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2002 Vuelta

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Stages & Results

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Stage 21 - Sunday, September 28: Madrid - Madrid, 145.8km

After three weeks of racing and a varied parcours, the Vuelta gives a nod to tradtion by offering a more ceremonial road stage to wrap things up. Madrid will once more host the final day of racing, which will conclude with eight laps of a finishing circuit in the center city. Almost certainly a stage for the sprinters, the Madrid stage will offer fans repeated glimpses of the race, whose overall classification will most likely have been set after the previous day's mountain time trial.

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Stage 20 - Saturday, September 27: San Lorenzo de El Escorial - Alto de Abantos, 11.2km ITT

The Vuelta organisers have changed the format of the race this year, preferring to end with a traditional road stage on the final day rather than an individual time trial. To keep the excitement building until the end, however, an individual hill climb time trial has been added on the penultimate stage. The 11.2km test will pit riders against each other, and against the Alto de Abantos, a Cat. 1 climb with an average gradient of 5.6%. If any time gaps in the general classification are still small, Stage 20 should help sort things out. The opening section of the climb features a brutal turn up a 17% incline, and there will be nowhere to hide for the riders as they face this ultimate race of truth.

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Stage 19 - Friday, September 26:  La Vega de Alcobendas - Collado Villalba, 164km

Artfully avoiding a formulaic end to the Vuelta, organisers have put in another difficult day of repeated climbs. Two first category and two third category climbs are featured in the last half of the stage, and despite the long downhill run into Collado Villalba, changes could still be made to the general classification.

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Stage 18 - Thursday, September 25: Las Rozas - Las Rozas, 143.8km

Another short and fast stage today, but with plenty of activity possible in the second half of the day. Once again all three intermediate sprints are lumped in the last half of the parcours, and the rolling parcours could prompt a series of attacks to foil the teams with a bunch sprint in mind. At only 143km, Stage 18 is one of the Vuelta's shorter stages.

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Stage 17 - Wednesday, September 24: Granada - Cordoba, 188.4km

This time the riders get a bit of a breather after the second round of high mountains with another transitional stage. The parcours from Granada to Cordoba does not offer any major difficulties, however the Cat. 2 climb of the Alto de San Jeronimo could provide a springboard for a breakaway. The summit of the climb sits just 12km from the finish, which promises a fast and potentially nervous finish.

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Stage 16 - Tuesday, September 23: Jaen - Sierra Nevada, 162km

Stage 16 follows a similar pattern to the previous race, once more providing a mountaintop finish after a stage with no other notable difficulties. The parcours becomes a bit more undulating from the day before, but the climb of the Sierra Nevada (HC) will no doubt shape the day's racing. The Sierra Nevada is a frequently used climb, noted for its 30 kilometre length more than any leg breaking gradients. Nonetheless, an average of 5.7% for such a long climb is not small task.

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Stage 15 - Sunday, September 21: Valdepeñas - Sierra de la Pandera, 172.1km

The mountains return with bang in stage 15. After a mostly flat or downhill parcours, the Vuelta slams back into the big hills with the hors catégorie Sierra de la Pandera, and 8.3km climb with an average gradient of 6.4%. The climb will shock many riders' systems as a fast approach will come to an end with an opening section with a 14% gradient. The climb becomes more gradual until once again hitting portions at 15% and later 12%, finally finishing with a slight dip before one last kick to the line.

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Stage 14 - Saturday, September 20: Albacete - Valdepeñas, 167.4km

A fast stage is expected between Albacete and Valdepeñas, with a gently rolling parcours of just 160km. All three intermediate sprints are in the second half of the race, so expect continued attacks and pressure in the main field through to the finish. With a slightly uphill finish, however, the pure sprinters could be foiled by a strong opportunist.

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Stage 13 - Friday, September 19:  Albacete - Albacete, 53.3km ITT

The second of the individual time trials is longer than the first, but with a more level parcours. Essentially flat over its 53.3 kilometres, the route around Albacete features a dip at the halfway point with a slight rise before a modest but steady drop in elevation to the finish. Stage 13 will help set the tone for the final phase of the Vuelta.

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Stage 12 - September 18:  Cuenca - Albacete, 168.8km

The balance of power is restored after the first round of mountains, as the sprinters can look forward to another downhill stage from Cuenca to Albacete. After a Cat. 3 warm up in the first 15 kilometres of racing, the profile is favourable for fast speeds and to break away from the peloton will require timing, strength, and a little luck. The flat finish is ideal for team tactics and if more than one of the sprinters' teams work together at the front, escapes will be few and far between.

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Stage 11 - Wednesday, September 17: Utiel - Cuenca, 162km

An ideal transition day following a tough weekend and the Vuelta's first rest day on Tuesday, Stage 11 could see a successful breakaway take advantage of the uneven terrain between Utiel and Cuenca. With a modest distance of just 160km, the pace should be high and the profile will challenge the sprinters' teams to keep the race in one piece.

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Stage 10 - Monday, September 15: Andorra - Sabadell, 194km

After such a tough weekend, Monday will still find the riders on their bikes, but a gentle profile will offer some rolling respite to the weary bunch. A gradual drop in elevation from Andorra back into Spain and the town of Sabadell will likely favour a bunch sprint as the climbers take a break and the sprinters seek some revenge for a weekend of riding in the autobus.

