60th Vuelta a España - GT
Spain, August 27-September 18, 2005
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Stage 5 - Wednesday, August 31: Alcazar de San Juan-Cuenca, 176 km
Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Hernan Alvarez
Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:30 CEST
Welcome to our live coverage of the
fifth stage of the Vuelta a España, a flattish 176 km stage from Alcazar de
San Juan to Cuenca. Although there is a Cat. 3 climb (Alto del Castillo) with
13 km to go, this stage should still be sprinter-friendly. We'll see.
There are three intermediate sprints on offer, at Campo de Criptana (km 8),
Quintanar de la Orden (km 42.6) and Carrascosa del Campo (km 104.5). And it's
gonna be hot, damn hot, again.
Today's stage started at 1pm with
193 riders signing on. Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) was the last rider to sign
on, while Oscar Mason (Liquigas) did not, after abandoning yesterday. After
a 3.2 km neutral section out of Alcazar de San Juan, the flag dropped and the
attacks started. The peloton stayed together for the first sprint at Campo de
Criptana (km 8), where Austrian Bernhard Eisel (FDJ) won ahead of Juan Antonio
Flecha and Fabio Sacchi (both Fassa Bortolo). Flecha is seeking bonus seconds
to try and grab the leader's jersey from Brad McGee.
Early on in
the stage, Jose Enrique Gutierrez (Phonak) was having problems following. He
has a broken rib after crashing several times in the opening stages. He abandoned
the race after 30 km.
Christophe Le Mevel (CA) attacked after 14
km, and managed to stay away for a couple of kilometres before the bunch caught
him and Thomas Ziegler (Gerolsteiner, Mikel Pradera (Illes Balears), and Devis
Miorin (Liquigas) countered. Ziegler ended up with Eladio Jimenez (Comunidad
Valenciana) and the pair gained 30 seconds until they were caught at km 33.
A crash at km 26 in El Toboso brought down Adolfo Garcia Quesada (Comunidad
Valenciana), but he was able to make it back to the peloton.
39 km, a group of 20 riders got clear, including Brad McGee, who was obviously
looking for sprint bonuses too. But at the sprint in Quintanar de la Orden,
it was Matej Jurco (Liquigas) ahead of Sven Montgomery (Gerolsteiner) and Tino
Zaballa (Saunier Duval). The speed remained high and 50.9 km were covered in
the first hour.
14:52 CEST 90km/86km to go
After 61 km, a new
breakaway formed and was more successful, with eight riders going clear: Staf
Scheirlinckx (Cofidis), Eric Leblacher (CA), Michael Barry (Discovery), Patrick
Calcagni (Liquigas), Thorwald Veneberg (Rabobank), Jorge Garcia (Relax), David
de la Fuente (Saunier), and Jakob Piil (CSC). Within 3 km, they had 50 seconds
lead, and after 85 km, they have stretched it out to 3'14.
Mirco Lorenzetto (Domina Vacanze)
has abandoned the race.
15:04 CEST 96km/80km to go
The break's lead is
out to 3'43 now as it approaches the day's third and final sprint in Carrascosa
del Campo. That makes Michael Barry the virtual maillot oro, as he started the
day just 1'34 behind McGee on GC. No doubt, there will be a bit of chasing later.
Bad news for Euskaltel: Iban Mayo has abandoned. After saying that he would
try to help out Aitor Gonzalez in the Vuelta, Mayo has had enough and is out
of the race.
It's actually not as hot as it has
been in previous days, with temps at the finish in Cuenca around 28 degrees.
That's going to be well received by the riders, who've had to endure scorching
conditions of up to 40 degrees so far.
15:12 CEST 99km/77km to go
The second hour of
the race has been quick at just over 45 km/h, and after two hours, the overall
average speed is still 48.1 km/h. The eight breakaways lead by 3'57 now.
15:21 CEST 105km/71km to go
The break's lead
continues to increase as it passes the sprint at Carrascosa del Campo. Best
placed GC rider Michael Barry takes the 6 seconds, followed by Piil and Veneberg.
The peloton is 4'08 behind the leading octet.
15:31 CEST 110km/66km to go
Finally, we have
a bit of stabilisation in the race, as the advantage of the breakaways stops
at the 4'10 mark. That's quite within the capabilities of the sprinters' teams
to chase. With 66 km to go, it's likely that that will happen soon.
15:38 CEST 120km/56km to go
The chase hasn't
started yet, or if it has, it's not doing much good. The leading eight are 4'20
ahead of the peloton at the moment, and riding well.
