59th Vuelta a España - GT
Spain, September 4-26, 2004
Commentary by Jeff Jones
Complete live report
Live coverage starts: 15:15 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:15 CEST
Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the third and final grand tour of the
year, the Vuelta a España, which starts today in León with a 27.7 km team time
trial. The first team (Ag2r-Prevoyance) will roll off at 15:27, with the remaining
20 teams following at 4 minute intervals, the last being Liberty Seguros, the
team of defending champion Roberto Heras, at 16:47.
The top teams should be able to do the course in around 30 minutes, but with
a 120m climb between km 5-11, it's going to be a challenge for the teams to
keep all their riders.
The weather today is dry but humid after some rain earlier. Temperatures are
in the low 20's and it's cloudy.
Ag2r gets the countdown and rolls off the start ramp, all riders with rear disks
and front semi-deep rimmed wheels.
Estonian champion Erki Putsep leads his Ag2r team along as they get up to full
Meanwhile, Alessio-Bianchi is on the start ramp. They set off through the crowds
at a steady pace. There are a few corners in the first part of the course, so
it's not flat out.
Alessio is now at full speed with Italian champ Cristian Moreni prominent in
his red, white and green jersey.
The roads are fairly wide at the start, but there are a lot of roundabouts to
The next team to leave is Cafes Baque, riding Olmo bikes with Ambrosio rear
disks/front carbon wheels.
Cafes Baque is quickly up to speed as it heads out of Leon via the various roundabouts.
Ag2r is coming up to the first time check at km 11.
Cofidis is next cab off the ranks, with Stuart O'Grady looking a little nervous
as he gets ready to start. Watch for Luis Perez, who is typically good in this
The km 0 timing actually starts about 100m after they leave the ramp.
Cédric Vasseur does a big turn on the front of the Cofidis train, stretching
them out. Atienza is suffering on the back.
Euskaltel-Euskadi will start after Cofidis, and are looking very focused. With
Haimar Zubeldia as the main man, this will be an important stage. The Euskaltel
boys are on their Orbeas with Mavic discs/deep dished front wheels, with the
odd five spoke front wheel too.
Ag2r's time at 11km is 13:38, which is not too bad considering the climb.
Alessio-Bianchi has also passed the 11 km check in 13:38. Nothing in it!
Euskaltel is flying along, probably the fastest starting team so far.
Fassa Bortolo is next, with Alessandro Petacchi, Dario Cioni, Aitor Gonzalez
as the top men and six excellent helpers in Gustov, Ongarato, Sacchi, Sanchez,
Trenti and Velo.
Petacchi won't be able to repeat his feat of winning stages in all three major
tours as he did last year, but he will at least be one of the few riders to
start in all three tours again.
Cafes Baque has passed 11 km in 13:31, the best to date.
Illes Balears - Banesto is next off the ramp, with Mancebo and Menchov the top
Illes Balears sets off with Jose Vicente Garcia Acosta driving the train.
Ag2r is up to the 20 km check in 24'20.
Mancebo is struggling with the early pace a bit, leaving a gap in second last
Cofidis is quicker than everyone at km 11, passing the check in 13:27.
Next off is Lampre, which is starting with eight riders after Francesco Casagrande
was ejected a few days ago from having a high hematocrit. Lampre will thus be
relying on World Champion Igor Astarloa to put in a few good rides.
Alessio-Bianchi is past 20 km in 24:34, 14 seconds slower than Ag2r.
Costa de Almeria-Paternina is the next team off the ramp. Meanwhile, Ag2r-Prevoyance
is driving it home and finishes with nine men in 32:34, 51.6 km/h. Not bad.
Illes Balears is into its rhythm now, riding over the speed humps on the outskirts
Next off is one of the favourites, Team Phonak, with Hamilton, Sevilla, Gonzalez,
Grabsch, Gutierrez, Jalabert, Perez and Valjavec.
Alessio-Bianchi finishes in 32:45, a bit slower than Ag2r. Meanwhile, Fassa
Bortolo has set the best time at 11 km in 13:13.
Illes Balears has beaten Fassa's time with a brisk 13'02. Osa is sitting on
the back though.
Quick.Step-Davitamon signals for its last rider, Van Goolen, to get himself
up to the start ramp in time. He does, and they're all set. Pecharroman, Bodrogi
and Sinkewitz should be useful.
