No info so far on the other members of the break, but the peloton finished (if Dutch Teletext is to be believed), ELEVEN repeat ELEVEN minutes down, led in by fastest-man-in-the-world Mario Cipollini (It, Saeco). Clearly a great story here. More info tomorrow!
The Tour of Valencia continues as follows: February 28 -- Stage 2 Calpe--Javea (174km) February 29 -- Stage 3 Javea--Cullera (170km) March 1 -- Stage 4 Cullera--Vall d'Uxo (196km) March 2 -- Stage 5A Vall d'Uxo--Valencia (91km) March 2 -- Stage 5B Valencia--Valencia (time trial, 21km) The principal contenders: ONCE: Jalabert, Diaz Zabala, Mauri, Rojas MAPEI-GB: Rominger, Olano, Colonna ROSLOTTO-ZG MOBILI: Ugrumov, Chiurato, Fondriest**, MG-TECHNOGYM: Baldato, Stefano Casagrande, Jaermann CERAMICHE REFIN-MOBIVETTA: Saitov, Abdujaparov SAECO: Cipollini, Poli (Forza Eros!) AKI-GIPIEMME: Konychev, Citterio, Dojwa, Delion FESTINA: Dufaux, Herve, Moreau TELEKOM: Andersson, Heppner, Ullrich MOTOROLA: Armstrong, Merckx, Sciandri, Madouas TVM: Blijlevens, Hamburger GAN: Ledanois, Heulot, Pensec, Rue, Seigneur, Simon BANESTO: Alonso, Casero, Rodrigues, Miranda EUSKADI: Guenextea, D. Garcia, Solaun KELME-ARTIACH: Benitez, Serrano MX-ONDA: Wust, Cordes**** GEWISS-PLAYBUS: Bottaro, Frattini, Bobrik **Take this as you will! Within half a column inch L'Equipe had Fondriest also riding in the Giro di Calabria (This and the silly literals -- "misprints" -- confirms my view that French newspaprs employ no sub-editors/copy editors in the UK/US tradition) ****According to the Dutch teletxt report, Cordes finished stage 1 outside the time limit. Bye bye Tom!
1. Laurent Jalabert (Fra) Once 2. Lance Armstrong (USA) Motorola + 0.02 3. Laurent Dufaux (Sch) Festina + 0.03 4. Aitor Garmendia (Spa) Once + 0.06 5. Mariano Rojas (Spa) Once + 0.09 6. Inigo Cuesta (Spa) Once + 0.10 7. Roberto Sierra (Spa) Once + 0.13 8. Mario Cipollini (Ita) Saeco +11.02 9. Jurgen Werner (Ger) Telekom +11.03 10. Francesco Frattini (Ita) Gewiss +11.06
First to take a long relay was Alberto Leanizbarrutia at the foot of the climb; then it was the turn of Aitor Garmendia; and then Mariano Rojas with Jalabert in his wheel, completing the damage. By halfway up the windswept rocky climb by the seashore, there were only seven riders in the break -- the ones that were to hold out to the finish -- five ONCE (Jalabert, Garmendia, Rojas, Roberto Sierra and Inigo Cuesta) plus Lance Armstrong and Laurent Dufaux.
Despite half-hearted attempts at a reaction from Abraham Olano's Mapei and Ulrich's Telekom the gap steadily widened -- five minutes at km81, eight minutes at km 117. Dufaux and Armstrong did no work -- not surprisingly since there were ample ONCE forces to do it! -- and at one point Jalabert decided to do something about it.
Not by a sharp attack but by smoothly pulling away after taking a relay at the front. he caused the break to split up. "Armstrong and Dufaux hadn't ever got off my wheel," Jalabert said. "I gave a little sign to the four others and slipped away. When Dufaux and Armstrong raised their heads we were 100m away and that into a headwind. I didn't have much to gain by this but they [Dufaux and Anderson] had a fair bit to lose by it.
They knew what misery was all about when they had to put more than 5km work into getting back to us -- closing a gap that went up to 200m at one stage." On the 800m climb up to the finish, ONCE swung into action again. One by one, Sierra, then Cuesta, then Garmendia attacked. Armstrong was strong enough to respond three times, but he was short of ammunition when Jalabert attacked out of the saddle with 200m to go.
