Vuelta 2018: Stage 17 – Woods’ emotional win

It was another summit finish in Vuelta 2018 and it provided what we all love – dramatic climbs with guys all over the mountain, a GC shakeup and an incredible win. EF Drapac’s Michael Woods took the nail-biting victory atop Balcon de Bizkaia, holding off BMC’s Dylan Teuns on the super-steep final metres. Simon Yates lost some time to Alejandro Valverde but keeps red for another day, while Thomas de Gendt took the KOM jersey today. 

Rider of the Race

Sometimes, a rider wins a race and it is just so much more than a victory. And today was one of those days. Rider of the race is the stage winner Michael Woods – not for his victory (although it was an amazing ride of tenacity and passion) but because of the reason he put his heart into that climb.

My wife and I, my wife had a stillbirth two months ago. We lost the little guy, his name was Hunter. The whole time I was going up the climb I was thinking of him I wanted to win so bad for him and I did.

Gauntlet-throwing Valverde

Alejandro Valverde continues to make his presence felt in this race, making Simon Yates really fight for his position. With 3km to go on the final climb, Valverde attacked, not letting Mitchelton-Scott set their own pace – and thinned down the group of favourites to a handful of riders. He even distanced his own teammate, with Nairo Quintana falling behind and never latching back onto that group.

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There was, however, someone who could keep up with Valverde and that was Quick-Stepper Enric Mas. On the steep slopes in the final kilometre (18% … yikes!), it was Valverde and Mas dropping the red jersey to ride to the misty finish together, with Valverde picking up 8 precious seconds and Mas moving into third place.

Nairo Quintana and Steven Kruijswick went tumbling down the standings, both losing contact in the final 3km, and conceding just under a minute to Yates. Surely Movistar will put the entire team at Valverde’s disposal as they get closer and closer to Madrid.

Tomorrow’s a flat stage before the double-header in Andorra on Friday and Saturday. Get your Vuelta snacks organised because, if today is anything to go by, those final mountain stages are going to be classics.

Stage results

1 Michael Woods (EF-Drapac) 4:09:48

2 Dylan Teuns (BMC) +0:05

3 David De La Cruz (Sky) +0:10

4 Rafal Majka (Bora-hansgrohe) +0:13

5 Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) +0:38

GC standings

1 Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) 69:05:34

2 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +0:25

3 Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors) +1:22

4 Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) +1.36

5 Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) +1:48

6 Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +2:11

7 Ion Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida) +4:09

8 Rigoberto Uran (EF-Drapac) +4:36

9 Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) +5:31

10 Tony Gallopin (Ag2r La Mondiale) +6:05

All the jerseys

Leader’s jersey: Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott)

Points jersey: Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)

Climber’s jersey: Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal)

Combined jersey: Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)

Team classification: Movistar

Official Vuelta website is here;  Full stage review from cyclingnews

Header image: ©GETTY/Velo/Michael Steele 

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