Welcome to live coverage of the Vuelta Espana!
Today we get some speed. Until the end that is. Today's 188.4km course rolls through some hills from Granada to Cordoba, but is largely downhill until the Cat 2 climb of the Alto de San Jeronimo.
That climb ends with just under 12km left, and then it's a fast descent to the finish. It is not a day for men like Zabel and Petacchi, though they will likely come out and fight for any intermediate sprint points that the breakaways don't eat up along the road.
6:33 am PDT. 68 km left. There is a group with a small gap: Fabian Jeker (Milaneza MSS), Fabrizio Guidi (Bianchi), Miguel Perdiguero (Domina Vacanze-Elitron), Volodymir Gustov (Fassa Bortolo), and David Canada (Quickstep - Davitamon).
So today is the day that Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) should attack and take back that 1h 45' deficit to make the podium in Madrid. Okay, maybe not. But Levi has been riding very well the last few stages... looking good for the Worlds.
There are now four men off the front with a 48" lead: Jorge Ferrio (Paternina-Costa de Almeria), German Fernandez (Relax-Fuenlabrada... ironically enough, he's a Spaniard), Stefano Casagrande (Alessio), and Renato Silva (Milaneza-MSS).
6:41 am PDT. 44km left. These four are pulling through, working together to try to put some time on the ONCE-led peloton.
They are riding through some rolling grassland that looks dry and dessicated. It kind of looks like the uncultivated sections of the 5 freeway in the central valley of California.
Kelme has a lot of men near the front and is helping with the chase. They must like their chances on that final climb.
The peloton is on a small uncategorized climb. There will be several more of those today...there isn't much flat on the course profile. The peloton looks unhurried and all together.
With the exception of the four men off the front, that is. The peloton clearly doesn't care about these four guys much.
6:47 am PDT. 40km left. The four breakaways are now flying down a slight downhill. They are counting on the indifference of the peloton to make their dash for glory.
It looks like all of the riders have their racing knickers on today still. If they decide to pull over to the side of the road and get naked again, we'll be sure to post the pictures ASAP.
Fortunately (or unfortunately, as the case may be), that was a one-time publicity stunt. Very very funny, that. My wife felt that those men looked good, but could use to even their tans and do a few pushups and curls. Once the season is over, of course.
Kelme and Vini Caldirola are chasing in front. It looks like Freddy Rodriguez likes his chances today.
So the green Kermit-men really have made up their minds to make the chase. They must have a little plan.
Valverde is close on the sprint competition. If he catches Petacchi and Zabel napping, he could move up on the sprinters' territory.
6:56 am PDT. 35km left. The four men in the break swallow up the points at the final intermediate sprint, so no battle between Zabel, Petacchi and Valverde.
Valverde only trails Zabel by 10 points and Petacchi by 5 points in that competition. With that final uphill time trial and his sprinting ability, he's really got a shot to disturb the plans of Fassa and Telekom.
The riders are in the streets of Cordoba on the long finishing circuit. Two of the four leaders have been caught.
Vini Caldirola is on the front now.
Looks like there are a couple of agendas in the peloton today...
7:00 am PDT. 25km left. The final two breakaway riders are reeled in.
The road furniture is really splitting up and disturbing the peloton. Lastras (iBanesto) is off the back. He looks to have had a mechanical. The peloton is now all strung out.
Lastras has two teammates pacing him through the cars.
The riders are really flying along today. They must all have dates tonight or something. They are just very impatient, from the looks of the tempo they've been setting.
ONCE is on the front, leading into the Cat 2 climb of the Jeronimo.
Whoa! There is another tight corner that causes a lot of men to hit the brakes and take some weird routes around the bottleneck.
7:06 am PDT. 23km left. The back third of the field has already split. A Fassa rider...Petacchi?... gets shelled out the back.
They are now wending their way up the climb. With the GC still so tight, and the points jersey so close, and the opportunists so desperate, this should be one hell of a climb and descent.
It is Petacchi off the back. He's got a "screw this" look on his face. He is in a pack of men that is growing fast.
Millar has attacked! The Cofidis man is taking a charge off the front.
Millar has a good gap. He has another rider on his wheel. Hard to see who it is... it's an iBanesto rider. It is Juan Miguel Mercado, the man who almost won yesterday.
Millar wants Mercado to come through, but he doesn't. The ONCEs lead the chase. A Telekom man is near the front too... could Zabel be in the main group still?
Now, predictably, an Euskaltel rider attacks.
It is Alberto Martinez... he quickly joins Millar and Mercado, rests for a moment, and then flies on by them.
Millar is clawing back to the wheel of Martinez, however, and now we have three men off the front together.
