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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

58th Vuelta a España - GT

Spain, September 6-28, 2003

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

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: 14:00 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:30 CEST

14:17 CEST    
Welcome to Cyclingnews' coverage of Stage 2 of the Vuelta, taking the riders 148 km from Gijon to Cangas de Onis. Today's stage is not an easy one, with three climbs along the route. The first is the Cat. 3 Alto de la Madera (km 9.4), followed by the Cat. 2 Alto de la Faya de los Lobos (km 54.4) and the Cat. 1 Alto Mirador del Fito (km 131.2).

This latter climb will be quite decisive in determining the outcome of the stage - it's 9km long and averages 6.3 percent grade. The sprinters will have a tough time getting over it, but given the fact that none of them will be tired, anything is possible.

Speaking of sprinters, one who will not be gracing the Vuelta with his presence any more is World Champion Mario Cipollini (Domina Vacanze). Cipollini led his team home yesterday but didn't sign on this morning, and given that the organisers forced Domina to come to the Vuelta with Cipollini, this is no great surprise. The organisers can not exclude the team, but they will probably complain to the UCI about it.

14:33 CEST    18 km/130 km to go
Joan Horrach (Milaneza) has won the first climb in the Vuelta, the Cat. 3 Alto de la Madera, followed Unai Etxebarria (Euskaltel), Marcos Serrano (ONCE), Constantino Zaballa (Kelme) and Benoit Joachim (USPS). The peloton catches these riders over the top of the climb.

14:38 CEST    23 km/125 km to go
After a solo attempt by Simone Masciarelli (Vini Caldirola), a group of 12 or so riders have broken away from the peloton, which is moving very fast. There is not a lot of cooperation in the group, and the peloton catches them.

14:44 CEST    26 km/122 km to go
Four riders have attacked: Cristian Pepoli (Saeco), Pedro Horrillo(Quick.Step), Constantino Zaballa (Kelme) and Cesar Garcia Calvo (Labarca-2-Café Baqué).

Santi Blanco (Relax), who was injured in a crash yesterday, has set off in pursuit. Five ONCE riders are now on the front of the peloton, keeping an eye on things.

Blanco is having a hard time closing the gap - he gets to within 13 seconds but then starts to lose ground. The peloton is at 50 seconds to the four leaders, led by ONCE with Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano in the golden leader's jersey.

14:52 CEST    32 km/116 km to go
Christian Werner (Telekom) has punctured, but gets a quick wheel change and is in the caravan chasing now.

The four leaders: Pepoli, Horrillo, Zaballa and Calvo are making good their escape, motoring along on these good roads. Santi Blanco has given up his pursuit, and it's ONCE still controlling the tempo in the peloton.

Zaballa is the best placed rider in the break, starting the day at 45 seconds behind Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano. He also takes the points sprint in Sama De Langreo in front of Pepoli and Calvo. The peloton follows at 1'16, all the time led by ONCE.

15:01 CEST    40 km/108 km to go
The four leaders are now 1'22 in front of the peloton, which is not moving slowly thanks to ONCE. They have 8 km to go until the next climb, the Cat. 2 Alto de la Faya de Los Lobos.

Santi Blanco (Relax) is now at the tail of the peloton, keeping out of the way.

15:13 CEST    50 km/98 km to go
The breakaway quartet, which escaped after 26 km, is slowly but surely increasing its lead over the peloton. ONCE's Jorg Jaksche and Mikel Pradera are leading the bunch, setting a strong controlling tempo, with race leader Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano in fourth wheel.

Horillo is dropped from the break as they start the Alto de la Faya de Los Lobos.

15:19 CEST    53 km/95 km to go
ONCE is setting a solid tempo on this Cat. 2 climb, with the three remaining breakaway riders - Pepoli, Zaballa, Calvo - a good minute in front. Horrillo is somewhere in between.

David Plaza (Team Bianchi) is dropped, along with a few other riders on this climb.

15:24 CEST    54.5 km/93.5 km to go
The points at the top of the climb are taken by Cesar Garcia Calvo, from Cristian Pepoli and Constantino Zaballa.

Horrillo is 1'06 seconds behind the leaders, and 50 seconds in front of the bunch.

Niki Aebersold (Phonak) has a mechanical problem, stops to fix it and chases back on.

