Vuelta a Espana 1997, UCI Grand Tour

Spain, September 6-28, 1997

Stage 21, Alcobendas - Alcobendas, 43.7 kms

Stage 21 Report

The organization of the Vuelta forgot to arrange permits with the airport of Madrid. The parcours was in the neighbourhood of the airport; so it was not allowed to fly above the whole parcours with helicopters. On Saturday morning they changed the parcours.

Alex Zuelle was poised for back-to-back Tour of Spain triumphs on Saturday after a 50 kph dash to victory in a 43.7 km time trial.

Zuelle should now give Switzerland their fifth victory of the Tour in six years in Madrid on Sunday following 3,760 km of racing.

He was two minutes 21 seconds faster than Spanish rival Fernando Escartin who goes into the final stage five minutes seven seconds adrift.

Zuelle covered the time trial circuit on the outskirts of Madrid in 51 minutes 35 seconds, 31 seconds faster than Ukrainian Sergei Gontchar and 40 seconds better than Spain's Alberto Leanizbarrutia.

It was Zuelle's first stage win in the 22-day race which he had started, according to team manager Manolo Saiz, ``overweight and out of shape,'' after a lay-off following injury.

``It is a great day and twice as good to win the stage and keep the yellow jersey,'' said the Swiss who still carries 12 surgical pins in a collarbone fractured in June.

In the final eight kilometres Zuelle overhauled Escartin who had started two minutes before him. The Spanish rider was more intent on protecting his second overall position from the threat of another Swiss, Laurent Dufaux.

Escartin finished 17 seconds faster than Dufaux and guaranteed Spain a top three placing which they missed out on last year for the first time since 1987.

The closing 22nd stage takes the riders 148.5 km through the suburbs of Madrid on to a 10-lap five kms circuit to a finish on the Paseo de la Castellana in the city centre.

Stage Results

 1. Alex Zuelle (Switzerland) ONCE             51.35
 2. Sergei Gontchar (Ukraine) AKI              	0.31
 3. Alberto Leanizbarrutia (Spain) ONCE         0.40
 4. Laurent Jalabert (France) ONCE              0.51
 5. Melchor Mauri (Spain) ONCE                  0.56
 6. Tony Rominger (Switzerland) Cofidis         1.26
 7. Juan Carlos Dominguez (Spain) Kelme         1.30
 8. Cristian Salvato (Italy) Refin              2.13
 9. Enrico Zaina (Italy) Asics                  2.19
10. Fernando Escartin (Spain) Kelme             2.21
11. Jose Vicente Garcia Acosta (Spain) Banesto  2.31
12. Roberto Heras (Spain) Kelme                 2.35
13. Laurent Dufaux (Switzerland) Lotus          2.38
14. Sergei Ivanov (Russia) TVM                  2.39
15. Francisque Teyssier (France) GAN            2.42
16. Bruno Thibout (France) Cofidis              2.52
17. Jacky Durand (France) Casino                2.56
18. Carlos Contreras (Colombia) Flavia          s.t.
19. Gianni Faresin (Italy) Mapei                2.57

GC after Stage 21

 1. Zuelle           			     87.46.13
 2. Escartin                                	 5.07
 3. Dufaux                                  	 6.11
 4. Zaina                                   	 7.24
 5. Heras                                   	 8.04
 6. Clavero                                	10.02
 7. Jalabert                               	10.03
 8. Marcos Serrano (Spain) Kelme           	10.40
 9. Faresin                                	13.53
10. Yvon Ledanois (France) GAN            	15.40
11. Chiappucci                            	16.22
12. Philippe Bordenave (France) Casino    	18.21
13. Felix Garcia Casas (Spain) Lotus      	18.47
14. Jose Manuel Uria (Spain) Estepona     	19.42
15. Contreras (Colombia) Flavia           	20.46
16. Marco Serpellini (Italy) Brescialat   	22.11
17. Paolo Lanfranchi (Italy) Mapei        	30.35
18. Dominguez                             	31.23
19. Laurent Brochard (France) Lotus       	31.51
20. Rodolfo Massi (Italy) Casino 		31.59