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2001 Vuelta

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Vuelta News for September 26, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones

Stage 17 wrap up

The 17th stage of the Vuelta from Benavente to Salamanca was short and quick, with the peloton averaging over 49 km/h to cover the 145 km in under three hours. The wind and the Fassa Bortolo team were responsible for the high average speed, nullifying any attempts to break away. But in the end after a lot of work by Fassa Bortolo and Telekom, it was Alessio's Angelo Furlan, a second year pro, who won the bunch sprint ahead of Zabel and Petacchi. For Zabel it was his fourth second place in this year's Vuelta, and he has almost run out of opportunities to win stages.

The GC riders' teams didn't have to do a lot of chasing today, leaving that to the sprinters' teams. There were a few nervous moments when ONCE and Team Coast tried to cause a split in the cross winds, but race leader Roberto Heras kept himself out of trouble and will be ready to defend (or attack) his lead in tomorrow's stage to La Covatilla.

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Angelo Furlan (Alessio, 1st stage)

Angelo Furlan
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"Zabel is an idol of mine, to beat him and Petacchi was an extraordinary feeling. In the finale everyone was looking for the wheel of Erik, I succeeded against my expectation."

Furlan also commented about his 'victory salute' in stage 14, despite finishing third. "In Gijon I had celebrated when I thought I was first: due to the tension I was not aware that Laguna and Smetanine had broken away."

 

Roberto Heras (USPS, 1st GC)

Roberto Heras
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Roberto Heras survived today's stage with his leader's jersey intact, but is already thinking of tomorrow's stage that finishes atop a climb. "The climb of la Covatilla is very nice, but won't be decisive. I expect to come out with an advantage over a minute and a half. For me that would lead to a very interesting fight for the final victory," he said.

"Is a constant climb, that does not have any flat spots and where there are no options to recover. It is a different climb than La Pandera, which had three hard kilometres - this has eight or nine that are constant."

"All will depend on how Sevilla or Aitor goes, but I know my team is very good and they will work to the maximum."

Johan Bruyneel (USPS DS)

"It was from the start in Benavente a stage full of nervousness and concerns about the wind. In the end we were able to save the situation and arrive at the finish with the gold jersey."

Italians dominate bunch sprints

Angelo Furlan's stage 17 win was the eighth by an Italian in this year's Vuelta. All of the bunch sprints have been won by Italians, with Mario Cipollini claiming three, and Alessandro Petacchi, Danilo Di Luca and Angelo Furlan claiming one apiece. Also Giovanni Lombardi and Guido Trentin won stages. Spain is next on the victory list with seven stage wins, with one stage each for Colombia and Russia.

On the general classification, there are eight riders with (Spa) after their names in the top ten, along with two Italians, Casagrande (6th) and Simoni (8th).

Pro motorcyclists visit Vuelta

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Professional motorcyclists Sete Gibernau, Fonsi Nieto and Toni Elias were present at today's stage of the Vuelta, answering questions from the media and learning a little about the "other" two wheeled sport. They were reportedly greatly impressed by the caravan which surrounds the Vuelta, similar to that which surrounds the World Motorcycle Championships.

All three said they were cycling fans and were impressed by what the riders went through on l'Angliru.

Free tickets for the Bernabeu stadium available

Those wishing to see the finish of the Vuelta live in Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu Stadium will be able to pick up entry tickets from the stadium's box office tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday, between 15.00 and 21.00. Although the tickets for the last stage 41.2km individual time trial are free, they are obligatory for those wishing to enter the stadium. Doors open at 11.00 on Sunday.

Stage 18: Salamanca - Estación de la Covatilla, 193.7 km

The final mountain top finish in this year's Vuelta takes place in tomorrow's 18th stage from Salamanca to La Covatilla Ski Station, over 193 km. La Covatilla has never before been used in the Vuelta, but being situated in Bejar means that race leader Roberto Heras knows it well. It's a steep 9.5 km climb averaging 8%, with a maximum slope of 10.6%. As Heras said, it's fairly constant all the way, and nothing like l'Angliru and La Pandera.

If he is climbing as we as he did on Sunday, Heras should be able to take more time out of Gonzalez and Sevilla, but the climb's steady gradient will not create any natural opportunities to attack. Heras must make them himself if he is to increase his chances of winning the Vuelta.

The stage also features the Cat. 1 climb of Honduras (km 116, 9.1 km at 6.1%), and the Cat. 2 climbs of Puerto de Tornavacas (km 149.8) and Puerto de Tremedal (km 168).

Join us tomorrow at 14:45 CEST/05:45 PDT/08:45 EDT/22:45 Aust. EST for live coverage of Stage 18.

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

 

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