Tour of Valencia - Spain

Introduction | Stage 1 | Stage 2 | Stage 3 | Stage 4 | Stage 5A and 5B and Final |

Tour of Valencia

It's that man again... Laurent Jalabert (Fr, ONCE) won the first stage of the 5-day Tour of Valencia today, proving the strongest of a seven-man leading group, with Lance Armstrong (USA, Motorola) close behind and Laurent Dufaux (Swi, Festina) third.

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
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!

Once dominates first stage in Valencia

Laurent Jalabert won the first stage of the Tour of Valencia and the Once-team totally dominated the stage. They had five riders (Jalabert, Garmendia, Rojas, Cuesta and Sierra) in a seven man breakaway that was more than eleven minutes ahead of the peloton at the finish.

Stage 1 Calpe-Calpe

 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

Stage One Report

Laurent Jalabert and four of his team-mates exploded the peloton after 30km on a not particularly significant climb preceded by a long stretch of false flat.

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.

Stage 2

Mario Cipollini (It, Saeco) won the second stage of the Tour of Valencia, 174km from Calpe to Javea (February 28) outsprinting Laurent Jalabert (Fr, ONCE) and Francesco Frattini (It, Gewiss-Playbus). Jalabert has the overall lead, 2 seconds ahead of Lance Armstrong (USA, Motorola) and 3 seconds ahead of Laurent Dufaux (Swi, Festina).

Stage 2 Calpe-Javea February 28 1996

 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)
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


At the finish on a long false flat, Laurent Jalabert had his arms in the air in a victory salute when Mario Cipollini slipped past him. Jalabert had gone on the offensive some 12km from the finish, when the long-time break of Pascal Herve (Fr, Festina), Max Sciandri (GB, Motorola), Marco Saligari (It, MG-Technogym) and Jon Odriozola (Sp, Gewiss-Playbus) was reeled in.

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.

Stage 3

Giuseppe Citterio (It, Aki-Gipiemme) won the third stage of the Tour of Valencia, 170km between Javea and Cullera, today (February 29). He outsprinted Gianluca Gorini (It, Aki-Gipiemme) and Marcel Wust (Ger, MX-Onda). Laurent Jalabert retained the overall lead, 2 seconds ahead of Lance Armstrong. Cipollini down and Citterio wins sprint

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.

Stage 3 Javea - Cullera 170 km:

 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

Once dominates in Valencia but Rous takes stage

The fourth and penultimate stage of Vuelta a Valencia went into the mountains with Alto de Oronet (Cat. 2) and Alto de Eslida (Cat. 1) to be climbed two times each.

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.

Stage 4 Cullera - Vall d'Uixo 196 km:

 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.

Report from Stage 4

After Stage 3, Lance Armstrong (at 2 seconds to Laurent Jalabert) and Laurent Dufaux (at 3 seconds) were still in the ONCE sandwich. Armstrong' (at 2 seconds to Laurent Jalabert) and Laurent Dufaux (at 3 seconds) were still in the ONCE sandwich.

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...

5A Val de Uxo to Valencia March 2 1996

Mario Cipollini (Italy, Saeco) won the first leg of Stage 5. The race finishes with a 21km time trial (Stage 5B) this afternoon. Overall standings are as for Stage 4.

Stage 5a, Vall d'Uixo - Valencia 95 km:

 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

Stage 5b Valencia time-trial, 21 kms:

 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

Final overall:

 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.)

Stage 5A

Armstrong did not start. He's badly bruised on the sides and shoulders. ONCE Directeur-sportif reckoned Armstrong "the race's strongest man." To which Jalabert said: "Maybe he was the strongest, but I was at least as strong. One against one I think I could have won. But one against five, what could Armstrong do?" Next encounter: Paris--Nice March 10-17!

Stage 5B

In the 21km time trial Jalabert rode a new 8.5km titanium-framed time trial bike made by a small Basque firm called THT. On the most favourable parts of the course he pushed a 55x11.