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60th Vuelta a España - GT

Spain, August 27-September 18, 2005

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Stage 12 - Thursday, September 8: Logroño-Burgos, 133 km

Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Hernan Alvarez

Live report

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

14:26 CEST   
Welcome back to Cyclingnews for Phase II of our Vuelta a España coverage, just four stages between now and the next rest day on Monday. After a well deserved break yesterday, the riders face a comparatively easy 132 km (shortened from 148 km) between Logroño and Burgos, one for the sprinters to do their thing in. Today we might see Quick.Step working for Tom Boonen, as he has been fairly quiet so far in the Vuelta.

There are two climbs today: Alto de Pradilla (Cat. 3, km 85.8) and Alto de Valmala (Cat. 3, km 112). The three sprints are at Santo Domingo (km 47), Pradoluengo (km 89), Villasur de la Herrera (km 110).

The climbs are fairly small today, but the wind may play a part in breaking things up towards the end. We shall see.

14:35 CEST    28km/104km to go
The stage started at 13:37 with 157 riders signing on today. Gerrit Glomser (Lampre) was the only rider not starting. It was raining and 17 degrees in Logroño as the peloton set off, and that dampened the enthusiasm of the riders a little. But there's always one, and today it was Luis Pasamontes (Relax) who attacked in the opening kilometres to get a gap. No-one chased him, and after 9 km, he already had 1'47, and it's now 3'45 after 27 km. Pasamontes is not really a threat on the general classification, having started the day in 43rd at 38'41, so he'll be allowed to go. The sprinters teams can easily control one rider too.

14:40 CEST    34km/98km to go
After 34 km of riding, Luis Pasamontes is now 4'20 ahead of the peloton, where Fassa Bortolo and Rabobank are keeping things calm.

14:49 CEST    39km/93km to go
Pasamontes has ridden 38.7 km in the first hour, which is not that quick, but he still has a lead of 4'45. He's been battling a 20 km/h head/crosswind from the northwest, so that has obviously slowed him down.

15:01 CEST    48km/84km to go
Pasamontes goes through the first intermediate sprint at Santo Domingo (km 47) with a five minute or so lead over Fabio Baldato (Fassa) and Rolf Aldag (T-Mobile). These two sprinters teams will be working to put Alessandro Petacchi and Erik Zabel in the best positions to win the stage.

15:09 CEST    56km/76km to go
Evidently, the sprinters teams don't want to take it too easy today, as they have pegged Luis Pasamontes at 4'23. It is a very short stage, so gaps do have to be kept down.

15:19 CEST    60km/72km to go
Pasamontes continues his lonely ride, holding firm at 4'17 over the Cat. 3 Alto de Pradilla. It's a fairly long climb, but not too steep.

15:29 CEST    65km/67km to go
Pasamontes continues to climb the Pradilla, neither losing nor gaining time on the bunch. But he's now halfway through the stage, and that always gives you motivation.

15:38 CEST    70km/62km to go
Pasamontes finally reaches the summit of the Pradilla with his lead intact at 4'25.

The 25 year old Pasamontes has been a pro for three seasons, always riding for Relax in some form or another. His only win so far is the Memorial Galera in 2004. Last year, he was 20th overall in the Vuelta a España, and this year, he finished 7th in the Vuelta Asturias.

15:46 CEST    79km/53km to go
Pasamontes took the points on the summit of the Alto de la Pradilla ahead of mountains leader Joaquin Rodriguez (Saunier Duval), Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step), and Eladio Jimenez (Comunidad Valenciana).

After a hard second hour, the average speed of the leader is 37.7 km/h, but he still has 4'35 and that's what counts.

15:56 CEST    90km/42km to go
Its' still Fassa and T-Mobile working at the front of the bunch, with mostly the blue and white jerseys of Fassa to the fore. The pace has definitely increased now, as the peloton strings out.

15:58 CEST    92km/40km to go
Pasamontes is on a small descent and he gets a small bottle of energy fuel out of his pocket and swallows it. The skies are still overcast, but it's not raining at all, even if the roads occasionally show signs of recent dampness.

Pasamontes now gets some encouragement from his team director German Nieto, who is no stranger to a long solo break.

16:00 CEST   
It's now the gaunt figure of Rolf Aldag on the front of the peloton, doing a turn on a short climb before slotting back into fourth wheel behind three Fassas. No sign of Quick.Step today.

The gap is down to 3'57. Pasamontes never had more than 4'45. His teammate Xavier Florencio is seeing the race doctor at the rear of the bunch.

16:02 CEST   
The results of the second sprint at Pradoluengo (km 87 ish): 1. Luis Pasamontes (Relax), 2. Julian Sanchez Pimienta (Fassa), 3. Rolf Aldag (T-Mobile).

