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61st Vuelta a Espańa - GT

Spain, August 26-September 17, 2006

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Stage 20 - September 16: Rivas Vaciamadrid - Rivas Vaciamadrid ITT, 28 km

Complete live report

23:06 CEST   
Stage 20 will be an individual time trial near the capital city of Madrid. It’s a 27.5 km long test over quite a difficult parcours, with winding roads, bends and roundabouts. Alexandre Vinokourov shouldn't have problems maintaining his gap over Valverde and the others. The Spaniard will have to give it all if he wants to recover the leader's jersey. It could be another opportunity for David Millar to win a stage, but the tall Scot might be saving himself for the World Championship next week.

12:26 CEST   
Hola and welcome back to the penultimate stage of La Vuelta, coming to you from Rivas Vaciamadrid, a suburb of the Spanish capital. Today will see the riders take on 27.5 kilometres against the clock, and while this might be the favourites' last chance to retain their placing, or climb up the classification, many riders are just happy to have arrived in Madrid and will tackle the course without too much ambition. Since the Vuelta started in Malaga three weeks ago, 135 of 189 athletes have made it to the finish here, which means that nearly 30 percent of the peloton abandoned throughout the tour.

12:31 CEST   
The first rider to have started today was Cyril Lemoine (Credit Agricole), who is 3:17:18 hours off the current leader, Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana Team) on the overall classification. The Frenchman was counted down at 11.33 this morning, and arrived in the finish after 36.08 minutes. David Millar (Saunier Duval-Prodir), one of the favourites for the victory in this TT, will depart at 12.41, and shouldn't take "that long"...

12:42 CEST   
At the moment, Sébastien Rosseler (Quick Step-Innergetic) has put up the best time in the finish: 34.39 minutes, that's an average speed of 47.62 km/h.

Millar has started! Now, we'll see if he has a second stage win at the Vuelta on his mind...

12:45 CEST   
Temperatures today are mild, variable between 17 and 23° at the finish for the last riders who will come in. The sky is sunny, and there's a very light North-East wind blowing, but the parcours changes direction all the time, anyway.

12:53 CEST   
Our Vuelta diarist Chris Horner (Davitamon-Lotto) was happy to preserve his 20th placing on GC yesterday. He will be looking to remain in that position, or even move up, but the American is mostly happy about having survived the race until Madrid.

"Now there's only two more days to go - a TT, which is mostly a rest day and then the final parade and we are out of here! Wahoo! I'm a tired boy and ready for a few days away from bike racing," he wrote last night. Horner will be off the ramp at 13.28.

13:02 CEST   
The parcours of this time trial is pretty flat, but complicated in the sense that there are many roundabouts, curves and corners to speed out of again. The winner today will have to be very concentrated to always find the perfect line, and have enough energy left to make the difference after three weeks of racing.

The question is: Will maillot oro wearer Alexandre Vinokourov have recuperated enough after constant attacking on the mountains, to be able to take the stage win today?

13:06 CEST   
Australian Stuart O'Grady (Team CSC), who started just before Millar, is 10 seconds faster than Rosseler after 11.3 kilometres - he will be motivated to do well today, too.

13:37 CEST   
For the record, this is what happened until now:

km 11.3
1 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team CSC                    14.30
2 Torsten Hiekmann (Ger) Gerolsteiner               0.02
3 Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun) Credit Agricole              0.08
4 Sébastien Rosseler (Bel) Quick Step-Innergetic    0.10
5 David Millar (GBr) Saunier Duval-Prodir           0.19
km 20.5
1 Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun) Credit Agricole             26.41
2 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team CSC                     0.05
3 Torsten Hiekmann (Ger) Gerolsteiner               0.20
4 Sébastien Rosseler (Bel) Quick Step-Innergetic    0.22
5 David Millar (GBr) Saunier Duval-Prodir           0.26
Finish - km 27.5
1 Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun) Credit Agricole             34.05
2 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team CSC                     0.06
3 Torsten Hiekmann (Ger) Gerolsteiner               0.29
4 Sébastien Rosseler (Bel) Quick Step-Innergetic    0.34
5 David Millar (GBr) Saunier Duval-Prodir           0.39
6 Magnus Backstedt (Swe) Liquigas                   1.18
7 Kevin De Weert (Bel) Quick Step-Innergetic        1.38
8 Kevin Van Impe (Bel) Quick Step-Innergetic        1.59
9 Fabio Sacchi (Ita) Team Milram                    2.02
10 Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Credit Agricole              2.03

13:42 CEST   
Evgeni Petrov (Lampre-Fondital) chose a big gear for this TT and pushes it down powerfully. His teammate Sylvester Szmyd is now also out of the start block.

13:46 CEST   
Vladimir Gusev (Discovery Channel) beats O'Grady's time at the first check by three seconds. He looks very fluid, too.

Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval-Prodir) has started. Stijn Devolder (Discovery Channel) is next up.

