Fabio Aru of Astana Pro Team lost the overall lead to Joaquim Rodriguez of Team Katusha by just a second at the stage 16 of the Vuelta a Espana, but the 25 year old rider did not give up and outshone his previous performances in the stage 17 on Wednesday. During the Burgos time trial, the Aru showed his aggression and determination to bag the final victory at Madison.
Tom Dumoulin of Giant Alpecin took the stage by finishing the race in 46 minutes and 1 second while Aru finished 10th, 1 minute and 53 seconds after the winner. Strong riders like Maciej Bodnar of Tinkoff Saxo, Alejandro Valverde of Team Movistar and Nairo Quintana, also of Team Movistar were ahead of Aru in the stage but Rodriguez was dropped off to the 30th spot with a time gap of over 3 minutes behind the stage winner.
Aru is still at number 2 in the general classifications but he is ahead of Rodriguez by 1 minute 15 seconds and only 3 seconds behind the current leader, Dumoulin. Considering the team play of the Astana Pro Team, it does not seem difficult for Aru to be back on the top within the next few stages, before the final one at Madrid on Sunday. Mikel Landa Meana, Diego Rosa, Dario Cataldo and Andrey Zeits are all sticking it out for their key rider, Aru and there will be plenty of chances for the rider to bridge the 3 seconds gap and take it on the other side with the help of his team.
Aru lost this year’s Giro d’Italia to Alberto Contador Velasco of Team Tinkoff Saxo for a difference of just 1 minute and 53 seconds. He is determined to not let a second slip off happen in the same season. The three mountain stages to come are an advantage to the climbing specialist and there is no way in which Aru will let go of these opportunities to take the overall lead.
In the previous season’s Vuelta, Aru was 5th and said that he would have been happier if he got the overall lead and this year, he looks like he is totally after it. He openly acknowledged that being just 3 seconds behind is not bad at all. Rodriguez and Valverde were ahead of Aru in last year’s Vuelta but this time, Aru looks confident and is not worried about the riders ahead of him.
When asked if he intends to drop Dumoulin off at the next descents, Aru clarified that from the point of view of the ones on the road, it is not as easy as it seems. He knows that the next stages could be “even harder” as there is always going to be a tough battle between the rivals but he is looking forward to it. Aru’s best chance will be at the Saturday mountain classification as it is the toughest route in the whole Vuelta and best suited for a climber. Once Aru manages to get the lead on Saturday, the finale will be cakewalk for him.