* Dietz rode solo (with as much as a six minute gap at 15 kms from the finish) for almost 200 kms before being caught by Jalabert at the finish. But Jalabert, in a marvelous and touching display of generosity and sportsmanship, allowed Dietz to take the stage win he had worked so hard for. * "I never thought we'd catch him, and when I saw he was ready to drop I felt sorry for him. I wanted to show it's not true I'm trying to win it all. My goal is the Tour of Spain," Jalabert said. * As Jalabert caught Dietz, and helped him the last few meters, the Frenchman kep an eye on the peloton. "I was looking behind because the group had got very close behind and could have snatched victory from (Dietz). I would have fought for the sprint in that case," he said. * "I have to thank Jalabert because I was feeling terrible in the last few kilometres. If it wasn't for him I would have lost the stage," said Dietz. * Jalabert is also King of the Mountains. * Alex Zuelle, suffering from a sore throat, was dropped halfway up the final climb. * Jalabert's final effort to catch Dietz also dropped Marco Pantani Abraham Olano.
Stage 12, Marbella-Sierra Nevada, 238km Coverage picks up shortly before the climb to Sierra Nevada begins. Dietz (Telekom), has a 10odd minute advantage over the field. In between, there is a 6 man group chasing. Carrera is leading the field, presumeably Pantani feels like making a splash today, after his surprising sprint yesterday. The climb is about 30km long, pretty much all up, two KOM sprints, one 1st cat, one beyond category. Starting the day, Jalabert still had a good advantage in both KOM (40 odd points) and points (70 odd points) jerseys, though Minali has taken over second in the wine colored. The climb today may go a long way to show whether Jalabert may be the first person in a long time to win all the jerseys, last I have heard of was Merckx in the tour in 69, anybody have any others to add? The chasers include two Kelme, Benitez and Cabello, Leysen (Mapei), Gualdeano (Euskadi), Gualdi (Polti), Ayarzaguena (Santa Clara). Carrera still at the front, followed closely by ONCE. The field comes through an intermediate sprint point, though the points are up the road, of course. The gaps are 7:55 and 2:22, that is 7:55 from Dietz to the chasers, and 2:22 from the chasers to the field, unless the Spanish have made the graphics to purposely confuse the matter. The 10 minutes are certainly a lot for Dietz, but over a 27 km climb...? The climb has started for Dietz, not really steep, but definitely uphill now. The day is not too hot, about 25 degrees, but the climb doesn't offer a lot of shade, either. Dietz already does not look particularly happy. The field is now hitting the lower part of the climb, ONCE making tempo, Sierra at the front, followed by pretty much the whole team. They flash the stats of the climb, 27 km, average 5.5% or so, several sections at 7%, ;last few km are steep, not really that bad of a climb (easy to say sitting at home), the stages the see in the Pyrenees will hurt more. I have some bad memories of getting off my bike and huddling beneath a tree towards the top of the Col d'Aspin, but i didn't have a time percentage to meet. Dietz, now out of the saddle, now back down on the tops, grinding along, his shoulders rocking a little with the low, steady cadence. Kelme on the front of the chasing group, Cabello definitely looks more comfortable than Dietz, but no time gaps given lately. The chasers start to split up on the climb, Cabello leading Ayarzaguena and Gualdeano, the other three having fallen behind, and now Gualdeano begins to drop off. Gualdeano fights back on and rejoins the group, Cabello making tempo. ONCE still leads the field, no real attacks and still 50 odd riders there. Pantani is lurking behind the ONCE train, and Virenque has been hanging out too. Dietz goes by a road sign that says 18km to Sierra Nevada, but that seems a little short, he is still keeping a steady cadence, but no time gaps given. Now the attacks come, Arenus (Festina) goes as the field begins to catch the three that fell out of the chasing group. It doesn't seem to be a really serious attack, probably more of a testing probe for Virenque. Now another rider goes out of the field, unclear who from the copter, he get a gap, and then he is followed by Montoya (banesto), who closes the gap and goes by. This may have been a replay of Arenus' attack. ONCE continues a steady tempo to bring them back. Dietz comes through the cat 1 KOM, still grinding along, and a clock starts for the time gap. The chasers between are led by Gualdeano, no, he has dropped the other two and is chasing alone. Field still steadily led by ONCE: Rincon, then Stephens, then Jalabert. Virenque and Pantani still waiting. Montoya has caught and goes quickly by Cabello and closes in on Gualdeano. Ayarzaguena is caught by the steady ONCE train. Gualdeano gets on Montoya's wheel as he comes by, and hangs on. Now Cabello is brought back by Ricon and the field. Gualdeano can't hold on to the Spanish champion, and Montoya leaves him behind. Dietz catches a slightly flatter stretch, his speed and cadence comes up, he looks a lot happier, for a little while. Montoya goes under the 20km to go banner, in the saddle, climbing easily with a high cadence. The field comes by Gualdeano, Stephens leading. They come under a little shade, a precious commodity today, but all too fleeting. Dietz, on a steep section, comes under the 15km to go, and by a huge Coke can on the side of the road, he comes out of the