7:15 am PDT. 20km left. Now it's Millar who gets a bit of a gap. They only have about 15" on the peloton, which is still about 70 riders strong. Now Millar attacks! He gets a big gap.
Millar is hammering a steady pace, and the other two men couldn't hold his wheel. It is a climb that suits a powerman like Millar. If he gets over alone, with his awesome time-trialing skills, he'll be very hard to catch before the finish.
Sevilla has countered and joined Mercado and Martinez. Rasmussen (Rabobank) has come across with Oscarlito!
This is becoming very dangerous! The GC threat posed by Rasmussen will cause a big chase.
There are now five men off the front in pursuit of the lone Millar. Jeker of Milaneza-MSS leads the peloton in the chase.
Kelme man Valverde has only 2'34" on Rasmussen... Will that force Sevilla to quit this move? Unai Osa (iBanesto) has joined the Sevilla and Rasmussen group.
They're speeding along now, on a flat section before the climb at 12km before the finish really kicks up. Then it is a nasty descent to the line.
7:22 am PDT. 12km left. Millar is now pushing up that final part of the climb. The group of five is chasing hard, and Milaneza is massed on the front of the peloton. Their sprinter Edo may still be in the pack. Edo can climb pretty darned well. The chasers are 10 seconds behind Millar. The peloton is 36" back of Millar.
And Britain jumps to its feet, screaming like a bloody madman for the man off the front, the Scottish "Maltese Falcon" David Millar.
There is a long, twisting descent now. Millar is off the front; there is a chase by Rasmussen, Sevilla, Mercado, Martinez, and A. Osa. Then there is the Milaneza-led peloton.
Millar maybe planned his attack to coincide with the first day of the London Bike Show. Britain, of course, is still a bit miffed at Spain for the whole Beckham thing.
Okay, Millar is finally completely over the last part of that undulating climb and flying on that descent. He is on the descent, and Unai Osa has been dropped by the chasers.
38" to the peloton.
Can Millar hold his 38" on the peloton, and his much smaller lead to the four chasers?
9 km left. Mercado was dropped from the chase, not Osa. It was Mercado, not Osa who was dropped on that climb fromt he chasing group.
The four men are 26" down on Millar! The Maltese Falcon is increasing his lead to the chasers!
Millar now has 54" on the peloton! He could pull this off. This would make up a lot for the pain he has felt by getting nicked by Nozal in the two time trials. Millar is bombing down the descent...The gap is now 24" to the chasers.
6km left. Millar is flying down this hill like his butt is on fire! He is now 30" up on the chasers. Millar is all but home free, extending his gap minute by minute. There was a bit of disorganization amongst the chasers, and that helped in that last section of road.
The gap is 34" with 5km left. Millar is going 75km/h!
4km left. 37" gap with 4km left. It is looking great for Millar. He is a master time-trialist, so the flat section of road near the finish will be to his advantage. He'll still put time on those chasers.
2km left. Millar is going for it on this road stage. His gap is still 39". He looks back on the long flat stretch to see what kind of gap he's got...
Final Kilometer. Britain is going batcrap crazy! Millar is going to win this stage.
The fans along the road beat on the barriers to encourage Millar. He sits up and starts to celebrate! He is really savoring this well-earned victory.
The Maltese Falcon, David Millar, wins the stage.
Rasmussen is trying to drive the chase home to steal some seconds. Zabel leads home the peloton, with Petacchi way off the back! Zabel and Fred in the bunch sprint...
That will give Zabel a huge lead over Petacchi in the race for the sprint jersey.
Another great finish for Sevilla, but he didn't win again. Oscar seems cursed this year.
1 David Millar COF 3:58:02
2 Alberto Martinez EUS a 36
3 Oscar Sevilla KEL mt.
4 Unai Osa BAN mt.
5 Michael Rasmussen RAB mt.
6 Erik Zabel TEL a 41
7 Fred Rodriguez VIN mt.
8 Angel Edo MIL mt.
9 Tom Boonen QSD mt.
10 Giovanni Lombardi DVE mt.
1 Nozal, Isidro ESP ONE 58:11:53
2 Gonzalez Galdeano, Igor ESP ONE a 3:03
3 Heras, Roberto ESP USP a 3:09
4 Beltran, Manuel ESP USP a 5:16
5 Valverde, Alejandro ESP KEL a 5:20
6 Mancebo, Francisco ESP BAN a 6:27
7 Rasmussen, Michael DEN RAB a 7:29
8 Perez, Luis ESP COF a 8:51
9 Osa, Unai ESP BAN a 8:57
10 Cardenas, Felix COL L2C a 9:28
Thanks for joining us today - tomorrow is a short and "climby" stage but without any categorized cols. So hope to see you right here again. Here are today's results and classifications.
