39th Vuelta al Pais Vasco, HC
Spain, April 5-9, 1999
PreviewThe Vuelta al Pais Vasco which commences on Monday is a Hors Category stage race and will pit the last three winners of the Tour de France against each other over a very tough parcours - Marco Pantani, Jan Ullrich and Bjarne Riis.
Pantani, is in great form at the moment and took a stage victory in the Setmana Catalan and a showed superb flair on the hills in Milan-San Remo, and has not come against his Tour rivals for some times. His principal rival without doubt will be French rider Laurent Jalabert, who is also in fine form at present with his overall victory in the Catalan Week.
Other major hopes who will be riding in this Basque race are Spaniards Abraham Olano and Santiago Blanco and Frenchman Richard Virenque. Virenque will not only be testing his physical condition but also his psychological state after being charged by the investigating authorities in the Festina case.
The Vuelta al Pais Vasco is traditionally a very difficult race and the stages this year are no exception with 842 kms and 28 cols to be negotiated. Not only are the climbs tough but the descents on a number of the cols will require some delicate handling on the narrow roads in the Basque countryside.
The race concludes on Friday with a mountain ITT over 8.7 kms.
Laurent Jalabert assesses his chances:
"It could be said that I'm better. At Semana Catalana, especially the last two days I found some good form. I am still some way before my peak but I rode well in Thursday's stage and Friday's ITT. It's the form that I tend to have at this time of year. I have also had a week without racing now and that is always good for me. It allows me to absorb all the work that I have been doing. The Vuelta al Pais Vasco is a race that I have always liked and where I have been able to win stages. I have led the race but never won the final GC. It is one of my aims before I retire. The Vuelta al Pais Vasco is a tough race for a number of reasons. The parcours is demanding. It usually attracts a high quality field. And it is also liable to experience difficult weather conditions. All those things combine to make it a challenging race."
The ONCE team will include Peter Luttenberger, Iñigo Cuesta, Mikel Zarrabeitia, David Etxebarria and Luis Pérez. The final two positions have not yet been determined but wll probably go to Andrea Peron and Marcelino García.
So who are the favourites? Jalabert had no doubts: "Boogerd is one them for sure. He is a man that has gained in confidence and last year he reached a new level as a rider. He has won Paris-Nice, was fifth in the 1998 Tour and seems to be reaching his peak years." Interestingly, Boogerd said the same thing about Jalabert when the press asked him to list the major threats in this race.
Jalabert has also seen the form of Italian Marco Pantani. "He can win la Vuelta al País Vasco, even if he has other more important long term objectives, if he goes well and stays in contention until the final mountain time trial". Jalabert was only too aware of the falls that can occur in this race, like last year on Stage 1.
He is modest about his own chances. "At ONCE we have last year's winner, Iñigo Cuesta. Mikel Zarrabeitia is also going well and Olano is racing at home. I think that we are taking a very strong team, but there will be other people that will be in form. From the riders that are going to the Giro and those who are thinking of the April classics".
His victory at Semana Catalana has given him confidence: "After País Vasco I want to ride the classics and be in top form for LBL. I want to complete the first part of the season with good form and some results. I needed to win something. For some time I had been riding well, but hadn't been able to win. But when you win you gain confidence and can ride more easily. Last year I had a similar situation until la Vuelta al País Vasco and from then on I performed well. I hope to be able to repeat that."
Jalabert, who will not ride the Giro nor the Tour and will rest during July, to prepare for la Vuelta a España in September.