saddle, stretches a little and his team car comes alongside. Montoya behind, on a flatter section, rolls along easily, takes a bit of a drink, never have seen anyone else come through the KOM, I may have been mistaken earlier, or the profile I saw may have been wrong, it seemed odd to me. Five ONCE riders still at the front of the field, no word on the time gaps, Rincon leading, Virenque in 4th, Pantani 6th, Jalabert 3rd, Olano, Pistore are also in the group. Montoya comes by the big Coke can and 15km to go, 6 minutes behind Dietz, and the field follows less than a half minute behind him. Dietz looks to be in decent shape with this gap, he is still slogging along, he can lose 20 seconds per km and still win the race, and there's no big reason for ONCE to chase him down, but none of the mutant climbers have really shown themselves. Jalabert, very comfortable in the field, sits up and takes a long drink. Montoya comes onto a slight descent, he doesn't seem to be chasing with the the same elan as before, the field has him in sight. Stephens leading, then Jalabert, Bruyneel, Mauri, Cabello, Virenque, Olano, Della Santa, Pantani, Pistore, Garcia, no sign lately of Zulle, would be a big surprise if he were dropped already. Dietz now comes by 10km to go, he looks about like he has the whole climb, never really happy(can anyone be happy on a 30 km climb?), but steady in the saddle. Montoya is only a couple hundred meters ahead of the ONCE train, why just hanging out, I don't know, except maybe to show the Banesto flag, which has hardly been seen in this Vuelta de ONCE. Dietz goes under 9km to go, I think he is starting to believe that he might make it, his cadence is coming up and he looks more energetic. ONCE finally brings back Montoya to the fold. Still no sign of Zulle as the moto goes back in the field, Gianetti is there, Axel Merckx as well. The field approaches 10km, over 5 minute gap, so Dietz only dropped 1 minute over the last 5km. Dietz goes under 7km banner, a 3 km gap, with 7 to go. His team car comes alongside, giving encouragement. The field gets a look athe time gap, as Montoya is falling behind and through the follow vehicles. Still nothing resembling an attack from the field, Stephens keeping an steady tempo, though it seems to be increasing a little. Dietz goes under 6km to go, still rolling along. The time rolls underneath, still more well over a 4 minute gap as the field goes by 7km to go, and a couple of other big coke cans. Now Dietz under 5km to go. An Artiach, Clavero, attacks out of the field, he has maybe 50 meters, and the gap is not opening up with any kind of speed, and then ONCE returns him to his place in the field as they go under 6km to go. The tempo seems to be increasing a little more. Dietz at the front, sun beating down, slowly turning the gears, shoulders rocking, but only 4km to go, "only" the steepest part of this climb. The field comes under 5km to go, gap is 3:30, definitely coming down, but not quickly enough at this pace. The pace must be increasing, more riders are falling behind and losing contact with the field. Stephens, relentlessly leading the chase behind, Jalbert, sitting easily in second. Dietz coming by two huge beer cans, three km to go till he can pop a cold one today. The field is down to about 20 riders, Giannetti, Merckx, Bartoli, Virenque still there, along with the ONCE train, led as always by Stephens. Dietz begins to roll through spectators, offering water, and a couple with a big pinup of a scantily clad woman, Dietz's wife is an ex-German champion, I imagine she will forgive them. Now the field at 3km to go, 2:15 is the gap. Dietz rolls under 2km to go, a flatter km ahead of him, and then 8% for the last. Jalabert attacks out of the field, he rolls under 2km with 1:30 gap. Dietz comes to the one km to go stripe, one short km, yeah right, probably the longest kilo of his life. Jalabert is brought back by Olano, the field splinters under the pressure, Pantani falls behind. Jalabert attacks again as they come under the 1km to go stripe, one minute behind Dietz. Jalabert gets a gap, Olano trying to chase behind, but Jalabert pulls away from the field strung out behind Olano. Dietz still grinding along, Jalabert coming behind, he has him in sight. Dietz, pushing up a steep stretch, Jalabert still coming, Dietz leads through the KOM, a couple hundred m to go, Dietz out of the saddle, he wants this win. Here comes Jalabert, under 150m to go, Jalabert, out of the saddle, comes by on the right, he slows a touch, looking back at the damage he left behind, maybe even saying something to Dietz. Olano is charging hard from the field. Dietz fights to keep his stage win, he pulls alongside Jalabert and comes ahead by a half wheel. Olano charges hard up the side, but he is too late. Dietz comes through the line, with Jalabert at his side a half wheel back, followed by the charging Olano. The rest of the field comes through in dribs and drabs. Stephens comes through 2 minutes down, after a day he earned his pay many times over. A nearly unbelievable display of generosity, despite a charging Olano, Jalabert hesitates as he comes by, maybe even with a word of encouragement. After being alone up the road nearly the entire day, caught in the last 150m, Dietz could have easily given up as he saw Jalabert's shadow, but he reaches deep and sprints for the win. Not that they seem to need it, but I think if ONCE ever does need help bringing back a break in the next 10 days, you might just see a couple pink and white jerseys lending a hand.
