John Degenkolb stays at the right end of the spaghetti

John Degenkolb says his favourite type of training session is the rest day, or failing that the leisurely coffee ride. I doubt all the riders having the previous day off was what allowed him to win stage 17, but who knows? A little of what you fancy and all that.

It was a tense approach to the finish with the peloton stretched to a cooked spaghetti strand, snaking its way along a narrow patch of flat paving in the middle of an otherwise cobbled road. After it, there was little time to move up to the front, but Degenkolb had been pretty much there all along and with Nacer Bouhanni having dropped out, he had few real rivals.

Michael Matthews was one. He had spent the preceding kilometres getting to know every inch of the back of Degenkolb’s jersey, but when he finally popped out to try and overtake, it simply didn’t happen. The man I’d like to avoid referring to as “Bling” was on a new bike, which is decorated with gold trim, dollar signs and diamonds.

“In the sprint I was looking down at the gold bike but it didn’t quite get me over Degenkolb in the finish.”

Degenkolb was just on his normal, team issue bike. He has four stage wins in this Vuelta. Matthews has one.

Fabian Cancellara was another strong finisher. He’s not really a sprinter but managed to take third and so must be in good shape with the World Championships approaching. Then again, so’s Degenkolb, who’ll also be there.

Carlos Betancur watch

Our man is roaring back into form. Only two minutes-odd down on the day, he climbs into second-to-last place overall, above Andrea Guardini.

Stage 18

Standard Vuelta fare. Flat and then two ascents of the same moderate climb. Here’s the profile. There’s also a possibility of crosswinds being as they’re riding along the coast for a lot of the day.