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2001 Vuelta

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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

57th Vuelta a España

Spain, September 7- 29, 2002

Main page    Start List    Map    Stage Profile     Results

Stage 16 - September 24: Avilés - León, 154.7 km

Complete Live Report

Start time: 13:17 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:00 CEST

14:40 CEST   62 km/93 km to go
Welcome to Cyclingnews' coverage of the 16th stage of the Vuelta. Today's stage is short but tough, taking in the Cat. 1 climb of Puerto de Pajares with its summit at 89 km. There is also the Cat. 3 Alto de San Tirso at km 42. The stage shouldn't cause too much damage to the GC, despite the climb, but it's going to be hard to end in a bunch sprint.

Two riders did not start today: Oscar Camenzind (Phonak) and Leif Hoste (Domo). After 13 km, Antonio Colom (Relax) fell and abandoned. At km 32, Rafaele Ferrara (Alessio) abandoned.

No early attacks were able to stay away today, but after 53 km a group of six riders escaped. They were joined by another six, and we have a group of 12 riders away, including two Kelme riders (Botero). They have a gap of 55 seconds.

14:48 CEST   68 km/87 km to go
The full composition of the break is as follows: Luis Perez and David Plaza (Team Coast), Koos Moerenhout (Domo-Farm Frites), Aitor Osa (iBanesto.com), Carlos Torrent (Jazztel-Costa De Almeria), Santiago Botero and José Gutierrez (Kelme-Costa Blanca), Joan Horrach and Rui Lavarinhas (Milaneza-MSS), Rafael Diaz Justo and Mikel Pradera (ONCE-Eroski), and Daniel Schnider (Phonak Hearing Systems).

Their gap is 3'08 now, as US Postal sets a relaxed pace on the front of the peloton. The Posties are running with a reduced lineup, having lost three men already. The last was Victor Hugo Pena, who was disqualified for holding onto the USPS second team car on the Angliru. The jury also disqualified the team car. A similar incident happened in the Tour de France when Jacky Durand and a FDJeux.com team car was DQ'd.

14:58 CEST   74 km/81 km to go
The 12 man break is rapidly establishing itself at the head of the race, building up a 5 minute lead over the relaxed USPS chase. Heras' team doesn't have to worry about anyone in the break, as the best placed rider is David Plaza (Team Coast) who is 21st at 19'06. As such, David Zabriskie is sitting on the front of the peloton, hands on the tops of the bars.

Melchor Mauri (Maia) has abandoned the race.

15:06 CEST   77 km/78 km to go
The climb of the Puerto de Pajares has started, with 12 riders including Luis Perez, Santiago Botero and Aitor Osa, having a 6'10 lead over the Postal led peloton. The climb is 13.5 km long and averages 6.6%, with sections of 17% near the top.

15:10 CEST   80 km/75 km to go
The Kelme team take over the pace making, with six riders on the front as well as Martin Perdiguero (Acqua e Sapone). They are followed by ONCE and Heras, who is now isolated from his teammates.

The gap to the leaders is down to 5'40. Torrent, Moerenhout and Diaz Justo have all been dropped by the front riders.

15:17 CEST   83 km/72 km to go
The peloton has shattered on this climb due to the strong pace set by Kelme. Manzano, De Los Angeles, Garcia Quesada, Sevilla and Tauler are at the front, with Aitor Gonzalez riding just behind Heras, Beloki and Casagrande.

The breakaways (now eight) are on a false flat section of the climb.

Zarrabeitia, De Los Angeles and Zubeldia (10th on GC) are dropped from the peloton.

15:21 CEST   84 km/71 km to go
Manzano drops off the front, reducing the Kelme force to four riders in the peloton. All the other favourites seem to be there, although there are only around 20 riders left.

Tauler and Quesada lift the tempo, forcing Sevilla to bridge the gap. Heras is right on Sevilla's wheel, followed by Casagrande and Beloki, then Aitor Gonzalez.

15:25 CEST   86 km/69 km to go
Manzano claws his way back onto the peloton, and gets to the front and starts working. Sevilla and Gonzalez have dropped back a little. Simoni, Casero, and Serrano are all at the back of the peloton.

