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

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: 14:05 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:15 CEST

14:32 CEST    
Welcome to Cyclingnews' coverage of Stage 18 of the Vuelta España, a fairly flat 144 km tour around Las Rozas. It is in fact the shortest non-time trial stage of this year's edition, and the riders are expected to complete it in a little over three hours.

There are no categorised climbs along the route today, but there are the usual three intermediate sprints: San Martin de Valdeiglesias (km 60.4), Cebreros (km 75), and Valdemorillo (km 122). There is a long, steady climb with 40 km to go, but after that it should be a very fast finish into Las Rozas.

The weather today is once again fine and sunny, with temperatures in the mid 20's or so.

14:42 CEST    30 km/114 km to go
Two riders didn't start this morning: Gorka Gerrikagoitia (Euskaltel), claiming tiredness, and Sven Montgomery (Fassa Bortolo), whose brother died.

The stage has gotten off to a very fast start, with a group of 16 riders breaking clear after 20 km. The group includes Oscar Laguna and German Nieto (Relax), Guido Trenti (Fassa), Joan Horrach (Milaneza), and Constantino Zaballa (Kelme) among others. They only have 30 seconds lead on the peloton, which is being led by Quick.Step, CSC and Domina Vacanze at 60-70 km/h.

14:44 CEST    32 km/112 km to go
The full break is: Guido Trenti (Fassa Bortolo), Oscar Laguna and Germán Nieto (Colchon Relax-Fuenlabrada), Iñaki Isasi (Euskaltel-Euskadi), José Vicente Garcia Acosta, Jose Luis Arrieta (iBanesto.com), Carlos Garcia Quesada (Kelme-Costa Blanca), Francisco Cerezo (Labarca-2-Café Baqué), Daniele Righi (Lampre), Joan Horrach (Milaneza-MSS), Pedro Diaz Lobato (Paternina-Costa de Almeria), Niki Aebersold and Bert Grabsch (Phonak Hearing Systems), Thorsten Rund (Team Bianchi), Raphael Schweda (Team Bianchi), Stephan Schreck (Team Telekom).

Simone Masciarelli (Vini Caldirola) is attempting to bridge to them on his own. The peloton has eased off its chase. Masciarelli is joined by Cristian Pepoli (Saeco), and the pair are 30 seconds behind the breakaways.

14:53 CEST    39 km/105 km to go
Zaballa and Kroon catch and pass Masciarelli and Pepoli, and Zaballa attacks straight away to try and close the 50 second gap to the 16 leaders. He's giving it everything, but it will take a Herculean effort at this speed. Kroon is now on his own behind Zaballa, while Pepoli and Masciarelli are a bit further back and may decide to go back to the peloton, which is now over a minute behind the 16 leaders.

14:58 CEST    
The gap to the 16 quickly goes out to 2 minutes, which is dangerous at this speed to bring back. Pepoli and Masciarelli have gone back to the peloton, and now Zaballa and Kroon are the only two riders trying to bridge the gap (separately). ONCE, Quick.Step and Domina are controlling the peloton.

15:03 CEST    46 km/98 km to go
Now Kroon has given up the chase, and it looks like Zaballa will come back too. The peloton is organised now with Domina Vacanze setting tempo. The leaders are still increasing their advantage though, and it's up to 2'25 now.

15:09 CEST    
Masciarelli drops back behind the peloton to the race doctor's car to get some treatment on his legs, which are not going around fast enough! He probably gets more benefit from holding onto the car than the spray that the doctor is using on his legs.

Pedro Horrillo (Quick.Step) also drops back. He's bandaged up from his crash yesterday, but is still in the race.

The peloton is quite strung out now in pursuit of the 16 man break.

15:14 CEST    55 km/89 km to go
The average speed after the first hour is an impressive 49.5 km/h. That would explain the 2'19 gap to the 16 leaders.

Carlos Garcia Quesada (Kelme) drops back to his team car for some back wheel cleaning it looks like.

15:20 CEST    61 km/83 km to go
The leaders have reached the first intermediate sprint in San Martin de Valdeiglesias, having covered 60 kilometres. Grabsch takes it followed by Cerezo and Nieto. The peloton comes through 2'29 behind, with Quick.Step, Vini Caldirola and Domina Vacanze on the front.

