Ruta Del Sol, Tour of Andalucia, Cat 2.3

Spain, February 16-20, 1997

1996 Results

Stage 1 | Stage 2 | Stage 3 | Stage 4 | Stage 5 |


16 February Stage 1: Seville-Seville, 119,4 km.
17 February Stage 2: San Josi de la Rinconada-Puente Genil, 160,2 km.
18 February Stage 3: Lucena-Jain, 158,9 km.
19 February Stage 4: Cabra-Malaga, 175,9 km.
20 February Stage 5: Torrox Costa-Granada, 106,8 km.

(Total: 721,2 km.)

Main climbs: 

3 first category (La Pandera, El Lesn and La Cabra)
1 second category (El Mojsn)
4 third category climbs (Estepa, Las Casermas, El Romeral and El Chaparral).

Teams and team leaders:

ONCE (Spa): Alex Z|lle (Sch) and Mikel Zarrabeitia.
RABOBANK (Ned): Rolf Svrensen (Den) and Eric Dekker (Ned)
MAPEI-GB (Ita): Johan Museeuw (Bel) and Wilfried Peeters (Bel)
TELEKOM (Ger): Erik Zabel (Ger), Giovani Lombardi (Ita) and Bert Dietz (Ger)
BANESTO (Spa): Armand de las Cuevas (Fra), Carmelo Miranda and Ramsn Gonzalez
US POSTAL SERVICE (Usa): Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus) and Adriano Baffi (Ita)
LOTTO (Bel): Laurent Madouas (Fra)
FORELDORADO (Ned): Eddy Bouwmans (Ned) and John Talen (Ned)
KELME-COSTA BLANCA (Spa): Fernando Escartmn, Francisco Cabello and Angel Edo.
TVM (Ned): Jeroen Blijlevens (Ned) and Peter Van Petegem (Bel).
PALMANS (Bel): Wilfried Nelissen (Bel).
DEPORPUBLIC (Spa): Josi Manuel Urma and Sergei Smetanine (Rus).
EUSKADI (Spa): David Garcma and Alvaro Gonzalez Galdeano.
COFIDIS (Fra): Tony Rominger (Sch), David Plaza and Francis Moreau (Fra)
TROIAMARISCO (Por): Cassio Freitas (Bra).
SAECO (Ita): Giorgio Furlan (Ita) and Massimiliano Lelli (Ita)
IPSO-EUROCLEAN (Bel): Andy De Smet (Bel) and Tony Bracke (Bel)


1986 Steven Rooks (Ned)
1987 Rolf Gölz (Ger)
1988 Edwig Van Hooydonck (Bel)
1989 Fabio Bordonali (Ita)
1990 Eduardo Chozas (Spa)
1991 Roberto Lezaún (Spa)      
1992 Miguel Angel Martínez (Spa)
1993 Julián Gorospe (Spa)
1994 Stefano Della Santa (Ita)
1995 Stefano Della Santa (Ita)
1996 Neil Stephens (Aus)

Stage 1, Seville-Seville, 119 kms:

 1. Erik Zabel (Germany) Telekom 		2.45.11 
 2. Jo Planckaert (Belgium) Lotto 
 3. Angel Edo (Spain) Kelme 
 4. Robbie McEwen (Australia) Rabobank 
 5. Serguei Smetanine (Russia) Cafe Tosca 
 6. Michel Van Haecke (Belgium) Ipso 
 7. Manuel Liberato (Portugal) Troiamarisco 
 8. Danny Daelman (Belgium) Palmans 
 9. Bingen Fernandez (Spain) Euskadi 
10. Gert Vanderaerden (Belgium) Palmans 	all s.t.
63. Armand de las Cuevas (Fra) Banesto           + 0.47
74. Toni Rominger (Sch) Cofidis                  + 0.47
98. Alex Z|lle (Sch) Once                        + 1.40

Stage 1 Report

The Ruta del Sol was thrown wide open on Sunday when the favourites were held up by a multi-rider pile-up at the end of the first stage, which was won by German sprinter Erik Zabel.

Toni Rominger and Armand de las Cuevas were left 47 seconds back, with Tour of Spain winner Alex Zuelle nearly two minutes adrift.

Another crash, caused when Belgian Tom Steels lost control with the finish line in sight, enabled Zabel to almost cruise to victory.