Stage 13 Notes and Results
* "It's [today's stage victory] been great for the team's morale," said stage winner Henn afterwards. * Praising Laurent Jalabert's gesture on Thursday which allowed Telekom's Bert Dietz to win the 12th stage, Henn said: "What Jalabert did yesterday was wonderful." * Pyotr Ugrumov (Latvia), came in almost nine minutes behind yesterday. He has bronchitis. Jalabert's grand gesture made a bit of a splash on most of the news, the replays caught a wonderful angle, Jalabert coming by, then looking over at Dietz, encouraging him, Dietz gives what little he has left to pull alongside, Jalabert looking back, checking that the charging Olano isn't too close. Dietz was so destroyed at the end all he could do was slump over his bike instead of raising his arms. CNN, while leading a couple sports segments with the story, managed to rob it of much significance, "Jalabert gives Dietz the win as a gesture for his earlier solo break", no mention of the drama of a 200km break ending 150m from the end, but then what do you expect from US news? I made a mistake in the coverage yesterday, misread the course profile, the first KOM of the day came much earlier in the stage than the coverage they gave on TV. Dietz was first, as he was off for almost 200km, before being caught by Jalabert right before the end. In addition to losing 16 odd minutes on the climb yesterday, Zulle crashed on the descent back down from Sierra Nevada when a couple kids ran on the road, apparently he aggrevated some nagging problems, but was not really hurt. No word on whether the kids survived. Starting the day Jalabert is still solidly in the lead, 5:18 over Olano on GC, leading 206 to 117 on points from Olano, Minali in 3rd with 115, and almost doubling Pistore in the KOM 131 to 66. He seems a lock to hold on till the end to everything. The field is fast today, 43km/hr in the first hour, and faster in the second. As coverage picks up there is a 5 man group up the road, including Poli (Mercatone), Henn (Telekom), Herve (Festina), Rodriguez Gil (Santa Clara) and Rodriguez (Kelme). The gap is a little over 9 minutes. 15km to the end. Castellblanch is leading the chase behind, but it seems seriously unlikely that they can bring the group back, they are not chasing with all their strength, the field behind is spread across the road. 10km before the end comes the last intermediate sprint. None of the 5 at the front are really a danger in this category, Wesemann remains in red. The front 5 run through this sprint, though they don't contest it at all. Back to the field, Zulle chatting with Zabel, he seems comfortable, unconcerned with his problems yesterday on the way to Sierra Nevada, he is now in 31st on GC, but ONCE still has 1st, 3rd, and 4th. The front rolls through 9km to go, then 8km to go, all five seem to be working well in concert. Castellblanch still at the front, the field goes under 15km to go. Henn attacks at the front, he gets a gap, but is quickly brough back by Gil, then Herve goes, but Poli tracks him down, and the five come back together, 6km to go. Gap is 9:40. 5km to go, the front group is back to working in a rotating line. The commentator is picking Rodriguez for the win, of course there are two Rodriguez at the front, so it's a decent bet. Henn on the front, then Poli. Now Herve tries it again on the left side of the road, he gets a gap, Poli brings him back a little, but then pulls off, forcing Henn to close the gap. 3km to go, the front five are kind of spread across the road. Polit fakes an attack, now he leads, snaking across the road, Poli, then Rodriguez comes through, still snaking across the road from side to side, 2km to go. Henn in second, then fakes an attack. Extremely tactical, no one really working. Rodriguez now on the front, behind comes Poli, then Gil, then Henn and Herve. Rodriguez looking back, one big match sprint 1 km to go. Herve again fakes an attack, now Rodriguez again leading, following are Poli, hHenn, Gil. Herve slides in at the back behind Gil. Coming up to the finish, still no real attack, all looking around. Poli comes out of the saddle, and Rodriguez starts the sprint in earnes from the front. Poli jumps to the ridht, Henn goes on left. Henn pulls out in front Poli slides across and tries to get his wheel, pretty much pushing Gil off of it. Henn accelerates and neither can come around. Henn throws up his arms, a second Telekom win in as many days. Poli second, then Rodriguez Gil, then Herve and Rodriguez. The field still has quite a ways to go, Castellblanch leading as before. 5km for the field, Henn may already be on the podium by the time they get there. Curious end for such a fast race, pace over 42km/hr, and it wasn't absolutely flat, but the last 10km are quite calm. An Euskadi attacks out of the field, Gualdeano wants 6th place, but the field wakes up, strings out behind as he gets a good gap. Gualdeano looks back, as the coverage cuts to Henn raising the bouquet on the podium. Back to the race, Gualdeano still has the gap, another rider attacks out of the field, which had slowed a little, but they quickly close this gap. Gualdeano remains alone in front, but the chase behind strings out the field. Gualdeano now comes into the finish straight, the field is closing, but he has enough of a gap, the sprint won't reach him. Wust wins the sprint for 7th, then Baffi and Wesemann approx 10 min back from Henn.
