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Photo ©: Bettini

58th Vuelta a España - GT

Spain, September 6-28, 2003

Main page    Start List    Stage profile    Latest Live Report    Results

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

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: 13:38 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:30 CEST

14:26 CEST    
Welcome to Cyclingnews' coverage of the fifth stage of the Vuelta España, the longest stage so far at 166.7 kilometres between Soria and Zaragoza. Today's stage should be a fast affair, dropping from 1000 metres at the start to 200m at the finish in Zaragoza. There are three intermediate sprints en route: At Soria (11 km), Aldealpozo (km 36), and Malejan (km 102.5). There is also one Cat. 3 climb, Alto de Lanzas Agudas, at km 89.

190 riders started the stage, with no overnight withdrawals. However there are concerns for Oscar Sevilla, who is suffering from a hip injury after crashing in stage 3, and Fabian Jeker, who fell towards the end of the stage yesterday and is still requiring attention from the race doctor.

14:33 CEST    45 km/121.7 km to go
The situation in the race after 45 km is that we have a four man breakaway with a 2'12 lead to the peloton. The riders are Mariano Piccoli (Lampre), Karsten Kroon (Rabobank), Igor Astarloa (Team Saeco) and David Navas (Colchon Relax-Fuenlabrada), having attacked at the 9 km mark.

The first sprint at Soria (km 11) was won by Kroon, from Piccoli and Astarloa, and the second sprint at Aldealpozo (km 36) was taken by Navas in front of Astarloa and Kroon.

14:43 CEST    51 km/115.7 km to go
The four leaders are working hard out in front, with their team cars coming up one by one to give them advice and food, not necessarily in that order. Today there is no chance of rain, as there is barely a cloud in the bright blue sky.

The leaders have covered 43.2 km in the first hour.

14:53 CEST    60 km/106.7 km to go
Navas, Kroon, Piccoli and Astarloa are swapping off very quickly at the moment, trying to keep the speed high and put as much time into the peloton as possible. The gap is over four minutes now, with each rider in the break taking short, 5 second pulls.

In the general classification, Astarloa is the best placed rider in the break. He is in 59th at 5'14.

In the peloton, there is one Fassa Bortolo rider in front with a few ONCE's controlling too.

14:56 CEST    62.7 km/104 km to
Jose Luis Martinez (Paternina) decides that the peloton isn't going quickly enough, and attacks the peloton. He'll need a lot more help to close a four minute gap however. He has 20 seconds to the peloton now.

15:03 CEST    65 km/101.7 km to go
Martinez is not getting any help from behind, so he sits up a little and looks for the peloton. But despite his low chances of success, he continues.

The gap to the four leaders is hovering around the four minute mark, but the peloton has not started to chase yet.

15:12 CEST    71 km/95.7 km to go
The leaders, Navas, Kroon, Piccoli and Astarloa, are still maintaining their quick turnaround rate, as they descend on wide, straight roads towards the feed zone at km 81. They are 4'15 in front of Martinez, who is in turn 1'25 in front of the peloton.

15:19 CEST    80 km/86.7 km to go
As the leaders near the feed zone, their advantage increases to 6'12 over the peloton, which has now woken up. Telekom (which surprisingly didn't ride for a possible Zabel stage win yesterday) and Fassa Bortolo are on the front, with a few ONCE riders up there too.

Jose Luis Martinez is 1'37 in front of the peloton, but his days are numbered.

15:25 CEST    85 km/81.7 km to go
The peloton flies through the feed zone exactly 6 minutes behind the four leaders. The hunt has begun now, but the sprinters teams will have to work hard to pull these riders back.

Martinez, who is 1'20 in front of the bunch, takes the opportunity to have something to eat. In the bunch itself there is a short pause while riders refuel.

Martinez' teammate Jose Antonio Pecharroman has abandoned, as was hinted at the beginning of the race. He was clearly not in good enough condition for the Vuelta, partly due to problems with his team management.

15:34 CEST    98 km/70 km to go
The peloton is in full flight now in pursuit of the four plus one leaders. The back of the peloton is strung out a long way as the sprinters teams do the work in front.

The gap to the four is now down to 5'09, with Martinez hanging 25 seconds in front of the main bunch.

The results of the Cat. 3 Alto de Lanzas Agudas: Igor Astarloa, Mariano Piccoli, David Navas and Karsten Kroon.

15:46 CEST    105 km/61.7 km to go
Martinez is recaptured by the peloton, which is in pursuit of Igor Astarloa, Mariano Piccoli, David Navas and Karsten Kroon. The gap is 4'24 at the sprint in Malejan, and falling steadily thanks to the efforts of Fassa, Telekom, ONCE and CSC.

