Tour of Spain 2007 st17 Bennati

Talented Italian fastman Daniele Bennati (Lampre) took a fast and furious dash for the line in stage 17 of the Vuelta that - as is normal in the race's third week's bunch sprints ever since the Vuelta moved to September - raised more questions about the upcoming World Championships than it did about who is fastest in Spain full stop.

Bennati is not racing the World Championships this September and you could almost see the steam coming out of his ears when Spanish television asked him about whether he thought he should have had a spot in Stuttgart.

?Of course I should be there, I?m the fastest Italian here in Spain and I?ve proved it today again.? Bennati, who beat reigning World Champion Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) and Alessandro Petacchi (Milram) at Talavera de la Reina by over a bike length, said.

?It?s very difficult to win in September after being on top form in July as well.? - as Bennati, with two stages wins in the Tour, most certainly was.

?But I?ve done it, and I?ve not only won in the first stage of the Vuelta this year [at Vigo], I?ve also won in the third week and that proves I?m still in good shape.?

Consolation of a sort should come to Bennati when he takes over as points leader in the Tour of Spain on Thursday. Bettini, currently leading the classification, is widely expected to quit this evening - ironically enough, to head home to prepare for the World Championships.

Just to make it clear which was more important to Bettini, the Italian asked the organisation special permission to wear the World Champions jersey, not the points leader's jersey on stage 17. It will be his last opportunity prior to Stuttgart. With the permission granted, Bettini paid the Vuelta back by trying to go out with a sprint win - only Bennati was faster.

Italian verbal fireworks apart, after two transition stages, the race is now looking ahead to Thursday?s mountainous stage 15.

With its two major climbs, the Mijares and the Navalmoral, a long way from the finish in Avila, the chance are CSC's Carlos Sastre - who grew up in this part of Spain - and the other contenders will try to wear down race leader Denis Menchov and his Rabobank team in preparation for the Vuelta?s final key mountain stage on Friday.

The two laps through Avila over short cobbled climbs could - possibly - also provide some opportunities for last minute attacks and risk splitting the peloton.

Peloton on stage 16. Photos by Graham Watson

Tour of Spain stage 17 Ciudad Real - Talavera de la Reina 175km

1 Daniele Bennati (Italy) Lampre 3-56-58

2 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step

3 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Milram

4 Andre Greipel (Ger) T-Mobile

5 Magnus Backstedt (Swe) Liquigas

6 Allan Davis (Aus) Discovery

7 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Credit Agricole

8 Erik Zabel (Ger) Milram

9 Aliaksandr Usau (Bylorussia) Ag2R

10 Koldo Fernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi all st

Overall standings after 17 stages

1 Denis Menchov (Russia) Rabobank 70-37-47

2 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne at 2-01

3 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor - Lotto at 2-27

4 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC at 3-02

5 Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi at 4-01

6 Ezequiel Mosquera Miguez (Spa) Karpin Galicia at 4-35

7 Manuel Beltrán (Spa) Liquigas at 5-15

8 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne at 6-17

9 Carlos Barredo (Spa) Quickstep - Innergetic at 6-22

10 Igor Antón (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi at 7-41

128 Magnus Backstedt (Swe) Liquigas at 1-47-42


Stage 16: Duque takes transition stage

Stage 15: Menchov stays on top

Stage 14: Almost goodbye, but Discovery still winning

Stage 13: Klier ends four-year gap with win

Stage 12: Petacchi racks up the wins

Stage 11: Petacchi puts troubles behind him for stage win

Rest day review

Stage 10: Menchov proves he's the boss

Stage nine: Menchov takes control

Stage eight (TT): Devolder soars to race lead

Stage seven: Zabel surprise winner

Stage six: Freire outguns Petacchi for stage hat-trick

Stage five: Freire takes second bunch sprint victory

Stage four: Efimkin upstages favourites in Vuelta

Stage three: Bettini bounces back with Vuelta stage win

Stage two: Freire nets stage win and Vuelta lead

Stage one: Bennati takes race lead in bunch sprint

Tour of Spain preview, including stage and team list


Astana out of 2007 Tour of Spain

Eurosport cycling TV schedule for September

Vuelta confirms support for ASO in ProTour row

Vinokourov wins 2006 Tour of Spain overall

Official site:

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1