Contador, Froome, Quintana, Chaves - in that order. But they all came back to cross the line together. No change in the standings.
Castellón de la Plana - Alto Mas de la Costa
Vuelta a España - 7 September 2016
Vuelta a España – Follow this cycling race live with Eurosport. The action starts at 12:00 on 7 September 2016. Our live coverage lets you follow all the key moments as they happen.
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Froome rallies to close the gap - he'll lose just a second or two, if that.
Froome catches the others but is then dropped again when Chaves ups the tempo.
Back with the favourites and Quintana has joined Contador. Yates and Chaves are there before Yates is dropped. Froome has not bridged over.
Leopold Konig shakes his head as he trickles across the line in second place a few seconds down on Frank, with Gesink in third ahead of Pello Bilbao.
A brilliant win for Switzerland's Mathias Frank (IAM Cycling) who arrives at the summit to the cheers of many fans.
Frank will win this. The slope is flattening out and his win looks likely.
Konig has joined Gesink in the pursuit of Frank, who should hold on. Quintana has raised the pace in pursuit of Contador. No sign of Froome...
Attack from Chaves and Contador! The Spaniard dances past and has opened up a gap.
It looks like Frank will hold on. He has 17 seconds on Gesink, who may finish runner-up once again.
Froome now has a team-mate in Golas, who has been caught by the pack. No attacks yet from the favourites. Meanwhile, it's Gesink who is leading the chase on Frank. He's dropped the others.
Cataldo has been caugh tby Gesink, Konig and Herrada. Frank still has 13 seconds as he approached the flamme rouge.
Hermans and Mamykin have attacked from the main pack. Froome looks to have recovered from his initial wobble.
Gesink is closing in on Cataldo, with Konig just behind. Frank has 10 seconds on the Italian. Tense stuff. The ramps are crazy steep.
Gesink and Dillier lead the break with Konig behind. Cataldo has been dropped by Frank. It looks like Gesink is in pursuit of the Italian now.
Riders starting to struggle back in the main pack. Bilbao has been caught by Herrada. And Froome is near the back of the group of main favourites.
Frank has dropped Cataldo - although the Italian is fighting back. Bilbao, meanwhile, is riding 20m ahead of the other chasers. The peloton have just started the climb.
Pello Bilbao closes the gap to Sbaragli. Cataldo and Frank are 15 seconds clear now, while back with the bunch Movistar and Astana make their presence known.
Sbaragli of Dimension Data pings off the front - but he won't be a worry to the climbers.
Gesink comes to the front of the break with his rangy body out of the saddle. He's one of the big favourites today after his previous strong showing in the key mountain stages. Alongside him is Axel Domont of Ag2R-La Mondiale - very active in the opening week of the race. The two leaders still have 25 seconds.
The two leaders are onto the Cat.1 Alto Mas de la Costa - just 3.9km long but peaking at 21%.
Cataldo and Frank are on the descent ahead of the final climb. They still have 26 seconds to play with. Back with the peloton Orica-BikeExchange have come to the front for their men Chaves and Yates. It's about to get feisty.
The sprint is uncontested with most of these leading riders more concerned with popping energy gels ahead of the finale.
Sky and LottoNL-Jumbo are on the front of this chasing group through Golas and Konig, and Gesink and Tankink. They are the big favourites for today's win.
Behind Atapuma the Movistar, Sky and Tinkoff teams of Quintana, Froome and Contador are collecting in formation ahead of the business end of this stage. The leaders pick up fresh water bottles ahead od the 10-to-go banner. Intermediate sprint coming up, and the gap is still 29 seconds for the two leaders.
Cataldo and Frank are sharing the load and keeping their advantage at 25 seconds. Back with the bunch, Darwin Atapuma has upped the tempo. There's talk that BMC are riding to stay on top of the team classification...
Golas is still leading the chase but he doesn't look too happy, looking over his shoulders and forcing others to come through. Herrada takes it up for Movistar. They still trail the two leaders by 30 seconds.
Cataldo and Frank have 30 seconds now to play with so this was a smart move from the duo. It's Sky's Golas who leads the chase on this downhill sweep ahead of the next rise. The peloton is still 6:05 in arrears.
We've seen what Juan Antonio Flecha thinks about the final climb - now here are the stats...
The chasers have regrouped as the advantage of the two leaders stays around the 15-second mark. BMC still tempo-setting behind in the peloton through Drucker and Atapuma.
Cataldo and Frank - not Chevrier - now have 20-odd seconds now as a group of seven riders (including the LottoNL-Jumbo duo) lead the chase. They're on one of the small hills ahead of the final climb.
Now Dario Cataldo decides to have a go - Bouet joins him momentarily before dropping back, but Chevrier is there for IAM Cycling.
