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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

58th Vuelta a España - GT

Spain, September 6-28, 2003

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

Complete Live Report

Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting by Hernán Alvarez Macías

Time conversion guide: GMT = CEST - 2 hrs, AEST = CEST + 8 hrs, EDT = CEST - 6 hrs, PDT = CEST - 9 hrs

Start time (first rider off): 12:54 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:30 CEST

14:18 CEST    
Welcome to Cyclingnews' coverage of the thirteenth stage of La Vuelta, the second and by far the longest individual time trial in this year's route. Today the riders will tackle a 53.3 km parcours around Albacete, which will take them on an almost totally flat tour out of the city and back again. It's a real course for the specialists against the clock, and the climbers will just have to tough it out today and try and limit their losses. Look for riders like David Millar, Dario Frigo, Aitor Gonzalez, Manuel Beltran, Santos Gonzalez, Jan Hruska, Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano and Isidro Nozal to do well again.

Millar was actually one of the first riders to start, and came home in a time of 1:02:16, easily the quickest so far, at an impressive average speed of 51.36 km/h. That's going to be tough to beat.

14:43 CEST    
Millar won't have it all his way it seems. Bert Grabsch, who rode well in the first TT, has passed the halfway check (27 km) in 31'04, just 5 seconds slower than Millar. Also Serguei Ivanov (Fassa Bortolo) finished with a solid time of 1:02:40, which has him in second place on the intermediate standings.

14:56 CEST    
Bert Grabsch has fallen off the pace a little, passing the 41 km check in 48:13, which puts him 30 seconds behind Millar and 14 seconds behind Ivanov at the same point. He's still en route for a top 3 finish.

15:06 CEST    
In contrast to the first time trial, the wind is a lot less strong today. For the first half, the wind is with the riders and for the second half it's against them. The temperatures are around 25 degrees and it's sunny.

At the first time check (14km), Danish rider Klaus Moller (Milaneza) has set the quickest time: 15:56, which is 7 seconds faster than Millar at that point. But it's a very long test, and Millar always has an excellent second half.

15:09 CEST    
Grabsch finishes his ride in 1:02:47, a good time but not the best. That will put him in third overall.

15:17 CEST    
Klaus Moller (Milaneza) has just passed the 27 km check in 30:55, four seconds quicker than David Millar at the same point. Let's see what he can do in the second half, which is the (light) headwind section.

15:24 CEST    
We're now down to the final 25 starters, who all leave at 2 minute intervals. Inigo Cuesta (Cofidis) is on his way now, followed by Manuel Calvente, who is CSC's best placed rider on GC.

The fastest time is still held by David Millar in 1:02:16, followed by Serguei Ivanov in 1:02:41 and Bert Grabsch in 1:02:47.

15:27 CEST    
Floyd Landis (USPS) finishes his ride in a very solid time of 1:04:40, which puts him in 6th overall.

15:34 CEST    
Félix Garcia Casas (Team Bianchi) has just set off as the 19th placed rider on GC. He'll be followed by Iker Flores and Oscar Sevilla.

Klaus Moller (Milaneza) has just passed the km 41 check in a time of 47:54. He has lost time to Millar, who rode past that point in 47:43.

15:39 CEST    
George Hincapie (USPS) finishes his ride in 1:05:36, a respectable time, although he had to avoid a few publicity cars at the end. That will put him in 8th on the intermediate standings.

Marcos Serrano (ONCE) has just started, just behind Txema Del Olmo (Milaneza). Still 14 riders to come, with Santos Gonzalez next on the block.

15:48 CEST    
Michele Scarponi (Domina Vacanze) has left now, behind his teammate Santos Gonzalez. Both riders are pretty handy against the clock, with Gonzalez the superior rider in this discipline. Scarponi has defended himself well in the mountains though.

Klaus Moller found the last part hard, and finishes in a time of 1:02:48, which gives him the fourth best time behind Millar, Ivanov and Grabsch. It shows how good Millar was over the second half.

15:53 CEST    
Unai Osa (iBanesto), the 10th rider on GC, has now left. Luis Perez (11th) is also on the road. Neither of these riders will be able to challenge Millar, who it looks like will have to wait until the very last rider to know if he will win this time trial. Nozal surprised everyone in the first TT, and could do so again.

