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2001 Vuelta

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Vuelta News for September 17, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones

Stage 10 wrap up

Stage 10 of the Vuelta marked the final stage before the first rest day in the three week tour, consisting of a 36.5 kilometre individual time trial around a flat but technical parcours in Cordoba. The extremely wet conditions didn't help the early riders, while the later starters still had to contend with wet roads. Kelme scored a double coup today, with Aitor Gonzalez winning the stage in front of his teammate and gold jersey wearer Oscar Sevilla. Sevilla rode well enough to hang onto his lead by just one second, as the Vuelta now heads into its second half.

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Aitor Gonzalez (Kelme, 1st stage)

Aitor Gonzalez
Photo: © Lavuelta.com
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I gave it everything but took precautions because of the state of the road. On the wet asphalt you must avoid crashing. But even so I can only be satisfied. My options for the overall remain intact.

Oscar showed that he is also good against the clock. Things are going very well for our team. We have opened up an important gap at the head of the overall standings and now Oscar and I can form a joint alliance and defend the lead between us.

I expect that the Vuelta will be disputed between Oscar and I. We are all very happy...We still have options and between the two of us we will try to both get what we want, but there still remain stages in which the other riders will have things to say."

Oscar Sevilla (Kelme, 1st GC)

Oscar Sevilla
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"Starting last meant I got time references for Gonzalez and Roberto Heras, and I could base my ride around that. I didn't take too many risks, because this isn't where the Vuelta is going to be won or lost."

"Although it was said that Sevilla was going to lose the jersey, I have shown that I am in form and I am good in the Vuelta. It was an important test...to finish this part of the Vuelta well."

"The situation doesn't change within the team, it's a good day for Aitor, he can follow the climbers and wait for the final time trial in Madrid. We have an advantage on two important rivals, Casero and Simoni, who are very dangerous for us...Aitor and I have struck an important blow for a Kelme victory in this year's Vuelta."

Vicente Belda (Kelme DS)

"Our team has responded like champions. I think that it is the work of many people involved in our team. The objective was to win the time trial with Aitor and have Sevilla put as much time into his rivals as possible, so we can have some guarantees for the next stages."

"The leader's jersey is not yet safely home. What's important is the time that we put into Heras, Simoni and Vinokourov. In the Vuelta you have to press your advantage."

Belda also called for Spanish selector Francisco Antequera to consider Toni Tauler (5th today) for the Spanish team for the World's. Aitor Gonzalez is already one of the favourites for the time trial, especially with Botero's sudden disappearance of form in the Vuelta.

Angel Casero (Team Coast, 19th at 2'33)

"This is not my Vuelta. The time trials do not have good routes for specialists like me, and then when I punctured, things got even worse."

Winners and losers today

Kelme now have a commanding position on the GC, courtesy of three riders in the top five today, but that doesn't necessarily mean the race is over. ONCE had this position too after the first stage, but lost it once the Vuelta hit the first mountains. But there is no doubt that Sevilla and Aitor Gonzalez can climb with the best, and their time trial performances today are cause for concern for their rivals.

David Millar
Photo: © Yuzuru Sunada
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Joseba Beloki (ONCE) had a good time trial to move himself back into contention, but he will have to ride extremely well on the climbs to come if he's to finish on the podium. Euskaltel's Iban Mayo had a great ride (6th at 1'30), and he is certainly a candidate for a podium finish. Roberto Heras (USPS) was solid with a 7th place at 1'34, and now sits third on GC at 1'42. That's going to be very hard to make up on Oscar Sevilla, who will surely select a lower gear for the Angliru. Finally, David Millar (Cofidis) finished a good third place today to move himself up to 12th overall.

The riders who lost today include, Alexandre Vinokourov had a chance to take the lead, starting only 14 seconds behind Sevilla on GC. But Vino didn't have the legs, and was even caught by Sevilla for 2 minutes near the finish. He drops down to 6th overall at 2'19. Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) was 3'12 off the pace today - expected for a climber of his make up, but not good enough to win the Vuelta. He is one of the few riders who can stay with (or attack) Heras and Sevilla in the mountains, so a podium finish is still a possibility. There are a lot of good riders in front of him though.

Angel Casero (Team Coast) did himself no favours in the time trial, finishing 19th at 2'33. His chances of a top 10 this year appear slim, unless he has a big turnaround in the final half. Finally Santiago Botero seems totally out of the Vuelta. Lying 95th at 1'07'50, he has lost time whenever the road has gone up, sometimes even on the flats, and has not had a good stage. Today the double Tour de France stage winner finished 149th at 7'50, so he certainly hasn't been bluffing so far.

Blood checks this morning

The UCI carried out surprise blood controls in the morning before today's time trial. The checks were made between 7:30 and 9:10 am on nine teams: Alessio, Acqua&Sapone, Fassa Bortolo, Mapei-Quick Step, Cofidis, BigMat, Phonak, Euskaltel-Euskadi and iBanesto.com. No rider was declared as unfit to continue in the race.

Rest day tomorrow

The first rest day of the Vuelta takes place tomorrow, September 17 when the riders will transfer north to Alcobendas for the start of stage 11. That will be another mountain stage, containing four categorised climbs culminating with the Puerto de Navacerrada, an 11 km climb averaging 5.9%. The top of the climb comes with 25 km to go, with the stage finishing in Collado Villalba. It's another opportunity for a good climber and a daredevil descender to win.

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

 

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