ATTACK: Maxime Bouet has had enough and accelerates from the break. He's followed by Tankink and one of the Caja Rural riders. They open up a small gap but IAM Cycling have it covered.
Today's final climb of the Alto Mas de la Costa is being used for the first time in the Vuelta and it's a real brute: a narrow cement-paved track which peaks out at 22% and is consistently in double digits throughout the 4km ascent.
BMC still setting a fast tempo but the gap isn't coming down: in fact, it's crept back up to six minutes for the 28 leaders.
It's worth reporting that Robert Gesink, who is in this break, set the Strava KOM record on the Alto Mas de la Costa yesterday in a time of 18:51. Although, to be fair, many other riders rode it and probably not all of them recorded it on Strava. Alberto Contador, for instance.
The peloton is negotiating the final sweeping bends of the descent and still trail the break by 5:55. It's such a large group and you expect that it could well splinter before the final climb - especially over the rolling roads we have in the next 38-odd kilometres.
CORRECTION: We said that Zubeldia was the best placed rider in this group on GC but we're wrong - Switzerland's Marcel Wyss (IAM Cycling) is two places higher, in 21st place, 31:53 down on Quintana.
The gap is down to 5:55 thanks to the effort from BMC so they're having an effect. We forgot to mention that Sbaragli picked up the maximum 3pts once again over the summit of the Alto de Benasal ahead of Pfingsten and Ladagnous.
Odd to see Drucker, Hermans and Darwin Atapuma still setting the tempo - they have BMC team-mate Silvan Dillier in the break and it's not as if any of the riders in the break are a threat to their man Sammy Sanchez's sixth place on GC. Perhaps they don't think much of Dillier's chances should the break go the distance and so are setting things up for either Sanchez or Atapuma...?
We're well onto the third climb of the day, the Cat.3 Alto de Benasal (11.2km at 3%). That injection of pace by BMC duo Drucker and Hermans was perhaps more of a statement than anything else, because they're now back with the main pack.
It's worth mentioning that so far we have seen 10 first-time Grand Tour stage winners on this race, which is an interesting stat and shows that this Vuelta has been the ideal platform for up-coming (or formerly under-achieving) stars to shine. One of those riders is Jean-Pierre Drucker, the 30-year-old Luxembourg sprinter from BMC who, bizarrely has just ridden clear of the pack with team-mate Ben Hermans on this climb. Not sure what this is about...
Movistar control the tempo in the pack with four riders in regulation kit (one with a Spanish-themed edge - national champion Jose Joaquin Rojas), Alejandro Valverde in green and then Nairo Quintana in red. The gap has stretched to 7:45 for the 28-man leading group.
The gap is up to 6:50 for the 28 leaders and so it's quite likely that the stage winner will come from this group now. The last climb is fearsome, but it is short and the gaps should not be so big as to see this advantage whittled down to nothing.
Chris Froome, in the white combined jersey, is currently on the back of the pack after stopping either for a mechanical or call of nature. The triple Tour de France winner needs a good performance today if he wants to avoid being a triple Vuelta a Espana runner-up come Sunday. Sky have Leopold Konig in the break - the Czech rider who was in fifth place before missing the split on Sunday and rolling home in that controversial 'gruppetto' of 93 riders which came home some 54 minutes down on the stage winner, Brambilla. That day aside, Konig has been riding and climbing well in Spain - so he could well be one of the favourites for the win today provided he's not just there as a pawn for Froome.
The best placed rider in this break is Haimar Zubeldia of Trek-Segafredo - but the veteran Spaniard is almost 33 minutes down on Quintana on GC and so no huge threat. Talking of threats, Mathias Frank is one of the strongest climbers in this group and could be one to watch. He has two IAM Cycling team-mates in Clement Chevrier and Marcel Wyss.
It's good to see Robert Gesink in this break once again - the LottoNL-Jumbo climber is in fine form, finishing second behind Quintana at Lagos de Covadonga before winning last weekend's queen stage atop the Col d'Aubisque. He also has fellow Dutchman and team-mate Bram Tankink so they could be a duo to watch.
Interestingly, there are only two teams who are not represented in this break: Giant-Alpecin and Cannondale-Drapac. Etixx-QuickStep weren't in the mix until Bouet rectified that - the Frenchman finished second behind Jens Keukeleire in stage 12 last week. The directeur sportif at Cannondale won't be pleased: the American team are still looking for their first World Tour stage win this season... although they do at least have two riders in the top ten here, in Andrew Talansky and Davide Formolo.
So, let's take a closer look at this break. Froome and Quintana have two team-mates each, with Golas and Konig there for Sky and senors Erviti and Herrada there for Movistar. As for Alberto Contador, he has Tinkoff team-mate Golas incolved, while the other two riders in the top five on GC - Esteban Chaves and Simon Yates of Orica-BikeExchange - have team-mates Gerrans and Cort. Remember, Quintana leads Froome by 3:37, Chaves by 3:57, Contador by 4:02 and Yates by 5:07.