1. Mario Cipollini (It, Saeco) 174km in 4.28.58 2. Lauent Jalabert (Fr, ONCE) 3. Francesco Frattini (It, Gewiss) 4. Jurgen Werner (Ger, Telekom) 5. Dimitri Konychev (Rus, Aki-Gipiemme) 6. Martin Van Steen (Neth, TVM) 7. Fabio Baldato (It, MG-Technogym) 8. Jose Rodriguez (Sp, Kelme-Artiach) 9. Maurizio Fondriest (It, Roslotto-ZG Mobili) 10. Francois Simon (Fr, GAN) 20. Yvon Ledanois (Fr, GAN) and.... 28. Laurent Madouas (Fr, Motorola) 33. Gerard Rue (Fr, GAN) 49. Abraham Olano (Sp, Mapei-GB) all s.t. > 72 Tony Rominger (Swi, Mapei-GB) +2.27 (133 classified)
1. Jalabert 8.18.46 2. Lance Armstrong (USA, Motorola) +2 secs 3. Laurent Dufaux (Swi, Festina) +3 4. Aitor Garmendia (Sp, ONCE) +6 5. Mariano Rojas (Sp, ONCE) +9 6. Inigo Cuesta (Sp, ONCE) +10 7. Roberto Sierra (Sp, ONCE) +13 8. Cipollini +11.02 9. Werner +11.03 10. Frattini +11.06
Jalabert's attack, out of the saddle on an uphill-tending stretch, had the peloton stretched out in little groups over hundreds of metres. As yesterday, Jalabert explained his attack as a way of testing the persistent Lance Armstrong, who kept track of his wheel all day.
Giuseppe Citterio won the third stage of Tour of Valencia in a disrupted bunch sprint where lead-out man Silvio Martinello and team mate Mario Cipollini collided and went down 100 metres from the line. Djamolidine Abdujaparov who was following the two Saeco-riders also went down. All escaped with minor injuries.
It was otherwise a stage with very calm and slow riding, the peloton reached the finish 35 minutes behind schedule.
1. Giuseppe Citterio (Ita) Aki 4.53.45 2. Gianluca Gorini (Ita) Aki s.t. 3. Marcel Wust (Ger) MX Onda s.t. 4. Jeroen Blijlevens (Ned) TVM s.t. 5. Maximilian Sciandri (Ita) Motorola s.t. 6. Nicola Loda (Ita) MG-Technogym s.t. 7. Maurizio Molinari (Ita) MG-Technogym s.t. 8. Dario Bottaro (Ita) Gewiss s.t. 9. Laurent Jalabert (Fra) Once s.t. 10. Orlando Rodrigues (Por) Banesto s.t.
1. Laurent Jalabert (Fra) Once 13.12.31 2. Lance Armstrong (USA) Motorola + 0.02 3. Laurent Dufaux (Sch) Festina + 0.03 4. Aitor Garmendia (Spa) Once + 0.06 5. Mariano Rojas (Spa) Once + 0.09 6. Inigo Cuesta (Spa) Once + 0.10 7. Roberto Sierra (Spa) Once + 0.13 8. Mario Cipollini (Ita) Saeco +11.02 9. Jurgen Werner (Ger) Telekom +11.03 10. Francesco Frattini (Ita) Gewiss +11.06
Didier Rous was the fastest sprinter in a group of four, against three riders from Once, Laurent Jalabert, Inigo Cuesta and Mariano Rojas. Jalabert keeps his lead and Rojas and Cuesta climbed up to the other two podium places while Lance Armstrong fell from second to fourth place.
1. Didier Rous (Fra) Gan 5.14.02 (37,400 km/h) 2. Laurent Jalabert (Fra) Once s.t. 3. Mariano Rojas (Spa) Once s.t. 4. Inigo Cuesta (Spa) Once s.t. 5. Marco Saligari (Ita) MG + 1.26 6. Maurizio Fondriest /Ita) Roslotto s.t. 7. Dimitri Konysjev (Rus) Aki s.t. 8. Francesco Frattini (Ita) Gewiss s.t. 9. Jose Rodriguez (Spa) Kelme s.t. 10. Alfredo Irusta (Spa) MX Onda s.t ------- 16. Lance Armstrong (USA) Motorola s.t. ------- 25. Abraham Olano (Spa) Mapei + 2.14 ------- 94. Tony Rominger (Sch) Mapei +20.52
1. Laurent Jalabert (Fra) Once 18.26.33 2. Mariano Rojas (Spa) Once + 0.09 3. Inigo Cuesta (Spa) Once + 0.10 4. Lance Armstrong (USA) Motorola + 1.28 5. Laurent Dufaux (Sch) Festina + 1.29 6. Aitor Garmendia (Spa) Once + 1.32 7. Roberto Sierra (Spa) Once + 1.39 8. Didier Rous (Fra) Gan +11.06 9. Francesco Frattini (Ita) Gewiss +12.32 10. Dimitri Konysjev (Rus) Aki +12.32 11. Ullrich (Ger, Telekom) s.t. as 5th place = +1.26 12. Casero (Sp, Banesto) 13. Sierra (Sp, ONCE) 14. Garmendia (Sp, ONCE) 15. Dufaux (Swi, Festina) 16. Armstrong (USA, Motorola) all s.t.
