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2001 Vuelta

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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti


57th Vuelta a España

Spain, September 7- 29, 2002

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Stage 9 - September 15: Córdoba - Córdoba, 130.2 km

Complete Live Report

Start time: 14:10 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:15 CEST

14:38 CEST    20 km/110 km to go
Welcome to the Cyclingnews coverage of stage 9 of the Vuelta, a quick 130 km loop starting and finishing in Córdoba, the old capital of Moorish Spain and once one of the cultural centres of Europe.

The stage today is probably set up for the sprinters, although a sole second category climb 17 km from the finish may split it up; Mario Cipollini decided it wasn't for him, anyway, when he was one of 12 riders who took the proverbial early bath yesterday. In addition we are also short of Jan Hruska (ONCE) and Michael Barry (US Postal) who did not start this morning after crashing yesterday.

The riders have not been under way for long, but it has been lively and a group of nine riders is half a minute clear. Most of the pretenders to the throne will be wanting to take it steady today, with the time trial stage tomorrow, but there are plenty of candidates for a stage win.

14:46 CEST    29 km/101 km to go
The attacking group was not coherent enough to stay away from some fierce chasing from the bunch, which has however split in two with a fairly significant gap. Spruch and Freire are among the riders in the back group, which looks to be nearly a minute down. Santiago Botero is riding tempo at the head of the race in the company of a pack of Telekom vests - with Cipollini out of the picture and the climb to keep some of the weaker climbers off the front, Zabel must fancy his chances today.

14:56 CEST    34 km/96 km to go
World champion Oscar Freire, who has been suffering from knee problems, is reported to have retired from the race. The chase in the second group is being led by iBanesto.com, who have brought some riders back from the front group to assist Francisco Mancebo who was trapped behind the split. Phonak is assisting them; the gap is increasing but only slowly, at 1.07. Di Luca and Astarloa are also in the wrong bunch.

15:01 CEST    
A bit of crosswind means that echelons are forming from the second group on the familiar wide open roads of this region; the front group, 1.20 ahead now, is still all together although there is a bit of bumping and boring going on.

With Di Luca and Mancebo behind, the other teams with CG riders are now adding to the pressure at the front, with ONCE, Kelme, US Postal and Coast jerseys joining Telekom at the front.

15:12 CEST    45 km/85 km to go
ONCE have now moved to the front en bloc, with the front group of a hundred or so riders strung out behind them in single file. The riders are heading south-east at this point with the wind from the south-west. They will then strike north again, passing through Córdoba again before the loop over the Alto de San Jerónimo north of the city.

The gap to the second group is 1.45; it looks as though the front group may split at any moment - indeed, a second echelon is forming now.

15:21 CEST    55 km/75 km to go
The echelons did not have any lasting impact and the original two groups have reformed as the direction changes slightly. The gap is still going up, though - 2.20 - this is looking decidedly dangerous for the GC riders behind now.

A touch of wheels brings down Ricardo Valdéz of Jazztel, one of the frequent attackers this year. He is in some pain - looks like it could be a broken leg. He is taken off in the race ambulance.

15:39 CEST    62 km/68 km to go
As the race nears its southernmost point the gap is still widening, over three minutes now. The big guns themselves are firing; it's not just the domestiques doing the work. Beloki and Zabel even find themselves in a short-lived break; the front group looks to have thinned out a bit in any case. Di Luca, Mancebo and Camenzind are all active in the chasing group.

The front group is really strung out under pressure from ONCE - gaps are opening up and it looks as though it could fragment any minute; you don't want to be at the back. Nearly 4 minutes to the Mancebo/Di Luca group now.

15:50 CEST    73 km/57 km to go
To recap, the front group includes most of the GC contenders, with Francisco Mancebo, Danilo Di Luca, and Igor Astarloa definitely in the wrong group. Santi Botero - who has done a lot of work but will now be resting for tomorrow - and Pavel Tonkov are among riders who have been dropped from the front group in the last few kilometres.

The gap to the second group has stabilised at 4.45; the pace in front seems to have eased a little for the moment.

15:59 CEST    80 km/50 km to go
With a tailwind and a slight downhill for the run into the first passage through Córdoba, the speed is very high but the tempo has relaxed a bit, and Igor González de Galdeano is among the riders who drop back to have a word with their team cars.

Valdez's injury is suspected to be a broken hip.

16:08 CEST    
The relatively slacker pace tempts somebody into an attack - it's AG2R's Basque Mikel Astarloza; Mapei's Elio Aggiano (who'd be up for the most aggressive rider prize if there was one) comes across to him, followed by another four riders - Bruylandts, Verstrepen, Pecharroman and Vinale. The six have a 100 m lead over the first bunch who are lined out once again.

Behind, the gap is closing slightly - 4.25 at the last report - but Mancebo has had enough and has retired!

Camenzind is in fact reported to be in the front group, but Phonak are still among the main chasers behind.

16:16 CEST    99 km/31 km to go
Coming into Córdoba for the first time the leading quartet - Vinale and Verstrepen have been dropped - have about 10 seconds lead. Astarloza takes the points for the intermediate sprint. 8 km to the climb; no more news of the stragglers.

