59th Vuelta a España - GT
Spain, September 4-26, 2004
Stage 3 - September 6: Burgos - Soria, 157 km
Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Martin Hardie
Complete live report
Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:15 CEST
Welcome to Cyclingnews' coverage of stage 3 of the Vuelta between Burgos and
Soria. Somewhat shorter than yesterday at only 157 km, today's stage is another
one for the sprinters as it contains no categorised climbs. There are a few
hills en route, including a gentle drag between km 10 and 33, followed by a
short descent and then another gradual climb up towards the first intermediate
sprint at Duruelo de la Sierra (km 93.6). There are two more sprints to follow,
at Vinuesa (km 111.8) and Toledillo (km 135.5). The finish in Soria is slightly
Today's stage started with a little bit of cloud cover and some spitting rain
but still with warm temperatures in the mid-20's. All 187 riders took the start
in Burgos, with Max van Heeswijk (USPS) wearing the golden leader's jersey,
and hoping to pull off a stage win today.
After 24 km, Bert Roesems (Relax-Bodysol) made the first attack, which was chased
down. A counter attack went with 10 riders as follows:
David Zabriskie (US Postal Service p/b Berry Floor), Stephan Schreck (T-Mobile
Team), Francisco Cabello (Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme), Xavier Florencio (Relax-Bodysol),
Alessandro Cortinovis (Lampre), Iñaki Isasi (Euskaltel), Francisco Garcia (Cafes
Baque), Ellis Rastelli (Alessio-Bianchi), Jurgen Van Goolen (Quick.Step-Davitamon),
Thomas Bruun (Team CSC).
14:50 CEST 44km/113km to go
The 10 breakaways were caught at km 36 and a new round of attacks followed,
with Martin Hvastija (Alessio-Bianchi), Kevin Hulsmans (Quick.Step-Davitamon)
and Thorwald Veneberg (Rabobank) the next to try. These three have gained 10
seconds on the bunch.
14:57 CEST 51km/106km to go
Hvastija goes back to the peloton, while Hulsmans and Veneberg continue their
attempt to escape. The pair are joined by Benoît Joachim (US Postal Service
p/b Berry Floor) and Andy Flickinger (Ag2R Prevoyance).
15:07 CEST 63km/94km to go
The four man breakaway has established itself now, reaching a 1'47 lead at the
55 km mark. The road climbs now for the next 40 km, passing via the feed zone
at Quintanar de la Sierra (km 82).
15:11 CEST 64km/93km to go
Of the quartet, Joachim is the best placed on GC, lying in second overall at
just 2 seconds behind his teammate Van Heeswijk. If he can take one of these
intermediate sprints (6, 4, 2 seconds bonus) then he will probably take the
At the back of the peloton, Juan Manuel Garate (Lampre) is getting assistance
from the race doctor.
To ensure the break gets a bit of a lead, a Rabobank and Quick.Step rider are
at the front of the peloton, sitting next to a couple of Fassas. This should
give the four leaders a few minutes more, as the peloton is not riding hard
15:16 CEST 66km/91km to go
Joachim's leading group now has a 3'30 lead as the peloton comes up through
Castillo de la Reina. US Postal obviously doesn't have to do any chasing work
today, so it'll be up to the sprinters teams (probably just Fassa Bortolo) to
chase. But it's not time yet.
Cyclingnews' Martin Hardie spoke to German sprinter Erik Zabel (T-Mobile)
this morning, inquiring as to whether he was interested in taking the leader's
jersey. "It's hard to take the leader's jersey here today because I am 25 seconds
behind and a win will give me only 20," Zabel said. "I will just take it as
it comes...it's a nice race and we are all relaxed."
15:27 CEST 72km/85km to go
The pace in the bunch is still quite relaxed, with a couple of Quick.Steps sitting
at the front. It's early days yet to start chasing, and no-one looks particularly
The weather is quite pleasant now, with plenty of blue sky peeking through the
clouds. The four leaders are working well together, everyone doing their turn.