The names in the break again: Guido Trenti (Fassa Bortolo), Oscar Laguna and Germán Nieto (Colchon Relax-Fuenlabrada), Iñaki Isasi (Euskaltel-Euskadi), José Vicente Garcia Acosta, Jose Luis Arrieta (iBanesto.com), Carlos Garcia Quesada (Kelme-Costa Blanca), Francisco Cerezo (Labarca-2-Café Baqué), Daniele Righi (Lampre), Joan Horrach (Milaneza-MSS), Pedro Diaz Lobato (Paternina-Costa de Almeria), Niki Aebersold and Bert Grabsch (Phonak Hearing Systems), Thorsten Rund (Team Bianchi), Raphael Schweda (Team Bianchi), Stephan Schreck (Team Telekom). No-one is a threat for the general classification.

15:29 CEST    68 km/76 km to go
The chase in the peloton is starting to have an effect, with three teams (Domina, Vini Caldirola and Quick.Step) doing the work in front. They have reduced the gap to 2'10 to the 16 leaders, who are not working quite as smoothly as they were earlier.

15:36 CEST    73 km/71 km to go
The cooperation is still not great in front, and they are steadily losing time to the peloton on a long, steady climb up towards the second sprint at Cebreros. The peloton is certainly not working flat out, merely riding tempo. David Millar is setting towards the back, taking it easy after his impressive victory yesterday.

15:41 CEST    76 km/68 km to go
The sprint in Cebreros is not contested by the leaders, with Aebersold, Schweda and Schreck coming across in the first three positions, while the peloton comes through at 1'48.

Millar is now looking at the stage profile, wondering when the next climb is coming. Soon...

Francesco Mancebo (iBanesto) drops back for a bike change, and is now chasing back on through the caravan. No teammates with him yet though.

15:47 CEST    80 km/64 km to go
Mancebo is finally aided by three teammates, and he gets back into the safety of the peloton. At 50 km/h, it's tough on your own!

15:54 CEST    84 km/60 km to go
The leaders have passed through the feed zone at km 83 and Diaz Lobato lifts the pace, stringing out the group. But they don't want to let him go.

The peloton is slowly but surely closing the gap, and it's down to 1'36.

Inaki Isasi (Euskaltel) attacks with Vicente Garcia Acosta (iBanesto), who is a specialist at these sorts of moves. They are chased by a few of the break. It reforms again, but the attacks continue. This will be the death of the break.

16:01 CEST    91 km/53 km to go
Stefan Schreck (Telekom) is the next rider to attack the break, and he has been particularly active today. But with 15 riders chasing him, he can't get much of a lead. He comes back.

They will now climb for 10 km at a fairly steady gradient.

In the peloton, Domina, Vini Caldirola and Quick.Step are working very well together, which is crucial to bring back a big breakaway like this.

16:05 CEST    96 km/48 km to go
The second hour has been ridden at 46.2 km/h, a few km/h slower than the first (49.8 km/h). Still very rapid, considering the up and down terrain.

Jesus Manzano (Kelme) attacks the peloton in pursuit of the break on his own. 1'32 is a big gap to close by yourself though.

16:09 CEST    99 km/45 km to go
There are now 15 riders in the break, as Thorsten Rund (Bianchi) has been dropped. They are being chased at 1'05 by Jesus Manzano (Kelme) with the peloton another 20 seconds back.

Thorsten Rund is now swallowed by the peloton. He was one of the early breakaways.

16:15 CEST    102 km/42 km to go
Stefano Casagranda (Alessio) has to stop for a puncture, but his team car is fairly quick with the wheel change and he can get back into the caravan.

The leading 15 are now just 1'00 in front of the peloton. Manzano is still in between the two bunches.

16:20 CEST    104 km/40 km to go
Manzano is now caught as Milaneza gets to the front of the bunch with Euskaltel and Quick.Step. The gap to the leaders is under a minute as this long but uncategorised climb steepens.

