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58th Vuelta a España - GT

Spain, September 6-28, 2003

Main page    Start List    Stage profile     Map     Latest Live Report    Results

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

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

14:20 CEST    
A fast stage is expected between Albacete and Valdepeñas, with a gently rolling parcours of just 167km. 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.

Isidro Nozal (ONCE) confirmed once again yesterday that he is the Vuelta's top man, winning his second individual time trial and extending his lead in the general classification. Today should be a fairly safe day for Nozal and ONCE, but all of the GC leaders will have to be attentive in the crosswinds, where US Postal in particular has shown that it is willing and capable of provoking splits in the field on what seem innocuous stages on paper.

14:38 CEST    50 km/117 km to go
As expected, it's been another extremely fast start to the race. A short-lived break of 12 men went clear in the first hour, including several riders seen frequently on the attack such as José Vicente Garcia Acosta, and Pedro Diaz Lobato. Americans Floyd Landis and Bobby Julich were also in the move, which was eventually pulled back.

Since then several more riders have tried to go clear but the speed has been too high, until a group of five managed to establish itself out front. The five are: Giovanni Lombardi (Domina Vacanze), Fabrizio Guidi (Bianchi), Cristian Moreni (Alessio), Carlos Garcia Quesada (Kelme), Benoit Joachim (USPS) and currently lead by 2'11.

14:50 CEST    
Cofidis' Peter Farazijn did not start this morning, leaving 166 riders left in this year's Vuelta.

The temperature is 29 degrees and the race began with a friendly tailwind, which is expected to become a crosswind later in the stage.

The average speed for the first hour of racing was 51 km/h.

14:54 CEST    70 km/97 km to go
The break's advantage is going up as Fassa Bortolo takes early control of the peloton. Meanwhile, Alessio's Cristian Moreni has suffered a fall and is currently being tended to by the race doctors.

15:07 CEST    78 km/89 km to go
The leaders' advantage has already started to fall after topping three minutes. The gap back to the peloton is currently 2'42.

15:09 CEST    
The ONCE team of race leader Isidro Nozal has come to the front and is sharing the chase with Fassa Bortolo, which itself will no doubt be working to keep the race together and propel Alessandro Petacchi to another bunch sprint victory.

15:11 CEST    82 km/85 km to go
The five leaders (Lombardi, Guidi, Joachim, C. Garcia Quesada, and Moreni) race past the Oscar Sevilla supporter's club in Ossa de Montiel with a 2'40 gap to the peloton, which is being led by ONCE and Fassa Bortolo. They have now reached the feed zone, and grab musettes.

Sevilla rides a little in front of the peloton and gets a huge cheer from the crowd. No chance of stopping for a break though.

15:19 CEST    87 km/80 km to go
The five leaders are still swapping off smoothly, none of them taking really long turns though. They still have 80 km to go and their advantage is just under 3'00 over the peloton, which is ready to up the tempo when necessary.

15:28 CEST    95 km/72 km to go
The chase is still not very intense, although a couple of Quick.Step riders have got to the front to help Fassa and ONCE. No sign of Telekom (as usual). Quick.Step is betting on Tom Boonen, who has come very close to winning a stage in the Vuelta.

The intermediate sprint in Rudiera (km 95) is won by Moreni from Guidi and Garcia Quesada. The peloton is just 2'04 behind the five leaders at the sprint point.

Aitor Gonzalez has retired from the race, after two very bad stages. He lost a lot of time in yesterday's time trial, and his chances of a top placing vanished.

15:33 CEST    98 km/69 km to go
The leaders are losing ground rapidly as this is a deceptively tough stage. The gap has dropped to 1'34 as they climb a small but leg sapping hill. The peloton isn't strung out chasing, but its tempo is relentless.

15:38 CEST    100 km/67 km to go
The Fassa team is lurking down the back of the peloton, perhaps discussing Aitor's abandonment. They still have Frigo in the top 10, although Dario's TT yesterday was not one of his best (37th at 4'36). But Petacchi can save some face for them again if he wins his fourth stage.