16:04 CEST    98km/34km to go
Pasamontes is suffering on the second climb, the Alto de Valmala. His tongue is out as he struggles with the gradient with 3'26 of his advantage intact.

16:05 CEST   
A crash in the peloton near the front creates a big hole. Two or three Discoverys are down, as are a couple of Libertys, Jakob Piil (CSC). Heras is down, and is waited on by his whole team. He's on the bike again, but not looking very good.

16:06 CEST   
Heras doesn't look too good - his left knee is bloodied and very sore. He but he's now picking up speed again. This could kill his Vuelta chances

Jakob Piil is not getting up either, and his race could well be over.

The crash happened in the top 10 positions of the bunch.

16:09 CEST   
Heras is now with the race doctor, who is checking out his knee. He wipes it down, and sprays it, but it's going to be sore.

Piil is lying down. A soigneur stands nearby with his bike, but he's surely not going to be needing it. No, he's being taken away in an ambulance. He's moving at least, but this could be the end of his 2005 season, which has been plagued by bad luck.

16:11 CEST    101km/31km to go
Heras is nearly back to the peloton, courtesy of an extended visit to the race doctor. The bunch is not chasing though, as T-Mobile and Illes Balears are at the front, taking it steady. Menchov is up there in 20th wheel. Most riders who crashed are back.

Pasamontes reaches the top of the Valmala climb. He's got a decent chance now, due to the crash before.

16:13 CEST    102km/30km to go
José Azevedo appears to be another rider caught in the crash - it really hasn't been this rider's Vuelta.

Joaquin Rodriguez attacks for the points for second, and will get them without contest. One of his teammates is third. The gap at the top is 3'41. Heras is now back with the race doctor.

16:14 CEST   
Heras looks better now, his knee bandaged. He chases back on to his teammates, who will bring him back to the bunch properly.

Pasamontes still has his work cut out. 3'41 isn't much with 30 km to go.

16:15 CEST    104km/28km to go
It's Quick.Step and Illes Balears on the front now, trying to work out whether to chase hard. Heras is on the tail of the bunch, making his way up the side again.

16:17 CEST    105km/27km to go
Petacchi is also back in the peloton, having either taken a nature break or being involved in the crash. He looks OK though, and his teammate Baldato chats with Liberty's Marcos Serrano briefly, and the chase is back on. Rolf Aldag is back on the front too.

16:19 CEST    106km/26km to go
De Weert (Quick.Step) and Baranowski (Liberty) are also up there in this mixed train. The road is not easy here, always up and down and into the cross/headwind. Heras will have to suffer to finish.

But can Pasamontes hold on? He looks tired, but there's not long to go.

16:21 CEST    107km/25km to go
Fassa leads the bunch up the last false flat/climb before the gradual downhill run into Burgos. Pasamontes is now on the downhill bit, suffering but keeping his tempo up. It's 2'50.

16:23 CEST    108km/24km to go
Aldag does a big turn with Van Goolen coming through for Quick.Step. The speed is quite high now, at 55-60 km/h.

Pasamontes rides through Villasur de la Herrera now.

16:26 CEST    110km/22km to go
The peloton is through Villasur de la Herrera now, and it doesn't take long to ride from one side of town to the other. Especially with Jurgen Van Goolen at the front. His teammate Paolo Bettini is at the back, stretching a bit.

16:27 CEST    111km/21km to go
The bunch lines out in the right hand gutter for a bit, all single file. Pasamontes has just 1'57 left, and it's almost certain that the sprinters' teams will get him.

16:28 CEST    111km/21km to go
The road twists and now everyone is in the left hand gutter. It's not going to get any easier until after the finish line is crossed.

16:29 CEST    112km/20km to go
Pasamontes has his head so far down that he's looking backwards. That's the problem with headwinds and being tired. You want to get yourself as aerodynamic as possible.

16:30 CEST   
The Relax rider reaches 20 km to go, and has 1'30-ish. The chase behind is very solid, with three teams on the front: Fassa, Quick.Step and T-Mobile.

16:32 CEST    113km/19km to go
The road flattens out and Luis Pasamontes cops the wind from the side again. He has done a good ride today - there's not much else you can do if you're on a non-ProTour team and don't have a sprinter or GC rider.

Mancebo looks quite good, riding in the combination jersey.

16:33 CEST    114km/18km to go
The gap is melting quickly - 45 seconds now, and there's no more easing up.

16:34 CEST    115km/17km to go
Menchov sits in 20th wheel as Discovery moves Danielson and Beltran up to the front. Aldag back at the head of affairs, riding the lone breakaway down.

16:36 CEST    117km/15km to go
Luis Pasamontes makes it to 15 km to go with the peloton breathing down his neck at 27 seconds.

