60th Vuelta a España - GT
Spain, August 27-September 18, 2005
Results & report
Stage 21 - Sunday, September 18: Madrid-Madrid, 144 km
Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Hernan Alvarez
Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:15 CEST
Welcome back to our hard core audience
of cycling fans for our live coverage of the final stage of the Vuelta a España.
It's been a long, hard three weeks, but it ends today in Madrid with a 136.5
km sprinters stage. In fact, the final part of today's stage takes in two of
the 17 km circuits that will be used in next week's World Championships road
race, and you can bet that that's one of the prime reasons why Alessandro Petacchi
has stayed in the Vuelta all this time. Also, he'll benefit from being in top
condition that a grand tour gives you.
Besides the final sprint,
there are three intermediate sprints on offer today: Morata de Tajuña (km 32.8),
Fuenlabrada (km 69.7) and Madrid (km 101.7). But Petacchi would have to win
them all and the final sprint in order to equal Roberto Heras on the points
classification, so it looks like the blue fishes jersey will belong to Heras
at day's end, along with the gold leader's and green/yellow combination jersey.
Heras is about to become the best Vuelta rider in history with a fourth overall
win, and he's proved it this year with a sizeable gap to second place.
The weather today is a far cry from the scorching 40 degree temperatures we
had at the start, and it's only 19 degrees. It's sunny though, and there's not
a cloud in the sky. It's a perfect day for riding your bike.
Today's stage started at 13:51 with
all 127 riders turning up. Gilberto Simoni didn't sign on, but he is in the
Heras will not only become the first rider to win four Vueltas
overall, he will also become the second most prolific gold jersey wearer in
history, with 37 days in the leader's jersey. Only Alex Zülle, with 45, is better.
But Zülle only won the Vuelta twice.
14:41 CEST 23km/113 km to go
As expected in the
early part of the final stage, the peloton is taking it steady and riding as
one unit. No attacks so far.
14:50 CEST 30km/106 km to go
impossible for any of the classifications to change today. As already mentioned,
the leader's, points and combination jersey are owned by Heras, while Joaquin
Rodriguez (Saunier Duval) has an unbreakable grip on the mountains jersey with
200 points, compared to Eladio Jimenez's 166. In the teams standings, Comunidad
Valenciana is well ahead of Illes Balears, with 54 minute advantage. Thus, today
will be one to celebrate and relax a little, until the end of course.
15:01 CEST 33km/103 km to go
Well, Petacchi is
keeping his options open as he wins the first intermediate sprint ahead of Michele
Scarponi (Liberty Seguros) and Charly Wegelius (Liquigas-Bianchi).
The average speed after the first hour is 31.5 km/h.
15:12 CEST 43km/93km to go
After the sprint,
the bunch clicks back into cruise mode - an all too rare occurrence in the last
three weeks. The next sprint comes at Fuenlabrada after 69 km.
15:17 CEST 45km/91km to go
This year's Vuelta
has been slower than recent years, with an overall average speed of 40.858 km/h
over 3220 km. Although the quality of the teams has been better, the race distance
has been increased, which tends to reduce the average.
yesterday's tailwind assisted time trial was the fastest ever of any grand tour
(56.2 km/h). Yep, Roberto Heras rode quicker than Miguel Indurain ever did in
any of his crushing time trial victories. But it's not so often that you get
a flat course and a tailwind for a grand tour TT.
15:28 CEST 54km/82km to go
The pace increases
a tad, with the sprinters teams of Fassa Bortolo and T-Mobile taking the lead.
Maybe Erik Zabel can be The One today.
Race leader Roberto Heras is riding
with a special bike, made especially for today. His BH Global Concept has been
painted gold by Arte-Ruta and has a message on it commemorating his four Vuelta
15:45 CEST 64km/72km to go
The tempo ups a little
more as team Gerolsteiner moves to the fore, perhaps thinking of their sprinters
Rene Haselbacher and Heinrich Haussler later on.
