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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 14 - September 18: Málaga - Granada, 167 km

Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Martin Hardie

Complete live report

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

14:29 CEST   

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Welcome to Cyclingnews' coverage of Stage 14 of La Vuelta, starting on the coast in Málaga and heading inland to Granada for a total of 167 km. Today's stage takes us back into the mountains again and will definitely not be a day for the sprinters, who in fact only have one more stage to strut their stuff until Madrid.

Today starts out flat for the first 40km, but then it's back into the hills for the Cat. 2 climb of Alto Ventas de Zafarraya and Cat. 3 Alto de los Bermejales, before a brief 40km respite that precedes the Cat. 1 Alto de Monachil at 1490
meters; the first time this climb has been included in La Vuelta. The 14 percent gradients with an average of over 9 percent of the Alto de Monachil will break up the race for sure before the final 20km plunge down into Granada, 700m below.

There are three intermediate sprints on offer today, at: Rincon de la Victoria (km 7), Arroyo de la Madre (km 64.6) and at the foot of the final climb in Monachil (km 136.2).

14:43 CEST    65km/102km to go
Today's stage started without Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis) who did not sign in, claiming to be suffering from stomach problems. O'Grady has his eyes on the World Championships in Verona, and wants to be fully fit in two weeks time. In recent days, World's favourites Igor Astarloa and Oscar Freire have also pulled out in order to rest up. It looks like the battle for the sprinters jersey here will be between Erik Zabel and Alessandro Petacchi, with the former having the clear advantage at the moment.

147 riders set out in 30 degree temperatures from Malaga, and straight away there was an attack by Francisco Garcia (Cafes Baque), but he was caught. The first sprint at km 7 went to Alessandro Cortinovis (Lampre) ahead of Constantino Zaballa (Saunier Duval) and Jorge Ferrio (Paternina).

After 16 km, there was a crash that brought down Aitor Perez (Cafes Baque), among others, and this prompted the peloton to slow down for a few kilometres. The attacks restarted after 25 km with Jose Antonio Pecharroman (Quick.Step) the most active. He was joined by: Constantino Zaballa (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Joan Horrach (Illes Balears-Banesto), Benoît Joachim (USPS), Thorwald Veneberg (Rabobank), Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile Team), Joaquin Lopez (Paternina-Costa De Almeria), Pietro Caucchioli (Alessio-Bianchi), José Julia (Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme) and Aitor Silloniz (Euskaltel-Euskadi).

The group lost Veneberg and Silloniz, reducing it to eight riders as the Cat. 2 climb of Alto Ventas de Zafarraya started. At the top of the climb, Ferrio took the points ahead of Vinokourov and Zaballa, with the rest of the break going back to the peloton. Eladio Jimenez (Kelme) was fourth over, followed by Felix Cardenas and Paco Mancebo. The gap to the three leaders was 1'24 at the top.

14:50 CEST    68km/99km to go
Fabio Sacchi (Fassa Bortolo) has crashed heavily. He was attended to by doctors and taken away in an ambulance with a suspected broken hip.

Ferrio and Vinokourov are now together, having dropped Zaballa. Chasing them at 47 seconds are: Jimenez, Zaballa, Cardenas, Joachim, José Enrique Gutierrez (Phonak) and David Latasa (Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme). The peloton follows at 1'18.

The riders were not hanging around this afternoon and covered 45.9 km in the first hour.

14:54 CEST   
Cyclingnews' Martin Hardie spoke to Saunier Duval's Joseba Beloki today before the start, who told us that, "Today will be a very hard stage as it is even hotter up in the mountains around Granada." It was already 30 degrees at the start!

15:02 CEST    75km/92km to go
Pietro Caucchioli (Alessio) and Marco Zanotti (Vini Caldirola) have abandoned.

There has been a regrouping at the front, with the following riders now leading the race: Eladio Jimenez and David Latasa (Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme), Constantino Zaballa (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Jorge Ferrio (Paternina-Costa De Almeria), Felix Cardenas and Ivan Parra (Cafes Baque), José Miguel Elias (Relax-Bergasol), Benoît Joachim (US Postal Service p/b Berry Floor), José Enrique Gutierrez (Phonak), Roberto Laiseka (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile Team) and Antonio Colom (Illes Balears-Banesto).

Jimenez is the best placed on GC, but is over 15 minutes down in 21st place.

15:08 CEST    82km/85km to go
The 12 leaders now have a healthy 2'52 on the peloton.

Aitor Perez (Cafes Baque) is still in the race, despite injuring his elbow in a crash earlier, but Fabio Sacchi is definitely not. The Fassa rider is now being examined at hospital for damage to his hip.

15:16 CEST    90km/77km to go
Liberty Seguros is leading the peloton at a fairly brisk pace now, 3'00 behind the 12 man breakaway group.

