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84th Volta a Catalunya - 2.HC

Spain, June 14-20, 2004

2002 Results     Preview    Stages and results     Start list    Past winners

A tough week in store in the 84th Volta

By Martin Hardie

2003 champion Jose Antonio Pecharroman
Photo: © AFP
Click for larger image

The 84th Volta a Catalunya/Tour of Catalonia starts on Monday, June 14 with what seems to be becoming a traditional team time trial over 18 kilometres. The TTT acts as a prelude and G.C. sorter for the week's mountainous encounter.

The Volta has been for many years one of the final encounters in which Tour de France aspirants come out and test their wares before the big one. The list of past winners is testament to its stature in this regard including as it does Heras, Beloki, Zülle, Indurain, Kelly, Moser, Lejarreta and Merckx. This year the Volta returns with its testing parcours but with many big names taking the week off or seeking to ride themselves into form in the alternative meeting of the week, the Tour de Suisse. As such, other than being a venue for some Tour domestiques or stage specialists to find their legs it should provide an opportunity to see some of the up and coming riders of the peloton.

On paper in this year's edition, the decisive stages seem to be Stages 3 and 4. Stage 3 finishes in the tiny Pyrenean state of Andorra climbing two first category climbs, the Coll de Montaup and the mountain top finish at the ski station resort of Pal. The next day's stage 4 is a time trial which climbs around 700 meters in altitude over its 12 kilometre course. It was in last year's equivalent stage that José Antonio Pecharroman, then of Paternina-Costa del Almeria, stormed to the lead and eventual victory. In doing so Pecharroman outflanked the attempt of Roberto Heras to win the Volta in consecutive years.

Neither rider has come back this year for a rematch. Another rider who isn't here this year and has become known more for his mouth than his legs since is Jesus Manzano. 2003 saw the then Kelme rider solo to victory in stage 4. However, Kelme do return for this edition and having paid the outstanding salaries, they will be led by Alejandro Valverde. Amongst the riders to watch - Valverde (the Spanish Jalabert?), anyone from Paternina, Saunier's Leonardo Piepoli, a steadily improving Aitor Gonzalez, Baque's Peio Arreitunandia, Alberto Martinez of Relax, a man with a point to prove wearing orange by the name of Laiseka, and after his Giro performance supporting Gonchar, De Nardi's Brit Charly Wegelius.

The rest of the week is sure to sap the legs of many. Stage 2 climbs up towards the Pyrenees and plateaus out for a rolling finish. Stage 5 includes a first and second category climb before descending towards a flattish finish. The penultimate and ultimate stages combine a succession of third category climbs that offer no respite on the flats.

Unlike the Dauphine or the Tour de Suisse, we may not see a prospective Tour winner on display, but we will see a tough, testing week that touches the high mountains of the Pyrenees and terminates in the splendour of down town Barcelona.

Past winners

Year Winner                      AVS (km/h)
2003 Jose A. Pecharroman (Spa)
2002 Roberto Heras (Spa)         
2001 Joseba Beloki (Spa)         37.843
2000 José Maria Jimenez (Spa)    39.957
1999 Manuel Beltran (Spa)        38.339
1998 Hernan Buenahora (Col)      37.231 
1997 Fernando Escartin (Spa)     37.153
1996 Alex Zulle (Swi)            39.402
1995 Laurent Jalabert (Fra)      38.807
1994 Claudio Chiapucci (Ita)     38.557
1993 Alvaro Mejia (Col)          37.808
1992 Miguel Indurain (Spa)       38.531
1991 Miguel Indurain (Spa)       41.062
1990 Laudelino Cubino (Spa)      40.051
1989 Marino Lejarreta (Spa)      39.394
1988 Miguel Indurain (Spa)       39.157
1987 Alvaro Pino (Spa)           40.056
1986 Sean Kelly (Ire)            38.184
1985 Robert Millar (Sco)         37.930
1984 Sean Kelly (Ire)            40.453
1983 Jose Recio (Spa)            38.040
1982 Alberto Fernandez (Spa)     37.167
1981 Faustino Ruperez (Spa)      36.257
1980 Marino Lejarreta (Spa)      35.355
1979 Vicente Belda (Spa)         34.939
1978 Francesco Moser (Ita)       36.144
1977 Freddy Maertens (Bel)       35.539
1976 Martínez Heredia (Spa)      36.401
1975 Fausto Bertoglio (Ita)      35.305
1974 Bernard Thevenet (Fra)      34.969
1973 Domingo Perurena (Spa)      35.573
1972 Felice Gimondi (Ita)        35.376
1971 Luis Ocaña (Spa)            36.089
1970 Franco Bitossi (Ita)        36.171
1969 Mariano Diaz (Spa)          38.148
1968 Eddy Merckx (Bel)           37.385
1967 Jacques Anquetil (Fra)      37.674
1966 Ariel den Hartog (Ned)      36.775
1965 Antonio G. Moral (Spa)      38.237
1964 Joseph Carrara (Fra)        35.373
1963 Joseph Novales (Spa)        36.623
1962 Antonio Karmany (Spa)       36.210
1961 Henry Duez (Fra)            37.082
1960 Miguel Poblet (Spa)         37.306
1959 Salvador Botella (Spa)      36.024
1958 R.Van Genechtien (Bel)      37.410
1957 Jesus Loroño (Spa)          38.046
1956 Aniceto Utset (Spa)         36.395
1955 José Gomez Moral (Spa)      36.506
1954 Walter Serena (Ita)         36.708
1953 Salvador Botella (Spa)      33.712
1952 Miguel Poblet (Spa)         33.979
1951 Primo Volpi (Ita)           33.810
1950 Antonio Gelabert (Spa)      33.527
1949 Emxile Rol (Fra)            33.618
1948 Emilio Rodriguez (Spa)      31.182
1947 Emilio Rodriguez (Spa)      30.129
1946 Julian Berrendero (Spa)     31.146
1945 Bernardo Ruiz (Spa)         30.624
1944 Miguel Casas (Spa)          30.221
1943 Julian Berrendero (Spa)     31.146
1942 Federico Ezquerra (Spa)     30.836
1941 A.Andrés Sancho (Spa)       33.803
1940 Cristóbal Didier (Spa)      30.480
1939 Mariano Cañardo (Spa)       30.480
1936 Mariano Cañardo (Spa)       29.955
1935 Mariano Cañardo (Spa)       29.945
1934 Bernardo Rogora (Ita)       28.953
1933 Alfred Bobet (Ita)          25.977
1932 Mariano Cañardo (Spa)       31.552
1931 Salvador Cardona (Spa)      25.488
1930 Mariano Cañardo (Spa)       26.930
1929 Mariano Cañardo (Spa)       30.403
1928 Mariano Cañardo (Spa)       27.830
1927 Víctor Fontan (Fra)         22.198
1926 Víctor Fontan (Fra)         25.023
1925 Miguel Mucio (Spa)          25.002
1924 Miguel Mucio (Spa)          26.377
1923 Maurice Ville (Fra)         24.135
1920 Joseph Pelletier (Fra)      20.902
1913 Juan Marti (Spa)            21.964
1912 Jose Magdalena (Spa)        23.056
1911 Sebastian Masdeu (Spa)      23.408

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