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Cycling

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Gilbert wins stage, Quintana in picture

Philippe Gilbert has claimed a second stage victory at the Spanish Vuelta, as Nairo Quintana rode himself back into overall contention with a fine performance in the breakaway on stage 17.

Starting Wednesday in sixth, and seven minutes, 42 seconds behind race leader Primos Roglic, Quintana finished 10 seconds behind Gilbert to leapfrog teammate Alejandro Valverde into second place after gaining five minutes on the red jersey.

The Colombian now sits 00:02:24 back, with two of his favoured mountain stages still to come as the race nears its conclusion.

Valverde is 00:02:48 behind, while fourth-placed Tadej Pogacar looks to be out of contention for a podium spot at 00:03:42 behind Roglic.

"We knew how to move, and hopefully I'll get better physically," Quintana said after teammate Nelson Oliveira conceded his breakaway effort had not been planned for by Movistar.

"We were able to profit on a day when anything could've happened. I'm feeling a bit better having been suffering with a cold, but we'll see how I do in the mountains tomorrow."

The 219.6km flat course - the longest in this year's race - from Aranda del Duero to Guadalajara was marked by strong crosswinds, which led to a frenetic pace of racing; a remarkable 50.6km/h was the average speed throughout.

It had looked as though sprinter Sam Bennett was going to claim a third stage of this year's race, however Gilbert strode away from the Irishman inside the final 100 metres to seal a second stage victory of the race for himself.

Thursday's stage 18 sees the riders tackle four punishing category one climbs over 177.5km between Colmenar Viejo and Becerril de la Sierra in the Madrid region.

--End of article--

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