61st Vuelta a España - GT
Spain, August 26-September 17, 2006
Results & report
Stage 19 - September 15: Jaén - Ciudad Real, 205.3 km
Live Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Shane Stokes
Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:30 CEST
Today's stage is littered with small
climbs along its undulating parcours. Three categorised climbs - Alto del Parque
Natural de Andujar (Cat. 2 - 750 m. above sea level - km 75), Alto de Sierra
Madrona (Cat. 3 - 960 m. - km 102.6) and Alto del Tamaral (Cat. 3 - 800 m. -
km 117) - and two intermediate sprints - in Las Viñas de Peñallana (km 50) and
Puertollano (km 161.2) - are the feature attractions along the 205.3 km route.
A very long stage for all the riders, although the favourites will be focused
on having a quiet day in the office before the final time trial on Saturday.
This leaves the chance for a breakaway to be in the spotlight.
Welcome to stage 19 of the Vuelta
a España, which started in Jaén and will hopefully finish in Ciudad Real at
some stage this afternoon. If it doesn't, we can always go back to Jaén.
Besides the aforementioned climbs in today's up and down route, there are also
sprints at Las Viñas De Peñallana (km 50) and Puertollano (km 161.2). The run
into the finish is flat, and will suit the sprinters if a break doesn't go all
After the last couple of days worth of fireworks, Alexandre
Vinokourov (Astana) is looking fairly good in the gold jersey, with 53 seconds
advantage over Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne), who just didn't quite
have the legs yesterday to take it back. Tomorrow's time trial will be decisive,
14:41 CEST 85km/120.3km to go
All 135 riders
signed on in Jaén, and it was quite a relaxed start for a change. The riders
averaged only 37.8 km/h in the first hour, which was more downhill than up,
before the attacks started. Thor Hushovd tried to get away in a group of eight
to anticipate the first sprint, but it was pulled back after 40 km. Eight kilometres
later, the escape of the day started to form with Vladimir Gusev (Discovery
Channel), José Luis Arrieta (AG2R Prevoyance), Aketza Peña (Euskaltel-Euskadi),
and José Vicente Garcia Acosta (Caisse d'Epargne) in it. They were joined by
Lars Ytting Bak (Team CSC), Dmitriy Fofonov (Credit Agricole), David Loosli
(Lampre-Fondital) and Pieter Mertens (Davitamon-Lotto) with Bak taking the first
sprint at Las Viñas de Peñallana ahead of Garcia Acosta and Arrieta.
After two hours, the average speed was still 37 km/h, and the group had 3'03
on the peloton. On the Cat. 2 Alto del Parque Natural de Andujar, it was Loosli,
Arrieta, Bak, Peña, Gusev and Garcia Acosta crossing in that order.
Lars Bak is the best placed on GC at 40'08, so this is a perfect break for Astana.
And Caisse d'Epargne has a man in it too, so they probably won't chase, and
neither will Credit Agricole for the same reason. Thus, the gap is now 7'22
at km 78.
The next climb today is the cat.
3 Alto de Sierra Madrona. It looks like the breakaways will sweep up all the
mountain and sprint points today, which will help Egoi Martinez' chances to
win the orange mountains jersey, and Thor Hushovd to win the points jersey with
fish on it. Martinez can therefore pass himself off as Vinokourov in Madrid
and win the Vuelta, after he dyes his hair blond, shaves off his mini-goatee,
and shrinks. Hushovd can go swimming in shark infested waters and get the ultimate
adrenaline rush as he is chased by a Great White. But then he can earn massive
kudos by wrestling it to the sea floor with his bare hands.
been a long three weeks.
15:08 CEST 98km/107.3km to go
The leaders are
now 9'25 ahead of the peloton as they approach the second climb, having passed
through the feed zone. The province of Jaén is behind them, and they are now
in the province of Ciudad Real.
15:17 CEST 102km/103.3km to go
At the top of
the Sierra Madrona, the gap is 9'38 back to the field. They're just about halfway
into the stage, and it's certainly not too late for the bunch to pull back the
break. But who will do it? Maybe Saunier Duval for Ventoso, or Milram for Zabel.
15:31 CEST 112km/93.3km to go
First over the
top of the Sierra Madrona is the young Belgian Peter Mertens, followed by Pena,
Loosli and Arrieta. The mountains jersey is starting to look very good on Egoi
Martinez has in fact clinched the
mountains jersey, as there is only one more categorised climb in this year's
Vuelta, and that's coming up very soon. All Egoi has to do is finish in Madrid.
It's been a great battle for the orange jersey this year, with Caucchioli and
Martinez really fighting for it.
