Madrid, Sep 12 (IANS): Bauke Mollema was the surprise winner of the 17th stage of the Vuelta de Espana (Tour of Spain) cycle race. The 189-kilometre stage took place between Calahorra and Burgos.
The race Wednesday had looked set for a sprint finish as the main group of riders arrived in the last kilometre, a long flat straight into the city centre of Burgos, together, but as the various sprint teams all waited for each other to make a move, Mollema attacked, reports Xinhua.
While his rivals reacted late, fearful of handing an advantage to each other, Mollema opened up a 50-yard lead and was able to hold on to the finish line, which he reached just ahead of the rest of the group.
"I knew this was my only chance to win the stage and I had thought about attacking in the last kilometre. The wind cut down the size of the main group and that made it easier for me," said the rider with the Belkin Pro-Cycling Team, who claimed their first win in the race.
Although the first day back after Tuesday's rest stage was in principle relatively straightforward, a change in weather conditions which saw cooler conditions and above all, a strong gusty wind, complicated matters.
Vicenzo Nibali remains as overall leader, followed by Chris Horner 28 seconds behind with Alejandro Valverde in third place.
Thursday sees the riders head to the north coast in a 186-kilometre stage from Burgos to Pena Cabarga, finishing at the top of a first category climb which has an average gradient of nine percent, with some sections of up to 20 percent.