The riders in
the break again: Staf Scheirlinckx (Cofidis), Eric Leblacher (CA), Michael Barry
(Discovery), Patrick Calcagni (Liquigas), Thorwald Veneberg (Rabobank), Jorge
Garcia (Relax), David de la Fuente (Saunier), and Jakob Piil (CSC).
15:48 CEST 128km/48km to go
Francaise des Jeux
has relinquished control of the peloton now, as T-Mobile, Fassa and Quick.Step
start to work. The speed lifts and the gap to the leaders is sliced to 3'06.
15:51 CEST 131km/45km to go
The chase is quite
intense now as the race climbs gradually to the Puerto de Cabreja. The tailwind
has helped keep the speed up around the 48 km/h mark today. Also the lack of
heat. For a change, the skies aren't actually blue, but there is a high layer
of cloud up in the heavens.
15:57 CEST 135km/41km to go
the breakaways are
still working well together, but are still losing time to the now strung out
peloton. With three teams chasing, they don't have a hope. It's down to 2'00
16:01 CEST 141km/35km to go
McGee goes to the
back of the peloton but is brought to the front by his teammates.
The break hits the steep part of this uncategorised climb, and Calcagni and
De La Fuente leave the others behind. De La Fuente uses everything in his power
to push the pace. His style looks awful, but it has the desired affect and he
and Calcagni have a gap over the top.
The pair are joined by Eric Leblacher
(CA), and the three leaders have a total of 1'58 on the peloton. Chasing them
are Staf Scheirlinckx (Cofidis), Michael Barry (Discovery), Thorwald Veneberg
(Rabobank), Jorge Garcia (Relax), and Jakob Piil (CSC).
16:05 CEST 143km/33km to go
Piil and Barry catch
the three leaders and straight away, Piil counters with Barry on his wheel.
Garcia and Veneberg come back, then De La Fuente, Calcagni, Leblacher and Scheirlinckx.
All back together.
16:08 CEST 145km/31km to go
The eight leaders
are on the descent of the Cabreja, and really flying on the wide, straight roads.
90km/h at the moment... The gap is still 2'04.
De La Fuente tells the others to
start working. Pot, kettle, black.
16:13 CEST 150km/26km to go
Pablo Lastras has
a flat and gets a quick wheel change, but he'll have to work hard to get back
to the peloton, which is really motoring. It's 1'38 to the eight leaders.
16:15 CEST 153km/23km to go
The leaders should
make it to the final climb of the Alto del Castillo, which is a cat. 3 ascent
with its summit at 1120m, climbing from 960m in 4 km. It's not too steep, but
it's narrow and cobbled, and that could make it interesting. It's summit is
at 13 km to go.
1'15 is the gap.
16:18 CEST 156km/20km to go
Fassa is driving
it hard, so obviously Petacchi or maybe even Flecha feels good today. It's one
of those tricky finishes like in Stage 2.
50 seconds, and the bunch
is not slowing down.
16:19 CEST 157km/19km to go
The leaders are under
20 km to go now, less than 7 km from the first finish line passage in Cuenca.
But they're history now, as the bunch is just half a minute behind and charging.
16:21 CEST 158km/18km to go
in a last gasp suicide move, but he is caught by the rest of the break. The
hungry peloton will likely get them before the climb.
The breakaways persist, but are fighting
a losing battle as they get back onto the main road coming into Cuenca. 20 seconds...
16:23 CEST 160km/16km to go
The leaders start
to sit up as the bunch motors up 10 seconds behind them. The climb hasn't really
started yet, but it will soon.
16:24 CEST 162km/14km to go
It's all back together
with just under 15 km to go, as CSC takes over in front for a bit.
The climb starts and Quick.Step leads
with Boonen in third wheel behind Bettini. The cobbles aren't savage, but they'll
Ardila attacks, but can't really break clear. The climb snakes
up through the old part of Cuenca. Ardila rides on the smooth bit in the centre
of the road. An Euskaltel rider counters the Lotto man.
Sammy Sanchez is the rider in the
lead. He has a few seconds on the peloton.
Sanchez switches to the gutter on
the edge of the road as the climb steepens. The peloton is strung out in pursuit
behind, as two riders make it up to the leader.
Sanchez is riding very smoothly,
but Carlos Garcia Quesada and Joaquin Rodriguez close the gap. Rodriguez, in
the mountains jersey, takes over in front. The rest of the peloton is pretty
16:29 CEST 163km/13km to go
the steeper part of the climb, which is not cobbled. He wins the mountain points,
looks back, and eases up. Quesada catches him, and a few more.
