Vuelta a Espana

Stage 15 Results and Reports

Stage 15, Cabarceno-Alto Cruz de la Demanda, 220 km:

 1. Alex Zulle (Swi, ONCE)   5.48:30 
 2. Laurent Dufaux (Swi) 	0.02
 3. Laurent Jalabert (Fra)  
 4. Tony Rominger (Swi) 	s.t. 
 5. Roberto Pistore (Ita) 	0.08 
 6. Jose Maria Jimenez (Spa) 	s.t. 
 7. Marcos Serrano (Spa) 	0.15 
 8. Davide Rebellin (Ita) 
 9. Fernando Escartin (Spa)  
10. Georg Tostchnig (Aut)  
11. Neil Stephens (Aus) 	s.t.
12. Mauro Gianetti (Swi) 	0.34 
13. Stefano Faustini (Ita) 	0.37 
14. Daniel Clavero (Spa) 	0.50 
15. Bobby Julich (USA) 		0.57 
16. Andrea Peron (Ita) 		s.t.
17. Vladislav Bobrik (Rus) 	1:10 
18. Kai Hundertmark (Ger)  
19. Melchor Mauri (Spa) 	s.t.
20. Daniele Nardello (Ita) 	1:14

Overall standings:

 1. Alex Zulle (Swi, ONCE)   66.57:41 
 2. Laurent Jalabert (Fra) 	 1:23 
 3. Laurent Dufaux (Swi) 	 5:26 
 4. Roberto Pistore (Ita) 	 7:14 
 5. Stefano Faustini (Ita) 	 7:22 
 6. Davide Rebellin (Ita) 	 7:55 
 7. Georg Tostching (Aut) 	 8:36 
 8. Melchor Mauri (Spa) 	 8:45 
 9. Tony Rominger (Swi) 	 8:55 
10. Neil Stephens (Aus) 	 9:20 
11. Bobby Julich (USA) 		11:00 
12. Andrea Peron (Ita) 		12:37 
13. Mikel Zarrabeitia (Spa) 	13:55 
14. Daniel Clavero (Spa) 	14:34
15. Massimo Apollonio (Ita) 	14:45 
16. Vladislav Bobrik (Rus) 	15:05 
17. Fernando Escartin (Spa) 	15:20 
18. Marcos Serrano (Spa) 	15:28
19. Jose Maria Jimenez (Spa) 	15:36 
20. Mauro Gianetti (Swi) 	16:06


Switzerland's Alex Zulle retained the overall leader's yellow jersey for the sixth straight day on Sunday after winning the 15th stage of the Tour of Spain, a 220km stretch from Cabarceno to Alto Cruz de la Demanda.

Zulle shrugged off the cold and thick fog to fend off compatriot Laurent Dufaux and French teammate Laurent Jalabert by completing the first category Alto Cruz de la Demanda climb two seconds ahead of the field.

Spain's Jose Maria Jimenez, who had launched a strong attack in the final stages and seemed set to hold on, faded at the end to come in 6th, fully eight seconds behind Zulle.

Zulle extends lead

Alex Zuelle tightened his grip on the Tour of Spain when he emerged from the mist to take the mountain finish of the 15th stage on Sunday.

In another masterful display, Zuelle launched a late attack to catch Spain's Jose Maria Jimenez near the line. He was followed home by fellow Swiss riders Laurent Dufaux and Tony Rominger and French team mate Laurent Jalabert.

In the provisional overall standings, Zuelle leads Jalabert by one minute 21 seconds with Dufaux just over four minutes further back.

Three-times winner Rominger has been out of contention since losing nearly eight minutes in the third stage but on Sunday reinforced his bid to take the king of the mountains prize.

The 210-km stage was ridden in cold, wet conditions, the riders finishing almost an hour later than organisers had expected.

After hauling in a breakaway group of five riders, the leaders arrived together at the final 15-km climb to Alto Cruz de la Demanda.

Jimenez broke for the line four kilometres from home and looked to have the stage sewn up before Zuelle appeared out of the mist in the last 100 metres.

With Jimenez's Banesto team and Spanish cycling in general still smarting from Miguel Indurain's decision to quit the Tour, it was a cruel blow.

A Spaniard has yet to win a stage. Italian riders, by comparison, have already taken nine stages.

In an interview published by sports daily Marca on Sunday, Indurain criticised those who were trying to ``bury'' him.

``Some people think I'm dead, but here I am...(they) want to say I've retired without even asking me,'' said Indurain, reiterating that he had yet to decide on his future plans.