Stage 14, Elche-Valencia, 208km A relatively easy jaunt along the Mediterranean coast today, a 3rd and 4th category climb, but they come quite early and the last couple hours of the stage are quite flat, so a field sprint seems likely, unless the sprinters teams let the gap get out of hand like yesterday. Jalabert starts the day quite firmly ensconced in his jerseys, only real change is in the points where Wust managed to slide between Olano and Minali, but their gap to Jalbert is still a hundred points or so. The copy of El Pais I glanced at showed a drop in Pistore's points in the KOM, I assume a mistake somewhere along the line, but Jalabert is in no danger regardless. Coverage opens up, Novell at the front of the field, a solo Euskadi, Gualdeano, 4:30 seconds up the field. He went off 100km into the stage, and had as much as 8 minutes. Novell has lost Abdu earlier in the race, but the young German Teutenberg has show himself a capable sprinter as well. A GAN rider, Lance, has a flat, quickly changed and he is working his way through the caravan. The field is not truly chasing hard, so he should be back on easily. Earlier in the day Pistore picked up the KOMs, but Jalabert also scored a few points. Wesemann won the first intermediate sprint, he seems quite secure in red. Gualdeano goes through the third intermediate sprint, 31km to go. He doesn't give a great expectation of making this break stick, looks tired, turning a pretty big gear without great elan. Gualdeano has been quite active the last couple of days. Behind TVM picks up the work at the front along with Novell, but the chase still is far from earnest. Blijlevens has also withdrawn, so unclear who TVM is working for, except maybe out of habit. The field comes through the sprint, no time gap, but is definitely felt like less than 4 minutes., yes, the gap is down to 2:54. The team car comes by Gualdeano, he is up out of the saddle and accelerating a little as it drops back. Now Castellblanch is sending a couple riders onto the chase, Wust would seem a better bet than anyone in TVM or Novell to my eyes. Gewiss isn't working at all, apparently Minali has caught a bit of a cold, so they may not work too hard to guarantee a sprint, but I imagine he will be there if a sprint comes about. 25 km to go for Gualdeano, the time gap continues to come down 1:30 now. The sprinters are no doubt quite content to let Gualdeano twist in the wind and minimize the counters which will inevitably come when he is caught. Jalabert is sitting behind the train at the front, Olano nearby. Gualdeano sits up and stretches, he looks back as the field comes closer, he looks quite ready to draft for a while instead of fight the wind himself. 20km to go, Gualdeano is brought back, and quickly the counters begin, Vasseur (GAN) jumps away from the field. He gets a bit of a gap, the field doesn't seem to be overly concerned. Still TVM, Novell, and Casellblanch doing the work. Vasseur looks back, and the field closes quickly, complete again. Now 15 km to go, rolling by two big Coke cans, the field is relatively spread out across the road, clearly not the highest of tempos, but not absolute calm either. Gewiss starts to form a group just behind the ONCE riders who mass behind the leading TVM and Novell riders, who pick up the pace a little. The field is rolling along a shallow cement ditch, and an Euskadi rider comes off into it, perhaps just inattentive, or perhaps avoiding something, but he quickly rides back up out of it and is pushed along by a spectator. 10km to go, pretty much wide open roads from here on in, the final km has a couple turns, but the last 600m is straight. Another GAN riders, Vasseur again, takes a flier, he gets a couple hundred meters, looks much more committed than on his earlier attack. Castellblanch reacts and is leading the chase behind. Vasseur is not just slipping away today and the field reabsorbs him. 8km to go, TVM and Novell again on the front of the field, but they have slowed a little, and GAN attacks again. 7km, Pretot has a bigger gap than Vasseur got, but the field again closes fast, with Gewiss on the front this time. Castellblanch on the front, followed by Gewiss, Telekom comes up on the right a little, and a mass of yellow ONCE jerseys on the left. 5km to go. A Euskadi makes one of the shortest attacks of this Vuelta, having about 2 seconds of freedom before Gewiss closes the gap. The field is strung out in a long line. A Castellblanch is on the front, but he's actually opened a bit of a gap, forcing Gewiss to work again, not just sit his wheel. Wust in about 8th, Telekom comes further to the front, as a Mapei takes over the lead, 4km to go. A couple Telekom take over the lead of the train, Dietz on the front. Weseman and Zabel are both hanging back a little, Minali is sitting behind Zabel. Now Henn at the front, and he pulls off for a Gewiss jersey. Bobrik leads into the last km, followed by two telekom. The sprint is starting on the long straight, Henn takes the lead, behind him is Zabel, then Minali. On the right a surge starts, led by a Mercatone rider, but it doesn't reach the front. Henn pulls off, and Minali leads it out past Zabel, first on the left, then he comes toward the right. Wust is on his wheel, Jalabert and Zabel just behind. Wust jumps on the left, Zabel gets his wheel, Minali starts to fall back. Zabel then makes his move further on the left. Wust has the lead, Zabel fights to come by Minali, but can't touch Wust, who wins the stage, his second in this Vuelta. Zabel second, then Minali, and Jalabert comes in on Minali's wheel for fourth. The third German stage win in as many days, I am sure Castellblanch is happy they picked up Wust when Le Groupement folded, and I'm sure the world looks a lot better to Wust than it did a couple of months ago when he was unemployed. Gossip ~~~~~~ Zulle apparently is wanting to withdraw, but the directeur sportif wants him to stay at least through the Barcelona stage, which may be quite difficult. Duclos-Lassalle is riding his last race on the road this Sunday in France. However, he will be having a last round of the 6-day circuit.