A group of 30 or so is chasing the
leaders. Bettini makes it to the front group, which has five seconds or so on
the bunch behind. Adolfo Garcia and Carlos Sastre are also up there in the lead.
16:31 CEST 165km/11km to go
Sastre and Heras
are up there too, but now the chasing group has bridged the gap. Mercado accelerates
on the descent, which is not too steep.
16:33 CEST 166km/10km to go
Gaps are still starting
to form as Mercado is joined by a few more.
A crash at the back as
Piepoli and Azevedo come down. Piepoli takes time to get going, and Azevedo
is already on his way. He won't get the leaders now though.
group of six forms but sits up.
16:34 CEST 168km/8km to go
The lead group reforms
as three or four Liberty riders get on the front. No sign of McGee, but he should
still be there.
Another Euskaltel rider tries to
get a gap, or is that Sanchez again?
16:36 CEST 169km/7km to go
It's Aitor Gonzalez!
Watch out for him. He's good at this sort of move.
16:37 CEST 170km/6km to go
It's Sanchez, not
Gonzalez. He gets a gap but this descent isn't really technical for him to ride
away from the peloton. He doesn't have aero wheels on either, which is not going
Mercado joins Sanchez.
McGee is in the lead
16:38 CEST 171km/5km to go
Sanchez and Mercado
are working together now but are caught by the peloton again. It's too fast
to get away, but that doesn't stop riders from trying.
16:39 CEST 172km/4km to go
Luis Perez (Cofidis)
is also in the front group, as is Menchov and Bernabeu.
16:39 CEST 173km/3km to go
A couple of riders,
Botero and Plaza, close the gap to the lead group. Mercado attacks again, and
a Liberty rider chases him.
16:40 CEST 173.5km/2.5km to go
back and sees his teammate Bettini there too. But the group comes back to them.
16:41 CEST 174km/2km to go
Bertagnolli is up
here in the front group, which has 38 seconds on the second group. This is a
perfect sprint for McGee, but there are other riders like Bettini here too...
16:42 CEST 174.5km/1.5km to go
trying to attack and instead tries to lead out Bettini as the group hits the
final kilometre and a bit.
16:42 CEST 175km/1km to go
A Lampre rider attacks
before the kilometre to go banner... not much of a lead. He's caught.
Boonen(!) leads out in the final
kilometre, with Bettini on his wheel.
16:43 CEST 176km/0km to go
McGee hits out on
the right side of the road with Sanchez on his wheel. That's a long sprint.
Bettini comes past and McGee is sunk. Then Hushovd from nowhere wins the stage!!!
McGee keeps the golden jersey.
Josep Jufre snuck up for third ahead
of Jose Ivan Gutierrez.
Amazing win by Hushovd, who had plenty of
time to celebrate. It seemed as though all the other sprinters shot their bullets
too early. After Boonen led out, McGee went from about 500m, then Bettini from
300m...Hushovd just timed his run perfectly. Bettini finished up 12th as a result.
Flecha and Vicioso missed the split today, so they are out of the top 10. McGee
still leads ahead of Bertagnolli and Rodriguez.
That's it from us
for Stage 5. Join us tomorrow for the sixth stage, between Cuenca and Valdelinares,
which finishes with a Cat. 1 climb. Maybe a chance for Joaquin Rodriguez to
take the lead.
1 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole 3.41.52
2 Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems
3 Josep Jufre (Spa) Relax Fuenlabrada
4 José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne
5 David Blanco Rodiguez (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana
6 Unai Yus Kerejeta (Spa) Bouygues Telecom
7 Mauricio Alberto Ardila Cano (Col) Davitamon - Lotto
8 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Saunier Duval - Prodir
9 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
10 Egoi Martinez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
General classification after stage 5
1 Bradley McGee (Aus) Française des Jeux 18.13.53
2 Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Cofidis, le credit par telephone 0.32
3 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Saunier Duval - Prodir 0.41
4 Francisco Javier Vila Errandonea (Spa) Lampre - Caffita 0.42
5 Unai Yus Kerejeta (Spa) Bouygues Telecom 0.53
6 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 1.05
7 Rik Verbrugghe (Bel) Quick Step - Innergetic
8 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 1.12
9 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel 1.17
10 Roberto Heras Hernandez (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team 1.20
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