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2017 Vuelta a España second rest day: riders of the week

Froome, Lopez, Zakarin, Woods and the Poles all impressed in Week 2

As the 2017 Vuelta transfers to the north for the final week’s chrono and summit finishes on Los Machucos, Santo Toribio de Liebana and Angliru, the riders get to rest in Logroño on Monday. Canadian Cycling Magazine reviews past six days of action by acknowledging the athletes of the week.

2017 Vuelta a España GC after 15 stages
1) Chris Froome (Great Britain/Sky) 62:06:25
2) Vincenzo Nibali (Italy/Bahrain-Merida) +1:01
3) Ilnur Zakarin (Russia/Katusha) +2:08
4) Wilco Kelderman (The Netherlands/Sunweb) +2:11
5) Esteban Chaves (Colombia/Orica-Scott) +2:39
6) Angel Lopez (Colombia/Astana) +2:51
7) Fabio Aru (Italy/Astana) +3:24
8) Michael Woods (Canada/Cannondale) +3:26
9) Alberto Contador (Spain/Trek-Segafredo) +3:59
10) Wout Poels (The Netherlands/Sky) 5:22
Points jersey: Froome
Mountains jersey: Davide Villella (Italy/Cannondale)
Team: Astana

Chris Froome (Great Britain/Sky):
Froome has been in control of this race from day one and worn the red jersey every day since taking it on Stage 3. In week two, his defense has been sterling, and before the time trial, in which he’ll surely further pad his lead, he enjoys one minute over his closest rival. Except for Stage 12 when his rivals put 20 to 42-seconds into him after some poor luck, his race has been flawless. They can’t budge him.

Angel Lopez (Colombia/Astana):
It was an incredible week for Lopez, who won two stages, came runner-up in another, jumped up 10 spots on GC and became Astana’s main rider over Aru. He’s even threatening Esteban Chaves–who started the week 36-seconds down on Froome and is now 2:39 back–for the prestige of being top Colombian. He’s also just a few points behind Davide Villella at the top of the mountains competition. If it wasn’t for the time trial, he might be a podium threat.

Ilnur Zakarin (Russia/Katusha): Zakarin is in a very good position to take his first Grand Tour podium. The time trial is to his advantage in staying ahead of Chaves, Lopez, Aru and Woods, but it will be a real dog fight between evenly-matched Zakarin and Kelderman with only three-seconds separating them. Zakarin started the week in 10th.

Ilnur Zakarin is battling for his first ever Grand Tour podium. Photo credit: Stefano Sirotti
Wilco Kelderman (The Netherlands/Sunweb): Nearly as impressive as Lopez’s GC soaring and just as notable as podium rival Zakarin’s rising, Kelderman jumped from 11th to fifth in one stage, Stage 11, when he finished alongside Froome and Nibali atop Calar Alto. Sunweb sending Warren Barguil home for not going along with team plans is more understandable now, as surely the team was aware of their Dutchman’s great form. Kelderman has only been in a Grand Tour top-10 once in six tries, when he was 7th in the 2014 Giro.

Matteo Trentin (Italy/Quick Step): What happens when they hold a Grand Tour and the sprinters don’t show up? First, the breakaways get to have their day, and second, Trentin cleans up. Off to Orica next season, the Italian not only took a hat trick of wins on Friday, he also gave Quick Step five victories, matching the team’s achievements at this year’s Giro and Tour de France. Quick Step’s only downer this week was watching David de la Cruz tumble down the GC.

The Poles Polish riders triumphed in Stages 12 and 14 to earn them three bouquets of victory flowers in the first 15 stages. Tomasz Marczynski’s brace of Vuelta wins instantly gives the veteran Lotto-Soudal rider recognition in the cycling world. Rafal Majka’s win underscores his quality. Interestingly, Majka’s teammate and compatriot Pawel Poljanski was runner-up on consecutive stages in Week 1.

Rafal Majka has won four Grand Tour stages in his career. Photo credit: Stefano Sirotti.
Michael Woods (Canada/Cannondale): The talented Canadian finds himself in a GC battle involving the 8th spot with none other than Alberto Contador, whose bold attacks have yielded less and less as the race continues. Woods will suffer in the time trial and most likely battle for 8th with Fabio Aru in the final week. Unless the wheels fall off this campaign, he is on course to be the first Canadian to finish in the Vuelta top-10.