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59th Vuelta a España - GT

Spain, September 4-26, 2004

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Vuelta a España fantasy game

Vuelta a España fantasy game

Stage 13 - September 17: El Ejido to Málaga, 172 km

Commentary by Hedwig Kröner, with additional reporting from Martin Hardie

Complete live report

Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:00 CEST

14:21 CEST   
Welcome back to Cyclingnews' live coverage of this year's Vuelta a España. Today's 13th stage is as far south as the Tour will get and takes us 172.4 km from El Ejido to Málaga all along the coastline. The riders follow a pretty flat course with the sea to their left with the climbers resting today, before tomorrow's return to the mountains. It's a stage for outsider attacks or a battle for the Points jersey, with intermediate sprints in Adra (km 16,5), Carchuna (km 63) and Rincon de la Victoria (km 159) and Erik Zabel only two points behind O'Grady.

Cyclingnews correspondent Martin Hardie reports very high temperatures and just a little breeze in Málaga and along the route.

14:29 CEST   
First news this morning at the start in El Ejido were bad news for Phonak and all Tyler Hamilton fans, as the rider did not take part in today's stage. No reasons were given for his abandon yet, as we are trying to find out as soon as possible.

14:31 CEST   
The first intermediate sprint points in Adra (km 16,5) has been taken by David Fernandez (Paternina), Rafael Casero (Saunier) and Alberto Ongarato (Fassa Bortolo).

14:35 CEST   
During the first kilometers of the stage, Francisco Garcia (Cafés Baque) and Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel) tried to escape, but the sprint teams are controlling the peloton. Especially Fassa Bortolo are guarding the bunch, and the various attacks do not exceed a 15 second lead before getting caught.

14:37 CEST   
During the first hour of the race, the riders averaged 46,20 km/h. That's not really a Sunday ride pace.

14:39 CEST    49km/123km to go
Kevin Hulsmans (Quick.Step), Herbert Gutierrez (Cafés Baque), Josep Jufre (Relax) and Kevin De Weert (Rabobank) have attacked: The four managed to extend their lead steadily; it is now at 0.52 as the peloton is not reacting.

14:47 CEST    55km/117km to go
The four riders are moving along rapidly along the coast - it looks like the peloton let them go.

14:49 CEST    63km/109km to go
The second sprint points at Carchuna (km 63) were taken by Kevin Hulsmans (Quick.Step), Herbert Gutierrez (Cafés Baque) and Josep Jufre (Relax) in that order.

14:52 CEST   
The bunch is still not chasing, and all the GC riders are well protected by their teammates. Cyclingnews correspondent Martin Hardie spoke to Floyd Landis (USPS) this morning, who was not surprised that Heras took the Gold jersey yesterday: "I've been saying all along that Roberto Heras is the strongest. I've had a good run though and I'll keep riding."

15:07 CEST    80km/92km to go
The peloton is not willing to let the lead of the four men grow too much - it is back down to 1.33.

15:13 CEST    86km/86km to go
The coastal road looks smooth in this dry region and the break is still under control by the peloton, although the lead is now back to 2.30.

15:18 CEST    88km/84km to go
The field is now passing through a small town, on a stretched alley covered by trees. A little shade must be relieving as the sun looks hot. During the second hour of the race, the speed has been 43,90 km/h.

15:21 CEST    90km/82km to go
Fassa Bortolo and Liberty Seguros are leading the bunch together. Dario Cioni (Fassa) is up there now.

15:27 CEST    93km/79km to go
It's a hilly route and the bunch enters a tunnel. It is stretched out now, the pace seems to pick up as the break is only 2 minutes away.

15:32 CEST    100km/72km to go
The four riders in front are still working well together, with Josep Jufre (Relax) leading them right now. But their lead is so small that the peloton can catch them whenever it wants.

15:35 CEST    102km/70km to go
The terrain is still pretty hilly now but will get flat in about 15 km. In Málaga, the finish is a little technical with two curves and a roundabout on the last kilometer. Let's hope, if it turns out to be a bunch sprint, that nobody will get hurt.

Kevin Hulsmans (Quick.Step) is getting a drink from his team car.

