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Vuelta á Espana: Contador storms into overall lead

The red jersey no longer belongs to Joaquim Rodriguez. He now resides third, almost two and a half minutes behind Contador.

Image: Lalo R. Villar/AP/Press Association Images

Result: ALBERTO CONTADOR OF the SaxoBank team produced a stunning ride on Stage 17 to take a commanding lead in the overall standings.

Joaquim Rodriguez had led the overall classification since stage four, today Contador – in his first race since serving a drugs ban – blasted away the overnight 28-second gap and opened up a lead of 2:28 seconds over the long-term leader.

Rodriguez, in fact, has now dropped down to third place overall leaving second to Alejandro Valverde – 1:52 behind Contador.

Here’s how it happened: The mountainous ride from Santander to Fuente hosted some early breaks from Gabriel Rasch and Simon Geschke, but all initial attacks were sucked back up into the peloton. That is, until Contador made his move with 52 kilometres to go.

Valverde had went with him on an earlier attack, only to slip back again while Rodriguez was stuck in the trailing group with his Katusha team having to work very hard to get him out.

The decisive move from Contador was an unexpected one, being on a category two incline. He soon caught the leading pack -containing three of his SaxoBank team-mates and from there he went on again alongside Paolo Tiralongo – a former team-mate with Astana.

With 15km to go, Tiralongo dropped off the pace leaving Contador as the lone-rider. He led Valverde by 1:21 with 10km to go, but the mountain specialist was able to narrow that down to just six seconds by the end.

Who’s wearing what jersey?

  • Red (general classification): Alberto Contador
  • Green (points): Joaquim Rodriguez
  • Blue dots (mountains): Simon Clarke
  • White (all-round): Joaquim Rodriguez

How did Nico do? On another excruciating day, it was a tough ride for Nicolas Roche. He finished the stage in the group behind Rodriguez, 26th place and 4:48 behind Contador. He’s slipped down to 12th overall.

What happens tomorrow? Each rider’s thighs will get a relief of sorts tomorrow when the race hits a flat stage. The 204.5km run from Aguilar de Campo to Valldolid is likely to give Contador a chance to further fasten the red jersey to his torso. It will be the fourth-last stage of the tour.

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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