The Vuelta a Espana peloton enjoyed a much needed rest day on Tuesday.
But heading down the final straight to Madrid, it’s hotting up at the top of the general classification.
Dutch rider Tom Dumoulin of the Giant-Alpecin team has already donned the leader’s red jersey on three occasions this edition.
And with five stages left he sits fourth overall at 1 and 51 seconds and ready to pounce again – notably in Wednesday’s 38.7 kilometre time trial – his favoured discipline.
Italian Fabio Aru has made his intentions clear to his rivals with some powerful riding,.
He took over the race lead on stage 11.
The specialist climber from the Astana team held that lead through to stage 15 and remains a serious title contendor as he is now currently second overall having lost his top spot to Joaquin Rodriguez.
Rodriguez of the Katusha team produced a dazzling effort on stage 16 – eventually won by Franck Schleck.
His fine showing in the mountains disposed Aru of the lead by a mere second.
Tinkoff’s Rafal Majka is also in the mix but will have his work cut out to beat the three favourites and paint the town of Madrid red come Sunday.
GC with five stages left:
1. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 67hrs 52mins 44sec
2. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team at 01sec
3. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo at 1min 35sec
4. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin at 1min 51sec