Cafes Baque finishes in 32:39 for second best time behind Ag2r.
Osa is dropped from Illes Balears. He'll have to ride the last 12 km on his
own, as they don't want to wait. If he finishes within 35 percent of the winner's
time he won't be eliminated.
Most teams are choosing for a single paceline today, as that's generally the
most efficient way to ride a team time trial.
Two Euskaltel riders have been dropped and have been caught by the Fassa Bortolo
train before 20 km. Fassa is past that point in 24:02, the best time to date.
Cofidis finishes with 5 riders in 32:34, fractionally slower than Ag2r.
Rabobank sets off next, as the remnants of the Cofidis team come across the
Top teams so far:
1 Ag2r-Prevoyance 32.34
3 Cafés Baqué 0.05
4 Alessio-Bianchi 0.11
Relax Fuenlabrada-Bergasol's nine riders mount the start ramp, with Johan Van
Summeren looking a little anxious.
Illes Balears has smashed Fassa's time at 20 km with 23:36, on track to the
Euskaltel comes home in the slowest time of 33:12, almost catching a couple
of Cofidis riders. Euskaltel finished with seven, but it wasn't a good time.
Phonak is past 11 km in 13:13, a little off the pace of Illes Balears but still
in second position.
The Fassa squad finishes in a nice time of 32:10, with eight riders intact.
Saeco sets off, with Cunego leading out.
Phonak is down to eight riders but only has 10 km to go, and is looking good
to push Illes Balears for the best time.
Cyclingnews spoke to Cofidis' Stuart O'Grady before the start today, and he
said that he is here to "take it day by day and see what happens. No pressure,
Illes Balears storms home with seven riders intact, finishing in 31:41 (53 km/h).
Saunier Duval is next off.
Saunier's main man is Joseba Beloki, who has hopefully recovered some of his
form after his crash in the Tour last year. Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero,
Juan Carlos Dominguez and Leonardo Piepoli are all pretty handy as well.
Phonak is five seconds slower than Illes Balears at 20 km, but still in the
hunt for the best time.
Team CSC starts next.
Lampre finishes with just five riders in a time of 32:31, third fastest.
Thomas Bruun leaves a gap on a corner and has to chase hard to get back to the
CSC train. That will hurt now and later on.
The magenta jerseys of T-Mobile are lining up on the start ramp now. Vinokourov,
Evans, Botero and Zabel are the guys to watch. It's a strong team.
Paternina-Costa de Almeria finishes with all eight of its riders in a time of
32:46, eighth best.
Astarloa (Lampre) finishes alone, but well within the time limit. No waiting
for the world champion today!
Phonak drives home with seven riders, but they can't beat Illes Balears. The
finish time is 31:46, five seconds slower.
US Postal-Berry Floor is about to head off. Landis looks to be the team leader
US Postal is into its rhythm right away, with Barry, Peña, Beltran, Joachim,
Joachim, Mikhailov, Cruz, Van Heeswijk, Zabriskie and Landis its nine Vuelta
Vini Caldirola, the third last team, is next to head off. Garzelli is the top
man here, but also watch for Pavel Tonkov.
Relax Bergasol passes the 20 km check in 24:00, third fastest. Impressive work.
Quick.Step-Davitamon finishes with all nine riders in a time of 32'58, definitely
US Postal is looking very slick as it negotiates the first part of the parcours,
via the speed humps. These can hurt at 50 km/h, especially if you don't see
Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme, sporting slightly different green and blue colours
than normal, sets off as the second last team. With Alejandro Valverde in the
ranks, this team is one of the favourites to win the Vuelta.
Rabobank finishes with just five men in a time of 33'01, again not brilliant.
Mikhailov is dropped from Postal's train on the climb. He'll have to finish
in about 42 minutes to avoid the time cut.
The last team to start is Liberty Seguros, which contains defending champ Roberto
Heras as well as runner up Isidro Nozal and Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano.
T-Mobile is the second best team at 11 km in 13:06. Still Illes Balears with
the top time.
Relax-Bergasol finishes in 32:16 for fourth best. Good riding.
No problems for Liberty Seguros in the first few corners. All riders stick together.
US Postal has gone fastest at km 11 with 12:54!
Saeco finishes with the fourth best time of 32:23, seven riders left. That will
be good for Cunego.
CSC has picked it up a bit at the 20 km check, passing in the same time as Fassa
in 24:02 (fourth).