13:49 CEST   
Devolder slipped a bit in a crack on the road in a roundabout and mis-steered. But he got into the perfect line pretty quick again after that.

Vladimir Karpets (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears) looks as serious as always at the start... he's out now.

13:55 CEST   
Triki Beltran has also started now, while his teammate Janez Brajkovic finished seventh - a solid performance of the young Discovery Channel rider.

Gusev gets to the next time check after 20.5 kilometres, 17 seconds off Laszlo Bodrogi.

13:57 CEST   
Devolder looks smooth, barely moving his upper body and in perfect aero position. Tom Danielson gets counted down now!

13:59 CEST   
Carlos Sastre (Team CSC) got his bike weighed and measured - all good. The UCI checks the TT bikes thoroughly on norm parameters.

14:04 CEST   
Gusev powers along the final straight, and finishes third at 34.28.

Sastre rolls down the ramp! Will he be able to move up past Kashechkin again on GC? He's rather careful in the first roundabout - the gaps between the pavers here are dangerous.

14:06 CEST   
Our man on the spot, Shane Stokes, says that the course is tougher than it looks. In the last 10 kilometres, there's a 3 km climb that's fairly steep.

Valverde is out, all in white as he still leads the ProTour. Vino is all in yellow, of course, looking proud.

14:08 CEST   
Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana Team) is out on the course now - everybody has started. Now let's see some times...

14:12 CEST   
Vino has his arms bent to the limit on his TT handlebars - his position is very low.

Danielson is eighth at the first time check.

14:16 CEST   
Valverde comes out of a curve and gets out of his saddle straight away. He doesn't look as steady as Vino.

Gomez Marchante (Saunier Duval) gets to the first time check and points 11th, at 14.55., while Sastre is sixth there, at 14.36 minutes.

14:20 CEST   
Kashechkin is tenth after 11.3 kilometres. Valverde seems to have found a better rhythm now, and sets a new best time: 14.18!

14:22 CEST   
Vino gets to that check point after 14.21 minutes, three seconds behind Valverde. The Spaniard is determined! But will he be able to hold his pace to the finish? Even that wouldn't be much use for the overall victory...

14:24 CEST   
Karpets is second-best at the finish behind Bodrogi, at 34.09 minutes - that's impressive!

14:31 CEST   
We got a hold of Egoi Martinez and Stijn Devolder in the finish, who both said that the course was very hard. "It was really difficult," added Devolder. "My legs are tired so I'm happy to get this over with. I should hold on to my 11th placing; I'm happy with my race. I go to the World's with no pressure, as my result here is already very good."

Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) sets a new best at the finish: an incredible 33.45! Wow!

14:33 CEST   
Danielson has made it, eighth at the moment with a time of 34.43 minutes. Pretty good!

Now, Vino leads Valverde by about 11 seconds. Maybe the Spaniard started out too quickly.

14:34 CEST   
And Vino sets a new best time after 20 kilometres: 26.18! Will he be able to win this race?

14:36 CEST   
Sastre comes in after 34.23, fifth place at the moment.

14:40 CEST   
Here comes Kashechkin: he's only 22 seconds slower than Sastre.

14:41 CEST   
Vino comes in, and sprints to the line: 33.39 - he's won the stage! Very powerful riding by the Kazakhstani, especially seeing that he only took the jersey a couple of days ago!

14:49 CEST   
No changes thus on the Top 5 in GC - Sastre wasn't able to take Kashechkin's spot on the podium. Vinokourov won this stage on his 33rd birthday - what a birthday present! - and will win his first Grand Tour tomorrow in Madrid.

We'll be here again for Vino's parade on Sunday, which will probably be decided in a bunch sprint in the Spanish capital. Hasta luego!

Intermediate timing

km 11.3 (all riders through)
1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne                    14.18
2 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana                             0.03
3 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team       0.09
4 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team CSC                                 0.12
5 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears          
km 20.5 (all riders through)
1 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana                            26.18
2 Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                        0.09
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne                     0.12
4 Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun) Credit Agricole                          0.23
5 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears         0.25
6 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team CSC                                 0.28
Finish - km 27.5
1 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana                            33.39
2 Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                        0.06
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears       0.19
4 Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun) Credit Agricole                          0.26
5 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears         0.30
6 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team CSC                                 0.32
7 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC                                  0.44
8 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team       0.49
9 Torsten Hiekmann (Ger) Gerolsteiner                           0.55
10 Sébastien Rosseler (Bel) Quick Step-Innergetic               1.00
11 Thomas Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team    1.04
12 David Millar (GBr) Saunier Duval-Prodir                      1.05
13 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana Team                          1.06

General classification after stage 20

1 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana Team                    77.42.17
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears       1.12
3 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana Team                           3.12
4 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC                                  3.35
5 José Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir         6.51          
6 Thomas Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team     8.09
7 Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                        8.29
8 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears        10.35
9 Manuel Beltran (Spa) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team      10.47
10 Luis Pérez (Spa) Cofidis, le Credit par Telephone           11.32


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