Stage 17 Results
1º Millar, David Gbr Cof 3:58:02
2º Martinez, Alberto Esp Eus a 36
3º Sevilla, Oscar Esp Kel a 36
4º Osa, Unai Esp Ban m.t.
5º Rasmussen, Michael Den Rab m.t.
6º Zabel, Erik Ger Tel a 41
7º Rodriguez, Fred Usa Vin m.t.
8º Edo, Angel Esp Mil m.t.
9º Boonen, Tom Bel Qsd m.t.
10º Lombardi, Giovanni Ita Dve m.t.
11º Moreni, Cristian Ita Als m.t.
12º Jufre, José Esp Crf m.t.
13º Martin Perdiguero, Miguel Esp Dve m.t.
14º Kroon, Karsten Ned Rab m.t.
15º Torrent, Carlos Esp Alm m.t.
16º Ivanov, Serguei Rus Fas m.t.
17º Valverde, Alejandro Esp Kel m.t.
18º Vicioso, Angel Esp One m.t.
19º Zaballa, Constantino Esp Kel m.t.
20º Luttenberger, Peter Aut Csc m.t.
21º Lara, Francisco José Esp Tbi m.t.
22º Noval, Benjamín Esp Crf m.t.
23º Rodriguez, Joaquin Esp One m.t.
24º Nozal, Isidro Esp One m.t.
25º Beltran, Manuel Esp Usp m.t.
26º Mancebo, Francisco Esp Ban m.t.
27º Werner, Christian Ger Tel m.t.
28º Perez, Santiago Esp Pho m.t.
29º Gonzalez, Santos Esp Dve m.t.
30º Heras, Roberto Esp Usp m.t.
31º Glez. Galdeano, Igor Esp One m.t.
32º Cardenas, Felix Col L2c m.t.
33º Del Olmo, Txema Esp Mil m.t.
34º Scarponi, Michele Ita Dve m.t.
35º Osa, Aitor Esp Ban m.t.
36º Pereiro, Oscar Esp Pho m.t.
37º Lopez, David Esp L2c m.t.
38º Garcia Casas, Félix Esp Tbi m.t.
39º Cuesta, Iñigo Esp Cof m.t.
40º Calvente, Manuel Esp Csc m.t.
41º Trentin, Guido Ita Cof m.t.
42º Flores, Iker Esp Eus m.t.
43º Serrano, Marcos Esp One m.t.
44º Lunghi, Denis Ita Als m.t.
45º Mercado, Juan Miguel Esp Ban m.t.
46º Etxebarria, Unai Ven Eus m.t.
47º Atienza, Daniel Esp Cof m.t.
48º Blanco, Santiago Esp Crf m.t.
49º Piepoli, Leonardo Ita Ban m.t.
50º Perez, Luis Esp Cof m.t.
53º Laiseka, Roberto Esp Eus m.t.
54º 7 Horrach, Joan Esp Mil m.t.
57º 9 Zberg, Beat Sui Rab a 2:42
65º Aerts, Mario Bel Tel a 4:29
67º Casero, Rafael Esp Alm m.t.
68º Garate, Juan Manuel Esp Lam m.t.
69º Lastras, Pablo Esp Ban m.t.
74º Julich, Bobby Usa Tel m.t.
75º Tankink, Bram Ned Qsd m.t.
84º Rubiera, José Luis Esp Usp a 4:34
89º Pepoli, Christian Ita Sae a 8:11
94º Cañada, David Esp Qsd a 8:30
101º Grabsch, Bert Ger Pho a 8:32
102º Joachim, Benoit Lux Usp m.t.
103º Barry ,Michael Can Usp m.t.
104º Van Heeswijk, Max Ned Usp m.t.
107º Fernandez, Bingen Esp Cof m.t.
110º Leipheimer, Levy Usa Rab a 14:11
115º Petacchi, Alessandro Ita Fas m.t.
120º Tauler, Antonio Esp Kel m.t.
129º Sastre, Carlos Esp Csc m.t.
135º Landis, Floyd Usa Usp m.t.
149º Furlan, Angelo Ita Als m.t.
156º Frigo, Dario Ita Fas m.t.
No abandons today.