15:54 CEST 67km/69km to go
has now got the front, as the race goes through...Fuenlabrada. The second intermediate
sprint is approaching.
15:56 CEST 68km/68km to go
moves up to the front, and wins the sprint uncontested. Hmm...he's keeping his
chances open for the points jersey. He's won more stages, so if they finish
on equal points, he'll win the fishes jersey.
15:58 CEST 69km/67km to go
Relax continues on
the front, getting a bit of exposure for their sponsors.
speed is around 32 km/h in the first two hours.
The peloton is stretching out a bit
now as Relax pushes the tempo. It's not lined out, but the speed is closer to
40 than 30 now.
16:04 CEST 73km/63.5km to go
took second in that sprint ahead of Josep Jufre, with Petacchi taking the maximum
16:07 CEST 76km/60.5km to go
The bunch reaches
the outskirts of Madrid and snakes its way through the streets, towards the
centre. It's still the six Relax Fuenlabrada jerseys leading.
16:11 CEST 79.5km/57km to go
The peloton passes
through Mostoles, a suburb of Madrid, with a big crowd out to cheer it on.
16:15 CEST 82km/54.5km to go
wants to get this stage done sooner rather than later, and has lifted the tempo
to 40 plus. Heras sits back a bit, left knee still heavily bandaged from his
crash 10 days ago, but looking quite relaxed on his golden motifed bike.
The bunch goes through Alcorcon now.
16:19 CEST 85.5km/51km to go
Aha, the blue jerseys
of Liberty Seguros have moved to the fore, ahead of Relax Fuenlabrada. They're
riding on the big road, direction Madrid centre. They'll cross the finish line
for the first time at km 101.7, then do two 17 km circuits.
16:23 CEST 87.5km/49km to go
cruises up next to his teammate Leonardo Piepoli, happily wearing the burgundy
(not peppermint flavoured...) coloured jersey of mountains leader.
16:26 CEST 91.5km/45km to go
Carlos Sastre, wearing
the combination jersey today, rides off the back of the peloton in the caravan.
Probably after a mechanical of some sort. None of his teammates have dropped
back yet, but the speed's not so high so he'll have no problems rejoining the
The first attack comes from a Relax rider. The battle has
16:27 CEST 93.5km/43km to go
It's Jorge Garcia
who's tearing off the front at 55 km/h. He's flying!
If Garcia gets away, this will sink
Petacchi's chances for the points jersey. Ahh, Fassa realises it and puts five
men on the front to chase down Mr Garcia.
16:29 CEST 95km/41.5km to go
Fassa Bortolo clicks
into gear and lines out the peloton. If Garcia makes it to the next sprint,
Petacchi can forget about the points jersey.
Garcia is sucked up by the Fassa
boys. They're serious about this sprint.
16:31 CEST 97.5km/39km to go
Now the peloton
is quite strung out as it descends on the main road, through a tunnel and along
the treelined Cuesta de San Vicente.
The peloton passes the Palacio Real,
led by Fassa Bortolo, now through the Plaza de España and into the Grand Via
in the centre of Madrid. A huge crowd is out to watch the spectacle.
16:35 CEST 98.5km/38km to go
Michael Barry is
last wheel as the peloton drives up Madrid's main drag. Fassa is on the front
with five men, and Petacchi of course. Liberty is next in line, but may have
to concede the leadership to Fassa for a while, as the next sprint is coming
in 3 km.
16:36 CEST 99.5km/37km to go
They're going through
the Plaza de Colon now, and there's plenty of room on this massive boulevard.
16:38 CEST 100.5km/36km to go
the score and Fassa and Liberty share the lead now.
16:41 CEST 102km/34.5km to go
On the Pasteo de
la Castellana now, and Baranowski leads them up to the line, before Petacchi
takes over and takes the sprint ahead of Baldato and Ongarato. Petacchi needs
to win the stage, and for Heras not to take any points, to get the points jersey.
Now the attacks resume, with another
Relax rider haring off the front, with a Credit Agricole rider for company.