15:31 CEST 77km/80km to go
The slow pace of the peloton has allowed the leaders to build up a 6'50 lead,
and that is enough for the sprinters teams. Saeco is riding on the front now
to keep the leaders in check.
15:39 CEST 80km/77km to go
Saeco's chase hasn't done much to the lead of the four in front, and it's now
up to 7'28. But there are reinforcements for Saeco now, with five riders on
the front of the bunch. Maybe today's finish suits Damiano Cunego....
USPS team director Dirk Demol drives up to Joachim in the break and gives him
some advice. Joachim will soon be the virtual leader, assuming he takes a few
seconds in the bonus sprints.
Saeco now has seven riders in front. This is getting serious!
15:45 CEST 83km/74km to go
The advantage of having a team time trial to kick off the Vuelta means that
the leading team can pass around the leader's jersey by juggling bonus seconds.
That's what US Postal is doing now. Demol was quoted on Belgian TV as saying
that it will be a reward for Joachim's hard work during the year.
The leaders are now at the feed zone at Quintanar de la Sierra, all of them
grabbing feed bags and refueling. The lead is 7'30.
15:53 CEST 87km/70km to go
The peloton rides through the feed zone with Saeco pushing the pace. There's
a slight downhill before the road climbs again. The bunch is becoming rather
Joachim does a strong turn in the break, then Flickinger, Hulsmans and Veneberg
15:57 CEST 92km/65km to go
Vinokourov grabs his feedbag at the front of the peloton, with Botero behind
him. The Colombian throws out most of his lunch but stows some of it in his
mouth and back pocket. He chats to Saunier Duval's Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero,
who will be his teammate at Phonak next year (see today's
15:58 CEST 93km/64km to go
The Saecos have eased off the chase, having received no help from any other
teams. The leaders are approaching the first sprint in Duruelo de la Sierra.
16:00 CEST 94km/63km to go
Joachim takes the lead shortly before the sprint, but the others understand
what he has to do. The Luxembourger wins ahead of Veneberg and Flickinger, and
now effectively has the leader's jersey. He might end up with a few minutes
lead if the bunch doesn't wake up.
16:02 CEST 96km/61km to go
The peloton has fallen into a bit of a post-prandial torpor, and there is no
organised chase on. There's an Alessio rider - Ruslan Ivanov - on the front
together with a Cafes Baque and a Phonak. Race leader Van Heeswijk is sitting
right down the back.
16:05 CEST 99km/58km to go
The leaders still have seven minutes plus as they reach Covaleda with 59 km
to go. It's more downhill now towards the finish in Soria, and that will help
The peloton is still uninterested in the chase. Saeco has given up, Fassa is
nowhere to be seen, and T-Mobile probably doesn't want to work too hard for
16:10 CEST 102km/55km to go
The peloton reaches the sprint in Duruelo de la Sierra an incredible 9'09 behind
the break. There is little chance it will be caught now.
None of the leaders are really threatening for the final general classification,
so the GC teams aren't particularly interested in chasing. But it's odd that
the sprinters' teams haven't put on the gloves, because after the first week
of the Vuelta it gets hard.
Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) is in better spirits than he was in July, when
he pulled out of the Tour de France after not performing to expectations. We
spoke to him this morning in Burgos, and the defending champion was more upbeat.
"I am feeling good, much better than in the Tour which was horrible," said Heras.
16:20 CEST 109km/48km to go
The leaders will be starting to think about their chances in the final 50 km.
None of them are really top sprinters, so it should be a matter of who is the
strongest and can perhaps attack in the finale.
It's now raining lightly on the leaders, who have 9'30 over the bunch, which
is being led by Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme. It's too late to catch the leaders.
The rain starts to come down harder...The rain jackets come out in the peloton.
16:25 CEST 112km/45km to go
It was only a very brief shower, and both the break and the peloton are riding
on dry roads again. There is some discussion among the breakaways before the
next sprint at Vinuesa (km 111.8).
