Vuelta a Espana

Stage 17 Results and Reports

Stage 17, Sabinanigo-Cerler, 158 kms:

 1. Oliverio Rincon (Colombia) ONCE   	     4.11.54  
 2. Laurent Jalabert (France) ONCE           	0.37
 3. Laurent Dufaux (Switzerland) Lotus        	s.t.
 4. Tony Rominger (Switzerland) Mapei          	0.38
 5. Roberto Pistore (Italy) MG                	0.40
 6. Georg Tostching (Austria) Polti          	s.t.
 7. Alex Zuelle (Switzerland) ONCE             	0.42
 8. Jose Maria Jimenez (Spain) Banesto
 9. Marcos Serrano (Spain) Kelme
10. Fernando Escartin (Spain) Kelme           all s.t.
11. Andrea Peron (Italy) Motorola            	1:10
12. Daniel Clavero (Spain) MX Onda            	s.t.
13. Mauro Gianetti (Switzerland) Polti         	1:38
14. Kai Hundertmark (Germany) Telekom          	2:29
15. Massimo Apollonio (Italy) Scrigno 
16. Daniele Nardello (Italy) Mapei 
17. Melchor Mauri (Spain) ONCE 
18. Javier Mauleon (Spain) Mapei 
19. Fabian Jeker (Switzerland) Lotus 
20. Bobby Julich (U.S.) Motorola              all s.t.
27. Peter Meinert (Den) 			3:14 
29. Claus Moller (Den) 				3:14 
40. Neil Stephen (Aus) 				5:19 
63. Bo Hamburger (Den) 			       11:52 
64. Lars Johnsen (Nor) 			       11:52 
88. Marcel Wust (Ger) 			       22:35 
109. Kevin Livingston (USA) 		       22:35
110. William Chann McRae (USA)		       22:35 
111. Stephen Hodge (Aus)		       22:35

Overall after Stage 17:

 1. Zuelle                        	     76.44.45
 2. Jalabert                      		 1.10
 3. Dufaux                               	 5:17
 4. Pistore                                  	 7:12
 5. Tostching                                	 8:34
 6. Rominger                                  	 8:51
 7. Faustini                                  	 9:09
 8. Davide Rebellin (Italy) Polti             	 9:42
 9. Mauri                                      	10:32
10. Julich                                     	12:47
11. Peron                                      	13:05
12. Stephens                               	13:57
13. Clavero                                  	15:02
14. Escartin                              	15:20
15. Serrano                                  	15:28
16. Mikel Zarrabeitia (Spain) ONCE           	15:42
17. Jimenez                                  	15:50
18. Massimo Apollonio (Italy) Scrigno         	16.32
19. Vladislav Bobrik (Russia) Gewiss          	16:52
20. Gianetti                                  	17:02
24. Peter Meinert (Den) 			22:42
55. Claus Moller (Den) 				55:46 
57. Bo Hamburger (Den) 				58:16 
69. Kevin Livingston (USA) 		      1:17:38
81. Stephen Hodge (Aus) 		      1:34:48 
105. Lars Johnsen (Nor) 		      1:59:59 
111. William Chann McRae (USA) 	   	      2:03:06

Zulle struggles

Tour of Spain leader Alex Zuelle showed signs of vulnerability after struggling to stay with his rivals in the mountain finish of Tuesday's 17th stage.

Zuelle had to be helped from his bike after failing to match the searing pace set by team mate Oliverio Rincon, who raced away to victory in impressive style.

Zuelle was left several seconds adrift by team mate Laurent Jalabert and fellow Swiss rider Laurent Dufaux, who both picked up bonus time after following Rincon home.

Jalabert gained a provisional 18 seconds in the overall classification, leaving him one minute 10 seconds behind Zuelle, while Dufaux is still over four minutes further back after gaining nine seconds on the leader.

Zuelle was still short of breath five minutes after finishing the climb, which ended at nearly 2,000 metres.

``It's not over until Madrid,'' said Zuelle, who had looked in complete control in previous mountain finishes.

As in the previous stages, most of the leading riders arrived at the final climb together, but were split as Rincon made his move five kilometres from home.

With Zuelle wilting, Jalabert protected his team's interests by sticking close to a dangerous-looking Dufaux.

``I preferred to keep my strength for later, a few seconds now doesn't mean very much. I still have to fight off people like Rominger for my place on the winner's podium,'' said Dufaux.

Tony Rominger saw his chances of winning a fourth consecutive Vuelta all but disappear after losing nearly eight minutes in the third stage.

But the Swiss rider retained a good chance of closing the three and a half minute gap to take third place, and again looked strong on Tuesday when he came in fourth, a provisional 38 seconds behind Rincon and one behind Jalabert and Dufaux.

With Jalabert already reconciled to letting his fellow ONCE rider take the honours, Zuelle must remain firm favourite for the overall crown despite his problems.

The riders are likely to take Wednesday's straightforward 222-km stage from Benasque to Zaragoza easily, before facing the last mountain sections of the Vuelta on Thursday and Friday.

The race concludes with Saturday's time-trial and the largely flat final stage in Madrid on Sunday.