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2001 Vuelta

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News for September 2, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones

The Vuelta approaches

By Jeff Jones

The 57th edition of the Vuelta España starts next Saturday, September 7 with a 30 km team time trial in Valencia, finishing three weeks later with a 45 km individual time trial in Madrid's famous Stadion Santiago Bernabeu, which has hosted Spain's most famous soccer team Real Madrid for the past 100 years. Although organisers Unipublic would have liked to have included some more soccer-like aspects into the Vuelta, such as having a qualifying week with two pelotons racing concurrently, that was knocked on the head by a number of teams when it was announced a few months ago.

However, the Vuelta remains the most innovative major tour on the calendar, featuring a shorter overall distance than either the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia, and therefore shorter and more intense stages. Given that most of the riders are getting tired at this end of the season, it's a ploy that has worked well to keep the interest in the race right up until the last day.

In fact, the 2001 Vuelta was decided in favour of Angel Casero on the last day when he finished fourth in the final time trial, and leapfrogged Oscar Sevilla. Casero, whose season had been hampered by injury up until that point, did not even win a stage, but his consistency was good enough to win him the Vuelta.

This year, riding for Team Coast, he will have the role of defending champion, and again will approach the Vuelta with a minimal amount of racing in his legs due to a knee injury. Casero says that he is fully recovered from the injury, and has been training very hard of late. His ambition is to finish on the podium again, which will be no easy task.

Casero considers his biggest challengers to be Gilberto Simoni, who was strong in the mountains of the Giro d'Italia and after missing the Tour de France is itching to test his legs on the big climbs again. Then there are 2000 winner Roberto Heras, last year's runner up Oscar Sevilla, and the always dangerous Joseba Beloki.

The race will feature 21 stages, including two individual time trials, a team time trial, eight flat stages, and ten medium to high mountain stages. There will be four mountain top finishes this year, including the dreaded Alto de L'Angliru which was absent from last year's race. The mountains start as early as the fifth stage which finishes at Sierra Nevada (2520 m), followed by the sixth stage from Granada to Sierra de la Pandera (1840m).

2002 Vuelta preview
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Cipollini at the helm of Acqua e Sapone

Mario Cipollini will be Acqua e Sapone's top rider in the Vuelta España, taking a team of specialist lead out men to deliver him to the line in the flatter stages. With the speed of Giovanni Lombardi and the powerful Mario Scirea to wind up the speed in the last 2 km, the rest of the squad also packs a lot of punch. Spanish sprinter Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero, time trialist Santos Gonzalez, Ruben Lobato, Daniele Bennati, Guido Trenti and Martin Derganc should be a good combination. The team will be directed by Antonio Salutini and Enrico Paolini.

Saeco-Longoni Sport with three leaders at the Vuelta

The Saeco-Longoni Sport team has announced the squad for the Vuelta España, that starts in Valencia next Saturday. Led by Gilberto Simoni, Danilo Di Luca and Igor Astarloa, the team promises to be very competitive in the third and final grand tour of the season. The other riders are Fabio Sacchi, Alessio Galletti, Leonardo Bertagnolli, Gerrit Glomser, Alessandro Spezialetti, Juan Fuentes, with Claudio Corti as team manager and Giuseppe Martinelli, Bruno Vicino and Guido Bontempi as directeurs sportifs.

(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2002)

 

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