La Vuelta Stage 17: Quintana Holds Onto His Lead

In another brutal mountain top finish, it was IAM rider Mathias Frank, the 29 year old Swiss, who took the stage win today. But the real action was happening further down the mountain as Chaves, Quintana and Contador broke away from Froome a couple of km from the finish.

Froome did what he does best: put his head down and paced himself back to join the trio that were threatening spoil his chances of winning the red jersey. He eventually recorded the same time as his main adversary.The gradients here were so severe, 22% in places, that it looked a slow motion race at times. Again, concrete had been used, replacing tarmac, to give the riders a better grip on this unforgiving climb. As Carlton Kirby rightly commented this was a "nasty, spiteful end" to what had already been a pretty pacy day anyway.

  The final climb was brutal

The final climb was brutal

Today had been seen as as Froome's big chance to make up some of the three and a half minutes he trails behind Quintana. But the Colombian just looks so strong on these steep mountain finishes that the Vuelta doles out day after day. Tomorrow is a rolling, punchy stage that should see a breakaway win. It'll be difficult for Team Sky's main man to make any inroads. But then, this is the Vuelta, so who knows what's going to happen.

Carlton Kirby quote of the day: "A lot of chicken sheds in this part of the world. Don't know why, maybe they just like chicken."