61st Vuelta a Espańa - GT
Spain, August 26-September 17, 2006
Results & report
Stage 2 - August 27: Málaga - Córdoba, 167 km
Live Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Shane Stokes
Live coverage starts: 12:00 CEST
Estimated finish: 15:00 CEST
The race heads north from Malaga
to the Moorish city of Cordoba. There are two third category climbs to negotiate,
but the stage should still come down to a bunch sprint as the main climbing
is over by kilometre 30. Robbie McEwen and Alessandro Petacchi will be looking
to their teams to bring any escapees back before the finish.
Welcome back to the Vuelta a España
- it's as if we never left! After last night's late finish at around 9pm, today's
second stage got under way at 10:21am from Málaga, with 167 km of flattish terrain
before the finish in Córdoba. Hence the earlier than usual start to our live
189 riders signed on, as there were no overnight abandons.
David Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), who crashed during yesterday's team time trial
and finished last, was not hurt too badly and was able to start today. "Davide
has a lot of scrapes and bruises, but will start," team spokesman Jörg Grünefeld
told Cyclingnews Sunday morning.
The attacking was started
by Relax-Gam, the only invited team in this year's race. The rider in question
was Raul Garcia De Mateo Rubio, but he was caught after 3 km. His teammate Mario
De Sárraga went almost immediately, and was joined by Saunier Duval's David
De La Fuente, who was the most aggressive rider in the Tour de France. Unfortunately
for De La Fuente, he had a mechanical problem and couldn't stay with De Sárraga,
who continued on alone.
12:12 CEST 48km/119km to go
After 48 clicks,
Mario De Sárraga has a nice lead of 10'40 over the peloton, his biggest lead
so far. He covered 35.9 km in the first hour, which wasn't bad considering it
was mostly uphill.
On the Cat. 3 Alto de Casabermeja (km 20.5), he
was first to the top, with Ruben Perez (Euskaltel) second, then José Antonio
Garrido (Quick.Step) and Benoît Joachim (Discovery) next. On the Alto de las
Pedrizas (km 29.5), he led Joachim, Garrido and Perez over in that order. There
are only two climbs in this stage, so De Sárraga is the mountains leader.
12:19 CEST 59km/108km to go
The wind makes it
tough for the riders, but there are no big splits in the peloton yet. Walter
Beneteau (Bouygues) crashes, but is back on the bike and back in the bunch again.
Meanwhile, De Sárraga has stretched his lead to 12'40, which has prompted Davitamon-Lotto,
Milram and Credit Agricole to assume the position on the front and start chasing
for their sprinters.
12:27 CEST 65km/102km to go
It's still going
up, not down! The lead, that is. Mario De Sárraga (Relax-Gam) now has 13'05
on the peloton, which seems to have picked up a little speed.
12:36 CEST 70km/97km to go
And finally, the lead
does begin to fall as the sprinters teams do their job. After 70 km, De Sárraga
has 12'03, down from a maximum of 13'05.
12:45 CEST 78km/89km to go
42.9 km have been
covered in the second hour of racing, which brings the average speed up to just
under 39 km/h. Our lone leader, Mario De Sárraga, is struggling a bit as the
sprinters teams turn the screws. His advantage is now 10'19.
So who is this Mario de Sárraga out
in front of the bike race? Well, he's just turned 26 and is in his second year
as a pro (last year he was with Naturino Sapore di Mare). His biggest result
to date is second in stage 4 of this year's Vuelta Asturias.
12:59 CEST 86km/81km to go
The lone leader hits
the feed zone, situated (as many of them are) in the middle of nowhere. He has
9'30 on the chasing peloton, with 80 km left to race.
13:10 CEST 95km/72km to go
Fortunately for De
Sárraga, the last part of the stage is a more downhill than up, so he still
stands a chance. De Sárraga was the best placed rider of his team on GC after
yesterday, but still is only in 169th place at 37 seconds. He could still do
it, but it will be a big ask.
13:19 CEST 100km/67km to go
De Sárraga's lead
continues to fall, and it's now 8'24 over the hunting peloton. The Relax rider
is anything but as he struggles to make it to the finish.
13:29 CEST 109km/58km to go
De Sárraga is almost
at the first sprint of the day at Monturque.
13:34 CEST 118km/49km to go
7'07 behind De Sárraga,
Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) takes second in the intermediate sprint ahead
of Dario Andriotto (Liquigas). 6 km later, De Sárraga's lead has dropped to
13:36 CEST 108.5km/58.5km to go
De Sárraga is
really fighting to hold his lead now, while the peloton is fairly relaxed. Hoho.
De Sárraga adjusts his shoe straps, puts it in a big gear and tries to keep
it going. He has 4'35.