15:42 CEST 117km/88.3km to go
The third hour
is run at 36.5 km/h, and the leaders are already on the last climb of the day
(and the Vuelta), the cat. 3 Alto del Tamaral. They have 9'15, so the peloton
obviously hasn't given up just yet.
15:50 CEST 123km/82.3km to go
Mertens is again
first to the summit of the Tamaral, ahead of Fofonov, Pena and Bak. That's the
climbing done for this year's Vuelta. All mountains candidates can go home now,
as there's nothing to see here. Please move along.
On the descent,
the gap opens up to a dangerous 11 minutes. This break is going to take some
pulling back, and it's doubtful whether any teams have the firepower to do it.
15:55 CEST 126.3km/79km to go
The eight ride
up a steep little climb, all looking very slow as they pedal in big gears. They
have 10'27 on the bunch, where Astana is riding tempo.
good, as does Gusev.
15:59 CEST 127.3km/78km to go
Six Astanas are
enjoying their work at the front, as they have the gold jersey in their camp.
One rider is descending better than the rest, opening up a little gap. It looks
like Yakovlev or Bazayev.
16:01 CEST 129.3km/76km to go
Redondo, one of
the heroes of the 17th stage, is on the front of the bunch as it climbs up through
the tree studded landscape.
It's another fine day, with temps in
the high 20s to low 30s, and some light clouds and blue skies overhead.
16:04 CEST 132.3km/73km to go
None of the front
riders are really renowned sprinters, so this finish will probably come down
to a small group or (likely) a solo finish. Watch for Garcia Acosta, who is
an absolute ox, even if he has been riding in the service of Valverde a lot.
Kashechkin sits behind Vino behind
the Astana train. Vino is in gold, Kash is in the white combination jersey,
while Valverde (who is ahead of Kash in the combination GC) is in his ProTour
leader's jersey. All remaining eight Astana riders are at the front of the bunch,
spread across the road on the steep little climb that the break completed 9'49
16:12 CEST 135.3km/70km to go
The breakaway works
like clockwork now, as flatter roads are reached. Arrieta's knees pump up and
down like pistons.
Astana looks content to keep this
gap at around 10 minutes. That way, no-one gets hurt.
In the break,
Garcia Acosta drops off the back to tighten his shoe straps. He cruises back
to the break again. He doesn't even miss a turn and goes straight through.
16:19 CEST 138.3km/67km to go
The leaders know
they just have to keep working for another 50-60 km at a steady pace in order
to stay away. No-one's interested in chasing them, that is clear. Tomorrow's
TT stage will be on the minds of the GC riders.
16:22 CEST 140.3km/65km to go
It's feedin' time
in the bunch and Vinokourov goes up to make sure his teammates are all ok. The
Astana team has four Kazakhstanis in it, and they form a strong unit. The Euskaltels
all sit back and chat to their former teammate Martinez, who is in orange and
could also pass himself off as an Euskaltel rider.
10'31 to the break.
16:28 CEST 144.3km/61km to go
Egoi Martinez now
chats to Mikel Astarloza. Note: the pair have similar mini-goatees.
11'00 to the leaders.
16:33 CEST 145.3km/60km to go
Assan Bazayev leads
the peloton in the afternoon sun, past a flock of sheep that bear a striking
resemblance to the brown landscape. Here's a question - how much brown is there
in today's stage? Ballpark figures will do.
Bak is at the back of
the break. Ho ho.
16:36 CEST 146.3km/59km to go
The break passes
through Mestanza, which is not a very interesting looking town at all.
In the peloton, Luis Perez decides to relieve the boredom and himself on the
right side of the road.
I have been reliably informed that
the mini-goatee is in fact a soul patch. Thanks. According to Wikipedia: "The
soul patch is a small patch of facial hair just below the lower lip and above
the chin. It came to prominence in the 1950s and 1960s and was a style popular
with beatniks and jazz artists. Prior to this period it was referred to as a
small beard. "
16:43 CEST 151.3km/54km to go
Regarding the amount
of brown in this stage, Brian writes that there would be more if Graeme was
riding. I can only concur.
The peloton, led by the Astana eight,
is approaching the thriving town of Mestanza, 11'03 behind the break, which
by coincidence also numbers eight.
The peloton now passes a family of
six with a small dog, which has stopped work for the day, bringing the economy
of Mestanza to its knees.
Garcia Acosta gets out of the saddle
and looks happy with himself. Watch for him later on, as he could well end up
as the stage winner. But there are seven other riders with similar ambitions.
The road is still climbing here, but it won't be long before they reach a plateau
and have a flattish ride to the finish.
The bunch is sitting in the
right hand gutter thanks to the crosswind. David Millar is towards the back,
spinning his legs. Maybe he'll go for it tomorrow, but maybe not, as the World's
is more important.