Some withdrawals to report: Jos van Emden (LottoNL-Jumbo) didn't take to the start today, while Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) pulled out during the first hour or so. The American has had a terrible Vuelta - so bad that it's a wonder why he even entered.
It's Kristian Sbaragli who takes the 5pts over the summit to protect the second-place of his Dimension Data team-mate Omar Fraile in the battle for the polka dot jersey. Remember, Fraile moved within three points of Kenny Elissonde (FDJ) earlier on the first climb today, but the Spaniard didn't make it into the day's break when it subsequently formed. Neither did the Frenchman, mind. So there's a brief ceasefire in the KOM competition.
A reminder of the 28 riders out ahead: Imanol Erviti and José Herrada (Movistar), Michael Gogl (Tinkoff), Michal Golas and Leopold König (Sky), Silvan Dillier and Danilo Wyss (BMC), Robert Gesink and Bram Tankink (LottoNL-Jumbo), Simon Gerrans and Magnus Cort Nielsen (Orica-BikeExchange), Dario Cataldo (Astana), Mathieu Ladagnous (FDJ), Haimar Zubeldia (Trek-Segafredo), Axel Domont (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Pavel Kochetkov (Katusha), Bart De Clercq (Lotto-Soudal), Kristian Sbaragli (Dimension Data), Mathias Frank and Clement Chevrier (IAM Cycling), Kristijan Durasek (Lampre-Merida), Stéphane Rossetto (Cofidis), Christoph Pfingsten and Scott Thwaites (Bora-Argon 18), Pello Bilbao and Jaime Roson (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Perrig Quemeneur (Direct Energie) and Maxime Bouet (Etixx-QuickStep).
The gap is now up to five minutes over the pack with 100km remaining. The leaders averaged 38km/h in the opening two hours today. They're not too far away from the summit now...
After around 35km there was a big attack with 17 riders joined by nine more. But they were soon swept up before 27 riders broke clear after 43km. They were joined by Bouet ahead of the second climb, the Cat.2 Alto de la Sarratella (4.5km at 3.6%), which the leaders will soon tackle.
There was quite an active start to this stage with numerous riders trying their luck - including Kenny Elissonde, the polka dot jersey from FDJ - ahead of the first of four categorised climbs. Matvey Mamykin (Katusha) - the Russian youngster who was in the break the day Gianluca Brambilla won at Formigal - attacked 4km from the summit. That man Brambilla (Etixx-QuickStep) joined him, along with Yuri Trofimov (Tinkoff) and David Lopez (Team Sky) but they were caught before the summit. In the end it was Omar Fraile (Dimension Data) who crested the summit of the Cat.2 Alto del Desierto de las Palmas to take five points and slash his deficit to Elissonde to just 3pts atop the KOM standings. Alexandre Geniez (FDJ) was second and Trofimov third.
Bouet was the last rider to catch the leaders after spending a long while chasing on with José Mendes (Bora-Argon18). Mendes, however, threw in the towel and will soon be caught by the peloton.
The 28 leaders are: Imanol Erviti and José Herrada (Movistar), Michael Gogl (Tinkoff), Michal Golas and Leopold König (Sky), Silvan Dillier (BMC), Robert Gesink and Bram Tankink (LottoNL-Jumbo), Simon Gerrans and Magnus Cort Nielsen (Orica-BikeExchange), Mathieu Ladagnous (FDJ), Haimar Zubeldia (Trek-Segafredo), Axel Domont (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Pavel Kochetkov (Katusha), Bart De Clercq (Lotto-Soudal), Kristian Sbaragli (Dimension Data), Mathias Frank and Clement Chevrier (IAM Cycling), Kristijan Durasek (Lampre-Merida), Stéphane Rossetto (Cofidis), Christoph Pfingsten and Scott Thwaites (Bora-Argon 18), Pello Bilbao (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Perrig Quemeneur (Direct Energie) and Maxime Bouet (Etixx - Quick Step).
Right, let's get started: we join the race with 115km remaining and there's a break of 28 riders with a lead of four and a half minutes over the peloton.
RECAP: Luxembourg's Jean-Pierre Drucker beat Germans Rudiger Selig and Nikias Arndt to win stage 16 of the Vuelta a España in a bunch sprint at Peñíscola on Monday. Nairo Quintana retained his commanding lead over Chris Froome ahead of Tuesday's rest day...
Hola and welcome to live coverage of stage 17 of the Vuelta a Espana - a rolling 177.5km ride from Castellon to the Alto Mas de la Costa, which includes four categorised climbs including the ridiculously steep finale - being used for the first time in the race's history. There could be some weary legs back in the saddle after yesterday's rest day...