Before the crashes the riders had covered most of the 119 kilometres over a city circuit around Seville at a tremendous pace.

The only breakaway that looked likely to succeed was made by Francisco Cerezo and Gines Salmeron, who built up a lead of over a minute after moving clear of the pack on the 10th of the 15 laps.

The pair were hauled in on the final lap, but just two kilometres from the finish a mistake by a rider on a straight section brought down a group of 30 and barred the way to a similar number of others.

Steels had looked likely to overtake Zabel in the final straight but went down less than 100 metres from the line.

His fall brought down four other riders, leaving Zabel to ride out a relatively comfortable winner.

Television replays suggested that Steels, who was able to finish despite initially appearing badly injured, lost his balance after his right foot came loose from the pedal.

More Reports from Stage 1

German Erik Zabel (Telekom) won the first stage in an expected sprint finish at the Vuelta ciclista a Andalucia. Which was disputed in an urban circuit in the streets of Sevilla, where the riders had to go around a total of 15 laps, each of 8 kilometers to complete the 119.400 kilometers of the stage. Zabel, who spent a time of 2 hours, 45 minutes and 11 seconds and becomes the first overall leader of the competition which still has four stages, some of the mountain stages, a bit tough.

The circuit was uncomplicated, which didn't allow for much in terms of attacks. But when the time came for the expected finish, there were two falls. The first one was at more than a kilometer from the finish, so all the ones involved lost time, amongst them riders like Rominger, Zuelle and Spaniard Francisco Cabello.

The most important attempt made in the stage was by Francisco Javier Cerezo (Cafes Toscaf), whom right after completing the tenth lap, he jumped strongly away from the peloton. He was joined later by Gines Salmeron, one of the two Spaniards riding for Saeco, but both were caught with less than one lap to go from the finish of the stage. After this attack, another rider from team Cafes Toscaf was attempted by Victor Maria Moratilla, but his adventure didn't last, because the large teams were interested in the sprint victory, to be surprised by a breakaway.

The last lap began with the peloton rolling fast and stretched out, lead by Mapei GB with Rabobank right behind them. A fall at more than one kilometers from the finish and another one by Belgian Tom Steels (Mapei-GB) a few meters away from the finish line, influenced the outcome of the finishing sprint. The second stage will be disputed tomorrow between La Rinconada and Puente Genil over a 160.2 kilometer route with one category 3 climb, el puerto de Estepa, with 640 meters of altitude.

Stage 2, La Rinconada-Puente Genil, 160.2 kms:

 1. Johan Museeuw (Belgium) Mapei 		4.22.56
 2. Erik Zabel (Germany) Germany 
 3. Viatcheslav Ekimov (Russia) U.S. Postal 
 4. Serguei Smetanine (Russia) Toscaf 
 5. Angelo Canzonieri (Italy) Saeco 
 6. Erik Dekker (Netherlands) Rabobank 
 7. Jo Planckaert (Belgium) Lotto 
 8. Marty Jemison (U.S.) U.S. Postal 
 9. Frankie Andreu (U.S.) Cofidis 
10. Robbie McEwen (Australia) Rabobank 		all s.t. 

Overall standings:

 1. Zabel 					7.08.07 
 2. Plankaert 
 3. Smetanine 
 4. Museeuw 
 5. McEwen 
 6. Angelo Canzonieri (Italy) Saeco 
 7. George Hincapie (U.S.) U.S. Postal 
 8. Biingen Fernandez (Spain) Euskadi 
 9. Andreu 
10. Wilfrid Peeters (Belgium) Mapei 		all s.t. 

Stage 2 Report

World champion Johan Museeuw took the second stage of the Ruta del Sol cycle race on Monday after surprising the well-placed Telekom team by breaking clear in the final climb.

Telekom had first-stage winner Erik Zabel set for another victory but the German sprinter was caught out by Museeuw's break two kilometres out, the Belgian winning in four hours 22 minutes 56 seconds.

Zabel continues as overall leader, with the same time as a group of other riders, including Museeuw.

A slow and largely uneventful stage in fine weather had left Zabel an odds-on favourite to repeat his victory in Sunday's accident-affected opener.

But despite keeping up with Museeuw in the climb, Zabel was unable to contain the Belgian's move for the line in a flatter final section with the pack closing in.