The gap to the break is down to 56" and falling rapidly. The leaders look tired.

15:41 CEST    102 km/65 km to go
Benoit Joachim is the last of the riders to be caught, after all of them sat up and waited for the inevitable. However now the attacks are likely to begin anew.

They do: German Nieto (Relax Fuenlabrada) attacks straight away. He goes very hard, pumping up and down on the pedals although he doesn't choose the most aerodynamic position, as he is riding on the brake hoods.

One of the early breakaways, Cristian Moreni looks OK after his fall, although he has a bandage on his arm now.

15:46 CEST    106 km/61 km to go
Nieto gives it everything, but can't make much headway into this wind. The peloton simply holds its tempo and swallows the Fuenlabrada rider.

15:53 CEST    112 km/55 km to go
The pace of the peloton suddenly increases, with a Domina Vacanze rider sensing the opportunity to create an echelon. They take a right hand corner, and the speed is now quite high.

15:55 CEST    
The 60 km/h pace causes a couple of breaks in the peloton, and the echelons start forming.

US Postal is hammering on the front, with Matt White giving it full gas. It looks like most of CSC has missed the cut, and is chasing in the second peloton.

15:58 CEST    116 km/51 km to go
The second group has now caught back onto the first group, as the pace eases off again. Well, it was worth a try...

16:01 CEST    117 km/50 km to go
ONCE and Fassa resume control of the peloton as it heads through Carrizosa for the second sprint of the day. A big crowd is on hand to watch, as Petacchi beats Zabel and Fred Rodriguez to take the points.

16:08 CEST    121 km/46 km to go
A new attack, this time by Paternina's Pedro Diax Lobato. He is followed by a Relax rider, Oscar Laguna. The peloton doesn't react, and ONCE continues its tempo setting. They quickly get 20 seconds.

16:16 CEST    126 km/41 km to go
Laguna (who is in his second break today) and Diaz Lobato have stretched their lead to 35" over the peloton, which is still riding at a controlling tempo with ONCE at the head.

Petacchi drops back to his team car to grab a bottle or two.

16:21 CEST    132 km/35 km to go
The two leaders are doing well, having stretched their advantage to 50". But it could well be a tactic to let them hang out there in order to discourage other attacks.

16:29 CEST    137 km/30 km to go
The situation is stable at the moment, with Pedro Diaz Lobato (Paternina) and Oscar Laguna (Relax Fuenlabrada) holding a 40" lead over the peloton. ONCE and Fassa are setting a steady tempo, although other teams are getting nervous.

Diaz Lobato waves to the neutral service wagon and gets a bottle of coke and a bottle of water. Real bottles, not bidons.

16:31 CEST    140 km/27 km to go
Finally Diaz Lobato gets a bidon from a race moto. The pair have 27 km to go to the finish, but it will be tough to hold off the bunch with such a small gap.

The average speed in the third hour is 45.1 km/h. This has been the slowest hour so far, as the first was raced at 51.3 km/h and the second at 46.7 km/h. That's moving.

Juan Fuentes (Saeco) counter attacks from the peloton, in pursuit of the two leaders. He is one of only three Saeco riders in the race.

16:37 CEST    144 km/23 km to go
Fuentes is making some ground, but sits 27 seconds behind the two leaders. The peloton is unperturbed, with ONCE and Fassa sitting in front. It should come down to a bunch sprint.

16:39 CEST    146 km/21 km to go
There is a crash in the peloton, and a Bianchi and a Relax rider are involved, as well as Bram Tankink (Quick.Step) and about 20 others. It doesn't look too serious, although some of them will have a tough time chasing back on.

Fuentes is now just 23" behind Diaz Lobato and Laguna, but he's having a hard time in closing this gap.

16:43 CEST    147 km/20 km to go
At the 20 km to go banner, Diaz Lobato and Laguna have 25" lead over Juan Fuentes, and 50" over the peloton. The chase should start soon.

16:45 CEST    149 km/18 km to go
The sprint at Pozo de Serina is won by Pedro Diaz Lobato, from Oscar Laguna and Juan Fuentes.

