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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 5 - September 11: El Ejido o Almeria - Sierra Nevada, 198 km

Complete Live Report

Start time: 11:36 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:15 CEST


Welcome to the Cyclingnews coverage of the fifth stage of the Vuelta, a 198km day which represents the first serious day in the mountains. Today's race starts in El Ejido and finishes in Sierra Nevada, with a 37 km climb to the finish. After three sprint finishes in the last three days, the face of the race should change dramatically today, and we are likely to get a hint of the general classification to come.

The Vuelta first included the Sierra Nevada climb in 1979, and last visited in 1997, with Frenchman Yvon Ledanois claiming the stage victory. There are also three intermediate sprints today, at Lanjarón (km 117.5), Granada (km 159.5) and Pradollano (km 192.6). There are three classified climbs today, the Alto de Bérchules (2nd cat., km 62.5), Alto de Lanjarón (3rd cat., Km 177.5) and Alto de Sierra Nevada (Special cat., Km 198).

The race began with a somewhat predictable series of attacks, including Cofidis rider (and current wearer of the mountains jersey) Mederic Clain, who was joined by Stephane Berges (Ag2R) and Oscar Laguna Garcia (Relax Fuenlabrada). On the first climb of the day these three were joined by a second group, including US Postal's Victor Hugo Pena, iBanesto's Jose Vicente Garcia Acosta, Rafael Diaz Justo for ONCE, and Jesus Manzano for Kelme. At the 65km mark, their advantage over the first peloton was 6:48.

14:45 CEST    94 km/ 104 km to go
The lead group of seven is still intact, working well together. The Saeco team of Gilberto Simoni and Danilo Di Luca is riding at the front of the peloton, but not chasing hard. The break is between the first and second climbs of the day. Big Mat-Auber's Xavier Jan, winner of the GP de l'Ouverture this year, has abandoned the race.

15:00 CEST    111 km/ 87 km to go
The peloton is content to let the break do its thing for the moment. Saeco is keeping an eye on the front of the group, but is riding a steady tempo. The Italian team is notably absent in the lead group, although the other favourites' teams have policemen up front, no major contenders for the overall. The lead is beginning to fall steadily, nonetheless, and is now under six minutes.

15:10 CEST    118 km/ 80km to go
The gap is now 5:05 between the leading group of 7 and the peloton, still led by the Saeco team with several ONCE riders close behind. The break has passed the second intermediate sprint at Lanjarón, with the honors going to Mederic Clain.

Other news of the day: Giro d'Italia winner Paolo Savoldelli was a non-starter today. Already having a rough go in this year's Vuelta, he was also involved in a crash near the end of yesterday's stage that took down his teammate Ivan Quaranta as well.

15:20 CEST    126 km/ 72km to go
Word has it Beloki has not had the best start today, and may be suffering from cramps. He visited the medical car earlier in the stage, and just now has been spotted dropping back to his ONCE team car. The peloton is being guided down the Lanjarón by the Saeco team, as the break continues along towards the Sierra Nevada.

15:24 CEST    128 km/ 70km to go
There's been a crash in the peloton, with Oscar Sevilla (among others) hitting the ground. The crash took place on a wide highway, after the descent from the climb. Sevilla is up and riding with three Kelme teammates. A rider from the Milaneza team was also involved, and the chase group has now rejoined the peloton.

15:30 CEST    132 km/ 66km to go
Sevilla doesn't look too badly banged up, however he doesn't look particularly fresh today either, riding in the small chainring. The peloton is working its way towards the big finishing climb, which is now about 30km away. Around 5 minutes still separate the breakaway and the chasing pack.

15:35 CEST    135 km/ 63km to go
As Saeco continues to set the pace in the peloton, Beloki has rejoined the head of the group, looking comfortable. Francesco Casagrande (Fassa Bortolo) is also present. US Postal's Roberto Heras has been lingering a bit further behind in the main field, as has defending Vuelta champion Casero.

15:41 CEST    140 km/ 58km to go
Temperatures at the top of the Sierra Nevada are reported to be around 15C/60F. The sky is somewhat overcast, but conditions are warm and dry and the valley. Members of the break are now stretching a bit and seeking bottles from their team cars. The gap to the main field is under 5 minutes, with Saeco still in charge of the steady pursuit.

15:48 CEST    145 km/ 53km to go
Mederic Clain, who started today's break, looks to be picking up enough mountain points to keep his orange jersey after today's stage. The lead group of seven now has an advantage of 4'54" over the peloton, which is beginning to stretch out a bit as the pace picks up slightly.

15:54 CEST    148 km/ 50km to go
Much of the passage through the valley's in today's stage is marked by a series of false flats, slowly sapping the strength from the leading 7. Saeco has been at the front of the peloton for quite some time now.

There's been a crash involving Roberto Laiseka (Euskaltel), who has fallen heavily and appears to have hit his head quite hard and is bleeding heavily. The ambulance has arrived on the scene and it looks as though his Vuelta is over.

16:08 CEST    159 km/ 39km to go
The break's advantage is now down to 3:38, as Fassa Bortolo has started to join in the chase with Saeco. The break is passing over some wet roads, indicating that it has rained recently as the race approaches the Sierra Nevada.