15:40 CEST   
Now it's Kevin De Weert's turn to grab a bidon at from the Rabobank car.

The peloton is still stretched - it seems odd to chase that hard with 70 km to go.

15:43 CEST    106km/66km to go
It is still Fassa and Liberty in front, Roberto Heras sitting behind his teammates but in front of the rest. Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile) is moving up - it was his birthday yesterday.

15:45 CEST   
The road does resemble the coastal Milan - San Remo, but not green and flowery like at the Primavera, much more barren and dry after a long summer.

15:49 CEST    110km/62km to go
Dario Cioni's still doing the job for his leader Petacchi, jersey zipped open. He's relentless.

Petacchi is well protected inside the bunch.

15:55 CEST    116km/56km to go
The peloton is rolling through a town on a large avenue - at last there are some spectators here, cheering the riders.

The break is kept steady at about 2 minutes.

16:01 CEST    118km/54km to go
The riders are racing along the coastline now, with the water just a few meters away - must be tempting in this heat. There are some Cofidis riders in front of the bunch now, too.

16:04 CEST    119km/53km to go
Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier) and his teammate Miguel Perdiguero are joking around at the very end of the bunch, laughing and showing off in front of the motorcycle camera.

16:08 CEST    120km/52km to go
One Quick.Step and one Rabobank guy do the same, lifting their helmets and making funny grimaces. A little entertainment can't hurt during this rather dull stage...

The four leaders still have 1.25.

16:17 CEST    123km/49km to go
One coastal town succeeds another, and the four break riders are passing through Torrox now.

16:25 CEST    135km/37km to go
With 37 kilometers to go, the break only has a 1.12 lead left and the bunch is still headed by Fassa, Liberty and Cofidis in irregular order, since there is no real chasing to do.

Inside the peloton, Erik Zabel is already on Petacchi's wheel.

16:28 CEST    138km/34km to go
Manuel Beltrán (USPS) is chatting happily to a journalist on a motorcycle. They really are taking it easy today - as tomorrow another tough mountain stage awaits them.

16:35 CEST    145km/27km to go
A three-lane motorway now leads the riders to Málaga, and the break is already in sight of the peloton.

16:43 CEST    152km/20km to go
The Fassa Bortolo train has not really started the action yet, as it is not in Petacchi's interest to catch the break too soon. The gap is kept steady at around one minute.

16:49 CEST    156km/16km to go
The riders at the back of the peloton are taking the time for discussion, underlining their opinion with gestures.

In front, it's a Cofidis rider taking the wind, as the pack is leaving the motorway now.

16:52 CEST   
Finally, we have some news on Tyler Hamilton, who abandoned the race as he did not depart on the stage this morning. The Phonak leader has been suffering in the last two stages from an upset stomach, according to Reuters.

The peloton is stretched out now, with Fassa and Cofidis sharing the work.

16:56 CEST    159km/13km to go
The last intermediate sprint is passed in Rincon de la Victoria (km 159), and the peloton follows the break at only 0.24 behind. Kevin De Weert (Rabobank), Kevin Hulsmans (Quick.Step), Hebert Gutierrez (Cafés Baque) take the points in that order.

17:00 CEST    162km/10km to go
The Cofidis riders are doing all the work now, and the break is finally caught.

17:04 CEST    165km/7km to go
The outskirts of Málaga have been reached now.

Luis Perez (Cofidis) punctured his rear wheel. It's unlikely he'll make it back to the bunch in time for the sprint...

17:05 CEST    166km/6km to go
Cofidis is still in front, hammering through Málaga's alleys.

17:07 CEST    168km/4km to go
Liberty Seguros are behind them to protect Heras from a possible crash. Perez made it back to the bunch!

17:07 CEST    169km/3km to go
Along the seashore boulevard, the tempo is incredibly high.

17:08 CEST    170km/2km to go
There will be two curves and a roundabout just before the finish line.

17:09 CEST    170km/2km to go
The Fassa train is speeding now in front, at about 60 km/h.

17:10 CEST    171km/1km to go
Petacchi is followed by Zabel and O'Grady at the flamme rouge - 1000 m to go!

17:10 CEST    172km/0km to go
Petacchi wins the stage, Zabel is second!