Stage 17: Peñafiel — Peñafiel
What is it? A 46 kilometer time trial. Nothing short about this one.
Got Climbs? Flat like a table top, flat like Kansas, flat like a pancake. This thing is flat.
Red Jersey Battle: It's a nervy day for the general classification riders. The time gaps at the top of the general are tight, and this time trial is long.
Ideal Rider: At 33 seconds away from the Red Shirt, Vincenzo Nibali is really hoping he is the ideal rider for this stage, almost as much as Joaquím Rodríguez is hoping the Italian is somehow less than ideal.
@Gavia: Forty-six kilometers is a long day on the crono bike. Don't forget the shammy cream, kidz.
The Vuelta a España draws closer to its finale with this time trial stage in Peñafiel. A long test at 46 kilometers, this stage offers the possibility of an overturning in the overall standings. Let's review shall we? Joaquím Rodríguez wears the Red jersey of race leader, but he has only 33 seconds advantage over the ambitious Italian Vincenzo Nibali. Would you want a guy nicknamed the Shark sitting 33 seconds behind you? No, I didn't think so. Ezekiel Mosquera sits third at :53 and Fränk Schleck holds fourth at 2:46. Looking farther down, there's a bit of a scrum for the minor placings. Just :45 seconds behind Schleck, Nicolas Roche sits fifth with Martin Velits, Tom Danielson, Xavier Tondo and Carlos Sastre all bunched within 2:00 minutes of the AG2R rider. Yes, this stage could indeed make for some reshuffling.
The course traces out a circuit beginning and ending in Peñafiel. The profile is totally flat, the kind of flat that defies any effort to offer much in the way of description. Peñafiel sits in the the Ribera del Duero wine region, and caves for storing wine lie deep underground. Chimneys, which aerate the caves, dot the landscape. Peñafiel is also famous for its medieval square which hosts bullfights, and a castle sits on one of the few hills above town. In the main, flat, brownish Spanish plains surround the town and will provide the battleground for this stage of the Vuelta.
Post-Race Happy Hour