* The stage consisted of 11 laps around a steep 14 kilometer circuit skirting Barcelona. * Nicola Minali (Italy), winner of three stages, pulled out on the first lap. * Several riders fell on a sharp curve and the peloton protested by going slow for six more laps. [Complaints about the course? --M.T.] * Tomorrow (Monday) is a rest day. Stage 15, Barcelona-Barcelona, 154km, 17 Sept 95 11 laps of a difficult 14km circuit, including the climb up Montjuic in Barcelona. One would think a ciruit race would end up easier to cover, but they never really gave a good map or profile, and they didn't show the km to go banners, because they were only valid on the last lap. There were 4 odd climbs and descents, with a u-turn. This was complicated a little because I recognized a lot of the course, but it's been too long since I was in Barcelona to really know the course. The upshot is it took me along time to get a feel for the circuit, and I fear I didn't give a good impression. The annoucer didn't help when he skipped a lap and called the bell lap as the finish. Coverage picks up, ONCE generally packing the front, but actual work done by Virenque, followed by Dietz. Pantani has apparently had a flat, the wheel is quickly changed, and he works his way back on. The roads are pretty bad in a couple of places. The field comes up the climb, still led by Virenque, followed by a big mass of yellow jerseys. Pantani still chasing behind, now he makes contact to a group that has been splintered off the back, two carrera have dropped back to help him back on. The field is pretty spread across the road, so I expect he will be back on soon. Stephens on the front, followed by a Motorola rider, and Pantani is back on the back of the field. Now a Festina is at the front, and Gonzalez (Euskadi) has problems at the back, and the team car is a long time coming, but he is back chasing through the caravan. The field comes up a climb, through the 1km to go stripe, though it of course it isn't the last lap. A sprint comes this lap, Jalabert against Olano, the two are quite close, not clear who one. ONCE takes over the work after the sprint, and they then come by the olympic stadium at the top of the hill and back towards the the descent. Still no word on how many laps are left, but it feels like a lot. Back from commercial, Mauri at the front, now Plaza (Festina) rolls off the front a little on a climb, he looks back maybe a 150m gap, ONCE still making tempo. Another pair have separated on some switchbacks, but I can't make out who they are from the copter. Plaza descending, and the field closes the gap, led by Castellblanch, but ONCE then quickly masses back at the front. A Gewiss rider attacks, an Artiach quickly gets his wheel, but ONCE doesn't let the gap develop and Stephens closes them down as the field goes through the 7km point, up a slight climb. Arenas (Festina) attacks, and behind Zabala (ONCE) has had a flat -- the roads are apparently taking their toll. Arenas is joined by Pena (Mapei), have managed to get a bit of a gap at the front, maybe 200m, another two chase across the gap, Sanchez(Artiach) and Forniciari(Mercatone). The attackers quickly start to roll working together, but the field isn't letting anything go, and close the gap again. Alonso (Banesto) counters, and is quickly joined by Henn (Telekom). The come up the switchbacks, under 1km stripe. A couple now close the gap, from the field. The front splinters a little. Gianetti rolls by the former leaders and up the climb, and the rest are absorbed by the field. He comes through the finish, they see four to go as the field comes through 9 seconds later. 56km left. Gianetti rolls by the stadium, and then through the feedzone. Behind the field is lead again by Festina, who seem to have a definite purpose today, I wonder if Virenque isn't feeling better as the Pyrenees come into sight. Field now led by ONCE, coming back onto a descent, which has a couple of decent corners on it. The chase is hardly really underway, still spread well across the road. The course has a u-turn in it, with cones in the middle of the road, so the field has certainly a good look at the gap. Maya (Castellblanch) rolls away from the ONCE train on a slight climb. Out of the saddle he closes to Gianetti, no, he closes on a Festina rider, Tebaldi, the camera apparently missed him attacking. Another rider has also closed the gap, a Banesto, Casero, and a TVM, Skibby, has come too. Behind the field has started to take this seriously and the riders are strung out behind. A gap starting to open in the middle of the field, maybe 50 in front and 50 behind. Gianetti gets info on the time gap at the front, but no word for us. The chasing four roll under a banner that gianetti came under maybe 10-15 seconds before. Tebaldi starts to have problems, and is dropped by the other three on a slight climb, the field itself is maybe 300m back, and should have them in sight on the straight stretches. Skibby is pushing the pace at the front, Maya