There is a fall in the peloton: Iker Flores (Euskaltel) is down, but unhurt. It's not serious and he gets back on.

Pedro Diaz Lobato has attacked the break.

16:25 CEST    105 km/39 km to go
At the top of the climb, eight riders have attacked the break: Pedro Diaz Lobato (Paternina-Costa de Almeria), Oscar Laguna and Germán Nieto (Colchon Relax-Fuenlabrada), Carlos Garcia Quesada (Kelme-Costa Blanca), Joan Horrach (Milaneza-MSS), José Luis Arrieta (iBanesto), Iñaki Isasi (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Raphael Schweda (Team Bianchi)

Etxebarria is 30" behind them at the top and closes the gap to Trenti, and the pair try to catch the leaders.

Now we have three leaders: Jose Luis Arrieta (iBanesto), Joan Horrach (Milaneza) and Iñaki Isasi (Euskaltel-Euskadi).

Etxebarria and Trenti have caught Schreck and Cerezo. They are 47 seconds behind the leaders, with the peloton at 1'40.

16:30 CEST    110 km/34 km to go
Etxebarria's group is losing time to the leaders, and he eventually rides away from them. The peloton is controlled by ONCE, and not really chasing at the moment.

16:32 CEST    112 km/32 km to go
Horrach, Isasi and Arrieta are leading the race with 32 km to go, chased by David Etxebarria at 38 seconds and then the peloton at 1'30. ONCE is still riding tempo - they don't care if these riders stay away.

16:38 CEST    118 km/26 km to go
We now have eight leaders again: Joan Horrach (Milaneza-MSS), Jose Vicente Garcia Acosta, José Luis Arrieta (iBanesto), Iñaki Isasi (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Oscar Laguna (Relax), Rafael Schweda (Team Bianchi), Carlos Garcia Quesada (Kelme), Pedro Diaz Lobato (Paternina), being chased by a group of five: ? (Kelme-Costa Blanca), David Etxebarria (Euskaltel), Stefan Schreck (Telekom), Francisco Cerezo (Labarca), Guido Trenti (Fassa Bortolo) at 50 seconds.

The peloton is another 1'21 back, led by ONCE and not chasing.

Garcia Acosta attacks the leading group - now is a good moment to go.

16:39 CEST    121 km/23 km to go
Garcia Acosta immediately gets 20 seconds, and starts to suffer as he gets down to work. He has another 23 km to go, and there are seven riders chasing behind him.

16:43 CEST    124 km/20 km to go
Joan Horrach (Milaneza-MSS) attacks the chasing group in pursuit of Garcia Acosta. No-one wants to let him go, but he does and quickly bridges up to Garcia Acosta and drops him.

The group behind: José Luis Arrieta (iBanesto), Iñaki Isasi (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Oscar Laguna (Relax), Rafael Schweda (Team Bianchi), Carlos Garcia Quesada (Kelme), Pedro Diaz Lobato (Paternina).

16:46 CEST    
Horrach is caught and the last sprint in Valdemorillo is taken by Diaz Lobato from Horrach and Arrieta. Diaz Lobato jumps clear of the rest. Horrach goes after him and the other six have to chase. It's a pretty disorganised chase though. Karsten Kroon, Benjamin Noval, Angelo Lopeboselli and Mariano Piccoli pass through the sprint 2'30 behind. The peloton is over 3 minutes, and not really moving rapidly.

16:50 CEST    128 km/16 km to go
Diaz Lobato is now alone in front and is really flying on the descent into Las Rozas. He is pounding the pedals with a 20 second gap to the seven chasers. Lobato gets a drink from the neutral vehicle.

16:53 CEST    130 km/14 km to go
With 15 km to go, Diaz Lobato has 15 seconds lead on the chasing group of seven with Joan Horrach (Milaneza-MSS), Jose Vicente Garcia Acosta and José Luis Arrieta (iBanesto), Iñaki Isasi (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Oscar Laguna (Relax), Rafael Schweda (Team Bianchi) and Carlos Garcia Quesada (Kelme). The seven are working together, until Laguna and Arrieta drop off.