Complete Starting List
ONCE-Deutsche Bank Mapei-Quick Step 1 Iñigo Cuesta (Spa) 11 2 Laurent Jalabert (Fra) 12 Axel Merckx (Bel) 3 Abraham Olano (Spa) 13 Giuliano Figueras (Ita) 4 Carlos Sastre (Spa) 14 Gianni Faresin (Ita) 5 David Etxebarria (Spa) 15 Andrea Noé (Ita) 6 Marcelino García (Spa) 16 Tobias Steinhauser (Ger) 7 Peter Luttenberger (Aut) 17 Pablo Bettini (Ita) 8 Andrea Perón (Ita) 18 Manuel Fernandez Gines (Spa) Telekom Mercatone Uno-Bianchi 21 Jan Ullrich (Ger) 31 Marco Pantani (Ita) 22 Georg Totsching (Aut) 32 Massimo Prodenzana (Ita) 23 Udo Bölts (Ger) 33 Michele Coppolillo (Ita) 24 Alberto Elli (Ita) 34 Roberto Conti (Ita) 25 Andreas Kloden (Ger) 35 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) 26 Jens Heppner (Ger) 36 Marco Fincato (Ita) 27 Jorg Jaksche (Ger) 37 Marco Velo (Ita) 28 Francesco Frattini (Ita) 38 Enrico Zaina (Ita) Banesto Team Polti 41 Miguel Angel Peña (Spa) 51 Davide Rebellin (Ita) 42 Aitor Garmendia (Spa) 52 Richard Virenque (Fra) 43 José Vicente Garcia Acosta (Spa) 53 Ivan Gotti (Ita) 44 David Latasa (Spa) 54 Oscar Pellicioli (Ita) 45 José Luis Arrieta (Spa) 55 Stéphane Goubert (Fra) 46 Aitor Osa (Spa) 56 Stefano Cattai (Ita) 47 César Solaun (Spa) 57 Daniel Atienza (Ita) 48 Unai Osa (Spa) 58 Salvato Cristian (Ita) Kelme-Costa Blanca Vitalicio Seguros 61 Eduardo Hernandez (Spa) 71 Santiago Blanco (Spa) 62 Roberto Heras (Spa) 72 Igor Gonzalez Galdeano (Spa) 63 José Luis Rubiera 73 Juan Carlos Dominguez (Spa) 64 José Jaime Gonzalez Pico (Col) 74 Alvaro Gonzalez Galdeano (Spa) 65 Javier Otxoa (Spa) 75 Iñigo Gonzalez Heredia (Spa) 66 Oscar Sevilla (Spa) 76 Daniel Clavero (Spa) 67 José Manuel Uría (Spa) 77 Pedro Horrillo (Spa) 68 José Javier Gomez (Spa) 78 Ginés Salmerón (Spa) Rabobank Festina 81 Michael Boogerd (Ned) 91 Wladimir Belli (Ita) 82 Beat Zberg (Swi) 92 Jonathan Hall (Aus) 83 Maarten Den Bakker (Ned) 93 Laurent Madouas (Fra) 84 Patrick Jonker (Aus) 94 Rolf Huser (Swi) 85 Marc Lotz (Ned) 95 José Ramon Uriarte Zubero (Spa) 86 Grischa Niermann (Ger) 96 Patrice Halgand (Fra) 87 Niki Aebersold (Swi) 97 Andrei Kivilev (Kaz) 88 Koos Moerenhout (Ned) 98 Félix García (Spa) Saeco-Cannondale Lotto-Mobistar 101 Vitali Kokorine (Rus) 111 Mario Aerts (Bel) 102 Roberto Pettito (Ita) 112 Rik Verbrugghe (Bel) 103 113 Geert Verheyen (Bel) 104 Darío Frigo (Ita) 114 Peter Wuyts (Bel) 105 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) 115 Sébastien Demarbaix (Bel) 106 Harald Morscher (Aut) 116 Jean-Denis Vandenbroucke (Bel) 107 Igor Pugaci (Ita) 117 Manu L'Hoir (Bel) 108 Francesco Secchiari (Ita) 118 Kurt Van de Wouwer (Bel) Cantina Tollo-Alexia Riso Scotti-Vinavil 121 Bo Hamburger (Den) 131 Vladislav Bobrik (Rus) 122 Oscar Cavagnis (Ita) 132 Mauro Bartoli (Ita) 123 Massimiliano Gentili (Ita) 133 Fabio Malberti (Ita) 124 Cristian Gasperoni (Ita) 134 Oscar Pozzi (Ita) 125 Federico Giabbecucci (Ita) 135 Alessio Bongioni (Ita) 