Bert Roesems (Relax) has abandoned. The riders covered 40.2 km in the second hour.

15:18 CEST   
Cyclingnews posed the question to US Postal director Johan Bruyneel this morning: how do you win the Vuelta from here? "Hire Heras for the last week!" was his straightforward reply.

15:22 CEST    90km/77km to go
Jose Gutierrez (Phonak) decides he's had enough of his breakaway companions and attacks at the foot of the Alto de los Bermejales, with Zaballa trying to go after him. The Saunier rider makes contact on the lower slopes of the climb.

15:24 CEST    91km/76km to go
Mikel Astarloza (Ag2r) has abandoned. Are there any Ag2r riders left? Just two: Putsep and Chaurreau.

Victor Peña attacks the peloton, which is also on the climb, riding about 2'50 behind. Liberty Seguros doesn't change its pace and lets the Colombian go.

15:26 CEST    92km/75km to go
Beloki goes to the back to get some oil on his front brake, and a free tow at the same time. It's not really going to affect his GC. He is riding with an SRM power measuring system. He takes a couple of bidons as well.

15:28 CEST    93km/74km to go
The second sprint at Arroyo de la Madre (km 64) was taken by Constantino Zaballa ahead of Jose Enrique Gutierrez and Ivan Parra. Zaballa and Gutierrez are obviously feeling good, as they've gapped the rest of the breakaway and are nearing the summit of this short but steep climb of the Alto de los Bermejales.

The peloton is at 3'12.

15:30 CEST    97km/70km to go
Zaballa takes the points at the top of the climb ahead of Gutierrez. The next rider through is Elias with Colom, Vinokourov, Joachim and a few others on his wheel at 45 seconds.

Victor Peña is solo, between the peloton and the break(s).

15:33 CEST    100km/67km to go
Felix Cardenas
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Mountains leader Cardenas and another rider are chasing Vinokourov's group of eight at about 15 seconds, but the group in front isn't waiting.

Peña is over the top at 3'37. This chase is not going to work, and he realises it. He slips it into the big ring and starts pedalling easily.

15:34 CEST   
Oscar Sevilla, who according to Spanish press reports has signed for T-Mobile for two years, is now doing the job as water carrier for his team. He grabs about 7-8 bidons from the team car at the top of the climb and makes his way back to the peloton, which is now catching Victor Peña. Liberty is leading all the way.

15:41 CEST    104km/63km to go
The two leaders, Zaballa and Gutierrez, are chugging down bottles of water like it's going out of style as they hammer through Ventas de Huelma with 45 seconds lead to a group of 10 with Vinokourov, Elias, Colom, Jimenez, Latasa, Joachim, Laiseka, Cardenas, Ferrio and Parra. The peloton is at 4'00 behind the two leaders, driven all the time by Liberty Seguros, with some help from Vini Caldirola.

Beloki wasn't wrong - it's very hot out here.

15:45 CEST    107km/60km to go
The two leaders are going well, managing to hold off a 10 man chasing group on the gradual descent after the Bermejales. The chase group is cooperating too.

Santos Gonzalez (Phonak) has abandoned.

15:49 CEST    110km/57km to go
The first lot of chasers have pegged Zaballa and Gutierrez back to 35 seconds, with the peloton narrowing the gap to 3'10. Vini Caldirola (for Garzelli, who might fancy himself today) and Liberty Seguros (for Heras) have got the peloton wound up to high speed. Illes Balears (for Mancebo) and Phonak (for Perez) are next in line with a couple of CSC riders. Valverde is right behind them.

15:53 CEST    112km/55km to go
The chase is getting serious. The 10 man group is now 25 seconds behind the two leaders, but the peloton is only 2'50 back. Again, Liberty's aim will be to get Heras into a good position on the final climb, but it's probably too far from the finish for him to go solo. And with tomorrow's climbing time trial, he probably doesn't want to bury himself.

The chasers are getting closer to the two leaders all the time.

15:57 CEST   
Evans and Garzelli
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Cyclingnews spoke to one of T-Mobile's four remaining riders Cadel Evans this morning, who told us that he didn't feel great for a few days. "It has been like 'mission impossible' without any support from the team. On the stage to Calar Alto, it was ok until Liberty went crazy with the pace on the final climb. The pace was extremely fast for a climb like that."

15:59 CEST    118km/49km to go
There is a regrouping at the front as Gutierrez and Zaballa finally give up the fight. We have 12 men again: Constantino Zaballa (Saunier Duval-Prodir), José Enrique Gutierrez (Phonak), Eladio Jimenez and David Latasa (Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme), Jorge Ferrio (Paternina-Costa De Almeria), Ivan Parra (Cafes Baque), José Miguel Elias (Relax-Bergasol), Benoît Joachim (USPS),Roberto Laiseka (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile Team) and Antonio Colom (Illes Balears-Banesto), Felix Cardenas (Cafes Baque).

