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Vuelta’14 St.17: Fourth For Deger’s In Coruña

Race Report: Stage 17 looked like a stage for the sprinters, but the sort of sprinter who can get over some stiff little climbs and that man had to be John Degenkolb. The German hit the front with only meters to go and the game was over.

The roads in Galicia are not easy, lumpy and twisty would be the best description. A perfect day for a break to succeed or a bunch sprint, in the end it was a bunch sprint, but a sprint for the strong men of the Vuelta. John Degenkolb got the better of Michael Matthews and Fabian Cancellara in A Coruña for his fourth Vuelta ’14 stage win.

The Course
Stage 17 from Ortigueira to A Coruña has no categorized mountains, but the profile is far from easy. The race heads along the Galician coast with lots of short up’s and down’s with twists and turns thrown in for good measure. The last 5 kilometers is tricky as it circumnavigates the headland of A Coruña, but the final kilometer sweeps along the flat beachfront, if the fast men are still there it will be perfect for them.

The Start
A minute’s silence was held for the Guardia Civil who died in a crash during stage 16. The Guardia Civil motorbike escort rode alongside the peloton during the neutralized zone in respect for their companion.

169 riders came to the start in Ortigueira, missing was Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step), Tanel Kangert (Astana) and Haimar Zubeldia (Trek). All the teams wanted a rider in the break of the day and there was attack after attack, but all for nothing. The fist attack to get any sort of lead included: Rohan Dennis (BMC) and Bob Jungels (Trek), they were joined by Lluis Más Bonet (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Elia Favilli (Lampre-Merida) and Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka) and after 30 kilometers they had 1:20. After the first hour the leaders had ridden 41.8 kilometers, at the 43 kilometer mark the lead was 3 minutes.

Tour of Spain 2014 stage - 17Left to right: Jungles (Trek), Dennis (BMC), Más (Caja Rural) and Favilli (Lampre-Merida)

Giant-Shimano took control of the peloton for the Green jersey John Degenkolb as this would probably be his last chance of a win in this years Vuelta. The lead stayed at 3 minutes through the 50 and 60 kilometer points and when they reached the intermediate sprint in Pontedeume (78kms) the lead was 2:15. The sprint was won by Dennis from Favilli and Jungels. After 115 kilometers the lead jumped to 4 minutes.

After three hours of racing the speed had been 41 kilometers per hour with a tail wind, in the bunch Orica-GreenEDGE started to help with the chase work bringing the lead down slightly to 3:35 with 60 kilometers to go.

Into the last 40 kilometers and Omega Pharma – Quick-Step began to pull at the front, the lead dropped again to 3 minutes.

The roads in this area are a little like in Brittany without many straight or level sections. Might have something to do with the Romans never being able to invade either regions.

In the break there was a bit of an argument over the work being done. No punching today, but Más and Teklehaimanot were dropped, although Teklehaimanot got back on in time to get a telling off from Dennis.

Tour of Spain 2014 stage - 17The Giant-Shimano team chased down the break for a perfect finish for John Degenkolb

The Last 20K’s
Giant-Shimano, OPQS and Orica-GreenEDGE pressed on the accelerator pedal and the speed visibly lifted and the lead plummeted. Through the second intermediate sprint, with 17 kilometers to go, the lead was down to 1:44. Teklehaimanot took the sprint from Jungels and Dennis.

Jungels and Dennis were not happy with Teklehaimanot and Favilli as they were not pulling their weight in the break.

10 to Go
The leaders only had 54 seconds on the bunch, Dennis put the pressure on and Teklehaimanot was dropped. Guillaume Levarlet (Cofidis) and Johan Le Bon (FDJ.fr) jumped away from the peloton on a little rise.

At 6 out the two Frenchmen were caught as Sky now took to the front and the lead was down to 39 seconds. At 5K the race hit the cobbled section round the headland before shooting back into A Coruña with the view of the famous lighthouse.

1.5 kilometers to go and the break was nearly captured, but Dennis went for a long one with Favilli on his wheel. Both put in strong turns, but it wasn’t enough and they were swamped at 800 meters out.

Tour of Spain 2014 stage - 17Four stage wins for John Degenkolb, no wonder he’s happy

Philippe Gilbert (BMC) jumped first, and then Roberto Ferrari (Lampre-Merida) with John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) on his wheel. It looked like the German had left it too late as the Trek pair of Fabian Cancellara and Jasper Stuyven was on his left and Michael Matthews was on his right. But the strength of Degenkolb powered him to the line not giving an inch to the others for his fourth stage win of 2014.

Tour of Spain 2014 stage - 17More Cava for the photographers!

After his win John Degenkolb said: “It looked easy but it really wasn’t today. We had to work really hard for it, harder than the other days. We did everything for a sprint today and it turned out to be the right decision.”

All the jerseys stayed the same and there are no changes to the overall.

Four more days to go, keep it PEZ!

Vuelta a España Stage 17 Result:
1. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Shimano in 4:26:07
2. Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE
3. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek
4. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek
5. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida
6. Koldo Fernandez (Spa) Garmin-Sharp
7. Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) FDJ.fr
8. Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC
9. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale
10. Vicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) IAM Cycling.

Vuelta a España Overall After Stage 17:
1. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo in 67:51:07
2. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 1:36
3. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky at 1:39
4. Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha at 2:29
5. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 3:38
6. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp at 6:17
7. Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin at 6:43
8. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC at 6:55
9. Warren Barguil (Fra) Giant-Shimano at 8:37
10. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale at 9:10.

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