60th Vuelta a España - GT
Spain, August 27-September 18, 2005
Results & report
Stage 18 - Thursday, September 15: Avila-Avila, 197.5 km
Commentary by Hedwig Kröner, with additional reporting from Hernan Alvarez
Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:00 CEST
Welcome back to the last of the bumpy
mountain stages in this year's Vuelta: stage 18 to and from Avila just West
of Madrid, where the race will end on Sunday. Today's stretch is almost a carbon
copy of yesterday - and we may expect the Spanish climbers far off on GC to
show their talent once again on one cat. 1 climb, three cat. 2 and yet another
The biggest news in Spain this morning
was that Swiss team Phonak has taken out Spaniard Santos Gonzalez from the race.
He failed an internal test carried out within the team, which showed that unspecified
blood levels exceeded the team's tolerance level (lower than those of the UCI).
Director John Lelangue told reporters at the start that the rider wasn't suspended,
only prevented from racing for his own safety. Gonzalez was placed 8th on General
Classification last night.
Another big name who didn't appear
at the sign-in this morning was Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step). We don't know if
he is ill or if he just wants to spare himself the last couple of stages in
view of the World Championships - his form has been very good lately. He outsprinted
Ale-Jet Petacchi on stage 16 two days ago, and then announced that he, too,
had his word to say in Madrid ten days from now in case the finish would not
be concluded in a bunch sprint. We all know what internal quarrels in the "squadra
Azzurra" can build up to...
Back to the racing: A breakaway of
17 riders formed as the peloton took on the first difficulty of the stage, the
Puerto de la Paramero (cat. 3) after 14 kilometres: Oscar Pereiro, Miguel Angel
Martin Perdiguero (Phonak), Pablo Lastras, José Vicente Garcia Acosta (Illes
Balears), Gorka Gonzales, Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel), David Blanco, Eladio Jimenez,
Javier Pascual Rodriguez, Adolfo Garcia Quesada (Valenciana), Nicki Sörensen
(CSC), Anthony Charteau (Bouygues), Moises Dueñas (Relax), Mario Aerts (Davitamon),
Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Saunier), and Daniele Nardello (T-Mobile) took off
on that hill, and left the bunch behind.
On the descent, Jimmy Casper
(Cofidis) also got a gap to the front of the pack and continued on solo.
The break worked well and achieved
a lead of more than ten minutes before tackling the second climb - the cat.
1 Puerto de Mijares at km 66 - while poor Frenchman Casper was riding on his
own, not even three minutes ahead of the bunch.
In the climb, Illes
Balears took control of the pace and the break's gap diminished, slowly.
At the top of the Mijares, Eladio
Jimenez took the KOM points in front of Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver. The race situation
then did not change significantly, other than that the gaps were further reduced.
By kilometre 85, the break was 5.45 minutes faster than the bunch, with Casper
caught in between at 3.10 minutes.
Mario Aerts and Moises Dueñas
each had took their turn in mechanical problems but both managed to reintegrate
the lead group after getting assistance. The breakaway then started to give
it more gas again, and at km 107, when brave soloist Casper sat up and got swallowed
by the bunch, the gap was 6.30 minutes.
15:10 CEST 113km/84.5km to go
Jurco abandoned at kilometre 109, leaving only three Domina riders to compete
in the final days of the Vuelta.
We are now looking at the ascension
of the cat. 2 Alto de Pedro Bernardo, where Pablo Lastras, Eladio Jimenez and,
in a later reaction, Gorka Gonzalez have attacked their former break companions.
They're riding with almost a minute's lead over the chase group.
It's perfect weather conditions in
central Spain again today: sunny, around 24° celsius. That's a relief since
the riders have been going through extremes these last two weeks...
15:25 CEST 120km/77.5km to go
Still in the climb,
Martin Perdiguero (Phonak) and Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel) couldn't hold the pace
of the chasers and got dropped, while the bigger group caught the rebel trio
in the front.
