International Sport > Cycling > VALVERDE CUTS YATES’ LEAD


Alejandro Valverde nibbled away at Simon Yates' lead at the Vuelta a Espana on a brutal day in the mountains on stage 17.

Valverde had kept pace with race leader Yates for the majority of the undulating route from Getxo to the Balcon de Bizkaia, but took advantage of a moment of weakness from the Briton to gain eight seconds in the general classification battle.

Yates – supported admirably by his twin brother Adam as the gradients rose towards 24 per cent – could not stay with Valverde as the Spaniard followed a break from Enrique Mas, but his overall advantage remains at 25 seconds with four stages remaining.

The summit finish tore holes in the red-jersey group as Steven Kruijswijk, Miguel Angel Lopez and Nairo Quintana all lost time to provide Yates with a modicum of comfort at the finish line.

Ahead of the leaders, a 26-man breakaway eventually disbanded with 17 kilometres of the 157km route to race, as David de la Cruz made a move.

Rafal Majka and Dylan Teuns both went with the Team Sky rider but it was Michael Woods who profited the most, the EF Education First – Drapac rider having the energy in his legs to claim a first stage win at a Grand Tour.

Woods made his move in the final 500m and pulled away from his three rivals in the foggy conditions, the Canadian taking victory by five seconds.


It was another tough day for Quintana as he drifted out of the GC battle, the Colombian unable to stay with the leading contenders as they upped the tempo.

Quintana – who lost time on Tuesday's time trial – is now over two minutes behind Yates having dropped another 56 seconds, and he is out of the top five.

With his chances over, Quintana has vowed to do everything to help Valverde in what is becoming a two-man battle for the red jersey.

"I will not tell lies," said Quintana. "I'm sick. I had no more strength.

"The goal is to win the Vuelta with the team. We are going to support Valverde."


1. Michael Woods (EF Education First - Drapac) 4:09.48
2. Dylan Teuns (BMC Racing) +0.05s
3. David de la Cruz (Team Sky) +0.10s
4. Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) +0.13s
5. Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha Alpecin) +0.38s


General Classification

1. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) 69:05:34
2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +0:25s
3. Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors) +1:22s

Points Classification

1. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 117 points
2. Dylan Teuns (BMC Racing) 93 points
3. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 83 points

King of the Mountains

1. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) 74 points
2. Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis) 64 points
3. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) 60 points


After grinding to the summit of Alto de Balcon de Bizkaia on Wednesday, a flat 186.1km flat ride from Ejea de los Cablleros to Lleida will be welcomed by the peloton. However, two mountainous, likely decisive stages, will follow.

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Saturday, January 19, 2019
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