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2001 Vuelta

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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf


57th Vuelta a España

Spain, September 7- 29, 2002

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Stage 4- September 10: Águilas - Roquetas de Mar, 149.5 km

Complete Live Report

Start time: 13:45 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:15 CEST

14:39 CEST    30 km/119.5 km to go
Welcome to the Cyclingnews coverage of the fourth stage of the Vuelta, a 150 km run south down the Mediterranean coast to Roquetas de Mar, a resort town just south of Almeria. There are no major climbs today, although there is a bit of up and down, and it looks set up for another battle between the star-studded lineup of sprinters that the race has managed to attract this year (not wholly unconnected with the rather flat course for the World championship road race in a month's time).

Entirely predictably, the Jazztel team, co-sponsored by the Costa de Almeria tourist board, have sent a man up the road on their home turf. Alone in the lead is Dario Gadeo Fernández, riding strongly in the warm conditions. He attacked after just 3 km and is now 6.40 ahead of a rather uninterested looking bunch.

15:24 CEST    60 km/89.5 km to go
At Carboneras, the venue of the day's second points sprint, Gadeo has some 11 minutes advantage, but as the bunch descend from a brief climb in the open semi-desert terrain of Andalusia, Mario Cipollini's Acqua e Sapone team are starting to get organised and the lead is starting to creep down again.

Gadeo also won the first sprint earlier, with Zabel and Victório Fernández leading the bunch through behind him.

Here again Zabel picks up second place to strengthen his points classification lead, ahead of Alessandro Petacchi this time.

15:40 CEST    70 km/79.5 km to go
After Carboneras the course leaves the seaside and cuts inland across the empty sierras towards the highest point on the course today; there are no listed climbs today but the roads are not often flat either. Coming into the feed zone Gadeo - who earlier was riding stylishly, position a bit reminiscent of Bartoli - is rocking and rolling slightly on the long drags.

Gadeo consults his team manager, Miguel Moreno, and stops briefly at the feed, presumably for a quick dive into what little vegetation there is. Behind, the A&S riders leading the way have now got some support from Rolf Aldag (Telekom) with the ONCE team lined out behind them. The gap is now down to 9 minutes.

15:59 CEST    85 km/64.5 km to go
On the run back down to the coast - descending false flat, motorway-standard road through Spaghetti Western scenery - Gadeo is clearly feeling his earlier efforts; behind the bunch is not going full out but the pace has certainly picked up, and the lead is coming down steadily - 8 minutes at the last check. It doesn't look to be enough.

The Fassa Bortolo team appear to be taking turns to go back to their team car to fiddle with their helmet radios. Isn't technology wonderful?

16:08 CEST    92 km/57.5 km to go
The newly tuned in Fassa boys (notably Stangelj and Velo) have now moved up to the front and the pace has increased again. Gadeo's lead is down to 6.40.

The day's final intermediate sprint is in the city of Almeria, another 30 km or so distant; that looks as much as the lone leader can hope to win now. Under the full force of the afternoon sun, one of his team-mates drops back to get an extra layer of sunscreen.

16:22 CEST    
Now nearing the sea again, there is a hint that there may be a bit of an offshore breeze, meaning a crosswind from the riders' right; the bunch are starting to angle across the road and there's a chance that we may yet see echelons forming.

Gadeo's seemingly doomed lead is down to 4.30 now.

16:43 CEST    110 km/39.5 km to go
The gap is down to 2.40; the Costa de almeria rider looks likely to enter his teams' home city in the lead as the pace of the chase has settled down a little, but with half a dozen teams wanting to bring up their sprinters on what is the last flat stage before two hard summit finishes, his chances are very limited.

The roads here are lined with vast plastic greenhouses; this is (today's dull fact) the centre of Spanish tomato production. Although much of the landscape is bleak and seemingly uninhabited, there are large crowds out on the rare bridges over what is still basically a motorway.

16:51 CEST    123 km/26.5 km to go
Gadeo comes into the outskirts of Almeria with 2.15 in hand still - the bunch seems to be hanging him out to dry now.

After three hours racing the average speed is a touch over 40 kph.

16:56 CEST    125 km/24.5 km to go
Gadeo takes the third intermediate sprint of the day in Almeria. It should be noted that the sprints are now for points (and a bit of cash, of course) only - there are no time bonuses, and a combined classification ("regularity") jersey has replaced the special sprints jersey of previous years; this means that they are only really being contested by the riders with an interest in the points classification.