15:42 CEST 123km/74.5km to go
Only 11 riders
are now still included in the break, whereas the others were left somewhere
behind on the road. Oscar Pereiro (Phonak), Pablo Lastras, José Vicente Garcia
Acosta (Illes Balears), David Blanco, Eladio Jimenez, Javier Pascual Rodriguez,
Gorka Gonzales (Euskaltel), Nicki Sörensen (CSC), Moises Dueñas (Relax), Mario
Aerts (Davitamon) are leading now.
Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero
(Phonak), Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel), Adolfo Garcia Quesada (Valenciana), Anthony
Charteau, (Bouygues), Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Saunier) and Matteo Tosatto
(Fassa) have been dropped.
The mountain points on the top of the
Pedro Bernardo were taken by Eladio Jimenez in front of Pablo Lastras and Oscar
15:50 CEST 128km/69.5km to go
But the climbing
goes on on the Serranillos, where Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Phonak) finally
stepped off the bike after having done a lot of work for Oscar Pereiro.
Under the fierce tempo imposed by Illes Balears, the peloton has also been torn
into pieces - there is currently a group of 35 riders, including Golden jersey
wearer Roberto Heras (Liberty), still left behind the breakaway. Heras shouldn't
experience any problems today as none of the riders in front can prevent him
from winning the Vuelta a record-breaking fourth time.
16:01 CEST 134km/63.5km to go
Just before crossing
the cat. 2 mountaintop of the Peurto de Serranillos, the lead group still has
an advantage of almost five an a half minutes over the main favourites' group.
It's worth noting that both Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears) and Carlos Sastre(CSC)
are from the region of Avila, so both will be looking to shine when they get
into their home town.
16:04 CEST 139km/58.5km to go
Heras has five
teammates with him doing their job on the descent of the climb, where more than
three minutes before, Eladio Jimenez crossed the peak in front of his breakaway
16:08 CEST 146.5km/51km to go
Joan Horrach (Illes
Balears), Alexandre Botcharov (C.A.) and Andrea Peron (CSC) have now attacked
out of the Heras group, while in front, another rider has gone off: José Vicente
Garcia Acosta (Illes Balears)!
Garcia Acosta has a gap of about 30
Garcia Acosta is going flat out.
The TV motorbike behind him is too close, though, so the Spaniard constantly
waves backwards to keep the driver away.
16:17 CEST 159.5km/38km to go
Garcia Acosta now
has a 1.15 minute lead over his 10 chasers, with Roberto Heras' group another
5.22 off the back.
Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Valenciana)
and Nicki Sörensen (CSC) have now decided to go for Garcia Acosta on their own.
The chase group is breaking up, with one of the Euskaltels dropping behind.
16:26 CEST 161.5km/36km to go
The bunch is now
passing through Burgohondo, where the parcours starts to go uphill again. The
Puerto de Navalmoral (cat. 2) is up next, where Garcia Acosta is still using
all of his power to try and go for the stage win.
The chase group
is all over the place - nobody wants to do the work to catch Mario Aerts, who
has jumped. Gorka Gonzales has sat up.
16:37 CEST 163.5km/34km to go
The bunch behind
is taking things slowly. Balears won't work of course with Garcia Acosta in
front - although Joan Horrach just went off the front again. The Libertys are
looking at each other.
The chase group behind Garcia Acosta has disintegrated
to: Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Euskaltel), Nicki Sörensen (CSC), Mario Aerts
(Davitamon) and Gorka Gonzales (Euskaltel).
Garcia Acosta's advance is still
45 seconds, although it seems that the chasers have recomposed to: Oscar Pereiro
(Phonak), Pablo Lastras (Illes Balears), Aerts, Gonzalez, Sörensen and Dueñas.
Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Valenciana) is going for Garcia Acosta on his own
Behin, another counter-attack was launched by Christian Vandevelde
And Rodriguez us really going strong
here! he just passed Garcia Acosta like a motorbike...