Eladio Jimenez (iBanesto) was involved in the crash earlier, and gets some attention from the race doctor. He is back in the peloton now.

16:46 CEST    
Fuentes gives up his chase and sits up. There are now two leaders again.

Fassa Bortolo has stepped on the gas, reducing the gap to 35" to Diaz Lobato and Laguna.

Oscar Pereiro (Phonak) gets some treatment from the race doctor too.

16:52 CEST    154 km/13 km to go
Laguna and Diaz Lobato hit a section of false flat, and lose most of their lead. They sit up and the peloton swallows them with 13 km to go. The road that they're riding on is extremely straight, and has been for some time.

16:55 CEST    156 km/11 km to go
There is a new attack, with four riders punching clear of the peloton: Francisco Cerezo (Labarca), German Nieto (Relax Fuenlabrada), Carlos Golbano (Paternina) and Ronald Mutsaars (Rabobank) are the lucky ones this time, and they have built a 10 second lead.

16:58 CEST    158 km/9 km to go
Again, the move is being marked by the peloton, which has ONCE at its head. The leaders have just 5 seconds with 9 km to go.

16:59 CEST    159 km/8 km to go
The gap closes relentlessly, and with 8 km to go the peloton is back together. Some Telekom jerseys are moving to the front now.

Telekom has five men in front plus Zabel, followed by the Fassa Bortolo train. The speed is picking up now with 7 km to go.

17:02 CEST    161 km/6 km to go
At the six kilometre mark, the speed has picked up markedly. There is a bit of a climb, and Telekom maintains its presence in front. Petacchi and Boonen are very close to Zabel.

Iker Flores (Euskaltel) puts in a massive attack on this climb, and gets a decent gap.

17:04 CEST    162 km/5 km to go
The peloton doesn't let Flores go however, and although it was a well timed move, the juggernaut can not be stopped.

17:05 CEST    164 km/3 km to go
Telekom lifts the pace to 60 plus km/h with 3 km to go. They are flying!

17:06 CEST    165 km/2 km to go
With 2 km to go, Zabel, Boonen and Petacchi are on the back of the Telekom/Fassa train, which is motoring along at full throttle.

17:07 CEST    166 km/1 km to go
Ivanov (Fassa) gets a gap to Millar, who is second in line somehow. He sits up and Fassa leads it out with 1 km to go.

17:08 CEST    167 km/0 km to go
Petacchi is third in line with 1 km to go, with Zabel and Rodriguez on his wheel. His leadout man has to do a lot of work. Lombardi goes, then Hincapie, then Boonen, then Petacchi again!! He wins, with Rodriguez second and Zabel third. That was a very very long sprint.

Petacchi was very impressive again. He lost a few positions after Lombardi started the sprint early, and had to come from sixth wheel around Guidi, Boonen, Hincapie and co. Luckily the finish line was far enough for him to do it, because once he got it wound up he was clearly the fastest. Rodriguez held his wheel all the way but missed getting around him by half a wheel. Zabel wasn't really in the picture.

Petacchi has taken the points jersey back from Zabel too.

No changes in the GC, with Nozal holding his 3'03 lead over Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, and Roberto Heras in third at 5'13. Heras will have a chance to take some of that back tomorrow in the stage to La Pandera. Join us at 14:30 for live coverage of Stage 15.


1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                 3.43.16
2 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Saunier Duval-Vini Caldirola    
3 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom                        
4 Thomas Bruun (Den) Team CSC                          
5 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon                
6 Angelo Furlan (Ita) Alessio                          
7 Steven De Jongh (Ned) Rabobank                       
8 Gorka Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi               
9 Angel Edo (Spa) Milaneza-MSS                         
10 Alberto Vinale (Ita) Alessio                        

General classification after stage 14
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-Costa Blanca               7.50
7 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank                          8.44
8 Luis Perez (Spa) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone         8.49
9 Dario Frigo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                           8.50
10 Unai Osa (Spa) iBanesto.com                             10.10

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