Winner of the last two stages, Mario Cipollini will retire from the race on Sunday, according to the Vuelta organisation, who also report that Beloki has indeed injured his knee after hitting his handlebars. Cipollini is thinking of his preparation for the World's, and with two stage wins in the bag, his Vuelta has been a quick success.

16:12 CEST    161 km/ 37km to go
The seven man break is reaching the foot of the Sierra Nevada, a 37km climb to today's stage finish. The climb is noted more for its length rather than steepness, therefore climbers with more power might perform better than the pure climbers who excel on the steeper slopes. It will be interesting to see among the Saeco camp if either Di Luca or Simoni emerge as a clear team favourite.

16:15 CEST    162 km/ 36km to go
The break is on the pre-slopes of the Sierra Nevada, and already it's clear that these seven won't stay together much longer. Manzano has attacked the lead group, followed by Garcia Acosta, who has countered and is currently starting the climb on his own. The peloton is less than three minutes back, and the expected shake up is not far off.

16:21 CEST    164 km/ 34km to go
The US Postal team has sent several men to the front to help lead the chase and keep an eye on the expected attacks. Meanwhile, up front, Mederic Clain has attacked the lead group in an effort to bridge the gap to Garcia Acosta. The climb is not steep and thus the riders are moving at a fairly fast pace. Although it might be to his advantage, Garcia Acosta appears to have no interest in waiting for Clain to join him.

16:26 CEST    166 km/ 32km to go
Garcia Acosta was joined and passed by Oscar Laguna (Relax Fuenlabrada), who is now the lone leader off the front. His lead ahead of the peloton is 2:22. Saeco is no longer the sole team leading the peloton, as several riders are attacking to create some new splits. The favourites' teams are sending riders ahead as the expected heavy hitters are content to remain in the peloton on the lower slopes.

16:30 CEST    167 km/ 31km to go
Stephane Berges (Ag2R) is the first of the breakaway members to be caught by the peloton, which is currently led by iBanesto's Jon Odriozola. Up front, Kelme's Manzano has caught Oscar Laguna and is now leading the race.

16:32 CEST    169 km/ 29km to go
Victor Hugo Pena has now been caught by the peloton. Roberto Laiseka, who fell heavily earlier and is out of the race, is reported to have escaped without any major fractures or concussion. As the remnants of the break are caught by the peloton, a number of riders are trying their chances and leaping off the front of the bunch.

16:38 CEST    171 km/ 27km to go
Roberto Heras is in the process of working his way back from the wrong end of the peloton. The speed in the pack is picking up, as Juan Carlos Dominguez, leader of the Phonak team, dangles 100 meters ahead. Heras is not the only favourite poorly placed in the peloton, as Casero finds himself a bit far back. David Millar (Cofidis) looks to be having trouble following the pace.

16:44 CEST    173 km/ 25km to go
Manzano (Kelme) is still alone up front, with a lead of 1:38 over the peloton, led by iBanesto. A group of four is chasing behind Manzano, with a small advantage over the bunch. Simoni is well placed, about 15 riders back from the front of the peloton. Alberto Lopez de Munain (Euskaltel) has attacked the front of the peloton and gained about 100 meters. He's persisting and looks to be widening his lead a bit. Another big name, Santiago Botero, has been dropped by the main field.

16:48 CEST    179 km/ 19km to go
Munain is progressing well with his attack, catching some of the riders caught between Manzano and the peloton, including Phonak's Juan Carlos Dominguez. Botero has a teammate with him behind the field, as Tauler works to help him rejoin the field. Manzano's lead is down to 38" over the field.

16:52 CEST    182 km/ 16km to go
Manzano's advantage is slowly slipping, as he discusses the matter with his team car. He might do well to wait for the three riders in pursuit, who still hold a modest advantage over the peloton. Phonak's Dominguez, however, is falling behind this group, leaving Luis Perez and Munain to chase Manzano ahead.

16:55 CEST    183 km/ 15km to go
Manzano has been caught and passed by Luis Perez and Alberto Lopez de Munain, unable to match their speed on the climb. Botero briefly rejoined the back of the peloton, but with the next acceleration was out the back once more. On paper this should have been a climb for the powerful Colombian, but evidently it's not his day. The peloton is moving quickly, although the favourites' have yet to make their moves at the front. Peter Luttenberger (Tacconi Sport) is forcing the pace, taking about 5 riders with him off the front.

16:57 CEST    184 km/ 14km to go
Luis Perez (Coast) is setting the pace out front with Munain (Euskaltel), as the peloton has reeled in Luttenberger and company. A new group of three is taking its chance, including iBanesto's Santiago Blanco.

17:02 CEST    186 km/ 12km to go
The chase group is sitting up, sensing the peloton is not far behind. Beloki is not far from the front of the bunch, but the favourites' are not grouped together. Telekom's Vinokourov, has made an appearance at the front and placed himself in a new chase group ahead of the peloton. US Postal's Heras is now in second position behind his teammate Vandevelde. The leading duo have an advantage of 37" over the chase group, which is being pulled in by the peloton.