Carlos Sastre, race leader, has a
golden helmet to go with his gold jersey. He's well protected by his teammate
13:39 CEST 112km/55km to go
De Sárraga is freewheeling
a bit now. He'll never survive until the finish, and he knows it. He rides around
another roundabout, as the Milram/Davitamon/Credit Agricole led peloton continues
to work. Credit Agricole has most of its team up front.
German Nieto, the Relax team director,
drives up beside De Sárraga and offers him some advice and a couple of bidons.
He has been in the same position himself.
13:46 CEST 117km/50km to go
The bunch is committed
to the chase now, although if necessary it could go a bit quicker. Sastre looks
fairly comfy as he sits next to Arvesen.
De Sárraga, meanwhile,
has 4'00 of his lead left.
One of the sprinters with a good
chance today is Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto). We spoke to him at the start,
and he told us, "I'd like to get a stage win here. I won't do the whole race,
so will try to do something early on. Then, if my form is good enough, I will
think about doing the worlds. I'll only go there if I am going well. It's been
a long season so if I don't have the form, I will end the season early, not
riding Paris Tours. I'll head back home and get in a good rest."
Valverde and Pereiro chat to each
other in the bunch, and look to be enjoying things.
De Sárraga is now just 3'10 ahead
of the bunch, as he navigates this long, straight, undulating roads.
Bäckstedt, not Andriotto was third in that first sprint.
13:57 CEST 124km/43km to go
David George, one
of De Sárraga's teammates, is getting treatment from the race doctor after a
14:00 CEST 125km/42km to go
McEwen sits towards
the back of the bunch, very calm at the moment. Valverde is also here with Pereiro
The skies are a nice clear blue and it's about 25-27
degrees. Pretty nice.
14:03 CEST 127km/40km to go
After three hours,
the average has increased slightly to 39.1 km/h. The sprinters teams are doing
a solid job, and Lampre also has a man in front. Mario De Sárraga has 2'30 of
his lead intact.
14:08 CEST 127km/40km to go
The bunch rides through
Montemayor, and the pace is not that high, with De Sárraga still dangling out
there. Plenty of time to catch him.
14:10 CEST 129km/38km to go
De Sárraga does take
first in the second intermediate sprint at Fernan Nuńez, cheered on by a good
crowd lining the streets.
Cofidis and Credit Agricole leads
out the sprint in the bunch, then Bäckstedt puts in a big effort to take second
ahead of Hushovd. Both riders have picked up six bonus seconds today. The final
sprint could see Hushovd (or Bäckstedt) as the new leader. Or someone else.
There are many possibilities.
14:14 CEST 132km/35km to go
Robert Förster is
on the front of the bunch, descending at high speed. He is quick, and gets a
gap on the peloton. But is not interested in an attack.
14:16 CEST 133km/34km to go
We have a counter
attack from Thierry Marichal (Cofidis) and Benoît Joachim (Discovery Channel).
Interesting move - they'll get De Sárraga pretty quickly.
14:18 CEST 134km/33km to go
The two chasers get
15 then 20 seconds on the peloton, which is content to let them go, even though
they are fresh. This is a false flat section, not quite a climb, but uphill
enough to hurt.
De Sárraga is caught.
14:21 CEST 137km/30km to go
De Sárraga shakes
his head as he tries to hold onto the fresh Joachim and Marichal. He won't do
a turn. These two are motors.
Apparently, Hushovd was second in that
previous sprint ahead of Bäckstedt. But these results tend to have a floating
quality about them. We'll see at the end of the day.
14:23 CEST 138km/29km to go
The three leaders
have 49 seconds on the peloton, and are giving it full gas. Well, two of them
are. Marichal and Joachim are not asking De Sárraga to come through.
Bonus seconds today: De Sárraga has
12, Hushovd has 8 (he needs 13 to take the jersey) and Bäckstedt has 4.
14:25 CEST 140km/27km to go
The three leaders
ride through endless brown plains that are a feature of Spain. There ain't many
trees out here.
14:27 CEST 142km/25km to go
Mr De Sárraga has
dropped off now, as Joachim and Marichal pound away. It took a slight uphill
to drop him. The two leaders have more than a minute.
The bunch is riding harder now with
Milram, Davitamon and Credit Agricole still doing all the work. They catch De
Sárraga and are less than a minute behind Joachim and Marichal.
14:32 CEST 145km/22km to go
The bunch exits the
main road and snakes down a side road, 40 seconds behind Marichal and Joachim.
14:33 CEST 147km/20km to go
The two leaders fly
under 20 km to go, enjoying a slight descent. But they are losing ground compared
to the bunch, and are now about half a minute ahead.