Aitor Gonzalez (Fassa Bortolo) is another rider who could do it. He's off now. He quickly gets into his rhythm and is travelling very fast.

15:57 CEST    
Alejandro Valverde (Kelme) is next off, wearing the blue jersey of combination classification leader. Isidro Nozal is actually leading that classification, but he can't wear more than one jersey.

Valverde, who is only 23, recently extended his contract with Kelme until the end of 2006. That shows faith.

Dario Frigo (Fassa) is next off, and will be trying to take back the time he lost (together with Gonzalez and Valverde) by being caught behind the spit yesterday.

15:58 CEST    
Jurgen Van Goolen (Quick.Step) has had a good ride, finishing in 1:05:23 for 9th fastest. That is until Alberto Martinez (Euskaltel) comes in in 1:05:01, for 8th quickest, moving Van Goolen down to 10th. Franccisco Mancebo (iBanesto) sets off, 2 minutes behind Michael Rasmussen.

16:04 CEST    
Next off is Roberto Heras (USPS), who sits fourth on GC at 3'28. This is a critical stage for him, as he can't afford to lose more than a minute or two if he is to try and take it back in the remaining mountain stages (two plus the final uphill time trial). It is, as they say, a big ask.

His teammate Manuel Beltran is next off. He was the big surprise in the first TT, finishing sixth at 1'42.

16:07 CEST    
Next up, and the second last rider to start, is Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano. Unlike other riders, he's choosing to ride with no sunglasses. In fact Igor seems to spend a lot of time with his sunnies stuck into his helmet vents.

16:09 CEST    
Last rider off is Isidro Nozal, clad in his gold skinsuit and hoping to do another great time. This will be a real test for him.

16:12 CEST    
Nozal is flying now over the first part of the parcours. He has a very good position on the time trial bike, very low and aerodynamic.

16:15 CEST    
Aitor Gonzalez is not doing so well, perhaps feeling the effects of his chase in the second group yesterday. He passes the 14 km check in 16'51, 55 seconds slower than Moller and 27th fastest at that point.

16:18 CEST    
Nozal is really flying along, pedalling a fairly low gear and maintaining his position well. Igor Gonzalez is 2 minutes ahead of him, and he is a contrast in style. Igor seems to sit much higher on the bike and pedals a bigger gear, albeit very smoothly.

16:20 CEST    
Dario Frigo has passed the 14 km check in 16:41, 45 seconds slower than Klaus Moller and in 14th place at the moment. The tough finish yesterday could well have taken the steam out of all the GC riders, while Millar could afford to take it a little easier.

Nozal has already put 16" into Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano.

16:21 CEST    
Roberto Heras is having a good ride though - 6th fastest at 14km, losing 31 seconds to Klaus Moller.

16:26 CEST    
Manuel Beltran (USPS) is 33rd at the first time check at 55" to Moller. Then Igor comes through in 5th, losing 25", while Nozal is second at 5". Nozal has had a great start again.

The temperatures have climbed to 29 degrees in Albacete, and it's a fairly warm and sunny day here.

16:29 CEST    
It looks like Nozal and Igor are still separated by 20 seconds, as Igor gets into his rhythm a bit.

At the halfway point, Dario Frigo comes past in 32'32, 21st place at the moment. Aitor Gonzalez was 32nd at that point, and there's no way he'll take back 1'50 over the second half.

16:32 CEST    
Michael Rasmussen is halfway, crossing the 27 km mark in 33'11, losing over 2 minutes to Klaus Moller.

Nozal is now 30" in front of Igor, and is having another excellent ride.

Mancebo passes the 27 km check 1'52 slower than Moller. He is followed by Roberto Heras, who has done a much better time of 31:47, conceding less than a minute to Moller.

16:37 CEST    
Beltran is riding a little more slowly than Heras, and he passes 27 km in 32'17, 1'22 slower than Moller.

Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano is next through the 27 km check, and passes it in 31'32, 5th best but only 15" faster than Heras.

16:40 CEST    
Finally Isidro Nozal motors past the 27km banner. His time is much closer to Moller's: 30'55, just a couple of hundredths of a second quicker. Can he win two out of two? The second half is a bit tougher though with the headwind.