15:35 CEST    63 km/85 km to go
Cristian Pepoli, Cesar Garcia Calvo and Constantino Zaballa are not at the foot of the descent off the Alto de la Faya de Los Lobos. They have a 1 minute plus lead on Pedro Horrillo, and over 2 minutes to to the peloton, which is being led by ONCE.

There are some rain drops falling, but it doesn't look like it will get too heavy. It has been cloudy all day with temperatures around 21 degrees.

15:41 CEST    67 km/81 km to go
Horrillo has given up his effort to stay in front of the peloton, and is caught by the ONCE two man train of Jorg Jaksche and Mikel Pradera, who are towing the bunch along at a nice speed.

The three leaders are 2'36 in front, and the skies are darkening.

15:50 CEST    74 km/74 km to go
Race leader Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano decides it's time for arm warmers, although it's not really raining at the moment. The peloton is picking up speed, and Zabel's Telekom team have moved into second position behind the ONCE boys in front.

But there are still three leaders 2'30 up the road: Cesar Garcia Calvo, Constantino Zaballa and Cristian Pepoli.

15:57 CEST    79 km/69 km to go
The peloton hits the feed zone with a 1'30 deficit to the three leaders, with a few more rain drops starting to fall now. The ONCE leaders take the opportunity to grab a bite to eat, before continuing their chase.

The roads are wet and slippery now.

16:07 CEST    85 km/63 km to go
The front trio are hovering 1'25 in front of the peloton, having decided to pick up the tempo a bit. Zaballa takes the points for the second sprint at Pedrosa, with Cesar Garcia Calvo and Cristian Pepoli following. Pepoli has to do a bit of chasing work to get the front two back. They don't wait for him, which may or may not be a good idea.

The roads are still wet, and the bunch has slowed its pace slightly, with Mikel Pradera working the whole time.

16:18 CEST    94 km/54 km to go
The peloton is flying down towards Vilaviciosa, in pursuit of Calvo, Zaballa and Pepoli, who have been away since km 26. Zaballa started the day 45 seconds behind Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, and is currently the virtual leader of the race. It won't be for long though, as the gap is now under a minute.

16:21 CEST    96 km/52 km to go
The three are caught in the streets of Vilaviciosa, having been away for 70 km. The pace has caused Santi Blanco and José Maestre (both Relax) to be dropped, along with Niki Aebersold.

The bunch is strung out in one long line, with ONCE at the head of affairs.

16:28 CEST    102 km/46 km to go
The peloton has split into two, with ONCE's high tempo making being responsible. The roads are flat and there is not too much wind, but the chasers are desperate to catch the front group.

It looks like Rubiera is in the back group, which is a good minute behind the leaders.

16:34 CEST    109 km/39 km to go
Kelme, ONCE and Euskaltel are hammering at the front of the first peloton, which still has over 100 riders in it. The gap between the two groups is 1'05, and there is not much hope for those dropped. It looks like Alex Zulle is in this group too.

16:41 CEST    115 km/33 km to go
There are less than 10 kilometres to go to the Cat. 1 climb of Alto Mirador del Fito. The front peloton is still together, working very hard to increase the gap to the chasing peloton. The gap is up to 1'25, and it won't come back together.

Rubiera has a few teammates, including Matt White, with him in the second group, but fortunately for US Postal Roberto Heras is in the top group.

Rabobank is working hard in the back group, because Levi Leipheimer is there. That's a disaster for him, as you can't afford to give away two minutes in these opening stages.

16:45 CEST    116 km/32 km to go
Kelme, ONCE and now Bianchi are riding at the front of Peloton 1, on the approach to the final climb. The gap to peloton two is now 1'39, and the Rabobank chase is having no effect. Levi Leipheimer's Vuelta has not gotten off to a great start.

There are still some 100 riders in front.

16:50 CEST    122 km/26 km to go
The lead peloton hits the foot of the Alto Mirador del Fito at full flight, with Kelme occupying the front three positions. This is really going to hurt.

The second group with Leipheimer, Zulle and Rubiera (and 60 others) is continuing to lose ground, and is now 2'23 down at the sprint in Gobiendes.

Results of the sprint: 1. Jose Enrique Gutierrez (Kelme), 2. Jörg Jaksche (ONCE), and 3. Francisco Cabello (Kelme).

16:54 CEST    124 km/24 km to go
The front group shatters due to the high tempo on the climb, which gets steeper towards the top with sections of 10-11 percent.