Jose Cayetano Julia is dropped from the Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme train on
the climb, and is on his own. Team director Vicente Belda drives straight past
T-Mobile, riding a double paceline, comes up to 20 km in 23:26, the new best
time! That's good for Vinokourov.
Saunier Duval finishes with just six riders in a time of 32:35 for ninth. That's
already nearly a minute slower than Illes Balears.
Rene Andrle is dropped from the Liberty train, again on the uphill. Comunidad
Valenciana has done the fourth best time at km 11 in 13:09.
US Postal continues to drive hard, passing 20 km in 23:06, easily the best time.
CSC finishes off in a very respectable time of 32:09, for third so far. Seven
US Postal is now on the descent and has the pace cranked up over 60 km/h. What
can Liberty Seguros do?
Liberty is past the 11 km check in 13:03, nine seconds slower than US Postal,
which looks to have this TTT well in hand.
T-Mobile finishes with eight (well close enough) in 31:16, the new best time!
Vini Caldirola comes up to the 20km check in 24:36, one of the slowest times
Comunidad Valenciana is still hanging together, and will do a good time at km
US Postal is into the final straight now and will do the best time today.
At the finish, there are still seven riders there. Landis leads them over in
30:45, which will probably give Landis the first golden jersey. Landis looked
very strong there.
Liberty Seguros is now down to six riders with 8 km to go. That's going to slow
them down a bit.
Comunidad Valenciana passes the 20 km check in 23'41, the fourth fastest and
the same time as Phonak.
Liberty comes up to the 20 km check now, clocking 23:49 for sixth best. That's
a fairly ordinary performance by Manolo Saiz's boys, who make a habit of winning
team time trials.
Vini Caldirola finishes in a time of 32:57 for 16th. That's not going to help
Garzelli and Tonkov.
Just two more teams to finish and at the moment it looks certain that Floyd
Landis will take the first leader's jersey in the Vuelta after US Postal rode
a fantastic TTT to finish in 30:45. T-Mobile's 31:16 is looking like the second
best time, then Illes Balears in 31:41.
The green and blue jerseys of Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme fly home with Valverde
near the front. Their finishing time is 31:43 for fourth, 58 seconds slower
Liberty Seguros limps home with its six riders left. Gaps appear in the final
kilometre and this is definitely not one of Manolo's better efforts in the team
time trial. Nozal is still there, as are Heras, Gonzalez de Galdeano and Serrano.
Liberty finishes in 32:13 for 8th, losing 1'28 to US Postal. That's going to
But the winners are US Postal-Berry Floor with Floyd Landis taking the leader's
jersey. T-Mobile, Illes Balears, Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme and Phonak round
out the top five.
1 US Postal Service-Berry Floor 12.54
2 Illes Balears-Banesto 0.08
3 Liberty Seguros 0.15
4 T-Mobile 0.12
5 Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme 0.15
1 US Postal Service-Berry Floor 23.06
2 T-Mobile 0.20
3 Illes Balears-Banesto 0.30
4 Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme 0.35
Finish - 27.7 km
1 US Postal Service-Berry Floor 30.45
2 T-Mobile 0.31
3 Illes Balears-Banesto 0.56
4 Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme 0.58
5 Phonak 1.01
6 CSC 1.24
7 Fassa Bortolo 1.25
8 Liberty Seguros 1.28
9 Saeco 1.38
10 Relax-Bodysol 1.41
11 Lampre 1.46
12 Ag2r-Prevoyance 1.49
14 Saunier Duval 1.50
15 Cafés Baqué 1.54
16 Alessio-Bianchi 2.00
17 Paternina-Costa de Almería 2.01
18 Vini Caldirola 2.12
19 Quick Step -Davitamon 2.13
20 Rabobank 2.16
21 Euskaltel-Euskadi 2.27
General classification after stage 1
1 Floyd Landis (USA) US Postal-Berry Floor 30.45
2 Michael Barry (Can) US Postal-Berry Floor
3 Victor Hugo Pena (Col) US Postal-Berry Floor
4 Manuel Beltran (Spa) US Postal-Berry Floor
5 David Zabriskie (USA) US Postal-Berry Floor
6 Joachim (Lux) US Postal-Berry Floor
7 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) US Postal-Berry Floor
8 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile 0.31
9 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile
10 Tomas Konecny (Cze) T-Mobile
the commentary team