The gap to the leading break is 4'49. The riders in the break: Luis Perez and David Plaza (Team Coast), Aitor Osa (iBanesto.com), Santiago Botero and José Gutierrez (Kelme-Costa Blanca), Joan Horrach and Rui Lavarinhas (Milaneza-MSS), and Daniel Schnider (Phonak Hearing Systems).

15:30 CEST   88 km/67 km to go
The leaders are approaching the top of the climb, and it's getting a lot steeper. Schnider is suffering, but holding on. The gap is down to 4'35.

The peloton which numbers around 20 contains five Kelmes, four ONCEs, race leader Roberto Heras and mountains leader Gilberto Simoni. The top nine on GC are all there.

15:34 CEST   89 km/66 km to go
Lavarinhas is having troubles following the leaders at the top of the climb. The front group now has Botero and Gutierrez (Kelme), Aitor Osa (iBanesto), David Plaza and Luis Perez (Team Coast).

Osa takes the points from Plaza, Botero, Gutierrez and Perez. Lavarinhas should get back on on the short descent. Horrach and Schnider take 7th and 8th, then Moerenhout.

David Etxebarria (Euskaltel) has given up.

15:37 CEST   91 km/64 km to go
Garcia Quesada and Tauler lead the peloton to the top, which stays together. Simoni won't take any more mountain points (if there are any available), as he's at the back of the group. Zubeldia is the only one in the top 10 on GC who is missing from the peloton.

Simoni comes by everyone but doesn't take any points on the climb (Morenhout was 9th). He obviously wasn't suffering as much as he looked!

The leaders have 4'10 on the peloton.

15:40 CEST  94 km/61 km to go
Aitor Gonzalez takes a flyer on the descent. Heras won't like that. He comes back, and Casero goes.

15:48 CEST  102 km/53 km to go
The situation in the race is that we have five leaders: Santi Botero and Jose Gutierrez (Kelme), Aitor Osa (iBanesto), David Plaza and Luis Perez (Team Coast). Chasing them at various intervals are Rui Lavarinhas and Joan Horrach (Milaneza-MSS), Daniel Schnider (Phonak Hearing Systems), and Koos Moerenhout (Domo). Then the peloton with all the favourites at 5'13. Zubeldia's group has closed the gap.

15:53 CEST  108 km/47 km to go
The descent is now over and the five leaders are trying to hold the peloton at bay over the final 45 km. They have 5'30, and should be able to do it. ONCE and Kelme are on the front of the peloton, driving fairly hard.

16:02 CEST  117 km/38 km to go
The pace drops in the peloton, allowing more riders to catch on. Heras now has Christian Vandevelde and Jose Luis Rubiera to help him. Kelme's work on the climb seems to be a complete waste of energy now, with the benefit of hindsight.

The leading five: Santi Botero and Jose Gutierrez (Kelme), Aitor Osa (iBanesto), David Plaza and Luis Perez (Team Coast) now have 6 minutes, meaning they won't be caught.

Botero is obviously having a much better day than he did during the first two weeks. Also Luis Perez has got himself into the winning break again - can he convert it into a stage win at last?

16:10 CEST  123 km/32 km to go
The peloton is now cruising along behind the five man break, led by Codol (Lampre), a Euskaltel and Maia rider, then Heras' two teammates Rubiera and Vandevelde. There are at least 50 riders in the peloton.

The five leaders look to be cooperating well for the stage win, as behind them Lavarinhas and Horrach (at 4'30), Schnider, and Moerenhout are chasing in no-mans land. The peloton is at 7'09.

16:17 CEST  128 km/27 km to go
Two Telekom jerseys appear at the front: Aldag and Kessler, which means that Erik Zabel must be back in the peloton. However Petacchi isn't, meaning that Zabel can pick up some more points for the points classification.

Heras has a puncture, and gets a quick wheel change from Bruyneel and Jean Marc Vandenberghe. He gets going and starts chasing with Vandevelde and Rubiera. The peloton is not going fast, and he will get on easily.

Botero wins the sprint at the Alto del Rabizo in front of Osa and Gutierrez.

16:25 CEST  132 km/23 km to go
The leading five riders: Santi Botero and Jose Gutierrez (Kelme), Aitor Osa (iBanesto), David Plaza and Luis Perez (Team Coast), have extended their advantage to 9 minutes over the peloton, which is cruising towards the final intermediate sprint. David Plaza is the best placed of the break, but is over 19 minutes behind. He has now moved himself up to a virtual 17th place.