15:49 CEST    
Gaps have started to appear in the peloton now as the wind, blowing from the left, is fairly strong. Three distinct echelons have developed - it looks like Richard Virenque is in a back group with Maestre, Sergio Perez, Lopez and Leipheimer. The gaps between the bunches are 200m or so. Virenque's group is behind the third peloton.

15:55 CEST    112 km/54.7 km to go
US Postal is driving the peloton now, with ONCE right up there as well. The front group is very tightly bunched, everyone seeking protection from the wind. There are still a good 100 riders in this group though. Fassa Bortolo ride up the left hand side, with Petacchi in tow. They have six in front, working hard.

There are several Telekom riders in the second peloton, which is coming back to the first group. They catch them, but it's not over yet. Zabel will have to move up otherwise he'll get left behind again.

16:00 CEST    115 km/51.7 km to go
The peloton is too big still, and Fassa Bortolo has its pedal on full gas. A small peloton splits off the front, leaving carnage in its wake. Petacchi is certainly in front, but his rivals?

The gap to the four leaders is now 2'34.

16:09 CEST    125 km/42 km to go
There is a general regrouping in the peloton, as the wind changes direction to blow from behind the riders again. It's a smaller bunch than before, but still with 80-90 riders in it.

It looks like Tom Boonen is chasing with the Euskaltel team, which is waiting for Unai Etxebarria. They should get back on.

We still have four leaders: David Navas (Relax), Karsten Kroon (Rabobank), Igor Astarloa (Saeco) and Mariano Piccoli (Lampre), who have been away since kilometre 9. Their advantage now is 2'13 to an ONCE/Fassa led peloton.

16:19 CEST    133.7 km/33 km to go
The peloton, with ONCE in front, is closing in on the four leaders now. The latest time check is 1'28, with around 34 km to go. The side wind isn't as strong now, and there are no echelons.

16:26 CEST    140 km/26.7 km to go
The leaders are now less than a minute in front of the peloton, which is steadily mowing them down in preparation for a bunch sprint. ONCE is doing most of the work, protecting their leader Isidro Nozal.

The Postal team is also well positioned, with Heras in the second row. At the other end of the peloton, Tom Boonen is not looking so great, sitting last wheel.

16:32 CEST    147 km/20 km to go
Kroon, Navas, Piccoli and Astarloa are now just 25 seconds in front of the massed peloton, their adventure about to be cut short by ONCE and Fassa Bortolo.

The leaders have covered 48.4 km in the third hour, but it hasn't been enough to stop them getting caught by the peloton. It's all over with 20 km to go.

16:37 CEST    151 km/16 km to go
Telekom and Fassa Bortolo have now taken up the tempo making. Erik Zabel and Alessandro Petacchi will likely battle it out for first and second, being the two strongest sprinters in the race, but watch out for Julian Dean and possibly Angel Edo.

Francisco Gutierrez (Labarca) punctures and will have a hard chase ahead of him.

16:41 CEST    159 km/7.7 km to go
Fassa and Telekom are working hard now as the bunch approaches Zaragoza for the end of the fifth stage. Just over 7 km to go now.

16:44 CEST    161.7 km/5 km to go
The kilometres are melting away now, with just 5 km to go to the finish as Fassa brings it home.

16:46 CEST    162.7 km/3 km to go
Gustov does a big turn on the front and the pace lifts to over 60 km/h. Less than 3 km to go.

16:48 CEST    165.7 km/1 km to go
Final kilometre, and the peloton is flying. It's Fassa Bortolo with the big leadout train, with Petacchi in fourth wheel. There is a crash, and a Lampre and Kelme rider are down.

The Lampre rider is Alessandro Cortinovis. He is seen too by an ambulance crew, and is stretchered away.

16:49 CEST    167 km/0 km to go.
There is a break in the peloton, and three riders go clear. Petacchi leads out, with Edo on his wheel, but Edo can't get around him and Petacchi takes his second win! Dean is third, followed by Zabel, a couple of seconds behind.

Isidro Nozal keeps the maillot oro, as he finished in the main peloton. Tomorrow he'll defend it in the time trial, but his teammate Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano could well take it back.

Thanks for following our live coverage of the fifth stage of the Vuelta. Join us again tomorrow at 14:30 for the all important Zaragoza time trial.


1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                    3.19.26
2 Angel Edo (Spa) Milaneza-MSS                               
3 Julian Dean (NZl) Team CSC                                    0.02
4 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom
5 Antonio Bucciero (Ita) Team Saeco                        
6 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Saunier Duval-Vini Caldirola
7 Angelo Furlan (Ita) Alessio                    
8 Jan Svorada (Cze) Lampre                                 
9 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca            
10 Steven De Jongh (Ned) Rabobank                                  

General classification after stage 5

1 Isidro Nozal (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski                    
2 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski                       0.50
3 Igor Gonzalez De Galdeano (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski                   
4 David Etxebarria (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                          
5 Marcos Serrano (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski                              

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