It's Pasamontes and Botcharov.
16:43 CEST 104km/32.5km to go
The leaders get
their taste of the World's circuit for the first time. The roads are still huge
here - it's not too technical.
16:48 CEST 108.5km/28km to go
The two leaders
have 20 seconds on the Liquigas/Fassa Bortolo led peloton.
16:50 CEST 108km/28.5km to go
They're now on
the climb, as Wegelius cranks up the speed behind. It's about 5 percent for
a couple of kilometres. Pasamontes drives the pace at 35 km/h.
The gap goes up to 27 seconds. The
two leaders are at the top.
Shane Stokes has ridden the World's course,
and reports that while there are two hills each lap, they are definitely power
drags which will be tackled in the 53 ring each time, rather than anything like
at Verona last year. This, together with the fact that the roads approaching
the finish line are wide and feature sweeping bends would seem to favour a bunch
gallop next Sunday. That is, of course, if the Italians and Australians can
keep it together and so set up things for Petacchi and McEwen.
Spanish would normally do the same, but with Valverde being a bit more explosive
on the climbs, he will probably try to get away in a small group before the
16:52 CEST 110.5km/26km to go
the front now, giving Pasamontes a short rest. The peloton picks up speed on
the descent, led by Fassa and Liquigas all the time. Liberty hasn't had to do
much at all today.
16:56 CEST 112.5km/24km to go
The leaders hit
the second climb, which is not as long, and Pasamontes gesticulates at Botcharov
to come through, which he does.
The gap is 22 seconds.
A crash in the peloton - oh dear. Bernhard Kohl is down while a Phonak rider
is lying on the ground. It's Victor Peña. He's helped up and is back on his
bike. That was right at the back of the bunch.
Peña feels his collarbone...
Peña gets a new bike but he's chasing
now. The peloton is just 17 seconds behind Botcharov and Pasamontes.
16:58 CEST 116.5km/20km to go
The leaders go
under the 3 km to go sign at the end of a false flat/climb. Just 20 km of the
Vuelta to ride.
17:01 CEST 119.5km/17km to go
Pasamontes is doing
the most work as a counter attack comes from the peloton. Moises Duenas (Relax)
is one of them, along with Staf Scheirlinckx (Saunier Duval), Thomas Voeckler
(Bouygues), Rafa Casero (Saunier Duval), Fabio Baldato (Fassa Bortolo), Rolf
Aldag (T-Mobile) and Matej Mugerli (Domina Vacanze).
They are swallowed.
There's a U turn with 600m to go - that's going to make it interesting. Pasamontes
wants to go straight ahead but Botcharov gets it right.
17:02 CEST 120.5km/16km to go
Pasamontes with one lap to go, but the peloton is just 9 seconds behind. Stijn
Devolder (Discovery) counters. The finish is slightly uphill - after a very
quick downhill into the U turn.
Devolder catches the leaders and
they get his wheel.
Devolder's turn is a good one, and
Botcharov can't follow any more. The Russian goes back to the peloton, leaving
Devolder with Pasamontes.
17:05 CEST 122.5km/14km to go
(FDJ) joins the two leaders. Pasamontes is not doing much work now.
Liquigas with Wegelius and Fassa
drive the tempo up in the bunch, as Vaugrenard rides clear of the other two
in a suicide mission. Well, not for long.
17:07 CEST 124.5km/12km to go
a bit of gas out of his legs but the peloton is right on his wheel now. The
Frenchman is dangling 50 metres in front, at 71 km/h.
17:08 CEST 125.5km/11km to go
down the descent, takes a right hander, then another, and continues to lead
the race. Fassa has help from Gerolsteiner, CSC and Liquigas at the moment.
17:10 CEST 126.5km/10km to go
Vaugrenard is doing
well as he reaches the foot of the first climb with about 7 seconds on the strung
out peloton. 10 clicks to go.
17:11 CEST 127.5km/9km to go
this time it's a Gerolsteiner rider. So much for the Haussler/Haselbacher Plan.