General Classification after Stage 17
1º Nozal, Isidro Esp One 58:11:53
2º Glez. Galdeano, Igor Esp One a 3:03
3º Heras, Roberto Esp Usp a 3:09
4º Beltran, Manuel Esp Usp a 5:16
5º Valverde, Alejandro Esp Kel a 5:20
6º Mancebo, Francisco Esp Ban a 6:27
7º Rasmussen, Michael Den Rab a 7:29
8º Perez, Luis Esp Cof a 8:51
9º Osa, Unai Esp Ban a 8:57
10º Cardenas, Felix Col L2c a 9:28
11º Gonzalez, Santos Esp Dve a 10:41
12º Scarponi, Michele Ita Dve a 11:25
13º Sevilla, Oscar Esp Kel a 12:03
14º Serrano, Marcos Esp One a 13:30
15º Garcia Casas, Félix Esp Tbi a 14:57
16º Del Olmo, Txema Esp Mil a 15:28
17º Flores, Iker Esp Eus a 17:44
18º Pereiro, Oscar Esp Pho a 18:13
19º Trentin, Guido Ita Cof a 29:15
20º Jufre, José Esp Crf a 33:07
21º Frigo, Dario Ita Fas a 38:00
22º Cuesta, Iñigo Esp Cof a 40:59
23º Piepoli, Leonardo Ita Ban a 45:56
24º Calvente, Manuel Esp Csc a 48:01
25º Osa, Aitor Esp Ban a 51:38
Points Classification after Stage 17
1º Zabel, Erik Ger Tel 145
2º Petacchi, Alessandro Ita Fas 130
3º Valverde, Alejandro Esp Kel 125
4º Cardenas, Felix Col L2c 97
5º Nozal, Isidro Esp One 92
6º Rasmussen, Michael Den Rab 91
7º Edo, Angel Esp Mil 70
8º Boonen, Tom Bel Qsd 68
9º Etxebarria, Unai Ven Eus 67
10º Osa, Unai Esp Ban 66
11º Perez, Luis Esp Cof 65
12º Millar, David Gbr Cof 65
13º Glez. Galdeano, Igor Esp One 61
14º 9 Rodriguez, Fred Usa Vin 60
15º Rodriguez, Joaquin Esp One 57
16º Heras, Roberto Esp Usp 53
17º Mancebo, Francisco Esp Ban 53
18º Sevilla, Oscar Esp Kel 52
19º Beltran, Manuel Esp Usp 47
20º Frigo, Dario Ita Fas 44
Mountains Classification after Stage 17
1º Cardenas, Felix Col L2c 194
2º Osa, Aitor Esp Ban 112
3º Horrach, Joan Esp Mil 101
4º Valverde, Alejandro Esp Kel 88
5º Perez, Luis Esp Cof 72
6º Jufre, José Esp Crf 57
7º Rasmussen, Michael Den Rab 56
8º Osa, Unai Esp Ban 52
9º Sevilla, Oscar Esp Kel 49
10º Rodriguez, Joaquin Esp One 49
11º Heras, Roberto Esp Usp 47
12º Zaballa, Constantino Esp Kel 40
13º Piepoli, Leonardo Ita Ban 39
14º Etxebarria, Unai Ven Eus 31
15º Nozal, Isidro Esp One 31
16º Mercado, Juan Miguel Esp Ban 31
17º Jeker, Fabian Sui Mil 30
18º Frigo, Dario Ita Fas 29
19º Etxebarria, David Esp Eus 23
20º Mancebo, Francisco Esp Ban 23
21º Jimenez, Eladio Esp Ban 22
Teams Classification after Stage 17
1º Once - Eroski ONE 174:44:00
2º IBanesto.com BAN a 5:49
3º Kelme - Costa Blanca KEL a 22:48
4º Cofidis, le credit par telephone COF a 31:08
5º Euskaltel - Euskadi EUS a 39:47
6º Milaneza - MSS MIL a 42:39
7º Domina Vacanze-Elitron-RDZ DVE a 1:01:49
8º US Postal Service Berry Floor USP a 1:34:23
9º Fassa Bortolo FAS a 1:54:09
10º Colchon Relax - Fuenlabrada CRF a 2:34:43
11º Team CSC CSC a 2:44:21
12º Quick Step - Davitamon QSD a 2:52:20
13º Paternina - Costa de Almeria ALM a 2:53:14
14º Labarca-2 Cafe Baque L2C a 2:59:34
15º Rabobank RAB a 3:05:03
16º Team Bianchi TBI a 3:36:18
17º Phonak Hearing Systems PHO a 3:53:53
18º Team Telekom TEL a 4:03:59
19º Lampre LAM a 4:43:50
20º Alessio ALS a 5:38:59
21º Saunier Duval - Vini Caldirola VIN a 6:56:46
22º Saeco - Longoni Sport SAE a 7:56:54