Stage 17 of the Vuelta a Espana comes after the final rest day. With each rider getting an opportunity to take stock of the current standings, one question remains: Can anyone catch Vincenzo Nibali?
The Italian favourite continues to lead the way, despite losing precious time to his rivals on Stage 16, as reported by Sky Sports. Nibali’s previous lead of 50 seconds was cut to 28 when Warren Barguil took his impressive second win of the race.
Christopher Horner, Nibali’s nearest rival, also finished ahead of the current leader during Monday’s competition and will be rejuvenated to realise he now has a shot of winning the title. Horner represents one of many riders who need a strong showing during Stage 17, the most prominent of whom we shall inspect below.
Although he didn’t win Stage 16, Horner got exactly what he needed when Nibali’s pace dropped during the summit finish on Aramon Formigal. He absolutely sped away from his 28-year-old competitor and came in at No. 20, finishing behind Barguil by one minute and 47 seconds.
With Nibali struggling back in 26th place, Horner’s extreme efforts toward the finish were justified. He now sits 28 seconds behind Nibali for the title. Horner doesn’t need to do anything drastic just yet, if the veteran rider can bide his time without making mistakes, he may enjoy another Nibali failing to help bring him closer to the title.
One of the favourites before battle commenced, Valverde hasn’t managed the consistency to really trouble Nibali at the top. He remains third, currently 1:14 off the lead, ensuring he needs a top showing during Stage 17’s 189-kilometre route.
Valverde desperately needed the rest day to reassess his strategy going into the final week. As reported by Alasdair Fotheringham of Cyclingnews.com, the Spanish rider nearly collapsed on Stage 14 after battling through the intense cold.
Despite his heroic efforts, local fans may be disappointed to see Valverde hasn’t finished inside the top three since Stage 10. He continues to lose time on the leaders and is being sucked toward the chasing pack, meaning Stage 17 is the perfect time to add extra pressure on Nibali at the top.
He may be loitering down in 43rd place after Stage 16, but 21-year-old Warren Barguil should be proud of his immense achievements during this year’s race.
The cycling prodigy recently captured victory on Stage 16, his second win of the competition, and will be looking to capitalise on his ever-growing hype with another strong showing along the route to Burgos.
Barguil isn’t competing for the top prize, but the youngster is currently beating over 100 opponents across one of the world’s toughest races. Despite losing pace at the conclusion of Stage 16, Barguil’s ability to burn through the pain and gain ridiculous speed saw him halt Rigoberto Uran’s hopes of gaining a first-stage win.
If you haven’t been watching Barguil up until this point, now is the time to keep an eye on him. With a strong performance across Stage 17, the French starlet has a real shot of pushing himself further up the rankings.