16:39 CEST    120km/12km to go
Pasamontes takes the final sprint at 14 km, ahead of Aldag and Bart Dockx. N bonus seconds, it looks like. The peloton navigates its way through Ibeas de Juarros.

Benoît Joachim is off the back, waving at the race ambulance to get out of his way.

16:40 CEST    121km/11km to go
Pasamontes is caught at 12 km and Benjamin Noval (Discovery) counters, opening up a 100m gap. It starts to hurt now.

16:41 CEST    122km/10km to go
Noval looks back and sees the peloton right there, but he doesn't give up. They'll have to catch him.

The ambulance drives past the peloton, and now Noval, who is caught. Piil is in the ambulance. It seems as though he has concussion, but probably nothing broken.

16:42 CEST    123km/9km to go
The peloton is together with 10 km to go, as one of the Fassas looks behind for Petacchi. This will almost certainly be a bunch sprint.

16:43 CEST    124km/8km to go
Dockx does a turn, then the superb Aldag again. The speed is very high, as is normal for the end of a stage.

16:44 CEST    125km/7km to go
It's Dockx and Van Goolen swapping off with Aldag, as the Fassa train lines up behind. Steels is up there. The road here is wide and straight - no dramas.

16:44 CEST    125.5km/6.5km to go
7 clicks left and Aldag does another strong turn, with Van Goolen coming through again. No-one has tried to attack again.

16:45 CEST    126km/6km to go
Van Goolen pulls off at 6 km to go and carves a small hole in the peloton as he goes backwards.

16:46 CEST    127km/5km to go
Aldag is strong today, but finally he has some support from Andreas Klier. Aldag drops back. CSC is also up there, with Fassa waiting...

16:46 CEST    127.5km/4.5km to go
Is anyone going to challenge the Fassa train today? At 4 km to go, they should click into gear.

16:47 CEST    128km/4km to go
The CSC mini train pulls off at 4 km to go. There's some Liquigas jerseys up front too, for Marco Zanotti. But all eyes are on Petacchi again.

16:48 CEST    129km/3km to go
The lead Fassa gets annoyed at the Liquigas rider in front of him, who doesn't do a strong turn. Now it's Mancebo on the front! Fassa regroups and gets it going at 3 km, challenged by Davitamon-Lotto.

16:48 CEST    129.5km/2.5km to go
It's a tough finish to control, because it's not too technical. Haselbacher comes up on the blue Gerolsteiner train as Fassa cranks it up into the headwind.

16:49 CEST    130km/2km to go
The battle for Petacchi's wheel is between Steels and Zabel, it looks like. Steels has it.

16:50 CEST    131km/1km to go
The four Fassas in front are challenged by Quick.Step with Boonen and Bettini moving up well. Liquigas is also up there with Bäckstedt and Zanotti.

16:50 CEST   
Final kilometre and Fassa leads out with two men, then Petacchi. Steels holds the wheel of Petacchi, but then a sharp right hander.

16:51 CEST    132km/0km to go
Zabel ends up on the wheel of Petacchi. Steels is behind Zabel. Velo goes, then Petacchi goes immediately for a huge win ahead of Zabel and Zanotti. Wow, that was a very strong sprint.

16:57 CEST   
Petacchi had over a bike length on Zabel there, and Zabel had over a bike length on Zanotti. No question about who is the best sprinter at this Vuelta: Ale-Jet Petacchi, with his fourth stage win.

No changes to GC, although Heras suffered a bad blow to his Vuelta chances by crashing today. That could destroy his chances on the weekend in the mountains, but you never know...

That's all folks! We'll see you tomorrow at 14:30 for the 13th stage between Burgos and La Bien Aparecida.

Results

Provisional
1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                               3.13.36
2 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                      
3 Marco Zanotti (Ita) Liquigas - Bianchi                          
4 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step - Innergetic                        
5 Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                
6 Jimmy Casper (Fra) Cofidis, le credit par telephone              
7 Julian Dean (NZl) Crédit Agricole                              
8 Anthony Geslin (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                             
9 Arnaud Coyot (Fra) Cofidis, le credit par telephone                
10 Tom Steels (Bel) Davitamon - Lotto                             

General classification after stage 12

1 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank                                        48.21.11
2 Roberto Heras Hernandez (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team                0.47
3 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne                  1.53
4 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC                                            1.57
5 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana                        3.31
6 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel                                   5.03
7 Manuel Beltran (Spa) Discovery Channel                                  5.09
8 Juan Miguel Mercado (Spa) Quick Step - Innergetic                       5.45
9 Ruben Plaza Molina (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana                           5.58
10 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team                      6.37

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