After three hours of racing, the average speed is 41.96 km/h. That's quick, given that the peloton gained 1000 metres in altitude.

16:32 CEST  136 km/19 km to go
Kelme has got to the front of the peloton again, with Aitor Gonzalez doing a turn. Heras looks suspiciously at them, and gets his USPS boys on the front. However he needs more than two to control the race. No-one seems to be attacking though.

The Plaza group is gaining time, with the gap over 9 minutes now.

16:38 CEST  145 km/10 km to go
It's Aldag and Kessler leading the peloton now for Telekom, trying to prevent Alessandro Petacchi from chasing back on. They are not racing for the stage win, as there are still (at least) 7 riders up the road, but can help Zabel gain some points for the points GC.

The leading five (Botero, Gutierrez, Plaza, Perez and Osa) have 7 minutes on Lavarinhas and Horrach, and 9.25 on the peloton. Most of the last 65 km of this stage is downhill.

16:41 CEST  147 km/8 km to go
The leaders have 9'38 with 8 km to go, meaning that Plaza is now a virtual 14th on GC (but still at 10 minutes). Gutierrez is the best sprinter on paper.

16:43 CEST  149 km/6 km to go
Botero leads them through with 6 km to go, with Perez and Plaza following.

ONCE, Kelme and Team Coast are swapping at the front of the peloton, which is very nervous.

16:46 CEST  151 km/4 km to go
The leading five are still cooperating well with 4 km to go. Who will attack first, or will it come to a group sprint? Team Coast has two riders, and Kelme has two. Aitor Osa is the sole iBanesto rider.

16:47 CEST  152 km/3 km to go
Gutierrez takes his turn with 3 km to go - does he have enough juice for a sprint?

Plaza attacks first, and Botero gets on his wheel.

16:48 CEST  153 km/2 km to go
Botero brings Plaza back with 2 km to go. Perez counters, and Botero goes with him. The other three watch.

Perez looks at Botero, who won't roll through with Gutierrez behind.

16:49 CEST  154 km/1 km to go
Perez leads with 1 km to go. Botero looks back to see where the other three are. They aren't going to come back.

16:50 CEST  155 km/0 km to go
Both groups are not going fast! Perez is forced to lead out. Botero is on his wheel, and comes round him to win! He is very happy. Gutierrez takes third from Osa and Plaza.

Perez and Plaza were really stuck against the Kelmes in that situation. Botero was strong enough to counter both attacks, and was rewarded with the win. Quite a turnaround after a very ordinary first two weeks of the Vuelta.

Lavarinhas and Horrach are trying to hold off the peloton with 3 km to go. They'll have to work for it. Aldag and Kessler are pulling them back very quickly.

16:58 CEST  155 km/0 km to go
The Maia pair are caught with 1.5 km to go. So Zabel is sprinting for 6th place. Acqua e Sapone set up a short leadout for Perdiguero. But Zabel is right behind him and wins the sprint.

The general classification remains the same, with Heras leading Gonzalez by 35 seconds. Aitor Osa has taken the lead in the mountains classification from Simoni by 3 points, while Erik Zabel has extended his lead in the points classification. Heras is also the leader in the regularity (best all round) classification.


1 Santiago Botero (Col) Kelme-Costa Blanca                   3.32.07 (43.76 km/h)
2 Luis Perez (Spa) Team Coast 
3 José Gutierrez (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca                       0.05
4 Aitor Osa (Spa) iBanesto.com  
5 David Plaza (Spa) Team Coast
6 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom                                 8.58
7 M.A. Martin Perdiguero (Spa) Acqua & Sapone-Cantina Tollo
8 Gerrit Glomser (Aut) Saeco-Longoni Sport

General classification after stage 16

1 Roberto Heras (Spa) US Postal Service                     58.55.13
2 Aitor Gonzalez (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca                       0.35
3 Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca                        1.08
4 Joseba Beloki (Spa) ONCE-Eroski                               1.57
5 Iban Mayo (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                             2.16
6 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                      3.56
7 Félix Garcia Casas (Spa) Bigmat.Auber 93                      4.05
8 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saeco-Longoni Sport                     4.55
9 Manuel Beltran (Spa) Team Coast                               5.20
10 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                      5.26

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