In Stage 4 there was no doubting Armstrong's fighting spirit; what might be questioned was his wisdom in staking so much on expressing it (and with such powerful forces pitted against him) in an early-season race when major goals like Paris-Nice and Liege-Bastogne-Liege were just round the corner.
Stage 4's major challenge was a nasty col -- Eslida -- which had to be negotiated twice on the run into the finish -- twice times 21km of climbing and twice times a tricky descent of potholed and gravelly bends. Laurent Jalabert was succinct about the task at the start: "It's not important which of us [the five ONCE] wins; it's important that Armstrong gets in a mess [passe a la casserole]."
Armstrong found his own casserole to fall into. At the foot of the firs ascent of the Eslida, Jalabert attacked alone. Armstrong was the first to attack, getting up to Jalabert, followed almost immediately by 17 others (including Didier Rous -- GAN, Stephane Heulot and Laurent Dufaux --Festina, Jesus Montoya -- Motorola, Francesco Frattini -- Gewiss, Marco Saligari--MG and Maurizio Fondriest --Roslotto). Also there in strength, though, was the ONCE equipo -- Mauri, Garmendia, Rojas, Cuesta and Sierra. Jalabert attacked a second time, this time with
Mauri. Mauri took a long pull at the front and the two were away from the chasers by the bottom of the descent, with Jalabert well set up for the second climb of the Eslida. Once again Armstrong pulled clear of the chasers, policed by Cuesta and Rojas but also accompanied by Rous. Armstrong attacked, with Jalabert restraining his team-mates from taking chase. "We were three," Jalabert said, "and I told Cuesta, who was parrying every blow, to cool down. It was in our interest to stick together."
Unchained, Armstrong attacked the descent with his head down. A few bends later he went sprawling, lucky not to have gone into the steel crash barriers. "I'm not surprised he crashed," said Jalabert. "On the first descent he was already taking crazy risks. Everyone does things in his own way, but I preferred to lift my foot off the gas occasionally."
At the finish, ONCE could afford to be magnanimous, making no effort to deprive Didier Rous of the stage victory...
1. Mario Cipollini (Ita) Saeco 2.15.19 2. Fabio Baldato (Ita) MG 3. Marcel Wust (Ger) MX Onda 4. Asiat Saitov (Rus) Ceramiche Refin 5. Jo Planckaert (Bel) Ceramiche Refin 6. Jeroen Blijlevens (Ned) TVM 7. Oscar Aranguren (Spa) Santa Clara 8. Giuseppe Citterio (Ita) AKI-Gipiemme 9. Francois Simon (Fra) Gan 10. Frankie Andreu (USA) Motorola all same time
1. Melchor Mauri (Spa) Once 26.29 2. Aitor Garmendia (Spa) Once + 0.09 3. Laurent Jalabert (Fra) Once + 0.12 4. Maurizio Fondriest (Ita) Roslotto-ZG + 0.13 5. Santos Gonzalez (Spa) Kelme-Artiach + 0.20 6. Inigo Cuesta (Spa) Once + 0.22 7. Mariano Rojas (Spa) Once + 0.31 8. Michael Andersson (Swe) Telekom + 0.35 9. Stefano Casagrande (Ita) MG + 0.35 10. Alvaro Galdeano (Spa) Euskadi + 0.51
1. Laurent Jalabert (Fra) Once 21.08.33 2. Inigo Cuesta (Spa) Once + 0.20 3. Mariano Rojas (Spa) Once + 0.28 4. Aitor Garmendia (Spa) Once + 1.29 5. Roberto Sierra (Spa) Once + 2.33 6. Laurent Dufaux (Sch) Lotus-Festina + 2.54 7. Didier Rous (Fra) Gan + 12.01 8. Maurizio Fondriest (Ita) Roslotto-ZG + 12.33 9. Francesco Frattini (Ita) Gewiss + 13.16 10. Angel Luis Casero (Spa) Banesto + 13.19 (Lance Armstrong did not start suffering from a fall on the 4th stage.)