16:43 CEST    
Oscar Sevilla finishes his ride in 1:06:11, for 21st place so far but four minutes off the pace of Millar.

16:49 CEST    
Santos Gonzalez finishes his ride in 1:04:06, for fifth place so far. He should finish with a better result than in the first TT, where he was 10th.

Nozal is now 37" in front of Igor, who has less than 20 km to go.

16:51 CEST    
Aitor Gonzalez is past the 41 km check in 51'00, 3'17 slower than David Millar. He has lost big time today.

Heras is at 1'01 at the same point, still holding down fifth place until Igor and Isidro come through. Heras is definitely limiting his losses today.

16:54 CEST    
Nozal is still riding very smoothly, and is 42" ahead of Igor with 15 km to go. The battle for the stage win will again be between Nozal and Millar.

Beltran crosses the 41km check 1'42 slower than Millar, for 9th best. Igor comes through 38" slower, in fifth place. It looks as though Nozal will be just a little quicker than Millar.

16:58 CEST    
Nozal is past in 47'36, 7 seconds faster than Millar. This will be close, but Nozal now has his nose in front. He could win his second stage today, and basically secure the Vuelta.

17:00 CEST    
Igor is still gradually losing time to Nozal, and the gap will be around a minute at the end.

Alejandro Valverde comes home in a good time of 1:04:47, 2:31 slower than Millar for 9th place.

Aitor Gonzalez is next in, pedalling in slow motion, and crosses in 1:07:51, 5:35 slower than Millar...oh dear.

17:04 CEST    
Dario Frigo is also home, and has ridden better than Aitor but will still lose four minutes. He finishes in 1:06:39, and looks totally empty as he crosses the line.

Nozal is still motoring along, and has just 6 km to go. Can he finish in front of Millar? He's now 1'02 ahead of Igor.

17:06 CEST    
Next rider in is Michael Rasmussen. The Rabobank rider will also lose four minutes, but should remain in the top 10. His final time is 1:06:43, just a few seconds slower than Frigo.

He is followed by Mancebo, who has ridden well for 1:05:35 which puts him in the top 20.

17:07 CEST    
Roberto Heras has done a great time of 1:03:48, losing only 1:32 to Millar. That may improve his place on GC to third, depending on Beltran.

17:10 CEST    
Manuel Beltran is next home in 1:04:39, just a second quicker than his teammate Floyd Landis.

Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano is close behind though, finishing in 1:03:18 for 5th.

17:11 CEST    
Nozal is brilliant though, crossing in 1:02:03, 13 seconds faster than Millar and the winner of the second time trial stage. Another great ride by the young ONCE rider.

On the GC, he now has just over 3 minutes lead to Gonzalez de Galdeano, and 5'13 to Roberto Heras, who will have to have his good climbing legs on if he is to take that back in the coming stages. It will only happen if Nozal cracks, and that is looking increasingly unlikely.

Dario Frigo and Aitor Gonzalez's poor performances have dropped them down the standings. Frigo is now 9th at 8'50 and Aitor is 11th at 10'57.

That's all from us here for Stage 13. Join us again tomorrow at 14:30 for stage 14, one for the sprinters methinks.


1  Isidro Nozal (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski                    1.02.03
2  David Millar (GBr) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone      0.13
3  Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Fassa Bortolo                       0.40
4  Bert Grabsch (Ger) Phonak Hearing Systems                0.44
5  Claus Møller (Den) Milaneza-MSS                          0.45
6  Igor Gonzalez De Galdeano (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski          1.15
7  Roberto Heras (Spa) US Postal-Berry Floor                1.45
8  Santos Gonzalez (Spa) Domina Vacanze-Elitron             2.03
9  Levi Leipheimer (USA) Rabobank                           2.14
10 Antonio Tauler (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca                  2.23
General classification after stage 13
1 Isidro Nozal (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski                         
2 Igor Gonzalez De Galdeano (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski           3.03
3 Roberto Heras (Spa) US Postal-Berry Floor                 5.13
4 Manuel Beltran (Spa) US Postal-Berry Floor                5.39
5 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) iBanesto.com                      7.12
6 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Kelme                            7.50
7 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank                          8.44

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