The fourth hour is ridden at 35.8
km/h. Mr Vinokourov looks very happy in his gold jersey.
16:52 CEST 155km/50.3km to go
Redondo is on the
front of the peloton now. The bunch looks like arriving 10-15 minutes behind
the break today, but it will be well within the theoretical time limit.
16:59 CEST 160km/45.3km to go
The break is now
in Puertollano, and this is really a thriving town. There are huge crowds out
to watch the eight leaders come through. The second intermediate sprint of the
day is here.
17:03 CEST 162km/43.3km to go
descends about 20m in front of the peloton, sucking the wheel of a TV moto.
They're only doing 55 km/h though as they descend gently into Puertollano, and
past its Elcogas IGCC power station.
17:06 CEST 164.3km/41km to go
Aketza Peña signals
an obstacle on the road while Lars Bak stretches his legs. The peloton has picked
up speed on the gentle descent into town, but it isn't riding hard. The gap
sits at 10'49.
17:09 CEST 167.3km/38km to go
The peloton enters
Puertollano but the break is already on the open roads on the other side of
town, with 38 km to go in the 19th stage. The fireworks should start in about
25 km, so go and make your morning/afternoon/late night drinks now.
Barredo signals back to the Others
as he sees an obstacle on the road. It's always a bit tricky through town, especially
on a long, hot day like today.
17:12 CEST 169km/36.3km to go
The peloton passes
the sprint point 10'51 behind the break.
The points were taken by
Fofonov from Gusev and Bak.
17:17 CEST 173.3km/32km to go
Will Walker shows
the Australian champion's jersey near the front of the bunch, but doesn't disturb
the Astana rhythm. Barredo is on the front all the time, taking extra care to
point out anything that may cause a crash.
The break is busy with
its work, rolling along at 43-45 km/h now.
17:24 CEST 180.3km/25km to go
Now who looks good
in the break? It's difficult to tell yet. Certainly Garcia Acosta still looks
as though he can put in an attack, and both Bak and Fofonov are having good
final weeks. But maybe Gusev can pull off a late move.
rolls along a flat plain, and the sun has gone behind a cloud for the time being.
The Astana riders have allowed the
break some more time (11'56), but it's academic at this point. They are fanned
across the road from left to right, protecting their main man Alexandre Vinokourov.
17:28 CEST 183.3km/22km to go
Aha - a change!
CSC has suddenly got to the front of the bunch and is trying to split it in
the crosswinds. Vino is in fourth wheel, behind three CSCs. Now the rest of
the team is coming to the front. And Caisse d'Epargne. This is going to hurt
CSC is really working to split it,
with Ljungqvist, Arvesen and O'Grady. Kash and Vino are well placed behind,
and Valverde and Sastre are not far back either. Caisse d'Epargne is also working
with CSC. And Discovery brings Egoi to the front.
17:33 CEST 185.3km/20km to go
The peloton spreads
right across the road as one rider attacks on the left - Duque. It's been reduced
quite a bit. Duque gets the whole bunch on his wheel, then Karpets swings to
the right and puts everyone in the gutter again, before his teammate tells him
to ride to the left a bit. Kash and Vino, Hushovd, all the GC riders are well
placed. The pace eases off an Barredo and Bazayev get to the front.
17:35 CEST 187.3km/18km to go
The break works
a little harder, but everyone is looking at each other. And in particular at
Garcia Acosta. Loosli and Pena get a little gap and push it, as Fofonov has
to chase. Here we go...
17:36 CEST 188.3km/17km to go
The gap has come
down to 10'12 as a result of the peloton's little crosswind action.
The lead break reforms, but everyone is even more watchful now.
17:38 CEST 189.3km/16km to go
The break cooperates
well for the time being. Normally the final 20 km is the time to have a go,
but it depends on how tired everyone is.
17:40 CEST 192.3km/13km to go
are flying by a little quicker now as the break nears Ciudad Real. Another 13
clicks. No more action in the peloton for the time being.
17:42 CEST 193.3km/12km to go
The wind continues
to blow from left to right and the break rides in a tight formation. Who will
be first to launch a real attack?
17:44 CEST 194.3km/11km to go
And Garcia Acosta
attacks on a false flat! Pretty hard, and Mertens gets his wheel. The Belgian
does a turn, but Fofonov counters with Loosli and Mertens and Garcia Acosta
17:44 CEST 195.3km/10km to go
They stop working
and Fofonov goes again. Bak, Arrieta and Gusev get his wheel, then Loosli has
to close the gap. They're doing 67 km/h but Bak can't get away. The slow and
17:46 CEST 196.3km/9km to go
It's very watchful
as Arrieta feints with Gusev on his wheel, then they put in a real attack. Bak
reacts and Garcia Acosta is slow to get on the Dane's wheel. He looks tired.