16:50 CEST 174km/23.5km to go
Sörensen has now
also caught Garcia Acosta, while behind, Illes Balears is forcing the tempo
in the main bunch. But it's all staying together.
The first riders
crossed the Navalmoral now. Mancebo himself tries to get away in the favourites'
group, but he's closely watched.
The chasing on the descent is going
very fast of course, with Sörensen trying to bridge to Rodriguez, who got another
bottle from his team car. Only eight seconds left for the Danish rider.
The main bunch has now crossed the
top of the climb, with Mancebo relentlessly testing his rival's legs - that
doesn't really make any sense.
In front, Sörensen has joined Rodriguez.
16:59 CEST 183.5km/14km to go
Only 15 kilometres
to go and the two front men share the work to stay away. The peloton won't catch
them as it's more than 5 minutes off - but maybe some of those remnants of the
breakaway might try: there's Mario Aerts (Davitamon), Pablo Lastras and José
Vicente Garcia Acosta (Illes Balears), Oscar Pereiro (Phonak), Gorka Gonzales
(Euskaltel) and Daniele Nardello (T-Mobile).
17:04 CEST 188.5km/9km to go
Sörensen is leading
as the two of them pass the 9-km mark. Garcia Acosta, who's not giving up and
might be helped a little by the motorbikes (?), follows at 24 seconds.
Sörensen and Rodriguez are still
talking to each other. They're also sharing a water bottle, and are now steadily
sharing the workload again.
17:09 CEST 192.5km/5km to go
But Garcia Acosta
has a difficult time bridging to the to leaders. There are about 300 metres
left, and on these straight lines, the two have noticed him of course. 15 seconds.
Garcia Acosta gets a few shouts from
a couple of spectators, but there's nobody helping him now... Ah - there's more
fans cheering at the roundabouts.
17:12 CEST 194.5km/3km to go
Sörensen and Rodriguez
can't start any smart tactics here, as Garcia Acosta is only eight seconds back.
This will be interesting!
17:13 CEST 195.5km/2km to go
There's a cobblestone
section just before the finish in Avila too - and Garcia Acosta has made it!!
Incredible. But will he have power left for a sprint?
They're on the cobbles now around
the castle - and Garcia Acosta attacks!! Sörensen follows in second.
17:15 CEST 196.5km/1km to go
Now Sörensen tries on a descent...
Sörensen leads with Rodriguez on
his wheel. Garcia Acosta is cooked, left behind.
And Sörensen starts
the sprint from the front... and wins!
Daniele Nardello comes in with Oscar
Pereiro - and the T-Mobile rider takes fourth.
In the final section, Mancebo attacked
to take some time off Sastre for third place on GC. He took four small seconds
in the end.
That's all from us hovering over
the beautiful town of Avila today - join us again for another exciting Vuelta
action tomorrow, when the peloton will race from San Martin de Valdeiglesias
to Alcobendas, covering 142.9 kilometres.
1 Nicki Sørensen (Den) Team CSC 5.05.34
2 Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana
3 José Vicente Garcia Acosta (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne 0.22
4 Daniele Nardello (Ita) T-Mobile Team 1.06
5 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems
6 Mario Aerts (Bel) Davitamon - Lotto 1.10
7 Pablo Lastras (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne
8 Gorka Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 1.25
9 Moises Dueñas (Spa) Relax Fuenlabrada 2.32
10 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne 3.55
General classification after stage 18
1 Roberto Heras Hernandez (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team 74.30.48
2 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 4.30
3 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 4.50
4 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne 5.48
5 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana 6.22
6 Oscar Sevilla (Spa) T-Mobile Team 11.13
7 Ruben Plaza Molina (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana 11.36
8 Juan Miguel Mercado (Spa) Quick Step - Innergetic 15.28
9 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel 15.50
10 Mauricio Alberto Ardila Cano (Col) Davitamon - Lotto 15.53
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