section and Ion Izagirre immediately reacted to this move. Thus, three riders went away clear, opening a 50-second gap on the chasers.
Ion Izagirre attacked solo with 6 km to go, taking an advantage on his rivals. But, with some 4 km to go David Gaudu and Gino Mader passed him.
Behind the shoulders of the break there was a big battle among the GC contenders. Aleksandr Vlasov made an attack on the final climb, but later other favorites caught him back. In the end of the day, Vlasov finished 14th, 3 minutes 38 seconds behind the stage winner. Unfortunately, he missed just 2 seconds to remain in the Top-10 of the general classification. With only one stage to go Aleksandr Vlasov is 11th in the overall standings.
Before the final stage in Madrid the Slovenian rider Primoz Roglic leads the general classification, having 24 seconds on Richard Carapaz and 47 seconds on Hugh Carthy.
Stage 18 of La Vuelta will be held tomorrow: 139.6 km from Hipodromo de la Zarzuela to Madrid.
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