126 Emmanuelle Negrini (Ita) 136 Alexandre Shefer (Kaz) 127 Marco Magnani (Ita) 137 Filippo Simeoni (Ita) 128 138 Alain Turicchia (Ita) Vini Caldilora Euskaltel-Euskadi 141 Sergei Gontchar (Ukr) 151 Unai Etxebarria (Spa) 142 Mauro Zanetti (Ita) 152 Ramón Gonzalez Arrieta (Spa) 143 Mauro Ganetti (Ita) 153 Iñigo Chaurreau (Spa) 144 Massimo Donati (Ita) 154 Txema Del Olmo (Spa) 145 Filipo Casagrande (Ita) 155 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) 146 Ruggiero Borghi (Ita) 156 Bingen Fernandez (Spa) 147 Emanuele Lupi (Ita) 157 Alberto Lopez De Munain Ruiz (Spa) 148 Guido Trentin (Ita) 158 Mikel Pradera (Spa) Costa Almeria-Amica Chips Fuenlabrada 161 Eugeni Berzin (Rus) 171 Iñaki Barrenetxea (Spa) 162 Vjatceslav Ekimov (Rus) 172 José Miguel Elizburu (Spa) 163 Armand De las Cuevas (Fra) 173 Matias Cagigas (Spa) 164 Daniele De Paoli (Ita) 174 Juan Carlos Vicario (Spa) 165 Stefano Della Della Santa (Ita) 175 Saúl Morales (Spa) 166 Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) 176 Andrés Bermejo (Spa) 167 Amikare Tronca (Ita) 177 Pedro Jiménez (Spa) 168 Felice Puttini (Ita) 178 Victor Moratilla Solera (Spa)
1924 Francis Pélissier (Fra) 1925 Auguste Verdyck (Bel) 1926 Nicolas Frantz (Lux) 1927 Victor Fontan (Fra) 1928 Maurice De Waele (Bel) 1929 Maurice De Waele (Bel) 1930 Mariano Carnado (Spa) 1935 Gino Bartali (Ita) 1939 Mariano Carnado (Spa) 1940 Federico Ezquerra (Spa) 1941 Firmin Trueba (Spa) 1942 Federico Ezquerra (Spa) 1943 Martin Mancisidor (Spa) 1944 José Gandara (Spa) 1945 Miguel Gual (Spa) 1952 Louis Caput (Fra) 1953 Vicente Iturat (Spa) 1954 José Serra (Spa) 1955 José Escolano (Spa) 1956 Jesus Lorono-Arteaga (Spa) 1957 Antonio Barrutia (Spa) 1958 Jesus Lorono-Arteaga (Spa) 1959 Antonio Bertran (Spa) 1960 Benigno Aspuru (Spa) 1961 Antonio Karmany (Spa) 1962 Rolf Wolfshohl (Ger) 1963 Juan-J. Sargaduy (Spa) 1964 Carlos Echeverria (Spa) 1965 Sebastian Elorza (Spa) 1966 Eusebio Velez (Spa) 1967 Carlos Echeverria (Spa) 1968 José-Maria Errandonea (Spa) 1969 Jacques Anquetil (Fra) 1970 Luis-P. Santamarina (Spa) 1971 Luis Ocana (Spa) 1972 Juan-A. Gonzalez-Linares (Spa) 1973 Luis Ocana (Spa) 1974 Miguel-Maria Lasa (Spa) 1975 Juan-A. Gonzalez-Linares (Spa) 1976 Giambattista Baronchelli (Ita) 1977 Juan-A. Gonzalez-Linares (Spa) 1978 Juan-A. Gonzalez-Linares (Spa) 1979 Giovanni Battaglin (Ita) 1980 Alberto Fernandez (Spa) 1981 Silvano Contini (Ita) 1982 José-Luis Laguia (Spa) 1983 Julian Gorospe (Spa) 1984 Sean Kelly (Ire) 1985 Pello Ruiz-Cabestany (Spa) 1986 Sean Kelly (Ire) 1987 Sean Kelly (Ire) 1988 Erik Breukink (Ned) 1989 Stephen Roche (Irel) 1990 Julian Gorospe (Spa) 1991 Claudio Chiappucci (Ita) 1992 Tony Rominger (Swi) 1993 Tony Rominger (Swi) 1994 Tony Rominger (Swi) 1995 Alex Zülle (Swi) 1996 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) 1997 Alex Zülle (Swi) 1998 Inigo Cuesta (Spa) ONCEPast Winners by Mario Stiehl, Berlin