16:08 CEST    125km/42km to go
The gap is coming down fairly quickly now as we approach the foot of the final climb. Vini Caldirola and Liberty are working very hard in front and have the 12 leaders pegged to 1'30. They're going to need more than that.

16:12 CEST    127km/40km to go
Jan Hruska does a big turn on the front of the Liberty/Vini Caldirola train, and the gap continues to fall. It's 1'15 now - not bad, considering there are less riders working at the front of the peloton than the 12 in the break.

The race is on a motorway now, flying towards Monachil.

16:18 CEST    133km/34km to go
The break is still working well together, but it will likely be caught before the climb starts, or just at the foot of it. The peloton has got it down to under a minute now as it is cheered through Monachil.

Benoît Joachim and Antonio Colom have attacked, and have a 20 second lead on the rest of the break.

16:21 CEST   
Joachim leads Colom as the road goes uphill through Monachil, but they're not quite on the climb yet. Ferrio leads Vinokourov and Cardenas back up to them.

16:24 CEST    136km/31km to go
The Alto de Monachil is an 8.3 km climb averaging a savage 8.5%. That includes a downhill section just before the top.

Vinokourov has attacked the lead group and takes the sprint points in Monachil, 10 seconds ahead of Joachim and Elias. Cardenas, Colom and Ferrio are all in front.

The peloton is still 1'02 back at the sprint, with two Libertys (Baranowski and Gil) and two Phonaks on the front.

16:26 CEST    138km/29km to go
A dog is on the parcours, travelling very quickly as Cedric Vasseur attacks. The dog goes in between Zaballa and Gutierrez, who are caught by the bunch. This dog can climb!

16:28 CEST    139km/28km to go
Beloki is dropped by the peloton, which is now fairly small - perhaps 50 riders.

Does the dog belong to VDB? Vasseur has dropped it on the climb though.

In front, Vino hits a 10 percent section as the break gradually implodes behind him. Colom is caught.

16:30 CEST    141km/26km to go
Sastre attacks, taking Santi Perez with him. But Heras is right there too and the rest of the peloton comes back.

Ivan Parra is caught, as is Elias. Vino now leads by about 10 seconds as the rest of the peloton comes up to him. Landis looks to be in a spot of bother, as does Beltran.

16:31 CEST    142km/25km to go
Nozal, the axe man, is now leading Heras, Santi Perez, Sastre, Valverde, Mancebo and about 7 others in pursuit of Alexandre Vinokourov, who is really fighting on this climb.

Vino is caught.

16:34 CEST   
Vinokourov can't hang on as Serrano takes over from Nozal. Santi Perez attacks again. It's still 10-13% here.

16:36 CEST   
Santi Perez gets a small gap as he rides through a posse of motorbikes. Heras doesn't panic, and gets his teammates to ride hard tempo. Serrano drops back and Nozal takes over again. Perez has 8 seconds.

Heras' group contains: Serrano, Nozal, Heras, Piepoli, Valverde, Garcia Quesada, Mancebo, L. Perez, Gomez, Ferrio, Sastre and Piepoli.

16:38 CEST    143km/24km to go
Nozal lifts the tempo as the road flattens a little. He has Heras plastered to his wheel, then Sastre and Luis Perez. Mancebo is suffering a bit at the back.

Santi Perez looks very focused, but he will have to hold off the chasers for over 20 km after the summit.

16:40 CEST    144km/23km to go
Nozal has Santi Perez pegged to 13 seconds now, as the road flattens out a bit more before the first peak of this climb. But 7 percent is still hard going.

Serrano comes back to help out the chase, and takes over from Nozal. Liberty has three men here, Paternina has two, Kelme has two, the rest are on their own.

16:41 CEST   
The Liberty boys grab bidons from a soigneur on the side of the road as Perez now has 25 seconds. The Phonak rider is starting to suffer a bit.

Carlos Sastre takes over the pace making.

16:43 CEST   
Sastre's tempo has put Serrano and Ferrio in trouble, but they should get back on. The road steeps to 11 percent again. This is why Perez was suffering.

16:45 CEST    145km/22km to go
Perez struggles through the crowds up the final, steep section of the climb towards the first summit. Back in the chase group, it's Nozal on the front with Heras on his wheel looking very comfy. Luis Perez, next to Heras, does not.

Garcia Quesada is dying a thousand deaths to maintain contact with the Heras group. The first peak is reached.

16:47 CEST   
Perez has 25 seconds but the bunch behind picks up a lot of speed on the little descent before the final pinch. Garcia Quesada takes over in front.