Telekom had looked the most likely winners on a day in which the team managers were still reassessing their strategies after seeing several pre-race favourites fall out of contention because of the crashes in the first stage.

Among those most affected were the ONCE riders, whose Swiss leader Alex Zuelle lost one minute 40 seconds.

On Tuesday the riders confront the toughest stage of the race between Lucena and Jaen. A second category climb awaits them at the start of the day, with another first category hill towards the end of the 159-kilometre stage.

Stage 3, Lucena-Jaen, 159 kms:

 1. Gines Salmeron (Spain) Saeco 	     4.15.16
 2. Erik Zabel (Germany) Telekom 		0.09 
 3. Johan Museeuw (Belgium) Mapei 
 4. David Etxebarria (Spain) ONCE 
 5. Ekimov Viatcheslav (Russia) U S Postal 
 6. Aitor Bugallo (Spain) Euskadi 
 7. Francisco Cerezo (Spain) Toscaf 
 8. Herminio Diaz (Spain) ONCE 
 9. Peter Farazijin (Belgium) Lotto 
10. Mikel Zarrabeitia (Spain) ONCE        	all s.t.
11. Josi Ramon Uriarte (Spa) Banesto
12. Unai Osa (Spa) Banesto
13. Frankie Andreu (Usa) Cofidis
14. Angelo Canzonieri (Ita) Saeco
15. Rolf Aldag (Ger) Telekom
16. Bingen Fernandez (Spa) Euskadi
22. Alex Z|lle (Sch) Once                     all s.t.
99. Tony Rominger (Sch) Cofidis               + 14.04
113. Magnus Bdckstedt (Swe) Palmans               s.t.
120. Rolf Svrensen (Den) Rabobank                 s.t.

Overall standings:

 1. Zabel                       	     11.23.32 
 2. Museeuw 
 3. Angelo Canzonieri (Italy) Saeco 
 4. Etxebarria 
 5. Frankie Andreu (U.S.) Cofidis 
 6. Diaz 
 7. Bingen Fernandez (Spain) Euskadi 
 8. Jose Ramon Uriarte (Spain) Banesto 
 9. Wilfried Peters (Belgium) Mapei 
10. Miguel Angel Pena (Spain) Banesto 		all s.t.  

Stage 3 Report

Spanish rider Gines Salmeron hung on for his first professional stage win on the third day of the Ruta del Sol on Tuesday despite seeing the chasing group slash his lead by nearly a minute in the final kilometres.

``I thought they had me, but in the last kilometre I gave it all I had,'' Salmeron gasped after reaching the line nine seconds ahead of the race favourites, amongst them overall leader Erik Zabel.

Zabel shares the same time with Belgian World Champion Johan Museeuw and a large group of riders who will look to take the overall race in the remaining two days.

``There are so few opportunities to win,'' said Salmeron, 24, whose career has been affected by allergies and breathing problems.

His win was the first Spanish stage victory of the European season.

Salmeron had broken away with the leading group in the first climb of the day, and took his chance after shaking off a challenge from Jose Manuel Uria and American Frankie Andreu in the first category climb towards the end of the stage.

The Spaniard saw his lead cut dramatically in the descent to the southern city of Jaen, but found fresh reserves just as the group seemed to be catching him.

The riders face another tough mountain stage on Wednesday over 176 kilometres from Cabra to the city of Malaga on Spain's south coast.

More Stage 3 analysis

Gines Salmeron (Saeco) achieved today the first European victory of a Spanish cyclist at the third stage of la Vuelta ciclista a Andalucia, in which he imposed himself almost like in a time trial to a chase group that was formed by all the favorites, including provisional overall leader Erik Zabel (Telekom). Salmeron came in with a few meters of advantage over Zabel, winner of the first stage and leader over Belgian World Champion Johan Museeuw (Mapei-GB), who won yesterday. The three mountain climbs in the course profile indicated a tough day, the longest of the race, the riders started at a high rhythm.