Predictably, Joachim takes the sprint ahead of Flickinger and Hulsmans. That's
12 bonus seconds so far today, and he'll probably take the next 6. But perhaps
not contest the finish.
It's now raining again. Oh well.
Cofidis and Kelme are working hard now, and this will have an effect on the
9'30 lead. The peloton is still dry, while the break is riding through a storm.
16:30 CEST 115km/42km to go
Vasseur is on the front of the bunch just as it starts to rain again. White
is up there for Cofidis, and there are several Kelme riders there too. An Illes
Balears rider shows himself at the front - José Luis Arrieta.
Koldo Gil (Liberty) runs off the side of the road, but it's not too serious.
He gets going again, somewhat gingerly, but is now amongst the caravan chasing
The Kelme leader realises that he can't see in the rain, and takes his sunnies
After the tempo increase in the bunch, the breakaways have 8'06 of their lead.
16:39 CEST 118km/39km to go
The four breakaways, currently riding on dry roads again, cross a dam wall at
Embalse Cuierda del Pozo, riding well together.
Of the four leaders, Joachim has the most career race wins (4), while Hulsmans
and Flickinger have two each. Veneberg has yet to win a professional race. Joachim's
wins have mostly been Luxembourg championships, but Flickinger won the GP Ouest
France last year.
Iñaki Isasi (Euskaltel) punctures and gets a fast change from his mechanic.
The chasing peloton is picking up speed, as Aitor Silloniz (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
drops off the back in search of his team car. The bunch rides across the dam
wall now, in dry conditions.
16:44 CEST 122km/35km to go
Thanks to the work of Kelme, Cofidis and CSC, the gap to the four leaders has
come down to 6'27. It's not over yet, but the leaders are now working a bit
Joachim has got his head down now, working hard in the lead group which now
has just 5'20 of its once 9'40 lead. Cofidis and Kelme may pull this one out
of the fire yet...
16:51 CEST 130km/27km to go
The leaders have just 26 km to go now, and should be able to hold off
the hunting peloton. But it's not going to be a big gap at the end. Flickinger
takes a water bottle from his team car.
16:53 CEST 132km/25km to go
Matt White and Arnaud Coyot are the men in front for Cofidis, but it's Kelme
doing the bulk of the chasing work. A couple of Saeco riders get to the front
too, perhaps sensing an opportunity for Cunego.
Veneberg takes a big swig from his bidon and gets back into the four man train
in front, which is riding very hard. Hulsmans looks to be suffering the most.
Joachim is riding very strongly, and flicks his elbow for Hulsmans to come through.
The Belgian does, but he's hurting. It's 4'30....
16:56 CEST 135km/22km to go
The peloton is riding flat out too, and has a very long tail as it eats up the
breakaways' advantage. 4'15 now, and the break has over 20 km to go. A T-Mobile
rider has joined in the fun. There's also a Phonak up there. White comes through,
signaling to his teammate to do shorter turns.
16:58 CEST 137km/20km to go
The leaders reach the last intermediate sprint at Toledillo, and it's Joachim
who takes the six seconds again (18 for the day) followed by Hulsmans and Flickinger.
It's starting to rain again at the finish, and this could end up in a very wet
16:59 CEST 139km/18km to go
White is doing a lot of work at the head of the peloton, and with Kelme, T-Mobile
and Phonak all up there, the pace is furious. The breakaways have less than
17:03 CEST 139km/18km to go
At the sprint at Toledillo, the gap is just 3'18. It's coming down at 2 minutes
per 10 km, which means the leaders will be caught with a few km to go. It was
looking pretty promising for a while there! But it's not over yet.
Lampre has come to the front to help Cofidis, T-Mobile, Saeco and the rest.
17:04 CEST 140km/17km to go
The leaders are struggling up the final climb in today's stage. If they can
get to the top with a couple of minutes, they might have a chance. But it doesn't
It's beginning to rain again on the leaders.