looks to be having some trouble with the pace. The field is strung in a long line chasing, Tebaldi about to be reabsorbed. Casero leads the chase group onto Gianetti's wheel, Gianetti drops back and lets Casero lead, then Maya pulls through. The four start to roll, but the gap still is not really big, glancing back Skibby can probably see the field. They roll through 1km to go. The field comes through close behind, led by ONCE, but a Kelme rider attacks on the left as they come up the switchbacks. The field follows the Kelme closely, and he leads them by the four attackers. Virenque is in second, followed by Bruyneel and Jalabert. Virenque pulls through, and leads through the start/finish, 3 laps to go. 42km. Stephens leads the field down a slight descent. Camacho (Kelme) attacks a little before the stadium, he comes through the feed zone with a little gap. Pena counters, and is followed by Herve and Pistore. Herve sits on, gesturing to Camacho to take the lead. Herve is staying resolutely at the back as the others do the work just watching things for Virenque, no doubt. The roll through the Uturn and back up from where they came, followed closely by the field. Camacho on the front, Pistore is only 9 minutes back in 5th place, so ONCE will no doubt not let this go too far. ONCE at the front reacts, and closes the gap as they come up a climb, the pace taking its toll as a couple fall of the back of the field. Herve counters as the group is nearly caught, and Pena follows the gap opens up again for these two. Ugrumov quickly bridges alone from the field, and leads the attackers down a slight descent. The field is still not letting anything go very far, and is strung out behind. The three at the front are working well together, but have not been able to open a convincing gap. ONCE with a half-dozen at the front. A Polti attacks from the field, Gianetti again, he quickly opens a gap, and closes to two who were chasing the front group, two whom the camera again missed. These two are Ekimov and an Euskadi rider. I suppose these might have been lapped, but I can't imagine Ekimov in that bad of form. More attacks come from the field, Alonso (Banesto) charges up the left side and past the ONCE train. He doesn't have near the speed of Gianetti, and hardly opens more than a 100m gap. Alonso falls back into the field quickly, the three at the front still rolling along, Herve at the front. They come under the 1km to go stripe, shortly behind comes Gianetti, who has dropped his companions. A kelme rider, and then the whole field, comes by Ekimov. The field comes through the start/finish, slightly splintered, with Pantani in the second group. 2 laps to go. 28km. Gianetti has closed to the front three and latches onto Herve's wheel, Ugrumov leading, he sits on a couple of rounds to get a breather. Zulle leads the ONCE train behind, Jalabert in 5th position, followed by Olano as they come through the feed zone. Now Stephens on the front. as they pass the Olympic stadium. Gianetti leading the attackers, then Ugrumov comes through, no word on time gaps. They are coming down into the u-turn, so the chasers will have a good feel on the time gap, which doesn't look very big. The field itself has splintered into a couple or three decent sized groups. Finally we get a time gap, 13 seconds. Gianetti isn't satisfied with it, and attacks, Herve follows behind, trying to close as they come up a climb. Ugrumov also fighting and goes by Herve, but hasn't closed the gap yet, now he manages to get back on Gianetti's wheel. Zulle leading the field behind, who will quickly bring the two who were dropped back, if they haven't already. Ugrumov and Gianetti show no signs of tactical calculation and quickly work to increase their lead. Ugrumov now surprises Gianetti, and leaves him a little behind, Gianetti fighting to close to the lead again. Zulle and Stephens working hard behind. Gianetti closes the gap and is back on Ugrumov's wheel. Pantani is at nearly the back of the field, as are Baffi and Eikimov. Gianetti leading at the front, 7 km banner, thus 21km to go, they have a couple of follow vehicles, so the gap must be significant, but no word on the actual time. Fornaciari (Mercatone) attacks out of the field, opening about 100m on the field, but the front two have 30 seconds on the field, so he has a long way to go. Virenque then comes by Fornaciari, but he wasn't able to really get a gap, and the field rolls by as well. Gianetti and Ugrumov again working well together. 