Vaugrenard is caught and passed by two riders. Garcia Acosta is one.
17:12 CEST 128.5km/8km to go
It's Jose Vicente
Garcia Acosta (Illes Balears) and Thomas Ziegler (Gerolsteiner) with a six second
gap as they take the hairpin near the top of the climb. They have six seconds.
17:14 CEST 129.5km/7km to go
Ziegler mashes away
in front but the chase is pretty relentless, with Fassa and Liquigas to the
fore on this fast descent.
Garcia Acosta is now alone, as Ziegler
has been swallowed.
17:15 CEST 130.5km/6km to go
The big Spaniard
reaches the false flat with 6 km to go and looks back. The bunch is right there.
17:15 CEST 131.5km/5km to go
Garcia Acosta explodes
as a new attack goes with a Credit Agricole and T-Mobile trying to get clear.
Nope. Liquigas is attentive.
17:16 CEST 131.5km/5km to go
It's still uphill
slightly here, and the speed drops but it's still tough in front at 5 km to
go. Enter, Petacchi? Not yet.
17:17 CEST 132.5km/4km to go
Bäckstedt is in
fourth wheel as a Liberty rider attacks - Angel Vicioso! That'll put the cat
among the pigeons.
17:17 CEST 132.5km/4km to go
A Saunier rider
tried, but failed to go with Vicioso. The Spaniard reaches the downhill false
flat with 4 km left, and the peloton picks up speed.
Vicioso also explodes. Bunch together.
17:18 CEST 133.5km/3km to go
The peloton strings
out - no Fassa train to be seen. It's a great big mess. Gomez tries to attack.
That's the top of another false flat
and now the speed will pick up. Korff drives off the front, in a huge gear.
17:20 CEST 134.5km/2km to go
Korff looks back
as he sits on 60 km/h. Not fast enough. He's gone.
17:20 CEST 135.5km/1km to go
up on Van Bon's wheel, and there's a bit of argy bargy going on between the
Liquigas and Lotto boys. Where is Petacchi? Ah there, in sixth wheel.
They fly past one km to go and it's
a big rush to the U turn. It's a Fassa round first. Now it's uphill and a Liquigas
rider goes from a long way. It's Zanotti.
17:22 CEST 136.5km/0km to go
but at 100m to go he dies and Petacchi comes through and wins from Zabel! That's
a tough sprint - look out for Bettini next week....
Haussler was a handy third there.
Next week's race into the U-turn is going to be very interesting...
So Petacchi wins the points jersey in extremis. Nice work by the Fassa sprinter,
who took every intermediate sprint today.
But the big honours go
to Roberto Heras, who wins the golden jersey for the fourth time and the combination
jersey. Joaquin Rodriguez wins the mountains jersey, while Comunidad Valenciana
takes home the teams classification.
And that is it from us at the
Vuelta, where we have just seen a dress rehearsal for the World Championships
next week. Thanks for following it with Cyclingnews. We'll be back with more
patented live coverage next Wednesday with the World Championships time trials
for U23 and Women.
1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 3.34.41
2 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile Team
3 Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Gerolsteiner
4 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
5 Jimmy Casper (Fra) Cofidis, le credit par telephone
6 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Davitamon - Lotto
7 Bram De Groot (Ned) Rabobank
8 Michael Barry (Can) Discovery Channel
9 Arnaud Coyot (Fra) Cofidis, le credit par telephone
10 René Haselbacher (Aut) Gerolsteiner
Final general classification
1 Roberto Heras Hernandez (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team 82.22.55
2 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 4.36
3 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 4.54
4 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne 5.58
5 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana 8.06
6 Ruben Plaza Molina (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana 11.36
7 Oscar Sevilla (Spa) T-Mobile Team 13.22
8 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel 16.38
9 Mauricio Alberto Ardila Cano (Col) Davitamon - Lotto 18.19
10 Juan Miguel Mercado (Spa) Quick Step - Innergetic 18.31
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