61st Vuelta a España - GT
Spain, August 26-September 17, 2006
Results & report
Stage 13 - September 8: Guadalajara - Cuenca, 170 km
Complete live report
Vuelta time again! Welcome back to
our exclusive Live coverage of the 2006 Tour of Spain. Today's stage from Guadalajara
to Cuenca will be 170 kilometres long and feature three Cat. 3 climbs: the Alto
de la Tendilla (km 31), the Alto de Corcoles (km 60) and the dreaded Alto de
Castillo (km 168) inside the city of Cuenca, a 3 km-long ascent on narrow cobbled
streets leading to the town's castle. After that, the itinerary will see the
riders tackle a difficult descent and loop back into town.
perfect day for an escape featuring riders who are down on GC but are willing
to cooperate together to build a stage-winning lead. Riders like Bettini would
fancy their chances today - but he already left some forces in yesterday's breakaway.
Today's weather forecast predicts
good conditions for the first half of the race with temperatures reaching 30°
Celsius, but then the cyclists might get some intermittent rain showers, as
well as possible thunderstorms towards the finale in Cuenca.
The stage was started in Guadalajara
with only one non-starter since yesterday: Lorenzo Bernucci of T-Mobile. The
peloton is thus composed of 158 cyclists today, and it took things easy during
the first part of the stage. The first kilometres were rather pleasant for everyone,
as there were no attacks at all and the pace was gentle. But then, Discovery
Channel got moving a bit as the first climb approached.
at the summit of the Alto de la Tendilla were taken by Frédéric Bessy (Cofidis),
GPM classification leader Pietro Caucchioli (Credit Agricole), Egoi Martinez
(Discovery Channel) and David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears) in that
order. This climb was taken on at a faster pace, and saw a 30-rider group take
some distance. In the descent, a Cofidis rider crashed but was able to continue
14:43 CEST 46km/134km to go
The current race
situation is that a front group of about 30 men is riding 40 seconds in front
of the chasing peloton, led by Euskaltel and Discovery Channel. 46.2 km were
covered in the first hour of racing.
14:48 CEST 52km/128km to go
Matteo Tosatto (Quick
Step-Innergetic), Lars Ytting Bak (Team CSC) and Jean-Patrick Nazon (AG2R Prevoyance)
have counter-attacked the bunch. They have ten seconds. The front group meanwhile
seems determined to pursue, extending its lead to 1.15 minutes.
The three have been joined by by
Michael Boogerd (Rabobank), Inaki Isasi (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Davide Rebellin
(Gerolsteiner), Michael Barry (Discovery Channel), David De La Fuente (Saunier
Duval-Prodir), Ángel Vallejo (Relax-Gam), Frédéric Bessy (Cofidis), Grischa
Niermann (Rabobank) and Pieter Mertens (Davitamon-Lotto).
14:56 CEST 51km/129km to go
At the intermediate
sprint in Sacedón, Jean-Patrick-Nazon beat Lary-Yitting Bak in front of Matteo
The second climb of today's stage,
the Alto de Córcoles, has meanwhile been reached. Five riders come out of the
group: Michael Boogerd (Rabobank), Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), Lars Ytting
Bak (Team CSC), Frédéric Bessy (Cofidis) and Iñigo Landaluze (Euskaltel-Euskadi).
They have 32 seconds over the peloton, which has regrouped.
15:08 CEST 78km/102km to go
To see Boogerd and
Rebellin take their chances today isn't surprising: the Alto del Castillo in
Cuenca does resemble the sort of Northern Classics cobbled climbs both riders
are specialized in.
The gap continues to grow for this breakaway
of five. It's now up to 4.30 minutes. This is it!
Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes
Balears) had dropped back to the race doctor's car, but he has now re-integrated
The situation has settled down. With
less than 100 kilometres to go, the peloton is letting the breakaway get some
distance. It's current advantage is 5 minutes.
15:29 CEST 92km/88km to go
The second hour of
racing has been completed: average was 43.8 km/h. Caisse d'Epargne is now riding
at the front of the bunch, living up to its responsibilities. Nevertheless,
this break works well and continues to increase the gap: 5.20 now.
We talked to David Millar (Saunier
Duval) this morning, who told us that he would like to spare his forces for
the time trial tomorrow. "Then again, the finish in Cuenca is so beautiful that
I could also be tempted to try something there. But it will probably come down
to a bunch sprint."
The old city of Cuenca is a UNESCO world heritage
site, and definitely worth visiting if you're around the area sometime!
The leaders, after having grabbed
their musettes at the feed zone, are now approaching the second intermediate
sprint in Priego, home town of Luis Ocaña. The advantage is still growing -
if this continues, we might not see a bunch sprint finish in Cuenca as Millar
The weather is still good, with temperatures
rising to 28° Celsius and some clouds hanging in the sky. No rain showers (yet).
Tomorrow's time trial could make another selection on GC, as the course also
includes the Alto del Castillo climb which we be raced later on today. But many
observers say that the profile finally isn't too demanding, and that the total
length of the TT (33 kms) is not long enough to really make a difference. This
Vuelta will be won step by step, with the TT on the penultimate day (another
28 kms) also counting for precious seconds.
15:55 CEST 104km/76km to go
The breakaway has
passed the sprint in Priego: Landaluze crossed the line in front of Bessy and
Bak, therefore also winning the special Luis Ocaña memorial prize. The bunch
is now 7.38 behind. Sprinters, where art thou?
The five riders are currently racing
downhill, going 70 km/h. Bak is leading them, now Rebellin takes a turn. They
all look good!