Laguna asks his team car for a drink (illegal, so he'll get penalised), then attacks Arrieta and tries to catch the rest of the break. Arrieta takes his back wheel and holds it.

16:56 CEST    132 km/12 km to go
With 12 km left, Diaz Lobato has 25" lead on five riders: Joan Horrach (Milaneza-MSS), Jose Vicente Garcia Acosta (iBanesto), Iñaki Isasi (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Rafael Schweda (Team Bianchi) and Carlos Garcia Quesada (Kelme). Horrach keeps attacking the group, and there's no cooperation. It looks like Diaz Lobato's stage win.

Oscar Laguna (Relax) and Jose Luis Arrieta (iBanesto) are chasing them. Then Etxebarria's group at 1'52.

16:57 CEST    134 km/10 km to go
Diaz Lobato reaches the 10 km to go banner, still hammering away in front on his own. Behind him, the five chasers are not chasing, but the gap is stable at 26 seconds. No-one wants to work, they just want to attack.

CSC is working hard in the peloton, which is back to 2'29 behind the leader.

16:59 CEST    136 km/8 km to go
Horrach attacks hard with 9 km to go, getting a small gap with Schweda on his wheel. But the other three are close behind and close the gap.

Diaz Lobato is now over 30 seconds clear.

17:01 CEST    
Diaz Lobato goes under the 7 km to go banner with 40 seconds lead. Just a short 1 km climb for him before the final flat section to the finish. The riders behind him won't get him now. They're losing 5 seconds a kilometre because of the lack of cooperation.

17:03 CEST    139 km/5 km to go
Pedro Diaz Lobato suffers up the climb but has plenty of time. Of the riders behind him, Schweda looks to be the freshest, and he is also the best sprinter.

The gap is now 47 seconds and growing !

Constantino Zaballa has caught Laguna and Arrieta, and the three are latching onto the five chasers. Don't ask me where Zaballa has been all this time.

17:07 CEST    141 km/3 km to go
The attacks are continuing in the chasing group, and it looks like Schweda has been dropped (so much for perceptions). The peloton is now quite close at 1'30 from the leader, who has enough in hand to win the stage.

17:09 CEST    143 km/1 km to go
Pedro Diaz Lobato is increasing his advantage all the way to the finish. He should win by over a minute if he can stay on course! He nearly goes off on the wrong road.

The eight chasers are now 58 seconds behind.

17:10 CEST    143 km/1 km to go
Less than a km to go, and Diaz Lobato chats with his team leader who assures him that he won't get caught.

17:11 CEST    144 km/0 km to go
Pedro Diaz Lobato can take the last 500m easy, and wins the stage in Las Rozas with a big victory salute. The sprint for second is taken by Zaballa, who thinks he won the stage. Arrieta is third, and Zabel wins the peloton sprint for tenth at 58 seconds.

Alejandro Valverde (Kelme) comes in some 40 seconds behind the peloton, possibly a mechanical problem or just dropped in the tough finale.

A bigger peloton follows at 3'51, looking rather tired.

That's all from us for stage 18, which saw the small Spanish Paternina team rewarded with a stage victory at last. Please join us tomorrow at 14:30 for live coverage of stage 19, between La Vega de Alcobendas and Collado Villalba, the last real mountain stage before Saturday's uphill time trial.


1 Pedro Diaz Lobato (Spa) Paternina-Costa de Almeria    3.07.47
2 Constantino Zaballa (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca             0.44
3 José Luis Arrieta (Spa) iBanesto.com                         
4 Raphael Schweda (Ger) Team Bianchi                           
5 José Garcia Acosta (Spa) iBanesto.com                        
6 Iñaki Isasi (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                          
7 Joan Horrach (Spa) Milaneza-MSS                          0.47
8 Oscar Laguna (Spa) Colchon Relax-Fuenlabrada             0.52
9 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca           0.56
10 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom                           0.58
General classification after stage 18
1 Isidro Nozal (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski                   61.20.42
2 Igor Gonzalez De Galdeano (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski          3.03
3 Roberto Heras (Spa) US Postal-Berry Floor                3.09
4 Manuel Beltran (Spa) US Postal-Berry Floor               5.16

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