16:23 CEST    
Astarloza drops his breakaway companions to be caught and rides ahead on his own. He shouldn't be confused with Saeco's Igor Astarloa, who is among the victims of the day's big split - who have now apparently given up hope, and are nearly 8 minutes down. The road out of the city is a broad highway, not favourable to a lone attacker at all, but the bunch appear in no hurry to pick up the pace with the climb looming.

16:26 CEST    106 km/24 km to go
At the foot of the 6 km climb Astarloza's moment of glory is over, as Fassa Bortolo and Telekom vests move to the front.

16:29 CEST    108 km/22 km to go
Dario Cioni is the first to attack (an unspectacular acceleration) on the climb, with Pietro Caucchioli on his wheel.

Relax's Antonio Colom comes across to the two Italians; behind them it is Milaneza who are driving the bunch in the interests of their sprinter Angel Edo.

Colom doesn't wait with Cioni and Caucchioli for long, but jumps away to a solo lead of a 19 seconds at the 20 km banner. Sevilla and Heras are both close to the front of the bunch.

16:38 CEST    112 km/18 km to go
Milaneza keep up their tempo up the top half of the climb and, joined by Francesco Casagrande they mop up Caucchioli and Cioni. Mountains leader Gilberto Simoni and combine leader Felix Garcia Casas are well up too. 15 seconds ahead Colom is gritting his teeth and spinning a small gear.

Colom only just hangs on to the prime line, and is then mopped up. Garcia Casas takes the 7 points for second place, and could move ahead of Simoni in the mountains competition.

Nope, looks as though Simoni hangs on to the orange jersey by a point.

16:47 CEST    120 km/10 km to go
The descent is longer and shallower than the climb, but still fairly technical on the narrow roads; it looks as though this group will probably stay together for a bunch sprint now, although Fabian Jeker has a bit of a go on the descent.

As the road pitches up again Jeker is still hanging in there 100m in front of the bunch, while Erik Zabel is right at the back - maybe it's not his day.

Another attack comes, and Luís Perez, caught on the line yesterday, comes across to Jeker.

16:53 CEST    122 km/8 km to go
A banesto rider comes across to the two leaders - it is Pablo Lastras. The trio have around 10 seconds lead. Jeker took an intermediate sprint on the descent, not that you'd have noticed.

Lastras leads through and Perez cannot hold his wheel. The road is still winding downhill between stubby cork oaks.

16:57 CEST    126 km/4 km to go
The bunch behind the three leaders has thinned out to around 30 riders, hard to see who is in it. Lastras is clear and out of sight of his two pursuers. Vinokourov is trying to move Zabel up the bunch.

11.35 deficit for the Di Luca group at the summit of the climb

16:59 CEST    128 km/2 km to go
Into the broad city streets, now, but Lastras has 18 seconds lead on the unfortunate Perez and Jeker; it looks as though iBanesto.com are going to rescue something from this otherwise disastrous day.

17:00 CEST    129 km/1 km to go
Lastras powers under the red triangle with still 18 seconds lead on Perez and Jeker. He's safe now?

17:02 CEST    Finish
Lastras sits up, crosses himself and takes the win. Jeker leads out for second but Perez takes him for his second minor placing in two days. Alejandro Valverde (Kelme) takes fourth at the head of the much reduced bunch just ahead of Zabel.

Other riders from the original front group are coming in in dribs and drabs; a big group at 3.50, another at 4.30, a dozen at 5.30. Simoni holds onto his mountains jersey by one point; Zabel stretches his points lead over Petacchi to 31. The main victims on GC were Di Luca and Astarloa as well as the packed Mancebo, of course; the other main contenders look (provisionally) to have limited the damage by finishing in the first bunch with Sevilla, but a lot of other riders have definitively dropped out of contention. Sevilla holds the white combine jersey as well as the gold jersey of GC leader; the first riders from the defeated group finish some 12 minutes down as he is on the podium, with the autobus another five minutes down.

Result (provisional) 

1 Pablo Lastras (Spa) iBanesto.com                  2.48.31 (46.5 km/h)
2 Luis Perez (Spa) Team Coast                                   0.13
3 Fabian Jeker (Swi) Milaneza-MSS
4 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca                   0.26
5 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom
6 Gerrit Glomser (Aut) Saeco-Longoni Sport
7 Angel Edo (Spa) Milaneza-MSS
8 Oscar Camenzind (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems
9 Aitor Gonzalez (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca
10 Dave Bruylandts (Bel) Domo-Farm Frites

General classification after stage 9

1 Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca                    32.32.37
2 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Team Telekom                       0.14
3 Aitor Gonzalez (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca                       0.41
4 Roberto Heras (Spa) US Postal Service                         0.48
5 Félix Garcia Casas (Spa) Bigmat.Auber 93                      1.01
6 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                       1.09
7 Iban Mayo (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                             1.14
8 Mikel Zarrabeitia (Spa) ONCE-Eroski                           1.34
9 Joseba Beloki (Spa) ONCE-Eroski                               1.43
10 Jörg Jaksche (Ger) ONCE-Eroski                               1.44

Thanks for following this unexpectedly eventful stage with us; we'll be back in an unseasonally chilly Córdoba tomorrow (21° and rain forecast) for the 36 km individual time trial; will today's efforts have taken too much out of any of the contenders?

Results     Mail the Cyclingnews commentary team!

 

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