60th Vuelta a España - GT
Spain, August 27-September 18, 2005
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Stage 7 - Friday, September 2: Teruel-Vinaros, 212.5 km
Commentary by Hedwig Kröner, with additional reporting from Hernan Alvarez
Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:10 CEST
Welcome back to today's Live coverage
of the Vuelta a España stage seven from Teruel to Vinaros. The 212.5
km-long ride includes three Cat 3 climbs, all located in the first half of the
course, as well as three intermediate sprints on a fast downhill route to coastal
finish town Vinaros, located only 10 metres above sea level (with the stage
departing in 1000 metres altitude!). The peloton will surely be glad to leave
behind those mountains for today! A bunch sprint finish is pretty likely at
the sea, with top favourite "Ale-Jet" Petacchi being a good bet...
At the sea side finish, it is a mild
26° out this Friday, with a light breeze coming from South-East. Perfect conditions
for a bike race, unlike in the year 2001, when the Vuelta first finished in
Vinaros: We still can remember the torrential rain of that day, with the sky
being so dark that it was hard for the cameras to record the moment when Juan
Manuél Gárate won the stage.
Stage seven of this year's Vuelta
started fast and furious, with a series of attacks: At first, it was Phonak's
Oscar Pereiro who wanted to make up for his teammate, Floyd Landis' abandon
yesterday. But his jump didn't evolve into a real break, and after 10 kilometres
of racing, a group of three emerged: Rik Verbrugghe (Quick.Step), Eladio Jimenez
Sanchez (Comunidad Valenciana) and Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel) made it as the
route steepened for the first of the climbs, the Puerto de Cabigordo (km 20).
The fast pace of the racing caused
the bunch to disintegrate right away. A chase group formed around Christophe
Le Mevel (C.A.), Adolfo Garcia Quesada (Comunidad Valenciana), Oscar Sevilla
(T-Mobile) and Santiago Botero (Phonak) trying to catch up at that point.
At the top of the climb, the chasers were caught by the main bunch, with Iñigo
Cuesta (Saunier) managing to join the three leaders on the descent. At 46 seconds,
Ignacio Gutierrez (Phonak) was chasing with Benoît Poilvet (C.A.). Along the
back, the golden jersey kept an advantage of 1:10 over the second group.
But around kilometre 30, the two
big groups joined, and let the leaders get a bigger gap from that moment on.
At the sprint at km 36, the peloton was already three minutes behind, with the
two chasers joining the front men to form six: Iñigo Cuesta (Saunier), Eladio
Jimenez Sanchez (Comunidad Valenciana), Rik Verbrugghe (Quick.Step), Ignacio
Gutierrez (Phonak), Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel), Benoît Poilvet (Crédit Agricole).
Their lead increased to around 4
minutes as Liberty let them loose. This situation stabilised the race and Eladio
Jimenez Sanchez (Comunidad Valenciana) could go for the mountain points as planned.
After 81 kilometres and the third hilltop, he had scored enough points to become
the new KOM.
Liberty Seguros continues to lead
the train, with Fassa Bortolo joining in as well now. Both teams are interested
in a bunch finish in Vinaros... although, from a GC perspective, the best placed
in the break is Egoi Martinez, but he's still 36th at 5.28 behind Heras.
15:22 CEST 112km/100.5km to go
The race´s average
speed in its third hour 36,2 km/h, and the bunch is comfortably controlling
the situation: the break's advantage is 3.30 now, with still about 100 kilometres
Except for a few little hiccups,
the parcours is all downhill from now on. The riders take their time to eat
some out of their musettes, looking like they're enjoying this part of the race!
For sure, after that long hard day of climbing yesterday, this must seem like
a piece of cake...
We'll see if Petacchi has the legs for a third
stage win in this Vuelta, or if tall Scandinavian Hushovd can get another one
to match Petacchi's score.
15:42 CEST 130km/82.5km to go
One rider that
will probably have to pay a fine (that is, his team will pay it) is Russian
Denis Menchov (Rabobank). The second-placed of yesterday's stage didn't sign
up at the start this morning.
The bunch is rolling along, and slowly
diminishing the gap to the six-men breakaway. It is now down to 2.17. The riders
have turned towards Morella, where a crosswind is blowing lightly. If the break
gets caught too soon, we might see some fireworks!
15:53 CEST 140km/72.5km to go
The gap is getting
smaller and smaller... It is now only 1.47.
Earlier in the race,
at km 88, Crédit Agricole's Sébastien Joly abandoned.
16:04 CEST 145km/67.5km to go
Liberty and Fassa
are taking it easy, as they're not interested in catching the riders too soon.
The race situation is stable.
16:11 CEST 148km/64.5km to go
The six riders
in front are doing a good job circling, each of them taking turns in the wind,
but once the peloton is that close behind, there's really no way they can make
it to the finish before the bunch. Isidro Nozal (Liberty) is leading the pack
now, squirting some water out of his bidon over his helmet. Fortunately, it's
not as hot today, 'only' 26-27° Celsius.
16:17 CEST 152km/60.5km to go
There's still one
sprint to go at Montero Golf (km 196), as the riders race down the dry hills
towards the much greener Spanish coastline. A Fassa rider is leading now, the
two teams perfectly sharing the workload. But it's still an easy task, as the
race's average speed is 37 km/h - still 15 minutes slower than the slowest schedule
calculated by the race organisation.
They're rolling down those
hills at about 50 km/h now.
There are quite some hairpin curves
down that mountainside now. The road is wide enough though to make that as fast
and safe descent.
