7th of September 2016 Author: Johnny Karp
Team Sky leader Chris Froome barely managed to hold on to his second place in the general classification at the end of Wednesday's mountainous 17th stage. The day's winner was Mathias Frank from IAM Cycling, who rode in the breakaway and then broke clear on the final ascent of the stage. Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) and Esteban Chaves (Orica-BikeExchange) attacked on the final climb, a very steep 3.8km ascent to the Alto Mas de la Costa, Froome was left behind but managed to recover and crossed the finish line alongside his rivals.
Quintana remains at the top of the general classification, 3 minutes and 37 seconds ahead of Froome, Chaves remains third at 3 minutes and 47 seconds while Contador is fourth with a delay of 4 minutes and 2 seconds. There are four stages remaining, including one mountain finish and a time trial. It all went well for Quintana today as he managed to preserve his lead ahead of Friday's time trial, a stage that should favour his rivals, especially Froome and Contador. As for the day's winner, Mathias Frank, he was part of a 28-man breakaway and did well to attack on the final climb and arrive alone at the finish.
Leopold Konig (Team Sky) finished in second place just six seconds behind the winner while Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) came in third. Frank said: "I'm super-happy. It was my big goal when I came here, I really wanted to win a stage. I was already close a couple of times and finally it worked out." The general classification contenders should have a quiet day on Thursday as the race will go through a flat 200.6km stage from Requena to Gandia, a stage that should end with a mass sprint.
Nairo Quintana is the firm favourite to win this year's Vuelta, he is 1/12 at Bet365 to win it, while Chris Froome is 10/1 to claim the crown
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Obviously Froome is not in the same condition like on Tour de France but there are many circumstances causing that.
First of all compared to his opponents he's the only guy who raced at the Olympics and even thou there were only couple of racing days there Froome was exhausted because of the changes in climate. time zone and of course because he gave all in both those races.
So he came tired at the Vuelta, meanwhile Contador were fully rested and prepared for this race same like Quintana who is also younger and of course Movistar and maybe even Tinkoff have a better teams than the Sky has here.
On this background I think Froome performance is quite decent and if we excluding the failure of the whole team in stage 15, Froome gap from the first place would be still around a minute which would even allow him to attack the first place in the time trial.
Anyway hopefully the race won't be boring till the end and who knows...maybe there are couple of exiting days ahead of us.
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