At the climb of el Mojon, a third category climb, the provisional leader of the king of the mountain award, Francisco Cabello imposed the rhythm, but after him came the serious performers in this stage, Gines Salmeron (Saeco) and Jose Manuel Uria (Cafes Toscaf). Things changed at the second difficulty, at the climb of Las Caserias, in which the first one was Uria, second by Cabello and with Salmeron very close. That's where it all started, since before reaching the climb of La Pandera, the judge of the day, American Frankie Andreu (Cofidis) attacked strongly and Salmeron, Uria and Ignacio Garcia Camacho (Kelme-Costa Blanca) grabbed his wheel. But Gines Salmeron showed that he had some reserve strength and started to pulling hard in the first part of La Pandera and his breakaway companions ended up been caught by the peloton. Salmeron's advantage was reduced on the descent, but the cyclist from Sabadell gathered some extra strength to grab the win, only eight seconds from Zabel and Museeuw, who marked the time of the small chase group, since most of the peloton fell apart after all the strong pulls on the climb to La Pandera. The fourth stage, the longest of this Vuelta ciclista a Andalucia will be disputed tomorrow between Cabra and Malaga, with 175.900 kilometers and two mountain climbs. The Puerto de el Romeral, a category three at kilometer 70.4 and the first category of Leon at about 47 kilometers from the finish.

Stage 4, Cabra-Malaga, 176 km:

 1. Johan Museeuw (Belgium) Mapei 4 hours 23 minutes 41 seconds 
 2. Erik Zabel (Germany) Telekom 
 3. David Etxebarria (Spain) ONCE 
 4. Angelo Canzonieri (Italy) Saeco 
 5. Jesper Skibby (Denmark) TVM 
 6. Vjatceslav Ekimov (Russia) U.S. Postal 
 7. Bingen Fernandez (Spain) Euskadi 
 8. Kevin Livingston (U.S.) Cofidis 
 9. Pascal Derame (France) U.S. Postal 
10. Cassio Freitas (France) U.S. Postal 

Overall standings after Stage 4

 1. Zabel 				    15.47.13 
 2. Museeuw 
 3. Etxebarria 
 4. Canzonieri 
 5. Fernandez 
 6. Wilfried Peeters (Belgium) Mapei 
 7. Miguen Angel Pena (Spain) Banesto 	      all s.t.
 8. Miguel Beltran (Spain) Banesto     		0.17
 9. Santos Gonzalez (Spain) Kelme    		0.47
10. Ekimov                           		s.t.

Stage 4 Report

Belgian Johan Museeuw (Mapei-GB), World Champion (Mapei-GB), World Champion at the 1996 Road Race, achieved his second win at the 43rd edition of la Vuelta ciclista a Andalucia when he won the sprint over a small group which included German Erik Zabel (Telekom), who confirmed himself as solid overall leader of the competition even after the attacks by Banesto and ONCE. Museeuw won the fourth stage between disputed Cabra and Malaga, with 175.9 kilometer route in a time of 4:23:42 at an average speed of 39.81 K/hr, the same time as second place Erik Zabel, who was ahead of Spaniard David Echevarria (ONCE) and in this way maintains the overall leadership for the fourth day in a row at the Ruta del Sol.

This was the longest stage of the competition and it was supposed to be tough and decisive, but even with the attempts of some of the teams, it wasn't like that. It is true that there were attacks and attempts, but Erik Zabel turned out to be a stronger leader than expected and even though his team didn't respond at the end and left him alone in the last part of the stage, he handled himself just fine and even disputed the stage win with Johan Museeuw. Team ONCE tried from the beginning, launching first Alberto Leanizbarrutia and even their leader Alex Zuelle after, right at the most delicate section of the day, the climb to El Leon, a category one, but it didn't work. Zabel was alone by then and Museeuw made his team work to keep the pace high in the last kilometers.

Museeuw wins again and Zabel who finished in his wheel kept the leader's jersey, with only one stage left, which even though it has two climbs, it doesn't look like it will make a difference in the outcome of the race. The fifth and last stage will be disputed tomorrow between Torrox Costa and Granada, with a 106.8 kilometer route.

More Reporting on Stage 4

Johan Museeuw of Belgium took his second stage victory in the Ruta del Sol on Wednesday but was unable to wrest the overall lead from the grasp of German Erik Zabel who finished second.

Zabel is favourite to end Thursday's fifth and final stage still in front after resisting strong attacks from the ONCE and Banesto teams.

ONCE's Tour of Spain winner Alex Zuelle attacked strongly in the first category climb towards the end of the 176-kilometre stage.