17:09 CEST    188 km/ 10km to go
A group of 13 is chasing the two leaders, whose advantage is down to 20". The big favourites' are taking up position closer to the front of the peloton. Vandevelde is still setting the tempo with Heras on his wheel. The leading two have just passed the 10km to go banner.

17:11 CEST    189 km/ 9km to go
Munain is now the lone leader, as Luis Perez has dropped off the pace, being passed by the chasing group, which is also fragmenting. Aitor Gonzalez (Kelme) is setting the tempo in the chase group of 11.

17:15 CEST    190 km/ 8km to go
The situation is constantly evolving, with five riders now chasing the lone leader. Vinokourov is looking strong and forcing the pace. Vandevelde is still working at the front of the peloton, but his pace is not as fast as that of the leaders up ahead, who are pulling away slightly. Heras is still in second position behind his teammate.

17:19 CEST    192 km/ 6km to go
The chase group has swelled once again to around 12 riders, but isn't organised. As a result, the attacks are continuing and the group has just split in half again. Big Mat's Garcia Casas has caused the split, with Trentin (Cofidis) on his wheel. Angel Casero has just moved to the front of the peloton, which is now just over 1 minute behind the leaders.

17:19 CEST    193 km/ 5km to go
The steepest portions of the climb are coming as the race enters the last 5km. Casagrande is still present near the front of the peloton. No sign of Simoni and Di Luca at the moment, but the pack is grouped together, with nobody taking charge to set the pace. Vandevelde has put an end to his pacemaking. Trentin and Garcia Casas are still up front, and it's worth noting that Trentin is only 26" behind Beloki in the overall classification.

17:23 CEST    194 km/ 4km to go
Manuel "Tricky" Beltran (Coast) has tried a move off the front, marked by Jorg Jaksche of ONCE. The peloton has passed the 5km to go banner. Kelme's Oscar Sevilla has launched himself from the peloton (and past Jaksche and Beltran), in pursuit of the two leaders.

17:26 CEST    195 km/ 3km to go
Sevilla is setting a fast pace with Jaksche on his wheel, as behind Casero is in a bit of difficulty in the main field. The front of the peloton is thinning out, with Heras present, as well as Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano. Sevilla is 14" ahead of the pack, as the two leaders are now 1'19" ahead. Beloki's leader's jersey is in jeopardy today.

17:30 CEST    196 km/ 2km to go
Sevilla and Jaksche are still ahead of the first peloton, chasing Garcia Casas and Trentin, who are looking set to dispute the stage victory. In the group of favourites', Simoni is present, along with Casagrande, Camenzind, Bruylandts, Mancebo, and several others. Casero, despite looking to be in a bit of trouble earlier, is still with the leaders.

Gonzalez de Galdeano has just made an effort to move ahead of the peloton.

17:31 CEST    196 km/ 2km to go
Sevilla isn't picking up much time on the two leaders, but he has 43" on the chasing peloton, led by Beltran and Escartin of Team Coast. Simoni is also helping set the pace. Beloki is still present in the group of favourites', but the GC will surely change after today's stage.

17:34 CEST    197 km/ 1km to go
Saeco's Danilo Di Luca has launched a big attack, and is passing under the 1km to go banner, about to catch Sevilla and Jaksche. Beloki has just attacked as well and is flying up the climb.

Di Luca is making the junction with Sevilla, as Trentin has attacked his breakaway companion Garcia Casas and wins the stage. Mikel Zarrabeitia (ONCE) has taken 4th place and ridden into the leader's jersey.

17:36 CEST    Finish
Big Mat's Garcia Casas has taken second place, as the favourites' are pouring over the line. Di Luca stole a few seconds with his late burst, as his teammate Simoni finished next to Beloki several seconds back. Sevilla is one of the biggest winners of the day, taking over 40" from Beloki. Changes are afoot in the GC.

Results

1 Guido Trentin (Ita) Cofidis                                5.45.59
2 Flix Garcia Casas (Spa) Bigmat.Auber 93                      0.80
3 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                       0.10
4 Mikel Zarrabeitia (Spa) ONCE-Eroski
5 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Team Telekom                       0.28
6 Jrg Jaksche (Ger) ONCE-Eroski                                0.45
7 Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca                        0.47
8 Pablo Lastras (Spa) iBanesto.com
9 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Saeco-Longoni Sport                      0.51
10 Rui Miguel Sousa (Por) Milaneza-MSS                          0.53
 
General classification after stage 5
 
1 Mikel Zarrabeitia (Spa) ONCE-Eroski                       16.53.20
2 Guido Trentin (Ita) Cofidis                                   0.16
3 Jrg Jaksche (Ger) ONCE-Eroski                                0.35
4 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Team Telekom                       0.36
5 Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca                        0.52
6 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                       1.03
7 Aitor Gonzalez (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca
8 Pablo Lastras (Spa) iBanesto.com                              1.04
9 Flix Garcia Casas (Spa) Bigmat.Auber 93                      1.14
10 Joseba Beloki (Spa) ONCE-Eroski                              1.28

 

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