One such is Zabel, who takes second place comfortably ahead of Vitoriano, third again.

17:00 CEST    129.5 km/20 km to go
The race climbs away onto the corniche road above the Med. Gadeo is now finding it hard, ploughing a gear that looks a tooth or two too big up a drag into a bit of a headwind. There is no real sense of urgency in the bunch yet, but his lead is down to 1.15.

The final section of the course today is, perhaps perversely, probably the trickiest section, following on from miles of broad highway; this could be quite a hairy last few kilometres (although the two unlit tunnels have been fitted with emergency lighting for the day).

17:06 CEST    15 km/134.5 km to go
The gap is now down to 36 seconds as the race traffic passes Gadeo to clear the way for the bunch, now led by the Lampre squad en masse, working for Jan Svorada.

17:09 CEST    136.5 km/13 km to go
Gadeo is swept up as the race passes though the resort of Aguadulce with the field now starting to stretch out; he has been alone in the lead for 130 kilometres.

Mario Cipollini is already riding well up in the bunch as the leadout men start trying to seek out their sprinters.

17:12 CEST    140.5 km/9km to go
Half a dozen riders come down at the front of the bunch on a roundabout and the field is fragmented briefly.

Telekom's Andreas Klöden is one of the victims, along with Martin Garrido (Relax), both back on their bikes. Another is Ivan Quaranta, who has missed his chance for today but too is back on the road.

17:15 CEST    142.5 km/7 km to go
The pace eases slightly and the gaps caused by the crash close up. The wind is filling the flags and is straight in the riders' faces.

17:17 CEST    144.5 km/5 km to go
A series of roundabouts and narrow roads have strung the field out again. Savoldelli is reported to have crashed. Millar at the front; Freire on Cipollini's wheel.

17:19 CEST    146.5 km/3 km to go
The zebra train leading the lined out bunch has been infiltrated by Fassa's Nicola Loda. Plenty of bumping and boring at the front.

17:21 CEST    148.5 km/1 km to go
Scirea, Trenti and Lombardi lead Cipollini; Santos Gonzalez moves up to give them a hand, almost too hard to follow.

17:23 CEST    Finish
The last kilometre twists, but Cipollini has a perfect leadout; Zabel on his wheel.

At 150 m to go, Cipollini takes to the front, challenged by Petacchi and Zabel, but not challenged hard enough - Cipollini takes his second stage of the Vuelta. Gerrit Glomser creeps past Zabel for third, in fact, with Svorada fifth.

Italian national team manager Franco Ballerini is there to watch Cipollini's victory (actually, he turned up yesterday but missed the finish) - there can surely be no question of leaving il Re Leone at home for the Worlds now.

No changes to any of the jerseys - Médéric Clain holds the mountains jersey with no points to be scored today, Zabel hangs on in the red and white points jersey with six points lead from Mario Cipollini, Vitoriano Fernandez is still just ahead in the combined classifications classification (white jersey) and, of course, Joseba Beloki stands ahead a bunch of his ONCE teammates (all same time) in the golden jersey of overall leader.

Result (provisional)

1 Mario Cipollini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Cantina Tollo     3.33.32
2 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
3 Gerrit Glomser (Aut) Saeco-Longoni Sport
4 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom
5 Jan Svorada (Cze) Lampre-Daikin
6 Angelo Furlan (Ita) Alessio
7 Angel Edo (Spa) Milaneza-MSS
8 Oscar Freire (Spa) Mapei-Quick Step
9 Lauri Aus (Est) Ag2R Prevoyance
10 Jeroen Blijevens (Ned) Domo-Farm Frites

General classification after stage 4

1 Joseba Beloki (Spa) ONCE-Eroski                        11.07.11
2 Mikel Zarrabeitia (Spa) ONCE-Eroski
3 Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (Spa) ONCE-Eroski
4 José Azevedo (Por) ONCE-Eroski
5 Marcos Serrano (Spa) ONCE-Eroski
6 Jörg Jaksche (Ger) ONCE-Eroski
7 José Gutierrez (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca                    0.09
8 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom                              0.12
9 Roberto Heras (Spa) US Postal Service                      0.14
10 Christian Vandevelde (USA) US Postal Service

Results     Mail the Cyclingnews commentary team!

 

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