14:35 CEST 149km/18km to go
Joachim comes through
at 57 km/h and Marichal has to work to get the big Luxembourger's wheel.
Liquigas is also in the chase. Everyone wants a go at riding on the front today!
14:37 CEST 152km/15km to go
There is a fast rotation
going in the peloton, and that is making it very hard for the two leaders to
stay clear. 15 km to go, and they have 10 seconds.
14:39 CEST 154km/13km to go
And it's peloton
agrupado as Benoît Joachim and Thierry Marichal are caught. It's going to be
hard to escape now, as the pace is really on.
14:41 CEST 156km/11km to go
up to the front to stay out of danger, as does Stijn Devolder.
and Dockx are working for Davitamon, plus a couple of Milrams. Will we have
any late suicide attacks?
Córdoba is spread out below the riders
now as they hit the outskirts of town. Erik Zabel is looking very focused, and
maybe he will go for the sprint today instead of Petacchi.
14:45 CEST 157.5km/9.5km to go
Liquigas has a
couple of men up front as the bunch picks up speed on the final downhill into
Córdoba. Davitamon, Milram and Lampre also have interests in front.
14:45 CEST 158km/9km to go
And Credit Agricole,
courtesy of Anthony Charteau. The speed is about 50 km/h now. It will get quicker.
14:48 CEST 160km/7km to go
The compact peloton
takes another exit and passes under the 7 km to go banner at 55 km/h. Now it's
time for the positioning to really start.
The speed lifts to 60 km/h on the
flat with Davitamon, Lampre and Milram stringing things out. It's tough to move
up at that speed.
14:50 CEST 161km/6km to go
They bunch is just
about to enter into the main part of Córdoba, and it's in a long line as it
passes a river.
14:50 CEST 162km/5km to go
Under 5 km to go,
and Milram has a man on the front.
14:51 CEST 163km/4km to go
We've got a top quality
field of sprinters, possibly even better than the Tour de France. The bunch
threads through a tightish corner and continues to hurtle towards the finish.
14:52 CEST 164km/3km to go
Horner does his last
turn and has a Milram rider on his wheel. He swings off. Job done for the day.
Sebastien Rosseler (Quick.Step) tries an attack with 3 km to go.
Rosseler is a time trialist, but
it's hard at 60km/h. Really hard. He lasts a good 100m.
14:53 CEST 165km/2km to go
Riders are now battling
for position in the front, and no team has control. Millar is up there for Ventoso,
it looks like.
Millar does a huge turn as Sastre
has a mechanical inside 3 km to go. He'll get bunch time.
14:54 CEST 166km/1km to go
That's a massive turn
by Millar. Now Milram has four men, with Zabel in fourth wheel.
is back on the bike, but won't get the peloton.
1 km to go and two Milrams lead Zabel.
Ventoso in fourth? Hushovd also up there.
Paolini takes Hushovd's wheel. McEwen
is behind them, on Rodriguez, who accelerates early.
14:56 CEST 167km/0km to go
McEwen looks to have
it won with 100m to go, but runs out of gas and it's Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step)
who wins the first stage!!! Hushovd might be second ahead of Paolini, which
may give him the jersey.
Rodriguez went fairly early, but
didn't get McEwen far enough in front. McEwen had to go just a bit too long,
and didn't quite have it. He was fourth. Bettini was on Murn's wheel, who was
following McEwen. Murn moved to the left a bit, giving Bettini the gap he needed
to get through and win.
Hushovd will be the new leader.
It's confirmed: Thor Hushovd is the
new leader of the Vuelta, with Paolo Bettini in second at 2 seconds, then (although
he hasn't registered on the results yet) Carlos Sastre at 7 seconds.
That's all from us here in the blimp above Cordoba. Join us at the normal time
(14:30 CEST) for tomorrow's third stage between Córdoba and Almendralejo.
1 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step-Innergetic 4.19.31
2 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole
3 Luca Paolini (Ita) Liquigas
4 Robbie Mcewen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto
5 Uros Murn (Slo) Phonak Hearing Systems
6 Francisco José Ventoso (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir
7 Inaki Isasi (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
8 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Française des Jeux
9 Jean-Patrick Nazon (Fra) AG2R Prevoyance
10 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram
General classification after stage 2
1 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole 4.27.00
2 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step-Innergetic 0.02
3 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team CSC 0.07
4 Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Team CSC
5 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Team CSC
6 Nicki Sorensen (Den) Team CSC
7 Marcus Ljungqvist (Swe) Team CSC
8 Ińigo Cuesta (Spa) Team CSC
9 Volodymir Gustov (Ukr) Team CSC
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