16:09 CEST 119km/61km to go
Aha: Quick.Step has
sent some men up to the front of the bunch, helping out Caisse d'Epargne. One
Liquigas rider is also up there. The gap is dropping to 6.48.
16:15 CEST 124km/56km to go
Two guys from Milram
are now also co-operating in the chase. The sprinter's teams have taken over...
The front group still has some 53 kilometres to go, 40 clicks to the cobblestone
wall in Cuenca.
The work of Milram, Quickstep and
Liquigas is paying off: the gap is down to less than 5 minutes now. Boogerd,
Rebellin at al. keep on fighting, but it will be hard to keep their distance
as the peloton behind is driving it hard.
At the finish in Cuenca,
it is now overcast and starting to rain... That will make that twisty descent
in the last few kilometres even more dangerous. The sun is still shining on
the bunch, at the moment.
Fabio Sacchi (Team Milram) and José
Antonio Garrido (Quick Step-Innergetic) are amongst the front riders driving
the bunch, currently at 57 km/h. Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne) went down
to his team car and got some bottles for Valverde and the rest of his team.
Alessandro Spezialetti (Liquigas),
three Milram riders and seven Quicksteppers are putting the pace on. Paolo Bettini
is sitting in 12th place, well-protected. Will he be the extra card to play
by his team?
The gap is down to 3.10.
The finish today is in the new part
of the city, the old part being on the castle hill of Cuenca with the cliff
top view. The race will pass the summit of the Alto del Castillo 12.8 km from
the line, then plunge into the valley by the old town and come back. The last
kilometres are flat.
The riders can now see the grey rain clouds
in front of them on the horizon...
16:46 CEST 150km/30km to go
Boogerd is stretching
his legs when he can. They probably now they won't get through the way things
are going. Only two minutes left for them.
Sprint points leader Thor
Hushovd is sitting at the back of the bunch, waiting. What are Bettini's plans?
He might want to catch the break in the climb and attack right away.
The peloton is driving at 65 km/h,
reeling them in fast. The gap is melting away even though those escapees give
it their very best. 10 kilometres to go before they hit the climb in Cuenca.
16:52 CEST 157km/23km to go
The gap is under
one minute now. Won't be long until the race will take a different turn.
16:56 CEST 160km/20km to go
Their sitting up
now, looking back. Good move of Rebellin, Boogerd and the others! But unfortunately,
the bunch today has decided not to let a breakaway succeed. Now, let's see what
the Alto del Castillo (1,120 m.) can do.
The break is caught.
The drizzle has stopped in Cuenca,
meanwhile, and the roads are dry again. It's still overcast, but it should be
dry until the finish (let's hope).
Milram and Quickstep are holding
the field together. There shouldn't be any attacks until the climb, as the pace
17:00 CEST 164km/16km to go
Frédéric Bessy (Cofidis)
can't hold on to the bunch and drops back. Understandable.
d'Epargne is back in front, too.
17:03 CEST 165km/15km to go
Discovery opens up
a new train, CSC as well. Everyone looks to protect their GC riders now. They're
on the outskirts of Cuenca.
At a roundabout, the field splits up
and gained positions are lost again.
They're on the cobbles now at the
foot of the climb. Hushovd comes to the front. René Haselbacher (Gerolsteiner)
But he won't get away as the climb
is pretty steep. Now Di Luca makes a move. This suits him.
He has a 20 metre-gap, but gets caught
again. The riders are on the right hand side of the road in the gutter to avoid
the cobbles. Di Luca still leads, Bettini in third position, followed by Valverde
Luis Perez (Cofidis) is also in front.
And he gets a gap!! But Valverde
catches him again, with Bettini in tow. Sastre is just behind him, holding on.
Valverde was the first at the GPM,
and they're now on the descent, but they don't look like they're trying to go
for the stage. A chase group has formed, close behind them. Ah: Perez, nevertheless,
is off the front.
17:12 CEST 171km/9km to go
The two groups have
joined forces in the pursuit of Perez. In the descent, which really starts only
now, they will get him.
'Tis done. The group has about 15
riders, including all the favourites except Vinokourov: Valverde, Bettini, Sastre,
Di Luca, Kashechkin...
Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) attacks!
He has six seconds, and is fearless
in this descent...
17:17 CEST 175km/5km to go
Sanchez is powering
away on this false flat downhill. 62 km/h. Eight seconds. Will that be enough??
17:19 CEST 176km/4km to go
The chasers won't
give in, either, now that there is a stage win in sight. Sanchez is biting his
teeth. The road is still a bit wet at times.
17:20 CEST 178km/2km to go
Sanchez doesn't sit
up, he's really determined. He holds his eight seconds!
The spectators cheer him on as he
goes under the flamme rouge. 10 seconds!
He looks back and even takes a sip
out of his bottle. Gotta stay cool!
And Sanchez takes the win, just a
few metres ahead of Hushovd!
Hushovd wins the sprint in front
of Valverde and Paolini. But the man of today is Sanchez, who gambled in a seemingly
lost game but whose perseverance in the end was rewarded.
Join us again tomorrow in Cuenca
(this has got to be one of the most beautiful towns in Spain) for a 33 km-long
time trial, starting at 11:30 local time (CEST)/05:30 EDT (USA East)/02:30 PDT
(USA West)/19:30 AEST (Aust East). Adios!
1 Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) 4.03.43
2 Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole)
3 Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)
4 Luca Paolini (Liquigas)
5 Paolo Bettini (Quick Step)
General classification after stage 13
1 Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)
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