It was a brave effort by Zuelle, who had lost nearly two minutes after a pile-up in the first stage. But the Swiss rider saw a lead of nearly a minute whittled away as Museeuw's Mapei team took up the challenge.

The leading group entered the city of Malaga together, and Museeuw showed his strength by outsprinting Zabel and Spanish rider David Echevarria.

The race will be decided over the 107-kilometre route between Torrox Costa and Granada, with two lesser category climbs.

For Zabel the main problem may be the lack of support from his Telekom team mates who were unable to keep up with the pace on Wednesday.

Stage 5, Torrox Costa-Granada. 106,8 km:

   1. Johan Museeuw (Bel) Mapei                2.43.20 (39,233 km/h)
   2. Erik Zabel (Ger) Telekom
   3. Angel Edo (Spa) Kelme
   4. Vjatjeslav Ekimov (Rus) US Postal
   5. Jo Planckaert (Bel) Lotto
   6. David Etxebarria (Spa) Once
   7. Angelo Canzonieri (Ita) Saeco
   8. George Hincapie (Usa) US Postal
   9. Tyler Hamilton (Usa) US Postal
  10. Serguei Smetanine (Rus) Caf=E9s Toscaf
  11. Laurent Desbiens (Fra) Cofidis
  12. Aitor Bugallo (Spa) Euskadi
  13. Serguei Ivanov (Rus) TVM
  14. Unai Osa (Spa) Banesto
  15. Bingen Fernandez (Spa) Euskadi            all s.t.

Final overall:

   1. Erik Zabel (Ger) Telekom                  18.30.33
   2. Johan Museeuw (Bel) Mapei                     s.t.
   3. David Etxebarria (Spa) Once                   s.t.
   4. Angelo Canzonieri (Ita) Saeco                 s.t.
   5. Bingen Fernandez (Spa) Euskadi                s.t
   6. Wilfred Peeters (Bel) Mapei                   s.t.
   7. Miguel Angel Pena (Spa) Banesto               s.t.
   8. Manuel Beltran (Spa) Banesto                + 0.17
   9. Santos Gonzalez (Spa) Kelme                 + 0.41
  10. Vjatjeslav Ekimov (Rus) US Postal           + 0.47
  11. Francisco Cabello (Spa) Kelme                 s.t.
  12. Armand de Las Cuevas (Fra) Banesto            s.t.
  13. Victor Manuel Gamito (Por) Caf=E9s Toscaf       s.t.
  14. Carlo Bomans (Bel) Mapei                    + 0.52
  15. Kevin Livingston (Usa) Cofidis              + 1.21

Other classifications, final

Best Climber:

   1. Francisco Cabello (Spa) Kelme       35 pts
   2. Gines Salmeron (Spa) Saeco          32
   3. Juan-Carlos Dominguez (Spa) Kelme   21

Metas Volantes (Intermediate sprints):

   1. Angelo Canzonieri (Ita) Saeco       11 pts
   2. Lucien de Louw (Ned) Foreldorado    11
   3. Jeremy Hunt (Gbr) Banesto            5


   1. Erik Zabel (Ger) Telekom           105 pts
   2. Johan Museeuw (Bel) Mapei           91
   3. Vjatjeslav Ekimov (Rus) US Postal   52

Stage 5 Report

Belgian rider Johan Museeuw took his third stage win in the five-day Ruta del Sol on Thursday but was unable to prevent overall victory going to Erik Zabel, who had led the race from start to finish.

Although the mountain sections of the stage had been hotly contested, in the final sprint Museeuw's Mapei team and Zabel's Telekom riders seemed happy to share the spoils between them.

The narrow margin between the leading riders in the overall classification meant that the day's racing was far more competitive than that of most final stages.

The big scare for the leaders occurred after the pack had left the Mediterranean coast and began the sharp climb up to the city of Granada.

Portguese rider Victor Manuel Gamito, who was only 40 seconds off the lead, opened up a gap of nearly a minute in the toughest mountain section of the stage after breaking clear with Spaniards Ignacio Garcia Camacho and Josue Barrigon.

But the riders reached the city together after Telekom and Mapei combined to haul the trio back in.

Zabel had sprinted to a straightforward victory in Sunday's first stage after falls had blocked most of his chief competitors. He had also taken second place behind Museeuw in the Belgian's two other stage wins.