They all catch on, and Bak, G-A , Mertens, Loosli and Fofonov chase.
This is high speed chess. One wrong
move can cost you the win, but you have to try.
17:47 CEST 197.3km/8km to go
Gusev and Arrieta
have to chase a bit to rejoin the break, as does Pena, who looks to be dropped
now. Bak tries again but is marked by Gusev. Pena works hard to get on. No,
they attack again.
Bak attacks again and Arrieta doesn't
want to chase. Garcia Acosta chases with Mertens and Gusev. But the Dane has
a gap. Garcia Acosta goes himself.
17:48 CEST 198.3km/7km to go
Bak has a nice gap
now as Garcia Acosta gets Gusev for company. Then Fofonov. Now Loosli and Fofonov
counter with Arrieta.
17:49 CEST 199.3km/6km to go
It's Bak with an
increasing gap and the CSC rider looks very good today. He looks Bak and sees
his gap growing. Mertens, Garcia Acosta and Gusev are trying to chase. But not
cooperating well. Gusev attacks, Garcia Acosta reacts, then Mertens. Gusev rides
hard but has Garcia Acosta on his wheel.
17:51 CEST 201.3km/4km to go
Bak is now chased
by José Vicente Garcia Acosta (Caisse d'Epargne), Vladimir Gusev (Discovery
Channel), Pieter Mertens (Davitamon-Lotto) and Aketza Peña (Euskaltel-Euskadi),
who has returned from the dead.
Bak puts his head down and motors
along at 55 km/h. Incredibly fast riding by the young Dane. The chasers don't
look like getting him at all.
17:52 CEST 201.8km/3.5km to go
The race is going
up the road and the four chasers are looking at each other. Not sure why - you
have to cooperate in this situation or you are sunk. Bak has 17 seconds.
Gusev decides he can close it on his own, but takes the rest with him.
17:53 CEST 202.3km/3km to go
Bak takes a few
roundabouts in his stride and looks back again as he keeps it cranking up to
3 km to go. It's getting harder now, but his gap is good.
17:54 CEST 202.8km/2.5km to go
Lars Bak, the
winner of last year's Tour de l'Avenir, is being caught!
Fofonov and Loosli are trying to come back to Bak. Hmm - they are ahead of the
Garcia Acosta group. Sorry about the confusion.
17:55 CEST 203.3km/2km to go
Bak sits last wheel
as they go past 2 km to go. He has one more chance... Arrieta attacks though.
Fofonov rolls through, then Loosli
and Bak in third wheel. Arrieta gets to the back. Four riders still in the race.
17:56 CEST 204.3km/1km to go
Loosli sits up and
looks back, as Arrieta rides through for a turn to keep the pace up. Bak back
into second wheel at 1 km to go. He almost attacks, and now goes!
Bak gets a little gap but Loosli
Fofonov and Arrieta are in hot pursuit. This will hurt Bak too much. He's caught
They all come back together and Bak
swings wide. He's gone. He sits up.
17:57 CEST 205.3km/0km to go
the sprint and wins!!!! Fofonov second ahead of Loosli and Bak.
Half a minute later, Gusev, Mertens,
Garcia Acosta and Pena cross the line.
Well, the old warhorse Arrieta
got it in the end. Very nice, smart riding. Bak was the strongest, but he just
didn't quite have it.
Aurélien Clerc (Phonak) wins the
sprint for 9th ahead of Hushovd, 11'16 later. There are no changes.
That's all from Ciudad Real. We'll be back live on the weekend for the final
two stages of the Vuelta, starting two hours earlier than usual each day at
12:30 pm, CEST. Hasta manaña!
1 José Luis Arrieta (Spa) AG2R Prevoyance 5.30.14 (37.3 km/h)
2 Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz) Credit Agricole
3 David Loosli (Swi) Lampre-Fondital 0.02
4 Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Team CSC 0.09
5 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 0.30
6 Pieter Mertens (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto
7 José Vicent Garcia Acosta (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears
8 Aketza Peña (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
9 Aurélien Clerc (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems 11.16
10 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole
General classification after stage 19
1 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana Team 77.08.38
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears 0.53
3 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana Team 2.06
4 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 2.51
5 José Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir 5.06
6 Thomas Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 7.05
7 Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 8.23
8 Manuel Beltran (Spa) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 8.28
9 Luis Pérez (Spa) Cofidis, le Credit par Telephone 10.04
10 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears 10.06
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