The wind is very strong at the moment, blowing against the riders which is making
it very tough for the breakaways. The peloton is not lined out though, as the
speed is not great on this long, wide climb.
The leaders are nearly at the top though. The wind is vicious.
17:08 CEST 142km/15km to go
The leaders, Veneberg, Flickinger, Joachim and Hulsmans, have now got 15 km
to go until the finish in Soria. Behind them the peloton can smell blood with
Tomas Konecny (T-Mobile) driving the tempo, 1'42 back.
Joachim is sitting on the break now, possibly realising that he needs to save
something in order to finish with the peloton and take the jersey. The bunch
is just 1'20 behind.
17:12 CEST 145km/12km to go
The only sprinters' team not to have contributed to the chase today is Fassa
Bortolo. But surely when he sees the finish, Petacchi will become motivated.
52 seconds with 12 km to go.
17:13 CEST 147km/10km to go
The T-Mobile led peloton is rapidly hauling in the leaders, pulling them back
to 41 seconds now with 10 km to go.
The break is working hard along the wet roads, but the peloton is right behind
them. It's T-Mobile all the way, with several teams fighting for position.
17:16 CEST 148km/9km to go
Like a swarm of angry bees, the bunch has the break in its sights. 20 seconds
separates the two groups with 9.5 km to go. Hulsmans looks back and sees them
17:17 CEST 149km/8km to go
The rain comes down as the break is caught just under the eight km to go banner.
Hulsmans tries for a bit longer, but there's no way.
17:18 CEST 150km/7km to go
T-Mobile is being joined by Saeco and Vini Caldirola at the head of the peloton.
7 km to go and this will be a tough sprint. At least it's not too dangerous.
17:21 CEST 152km/5km to go
The bunch exits the main road (although some don't want to) and Alejandro Valverde
(Kelme) has placed himself at the front. They're now on a two lane road, descending
It's raining hard at the finish and the bunch has just five km to go. This is
going to be interesting.
17:22 CEST 153km/4km to go
Liberty Seguros has put a couple of riders in front again, keeping the tempo
up. Vinokourov is well positioned near the front.
17:23 CEST 154km/3km to go
Aha, some Fassa riders are getting to the head of the bunch. Also Van Heeswijk.
Zabel has punctured his rear wheel. D'oh!
17:24 CEST 155km/2km to go
Zabel gets a quick wheel change but there's no way he'll catch the peloton.
The bunch is lined out now as Paolini (Quick.Step) attacks on an uphill. He
gets a gap.
Luca Paolini drives out of the saddle to the top of the hill. He has 100m and
the peloton is breaking up behind him.
Paolini hammers on the wet roads with less than 2 km left. He gets caught by
the front of the peloton just over the top of the hill. It's a very strung out
17:26 CEST 156km/1km to go
No team has control of the race at the moment as Vino positions himself well
in the final km. Igor Gonzalez is also up there.
17:27 CEST 157km/0km to go
Vinokourov follows Horillo up the left hand side of the road, catches him and
passes him. But it's a bit early and Valverde comes off his wheel and easily
wins the stage! O'Grady and Menchov second and third, then Freire and Garzelli.
Valverde won by several bike lengths.
1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme 3.43.17
2 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis, le credit par Telephone
3 Denis Menchov (Rus) Illes Balears-Banesto
4 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank
5 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros
6 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie
7 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Banesto
8 Aitor Gonzalez (Spa) Fassa Bortolo
9 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Saeco
10 Cadel Evans (Aus) T-Mobile Team
General classification after stage 3
1 Benoit Joachim (Lux) US Postal Service p/b Berry Floor 9.16.00
2 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) US Postal Service p/b Berry Floor 0.16
3 Floyd Landis (USA) US Postal Service p/b Berry Floor 0.22
4 Michael Barry (Can) US Postal Service p/b Berry Floor
5 Manuel Beltran (Spa) US Postal Service p/b Berry Floor
the commentary team