2km banner, 16km to go. Stephens behind on the lead, still 5 ONCE at the front, gap down to 23 seconds. Ugrumov leads through 1km to go, out of the saddle. Attacks start from the field, Garcia (Artiach) goes on the climb, and he is now through the 1km to go. He opens up a gap, but ONCE is still in sight, and chases him down. The front two coming to the line, Ugrumov leading, 20 second gap. The field is strung out, still Stephens leading from Zulle, they seem to be closing the gap. A Castellblanch, Uria, attacks as they come through the now closed feed zone, and passes by a lapped Novell rider. Uria opens up a bit of a gap, at the front Ugrumov, then Gianetti pulls through, then Ugrumov, they come down into the u-turn. Stephens now comes by Uria, and he pulls off for Zulle. Ugrumov leads Gianetti up a climb, Jalabert attacks out of the field, he quickly opens up a gap, and closes to Gianetti and Ugrumov, and blows past them. Bartoli followed Jalabert and has caught Jalabert's wheel, heis just sitting on. They have come by a bigger group of lapped riders, it's getting a little confusing. A few other riders have closed to Jalabert and Bartoli, Olano is there and takes the lead. 3 or so are chasing close behind and have now closed to make a front group of 9 or so. Mauri attacks , followed by an Artiach. These two get a slight gap, but Olano closes it quickly. Bruyneel is also in the lead group. Still more riders are now closing to the front, maybe 20 in all in this group now. Della Santa, Mauri, Jalabert, Olano near the front of it, Gianetti, Pistore in the group as well. An Artiach, Rodrigues attacks, he gets a gap, and the group reacts behind. A couple have split of the front, but are brought back. Then Serrano (Kelme) attacks, but Mauri chases him down. Jalabert counters as he is cuaght, Bartoli again is marking him, not a dumb fellow. Virenque follows on behind. Jalabert pulls off, making Bartoli take the lead, and they come by Rodrigues Now Jalabert leading down a slight descent. Rodrigues is sitting on. Virenque is in the group as well. Jalabert and Virenque play around a little at the back, a gap opens up and Rodrigues tries to take advantage, but the two French get serious and the four come back together.> Montoya and Serrano are chasing hard behind the lead 4. Bartoli has now gotten a bit of a gap, Jalabert looks around to see what the others will do, refusing to do all the work himself. Virenque closes, 2 km to go. Virenque on the front. Montoya and Serrona close quickly, and Montoya immediately attacks by the former leaders. He quickly gets a gap as the others look around. Montoya out of the saddle, no one is really chasing behind, Viernenque leads, but with no real intent. Rodrigues is the first to lose the war of nerves and attacks, Jalabert quickly follows behind him. Rodrigues leads Jalabert through the 1km strip, anybody want to bet on who would win this sprint? I want the guy in yellow. Montoya is closed down by Rodrigues and Jalabert immediately attacks again. Rodrigues tries to follow, but he can't touch Jalabert's class. Jalabert is alone now, no one closing bhind. Virenque, followed by Serrano is fighting to close to Montoya and Rodrigues, but isn't closing the gap. Rodrigues hasn't given up on the stage, and is followed closely by Montoya and Bartoli. Jalabert quite alone, but certainly not lonely, comes to the finish and makes another, well practiced victory salute. A couple hundred meters behind come Montoya, Bartoli and Rodrigues in this order. A few seconds later, Virenque leads from Serrano. The splinters of the field start to come in about 20 seconds back, Pistore leads a group 25 seconds back. Ugrumov comes through 40 seconds back. La Vuelta de Jalabert continues unabated.
Mountains: 1. Laurent Jalabert 150 pts 2. Roberto Pistore 82 3. Bert Dietz 51 Points: 1. Laurent Jalabert 247 pts 2. Marcel Wust 141 3. Abraham Olano 135 Metas Volantes (Intermediate sprints): 1. Steffen Wesemann 39 pts 2. Mirco Gualdi 27 3. Sven Teutenberg 18 Teams: 1. Once 208.50.04 2. Artiach +13.55 3. Lotus-Festina +14.05
Stage 17, Salardu-Luz Ardiden, 179 kms, 20 Sept 95. Undoubtedly the hardest stage of this year's Vuelta, including well known climbs from that little French race in July. This is the last mountaintop finish, and if Olano has any hope of taking 6 minutes out of Jalabert, he needs to start in a big way today. The last 80km or so of this stage are identical to the Pyrenean stage that Virenque won last year, covering the Col d'Aspin, Tourmalet, and Luz Ardiden. Lousy weather today, wet roads at the start, cold temps, everyone in jackets and tights or knickers. Pantani has dropped out to go to Colombia with the Italian World's team. A shot from the Tourmalet, totally fogged in, finish in Luz Ardiden is a little clearer. The various categories are almost set, Jalabert has 78 points over Pistore in the KOM. I believe that the points are 30 for beyond cat, 20 for 1st cat, 10 for 2nd, and 6 for 3rd. If Pistore doesn't make huge strides today, Jalabert should be mathematically uncatchable in the points. Jalabert is up by 121. With 25 points per win, and only 4 stages remaining after today, the wine colored jersey will be mathematically certain as well. In the red jersey, Wesemann has a 24 point lead, with a total of 9 points per stage, not including the ITT, he has essentially clinched it as well. An early attack went with 6 riders, but no word on who it was, the TV is showing replays of yesterday, from the