16:49 CEST    147km/20km to go
Perez crosses the summit of the Monachil with a 33 second advantage over Valverde and Heras. Then the rest of the group in bits.

Angel Gomez is a little way off the back, just ahead of Serrano and Ferrio.

16:50 CEST   
The descent is very technical as Valverde continues his attack. Heras is a couple of seconds behind and doesn't let Valverde go.

16:51 CEST   
Valverde leads all the way, jersey flapping in the wind at 60 km/h. The rest of the riders are coming back: Sastre, Mancebo, Piepoli, Garcia Quesada, Nozal, Luis Perez.

16:54 CEST    150km/17km to go
The roads start to widen and it's still Santi Perez in the lead, with the next group at 33 seconds behind him. He's doing well to hold them off. He's now at 70 km/h, using the "Obree tuck" to gain maximum speed.

16:55 CEST    153km/14km to go
Garcia Quesada is almost kissing his front wheel as he strives for aero advantage. He has Luis Perez right behind him.

The chasing group: Heras, Valverde, Nozal, Piepoli, Garcia Quesada, Mancebo, L. Perez, Sastre

16:57 CEST    154km/13km to go
Garcia Quesada and Luis Perez have now opened up a bit of a gap on the Heras group. Can they catch Santi Perez on this downhill run into Granada? Santi is 4'22 down on GC in 8th place, so Heras has no real concerns.

16:58 CEST    156km/11km to go
The two chasers are 26 seconds behind the leader, as Heras' group slows a little. Valverde sits up and zips up his jersey. Good idea!

16:59 CEST    157km/10km to go
Santi PErez reaches 10 km to go, pursued by Carlos Garcia Quesada and Luis Perez at 30 seconds. The Heras group is at 35 seconds, coming back. Nozal leads.

17:01 CEST    159km/8km to go
Nozal is working hard to get Luis Perez and Garcia Quesada back. But Santi Perez has half a minute still and is looking a lot better for the stage win.

Garcia Quesada and Luis Perez are caught. Santi has 8 km to go.

17:02 CEST    160km/7km to go
Valverde takes over with 8 km to go as they are 41 seconds behind Santi Perez. Surely the Phonak rider will stay clear now.

17:04 CEST    161km/6km to go
Perez has 42 seconds with 6 km left, as the descent finally starts to flatten. He's on the outskirts of Granada, pedalling very smoothly. The chase group is working well behind, with Heras also doing turns.

17:05 CEST    163km/4km to go
The chasers can't make any impression on the Phonak rider, who may move up past Landis and Beltran on GC today. He has 4.5 km left.

17:06 CEST   
Perez reaches 4 km to go, still riding rock solid. The chase is not hard enough, and the gap is still 39 seconds as Luis Perez leads them under the 4km.

17:07 CEST   
Santiago Perez (Phonak) has 3 km to go before he can celebrate his stage win in Granada. The chasers have realised this.

The Landis/Beltran group is at 2'30. Perez could move up to 6th.

17:08 CEST    165km/2km to go
Perez reaches the crowded inner city streets with 2 km to go, getting some encouragement from his team car. It's flat now, but that doesn't matter.

17:08 CEST   
Sastre misses a corner and will have to chase...oops.

17:09 CEST    166km/1km to go
Santi Perez reaches the final kilometre and gets a big cheer as he rides up the finishing straight. He made his attack on the final climb and descended superbly to hold off the chasers.

17:10 CEST    167km/0km to go
Santiago Perez wins the 14th stage of the Vuelta with a nice solo breakaway in the last 25 km. He celebrates a bit as he crosses the line, pointing his finger to the sky.

17:11 CEST   
Sastre has caught chase group as Valverde leads out the sprint from 150m. Valverde is second, then Luis Perez, Mancebo, Nozal, Sastre and Heras.

Landis, Beltran, Cunego and Garzelli come in a group at 2'45. Santi Perez will leapfrog over them on GC.


1 Santiago Perez (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems                 4.06.34  
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme            0.46
3 Luis Perez (Spa) Cofidis, le credit par Telephone              
4 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Banesto            
5 Isidro Nozal (Spa) Liberty Seguros                           
6 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC                                 
7 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros                          
8 Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir                  
9 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme
10 David Blanco (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme                 2.08

General classification after stage 14

1 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros                        53.00.05    
2 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Banesto                  0.35
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme            0.49
4 Isidro Nozal (Spa) Liberty Seguros                             1.12
5 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC                                   3.16
6 Santiago Perez (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems                    3.42
5 Floyd Landis (USA) US Postal Service p/b Berry Floor           4.19
6 Manuel Beltran (Spa) US Postal Service p/b Berry Floor         4.49
9 Angel Gomez (Spa) Paternina-Costa De Almeria                   6.43
10 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme             

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