Vuelta a Espana: Bauke Mollema takes surprise win as Vincenzo Nibali survives split in pack
Bauke Mollema won stage 17 of the Vuelta a Espana after launching a surprise late attack.
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 11/09/13 7:14pm
An eventful stage had looked set to finish in a bunch sprint in Burgos, but with the favourites for victory all waiting for each other to pounce, Mollema (Belkin) seized the opportunity by surging for the line 800m out.
By the time the sprinters eventually responded, the Dutchman had a 30m gap and he hung on to win by five bike lengths from Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) in second and Maximiliano Richeze (Lampre-Merida) in third.
Nibali and his most immediate rivals for overall victory followed on the same time, but Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) - who started the day fifth and seventh in the general classification - were both caught out when crosswinds blew the peloton apart 28km from home and crossed the line 1min 31sec down.
The result means Ireland's Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff) climbs back past Pozzovivo into fifth overall, with Nibali remaining 28 seconds ahead of Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard) in first.
Mollema said: "All day I was thinking about an attack in the last 1km because I knew, with the climb 8km from the finish, that the peloton was not going to be really big.
"In the last 1km I was suffering so much, but I was just thinking that this is my chance and I have to take it."
The 189km 17th stage, from Calahorra to Burgos, had been relatively low key until crosswinds started battering the route inside the final 40km.
Crosswinds cause havoc
The gusts all but ended a breakaway from Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol) and Javier Aramendia (Caja Rural) and then blew the peloton apart with less than 30km remaining.
Wary of an inevitable split, the top four riders in the general classification had already moved to the front of the race in a bid to stay safe, but Pozzovivo and Pinot had not followed suit and quickly fell 20 seconds adrift in the second of three groups that formed.
An uncategorised climbs inside the final 10km offered a chance for the first two groups to reunite, but instead, the gap continued to grow and stood at over one minute going into the final 3km.
In the first group, a sprint finish looked a certainty and Boasson Hagen, Richeze and Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) all positioned themselves well as they went under the 1km-to-go banner, but they were all too slow to respond to Mollema's well-timed attack and the 26-year-old dug deep for his second win of the season.
Stage 17 result
1 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin, 4:44:28
2 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Sky, same time
3 Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Lampre-Merida, st
4 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp, st
5 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan, st
6 Grega Bole (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM, st
7 Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha, st
8 Paul Voss (Ger) NetApp-Endura, st
9 Jose Herrada (Spa) Movistar, st
10 Nicolas Roche (Ire) Saxo-Tinkoff, st
14 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, st
15 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, st
17 Chris Horner (USA) RadioShack-Leopard, st
26 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha, st
37 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ, +1:31
39 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale, st
1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, 68:50:29
2 Chris Horner (USA) RadioShack-Leopard, +28secs
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, +1:14
4 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha, +2:29
5 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Saxo-Tinkoff, +3:43
6 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +5:09
7 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ, +6:08
8 Leopold Konig (Cze) NetApp-Endura, +6:17
9 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi, +7:33
10 Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana, +10:52
- Green (points classification): Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
- Blue polka dot (mountains classification): Nicolas Edet (Cofidis)