beginning, which means it may be a while before we actually get images from today. Some riders come through the top of the Tourmalet, about impossible to really tell who they were, quite easily that some came over that we couldn't see at all. Looked like Jalabert, Mauri, Pistore, Olano, Virenque, maybe a dozen belong to this first group. A couple more come through, but now the gap is 3 minutes, and then a couple more, a Polti, Gianetti it is. Dietz comes over at 4:30, and actually stops to pick up the clothing and some food. Six minutes gone, more riders come through and stop to pick up warm clothing. As the commentator says, some must be wondering if being a bike racer was such a good idea in the first place. The copters are getting brave in the mess in the skies above, and are showing us pictures from the front group descending, roads are quite wet, nobody trying to go off on a descent today. The front group comes onto the town at the bottom of the descent, only 7 riders, Jalabert at the front, Virenque in second. Now Mauri takes over the lead, Bruyneel in second, Olano, Garcia (Banesto), and Pistore are the leaders. Zulle and Uria were shown behind, but no word on time gap. The front group comes into Luz St. Saveur as the climb to Luz Ardiden approaches. Jalabert is at the back, chatting with the team car. Now some pictures from the top of the Tourmalet, a very large group comes through, everyone stopping for their jackets. It must be hellishly cold on the descents today. Now back to the front, a Gewiss rider leading, the 7 have been joined it seems. Clavero (Artiach) is now there, didn't recognize which Gewiss, presumeably Ugrumov -- no, it is Brignoli. The front have now started the climb, Zulle is chasing behind, and looks like he may be getting close. Virenque leads the front, and the picture breaks up. :-) Pistore attacks, Virenque is quickly on his wheel, and the rest follow. Brignoli has problems and is dropped off a little, but he and Clavero fight back on as the pace slows a touch. 10km to go, Virenque leading, Pistore at his side. Now Pistore attacks! Mauri quickly closes the gap. Zulle is in the caravan following this group. Clavero and Brignoli again are dropped off, and fight their way back on as the pace slows. ONCE on the front with Jalabert and Mauri. Virenque on the side, 9 km to go. Zulle now comes through 9km, looks like he has lost some ground. The front group has calmed a little, Clavero hanging on in the back. The front is controlled by Mauri and Bruyneel. Bruyneel pulls off, then Mauri on the lead. Virenque on his side. Uria (Castellbalanch) and Serrano (Kelme) are also trying to close the gap to the front group, but no word on the time. The front goes through 8km to go, firmly controlled by ONCE riding a steady pace. Uria and Serrano come through 8km to go, maybe 30 seconds back. The front comes by a big Coke can, they've hit a pretty steep stretch. I believe between 6 and 8km to go the grade is around 9%. They come through 7km to go, followed by Serrano and Uria, no word on whether Zulle has been passed by them, or lies between. The gap is 40 seconds. I assume Zulle is behind, though the TV sometimes forgets a rider that is sitting between. 6km to go, still a calm pace, Uria and Serrano come through, 50 seconds back by my watch. 5km to go for the front. The two chasing are breaking up, Uria is falling off of Serrano's wheel. The gap is about 1 minute. Now Brignoli has trouble, he has drifted off maybe 60m from the front group, looks like he is about done, doesn't really fight to close back to the group. 4km to go, Mauri in the lead, gap is 1:05 to Serrano. 3km to go, seems the fireworks will have to start soon if anybody has serious designs on this stage other than Jalabert. Clavero starts to have trouble and he falls away. the ONCE trio is pushing the pace up a notch it seems. Mauri looks back from the front. Olano has come up to the second position behind Mauri as they come under 2km to go. Jalabert in 3rd, then Pistore. The pace ratchets up couple notches, Mauri falls back, as does Garcia. Bruyneel is at the front, still followed by Olano, Jalabert, Pistore, Virenque. Now Pistore starts to fall back a little, Bruyneel still pushing it at the front, Olano holding on to his wheel. Pistore is dropped as they come to 1km to go, and Virenque also falls off a little. Bruyneel, Jalabert, Olano in that order. Jalabert comes inside of Bruyneel on a switchback, they brush elbows as he comes through. Jalabert looks back and attacks, out of the saddle, immediately opening a gap. Olano doesn't respond and the gap opens up. Olano is just sitting behind Bruyneel. Now he tries, attacking from behind Bruyneel. Jalabert comes through the KOM, Olano chasing behind, but he won't close the gap, and Jalabert wins the stage. Olano comes through 8 seconds back ahead of Bruyneel. The rest of the riders start to dribble in, first Virenque, then Garcia, Pistore. Mauri is a minute back Another clear and convincing win for Jalabert.