16:58 CEST    125 km/23 km to go
There is an acceleration from an iBanesto rider, which strings out the peloton on this climb. Claus Moller (Milaneza) counter attacks. He is chased and caught by a Euskaltel rider - Iker Flores - who has a small gap. Michele Scarponi (Domina) is in pursuit.

17:03 CEST    127 km/21 km to go
There are now five leaders, with Flores, Scarponi, Nozal, Luis Perez (Cofidis) and Carlos Sastre (CSC) in front. Sastre and Perez force the pace, and Iker Flores is dropped.

Angel Casero has been dropped from the peloton.

17:06 CEST    129 km/19 km to go
The peloton has really thinned down, with Sevilla, Gonzalez de Galdeano, Heras all in front. It looks like Aitor Gonzalez has been dropped too.

In front, Sastre and Luis Perez are now alone.

17:08 CEST    131 km/17 km to go
Aitor Osa (iBanesto) attacks the peloton in pursuit of the leaders. He has a big task though. The leaders are nearly at the top.

Perez takes the points for the Cat. 1 climb in front of Sastre. Nozal gets third at 0'15. The peloton is at 0'30.

17:12 CEST    135 km/13 km to go
The peloton is in fragments chasing the two leaders, Luis Perez and Carlos Sastre, who are travelling at 60+ km/h on this tricky descent. Just 13 km to go to the finish for these two.

17:14 CEST    137 km/11 km to go
In the chase of the leading pair, Nozal has been caught by A. Osa, D. Etxebarria, and Felix Cardenas. They are 22" behind the front two. The peloton is close behind them though.

Aitor Gonzalez is chasing to get back to the peloton, but he lost a bit of time on that climb.

17:18 CEST    139 km/9 km to go
The leaders Sastre and Perez have a 19" lead over the chasing four and 33" to the peloton with 10 km to go. They'll have a hard time staying clear over this final section, but they have the lead.

17:20 CEST    141 km/7 km to go
Sastre and Perez are increasing their lead over the four chasers and it's up to 24", with the peloton at 38". The two leaders are riding very well, and should be able to stay clear. The road is still slightly downhill, which will help them.

17:22 CEST    143 km/5 km to go
Sastre and Perez reach the five km to go banner with 35" of their lead intact. The chasing four have been caught. It's just the peloton versus these front two.

17:24 CEST    144 km/4 km to go
Perez will need 56" to take the jersey from Igor Gonzalez, and it doesn't look like that will happen. At 4 km the gap is still 35", and the stage winner will come from one of these pair.

Gonzalez de Galdeano looks quite comfortable in the peloton, which is 30 riders strong.

17:25 CEST    145 km/3 km to go
Luis Perez, who has never won a race in his pro career, will try and do so today. He came close a few times in last year's Vuelta. Sastre on the other hand is more experienced at winning, and has a Tour stage to his credit this year.

Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) is in the front group - their only rider it looks like.

17:26 CEST    146 km/2 km to go
With 2 km to go, the front two are working well together. They can't ease up yet with the peloton just 30" behind them.

17:27 CEST    147 km/1 km to go
Perez and Sastre reach the final kilometre, with what's left of the peloton strung out in pursuit behind them. Sastre eases his tempo a little, trying to save something for the sprint. Perez comes through just under the red kite.

17:29 CEST    148 km/0 km to go
Sastre takes over in front with 800m to go, looks behind and realises that they have a comfortable gap. They turn left over a bridge, then reach the finish straight.

Perez starts the sprint behind Sastre, and waits until 250m to go and wins the stage! Sastre second, and then Valverde (Kelme) takes the sprint for third at 14".

Leader Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano finished in the main bunch, but doesn't keep his jersey as one of his teammates finished in front of him. The new leader is Joaquin Rodriguez, who finished fifth in the stage.

Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) comes in 13 minutes down, after being caught in the wrong end of the split before the climb. Rabobank's GC leader is now Michael Rasmussen it seems.

That's all from us for this stage. Stay tuned for full results, report and photos, and we'll be back live for stage 3 tomorrow beginning 14:30 CEST.


1 Luis Perez (Spa) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone           3.27.32
2 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC                            
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca                    0.15
4 Miguel Martin Perdiguero (Spa) Domina Vacanze-Elitron         
5 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski                         

General classification after stage 2

1 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski      

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