16:26 CEST 156km/56.5km to go
The situation is
still the same, as the bunch is slowly eating away at the escapees' advantage
of just under 2 minutes. Each of the riders in this group of six - Iñigo Cuesta
(Saunier), Eladio Jimenez Sanchez (Comunidad Valenciana), Rik Verbrugghe (Quick.Step),
Ignacio Gutierrez (Phonak), Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel), Benoît Poilvet (Crédit
Agricole) - is taking his share of the wind, but the turns are getting shorter.
The bunch has just left behind the
small village of Vallivana now, the roads still bending, as the breakaway is
on a wide open straight already. Current time gap: 1.36.
Santiago Botero (Phonak) has been
chatting to former teammate Daniele Nardello (T-Mobile) for quite a while now.
Maybe discussing why the Colombian performed so poorly at the German squad,
whereas he's been having a very successful season with the Swiss team this year?
At the end of the bunch, Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues) is getting some horn honking
as he's stretching his left leg, with is foot placed on the saddle.
16:39 CEST 175.5km/37km to go
de oro' Brad McGee and teammate Ian McLeod are also taking the time to make
some jokes. Heras takes a sip out of his bidon, safely tucked in 12th position
in front of the pack, surrounded by other GC favourites such as Francisco Mancebo
Oh! Surprise! The gap is now down to 55 seconds,
but the bunch doesn't show that this costs energy at all. The break is almost
The Vuelta is now in a much greener
region, nearer to the coastline. It's lemon and oranges country here... beautiful!
The road is one straight line right now.
Liberty and Fassa are still doing
the work for the peloton, very harmoniously, keeping the break's lead at a comfortable
distance of around one minute. One can say about today's stage that, except
for the upcoming finish, the ride has been pretty easy so far for most of the
Any takers for a final attack? Probably not...
16:54 CEST 185.5km/27km to go
The tempo is picking
up. Some riders of the 'smaller' teams are coming up front and the pace immediately
Ignacio Gutierrez (Phonak) has let
go of the break and dropped back into the bunch, as the break was caught. Illes
Balears and Liberty are putting on a very fast pace with 20 km to go.
17:02 CEST 194.5km/18km to go
They're on a pretty
narrow road winding through the orange trees... doing close to 60 km/h when
on a little downhill stretch.
17:05 CEST 195.5km/17km to go
The last intermediate
sprint was won by... Roberto Heras himself! The golden jersey wearer thereby
scored another 6 seconds on his rivals. Pablo Lastras (Illes Balears) got second,
Fabio Sacchi (Fassa Bortolo) third.
17:08 CEST 198.5km/14km to go
The peloton is
stretched out and some riders have trouble holding onto the back of the train.
17:11 CEST 202.5km/10km to go
The final sprint
is getting prepared. Illes Balears and Lotto are working in front now, really
flying over a highway's bridge. There's also a CSC rider spotted in front. We'll
see when Fassa will take over again.
17:13 CEST 203.5km/9km to go
An Illes Balears
rider has a little problem getting around a tighter left-hand curve, but he's
alright. The roads are very narrow for that kind of a finale...
Bettini attacks on a little climb!!
17:14 CEST 205.5km/7km to go
He got a little
gap, too, and is getting cheered by some spectators on that uphill stretch.
'Il Grillo' got about 14 seconds,
as Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) has set out on his chase.
But it's all coming back together
again, as the bunch is on the descent. They've got him now.
17:17 CEST 206.5km/6km to go
But the race has
split up into groups with that attack, and it's not actually the bunch who bridged
up to him. He's resisting, still.
T-Mobile is reeling him in, there,
and now he's sat up for good. Oh well, nice move!
17:19 CEST 208.5km/4km to go
T-Mobile is doing
the pacing now in front of a fairly big bunch. All the sprinter's seem to be
17:21 CEST 210.5km/2km to go
Coming into town
now. Zabel must feel good today too, as it's still Magenta in front. Right hand
curve. Two T-Mobiles, two Fassas leading.
17:22 CEST 211.5km/1km to go
There's a left hand
curve in front of a roundabout again, and the bunch is strung out. Zabel in
third position? It's not clear there.
Fassa is leading out, as Steels is
there too and Van Heeswijk in front. Zabel tried to come round but Van Heeswijk
is stronger and wins!!!
Zabel gets second, Ongarato third.
The Discovery rider started his sprint early, but was able to take it all the
Zabel was in third position behind
Steels, who 'led him out'. Petacchi? Nowhere to be seen.
tomorrow for another slice of Spanish cycling action in stage 8 from Tarragona
to Lloret de Mar: 189 km of pretty flat parcours, making another bunch sprint
1 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) Discovery Channel 5.21.21
2 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile Team
3 Alberto Ongarato (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
4 Marco Zanotti (Ita) Liquigas - Bianchi
5 Tom Steels (Bel) Davitamon - Lotto
6 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole
7 José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne
8 Anthony Geslin (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
9 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
10 Martin Elmiger (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems
General classification after stage 7
1 Roberto Heras Hernandez (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team 29.03.28
2 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 0.12
3 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 1.07
4 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Saunier Duval - Prodir 1.09
5 David Blanco Rodiguez (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana 1.11
6 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne 1.26
7 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana 1.39
8 Juan Miguel Mercado (Spa) Quick Step - Innergetic
9 Unai Yus Kerejeta (Spa) Bouygues Telecom
10 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team 1.58
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