Bennati wins another

Menchov looking calm, collected in lead

Daniele Bennati's joy at winning Wednesday's 17th stage of the Tour of Spain was tempered by his frustration at failing to be picked to represent Italy at next week's world championships in Stuttgart. Italians Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step), the reigning world champion, and Alessandro Petacchi (Milram) finished second and third, respectively.

After winning his second stage of this year's Vuelta, a 175km run from Ciudad Real to Talavera de la Reina, the Lampre rider hit out at the snub inflicted by the Italian selectors.

"I don't know what to say, it's really incredible because I reckon I've proved more than once that I'm the strongest Italian rider. I'm really disappointed."

Reflecting on his stage win here the sprinter who will be leaving Lampre at the end of the season, Bennati added: "I'm very satisfied because I'm still in very good form."

Wednesday's run was marked by Spanish duo Juan Olmo and Jorge Garcia's
150km breakaway from the main pack. They were eventually caught close home with Bennati prevailing in the sprint for the line to add this to his win on stage one.

Russia's Denis Menchov retained the leader's gold jersey, two minutes one
second clear of his compatriot Vladamir Efimkin, with Bettini leading the
points standings.

Thursday's 18th stage features two climbs which will help to prepare the peloton for Friday's arduous six climb stage with the finish at Alto de Abantos, 1630m above sea level. That represents the last chance for Menchov's title rivals to attack ahead of Saturday's penultimate time trial.

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