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Stage 9 - Sunday September 14: Vielha - Envalira (Andorra), 174.8km

Ending a first week in style, the peloton faces its third mountaintop finish in three days. Today's stage features only three climbs, but two Cat. 1 and one HC climb are a tough combination on any day. The climbing begins right from the start with the Port de la Bonaigua, followed by a long descent before tackling the Port del Canto. The day wraps up with a marathon 26km climb to Andorra up the Port d'Envalira. The shaping of the general classification will be well underway by the end of this grueling weekend in the mountains. Rest day, anyone? Not yet.

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Stage 8 - September 13:  Cauterets - Pla de Beret/Val d'Aran, 166km

As the Vuelta hits the one week mark, the racing is only getting tougher. Following an individual time trial and a first day in the high mountains, including the first mountaintop finish, Saturday's Stage 8 combines three Cat. 1 climbs with a finish atop the hors catégorie Alto Plá de Beret. This climb is not the steepest of the race, but at 20 kilometres in length, it will test both the strength and endurance of the climbers. The stage also takes in the Col de Peyresourde and the Col du Portillon.

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Stage 7 - September 12:  Huesca - Cauterets (France), 190km

It's crunch time now as the Vuelta reaches the mountains. Four categorised climbs are on the menu, including the Alto de Monrepos (Cat. 2), Alto del Portalet (Cat. 2), Col d'Aubisque (HC), and the climb to Cauterets-Cam Basque (Cat. 1). The race makes an incursion into France, and the four climbs will no doubt cause some damage in the peloton. Not only is this the hardest stage yet, it is also the longest since the beginning of the Vuelta.

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Stage 6 - September 11:  Zaragoza - Zaragoza, 43.8km ITT

Thursday's 43.8km individual time trial should give the next indication of who is in form and who can challenge for the general classification. The moderately long circuit around Zaragoza features some undulations, but no classified climbs. The powerful time trial riders should make their mark today. Guaging one's strength and not going too far into the read on the opening climbs will be critical for a strong finish.

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Stage 5 - September 10:  Soria - Zaragoza, 166.7km

Today the Vuelta drops back out of the highlands with 165 kilometres between Sortia Natural and Zaragoza. After some undulations in the first half of the stage, including the only classified climb, the Cat. 3 Alto de Lanzas Agudas, the route is steadily downhill to Zaragoza. This is an ideal parcours for the teams hoping to control the race for a bunch finish.

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Stage 4 - September 9: Santander - Burgos, 151 km

The fourth stage is a 151 km ride between Santander and Burgos. There are two climbs in it: Puerto del Escudo (1st category, 1,011 m) and Puerto de Carrales (3rd category, 1,020 m). The flat finish is in the city of Burgos. There are three intermediate sprints in Vargas, Cilleruelo de Bezana and Quintanaortuño. Another day for the sprinters to show their abilities in a flat finish. Maybe it's Petacchi time again, or maybe Zabel will get his revenge.

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Some sun, but mostly rain
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Stage 3 - Monday, September 8:  Cangas de Onis - Santander, 154.3km

This is a day for the fast finishers. With only two Cat. 3 climbs to disrupt the peloton, the sprinters' teams will be keen to keep the group together for the run into Santander. Following the Vuelta's move toward shorter stage distances, today's 154 kilometre parcours should see fast racing and an even faster finish, with three intermediate sprints to keep everyone on their toes.

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Joaquin Rodriguez
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Stage 2 - Sunday, September 7: Gijon - Cangas de Onis, 148 km

It may be typical for the grand tours to start with several days of flat sprinters' stages to get things rolling, but the Vuelta has steadily revised its format to provide more exciting racing. This year's stage 2 is no exception. While a bunch finish is still possible, the Cat. 1 climb of the Alto Mirador del Fito, with a summit just over 16km from the finish, should help mix things up early.

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iBanesto.com
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Stage 1 - Saturday, September 6: Gijon - Gijon, 28 km TTT

In 2002, Vuelta organisers brought back the team time trial after a ten year absence. And as with last year, the 2003 Vuelta kicks off with the exciting team event, which is demanding for the riders and exciting for spectators. The start this year in Gijon will feature a 28km race against the clock.

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Previews, Map, Stages & descriptions, Start List, Photos

Vuelta Features

Latest Photos
Diaries: Floyd Landis: The Impossible Dream, Dr Ferrari: Superb time trialling, Igor's diary: High speed train, direction Madrid, Cadel Evans: Opening the account
Interviews & Features: Levi Leipheimer interview: Never say die, Johan Bruyneel: The back-to-back Grand Tour champion, Roberto Heras interview: "I knew I had to give it all", Alejandro Valverde interview: The killer instinct, Who is Isidro Nozal?: Talented, humble, determined... and Vuelta leader, Cadel Evans interview: Optimistic Evans on the mend, Michael Rasmussen interview: Vuelta blond ambition, David Millar interview: Hamilton in mind, Alessandro Petacchi interview: 2003, Petacchi's year
Recent features: Matt White interview: White knight boards the blue train, Allan Davis diary: Vuelta just around the corner


58th Vuelta a España - Spain, September 6-28, 2003

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