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2001 Vuelta

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Vuelta News for September 22, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones

Stage 14 wrap up

Russian rider Serguei Smetanine gave his Jazztel-Costa del Almeria team cause to celebrate with the team's first Vuelta stage win since Fabio Roscioli and Viatcheslav Ekimov won a two stages in 1999. The victory resulted from a successful long breakaway, after Smetanine and Oscar Laguna attacked a larger break after 40 km. They rode the remaining 150 km in front of the peloton, gaining as much as 11 minutes lead at one stage while the peloton made up its mind whether to chase. Eventually they did, but it was too late to pull back the two in front, and Smetanine attacked his companion on the final climb with 25 km to go to claim the solo win.

The otherwise uneventful stage was marred by a massive pileup with 32 km to go, which took riders such as Luis Perez, Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano and Fernando Escartin out of the race.

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Sergei Smetanine (Jazztel, 1st stage)

Smetanine and Laguna
Photo: © Lavuelta.com
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"At last I've won a stage in this Vuelta. I'm thankful to the riders and the sponsors."

Although a sprinter, Smetanine realised he was outclassed by the likes of Cipollini, Zabel and Petacchi. "For that reason I've been looking to get in the breaks. The first one I tried to get into I succeeded, and then I won."

"I was a little annoyed with my breakaway companion Oscar Laguna, who tried to attack me on the last climb. I had the strength and I did not doubt myself and I attacked. I dedicate the stage to my wife and daughter, and pay homage to my teammate Ricardo Valdez, since we are in his home territory."

Oscar Sevilla (Kelme, 1st GC)

Oscar Sevilla
Photo: © Lavuelta.com
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"We have conserved the lead on a day that was very dangerous. At the beginning we had to work, but when the break went it was up to Fassa Bortolo to pull back the riders."

"Tomorrow is one of the most decisive parts of the Vuelta. I am very ambitious with a great desire to do well, and high morale. We will do everything we can although there are quite a number of nicer finishes than the Angliru, for example Lagos de Covadonga. But we must climb it because it is established in the Vuelta.

Aitor González (Kelme, 2nd GC)

"I hope I can respond strongly tomorrow. Tomorrow is an ideal day to be paid for your efforts, and I hope that everyone pays except me."

"Heras is the man to beat and I think it will be he who starts the battle."

Roberto Heras (USPS, 3rd GC)

"Much has been spoken about the next stage, but the road will decide it," said Heras, who declined to offer an opinion on the general polemic surrounding the Angliru.

Juan Manuel Garate (Lampre, 129th)

One of those caught in the crash, it looked like Juan Manuel Garate (Lampre) would abandon the Vuelta today. He eventually got up to finish 129th at 14'49.

"Continuing wasn't easy, I am going to evaluate it as I go. The knee wound is a bit less than superficial and it looks quite bad. I believe I can continue on, but I will listen to the doctors," said the Lampre rider.

The crash

The crash
Photo: © AFP
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The biggest crash in the Vuelta so far came with 32 km to go in the 14th stage from Santander to Gijon. According to Angel Casero (Team Coast), "It happened when a moto from the organisation and one from the television touched each other, and broke off a side mirror of a car that was by the road. It was normal that there was a crash." The result was disastrous, with 40 riders being caught up in it.

The Basque riders came off particularly badly, with Jon Odriozola (iBanesto.com, deep cut to right hand), Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE, broken right arm), Fernando Escartin (Team Coast, broken rib) and Iñigo Chaurreau (Ag2r, possible broken ankle) all having to abandon on the spot or after the finish of the stage in Escartin's case.

Many more riders suffered cuts and bruises, some quite serious. Juan Manuel Garate (Lampre) and Luis Perez (Team Coast) looked as though they would not finish the stage, but they got back on their bikes in the end and came in 15 minutes down. Guillaume Auger (BigMat) was also hurt, injuring his left leg and ankle.

There were several other retirements today before the crash, as Pedro Horrillo (Mapei) did not start, and Giovanni Lombardi (Acqua e Sapone), Andrey Kashechkin (Domo), Martin Garrido (Relax) and Steffen Kjaergaard (USPS) all abandoned during the stage.

Stage 15 preview: Gijon - El Angliru, 177 km

Tomorrow's stage 15 is considered the Queen Stage of the Vuelta, an epic journey from Gijon to El Angliru over 177 km. It's been talked about ever since the Vuelta started, and is sure to provide a gripping finish. Not all of the riders are particularly happy with the inclusion of the Angliru, with some calling it too extreme and pointing out that there are nicer climbs to finish a stage with.

"Everyone knows that in Asturias there are climbs sufficiently hard and selective for a brilliant and spectacular stage without going to extremes such as the Angliru," said Jose Luis Rubiera of USPS.

Second placed GC rider Aitor Gonzalez, who has never ridden the climb, said that "Perhaps it's too hard, since the cars in the caravan have problems to get up it, and now they say that the spectators are not going to push the riders."

The cars in the race convoy could certainly have difficulty tomorrow, as the savage gradients combined with potentially wet roads make it too slippery to get up. With rain and fog predicted tomorrow, it could turn into a very ugly stage.

The Angliru will be preceded by three other categorised climbs during the stage, making it the toughest Angliru stage yet since its inception in the Vuelta in 1999. The first is the Cat. 1 Puerto Marabio at km 79.6 (10.6 km at 7.1%). This is followed by the Cat. 2 Alto De Tenebredo at km 112.7, then the Cat. 1 Alto del Cordal at km 155.4 (5.5 km at 9%). The Angliru is rated as a Special Category climb and averages 9.6% for its 12.9 km length. The Angliru really gets nasty in its second half, with the gradient varying from 11.6% to 23.6% in the notorious Cuena les Camres section with approximately 2 km to go. It's a finish tailor made for super light climbers - Heras, Sevilla and Simoni should all do well.

Join us tomorrow at 14:45 CEST/05:45 PDT/08:45 EDT/22:45 Aust. EST for live coverage of Stage 15.

Miss and Mr Vuelta 2002

Friday night at the San Miguel Brewery in Burgos saw the winners of the Miss and Mr Vuelta 2002 competition decided. Sabrina Quirós, a representative for Coca Cola, and Elias Cabrera, of Unipublic, were elected this year's Miss and Mr Vuelta by the jury. Also Ana Paula Nunes Soares from Telefónica was voted Lady of Honour while Cristina Pogobina, from the Madrid 2012 Olympic bid, was nominated Second Lady of Honour. Jasmina Chaibedraa, Servired, won the Miss Sympathy prize, while her companion Maritxell Juves was elected Miss Photogenic.

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

 

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