When Belgian star Tom Boonen sat up with a kilometre to go before the bunch sprint in Valladolid on Wednesday, it wasn?t clear why Quick Step had been working so hard in the run-in to the finish. But the answer was soon revealed: stage winner Wouter Weylandt.
A talented young Belgian sprinter, Weylandt crossed the line barely half a wheel ahead of CSC-Saxo Bank?s Matti Breschel.
A small margin, maybe, but still enough for the 23-year-old to celebrate his first victory in a major Tour and Quick Step?s fifth in the Vuelta 2008.
?It?s been a really crap year so far, so to win here in my first ever three week stage race is absolutely amazing,? Weylandt told reporters.
?I crashed before the Vuelta when I rode into a car, then I crashed just before the Angliru [on stage 13] when I came off on a dangerous descent and hurt both my knees.
?But I felt a lot better today, and when Tom told me with 20 kilometres to go that I would be doing the sprint today, not him, I was ready.?
For Weylandt, the bunch sprint victory made up for his failure to lead Tom Boonen out on stage four to Puertollano. Not judging the speed in the lead-out correctly was thought to have cost his team leader the win and apparently earned him a roasting afterwards.
?Normally Gert Steegmans is the lead-out man for Tom, but he?s going to another team [Katyusha] next season,? Weylandt explained. As a result, Steegmans is no longer given so many chances to race, and Weylandt had to fill the gap. At Valladolid, he did even more than that.
Quick Step?s formidable success rate in the Vuelta stages is bad news for the rest of the teams, though. Only nine of the 19 teams on this year?s Tour of Spain have won a stage so far – and there?s only four days? racing left to go.
TOUR OF SPAIN 2008: STAGE 17 RESULTS
Zamora – Valladolid
1. Wouter Weylandt (Quick Step) 148km in 3h 18min 48secs
2. Matti Breschel (Den) CSC-Saxo Bank
3. Alexandre Usov (Blr) Ag2r
4. Koldo Fernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
5. Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Gerolsteiner
6. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Silence-Lotto
7. Oscar Gatto (Ita) Gerolsteiner
8. Sebastien Hinault (Fra) Credit Agricole
9. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Lampre
10. Claudio Corioni (Ita) Liquigas all same time.
116. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Credit Agricole at 29secs
OVERALL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 17
1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana 69h 53min 52secs
2. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana at 1min 17sec
3. Carlos Sastre (Spa) Astana at 3min 41sec
4. Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Xacobeo-Galicia at 4min 35sec
5. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank at 5min 49sec
6. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse D’Epargne at 6 min
7. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Caisse D’Epargne at 6 min 11sec
8. Egoi Martinez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 8min 56sec
9. David Moncoutie (Fra) Cofidis at 9min 32sec
10. Oliver Zaugg (Swi) Gerolsteiner at 10 min 1sec
109. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Credit Agricole at 2h 17min 27secs
The day’s action was dominated by a two man break consisting of Pedro Horrillo (Rabobank) and Jose Ruiz (Andalucia-Cajasur) who spent almost the entire day out front. However, the hard-working duo were caught by the bunch with just 6km to go
Andreas Kloden, Levi Leipheimer and Alberto Contador
Wouter Weylandt wins stage 17
Another stage, more kisses more race leader Alberto Contador
Photos by Graham Watson
|TOUR OF SPAIN 2008|
Stage 16: Boonen wins second sprint
Stage 15: Garcia Dapena takes solo win
Stage 14: Contador takes second mountain-top stage win
Stage 13: Contador wins on Angliru to take lead
Stage 12: Bettini wins, Valverde out of contention
Stage 11: Freire wins stage
Stage 10: Hinault wins, Martinez retains lead
Stage nine: Van Avermaet takes stage, Martinez new leader
Stage eight: Moncoutie triumphs in Vuelta’s second Pyrenean stage
Stage seven: Ballan takes surprise win in mountains
Stage six: Bettini wins, Chavanel leads
Stage five: time trial win for Leipheimer
Stage four: Bennati takes crash-strewn stage
Stage three: Boonen bounces back
Stage two: Valverde powers into lead
Stage one: Liquigas are surprise winners