61st Vuelta a España - GT
Spain, August 26-September 17, 2006
Results & report
Stage 21 – September 17: Madrid-Madrid, 142.2 km
Live Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Shane Stokes
Live coverage starts: 12:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 14:30 CEST
The victory procession for the Amarillo jersey, Alexandre Vinokourov, in Madrid.
The route is flat and will surely feature the sprinter's teams lining up their
stars for one final shot at glory. It's a spectacular finish with six laps of
that take in some of Madrid's breathtaking architecture around the Paseo del
Prado and the Plaza Emperor Carlos V.
Welcome to Madrid for our live coverage
of the final stage of the Vuelta a España, a race that's been very interesting
right up until the end. Yesterday, Alexandre Vinokourov cemented his lead in
the overall classification, despite the best efforts of Alejandro Valverde,
who seems destined to win a grand tour one of these years. Andrey Kashechkin
will end up third in Madrid, capping off a strong performance by the Astana
team, while Carlos Sastre (CSC) will finish a very consistent season with his
second fourth place overall in a grand tour, not forgetting that he also rode
the Giro d'Italia in support of Ivan Basso.
Today there are no climbs,
but there are two intermediate sprints at Morata De Tajuña (km 33) and Fuenlabrada
(km 66.8), where Thor Hushovd will be looking to put a few more points between
himself and Vinokourov.
12:42 CEST 60km/82.2km to go
All 134 riders who
finished yesterday's time trial signed on for the final stage today. The first
hour of the stage was very quiet, with just 30.9 km covered. At the sprint after
33 km, it was points leader Hushovd who beat FDJ riders Eric Leblacher and Fabien
Patanchon. Another six points to his total, which should be enough to stave
off Vino, unless the race leader does one of his late attacks like he did last
year on the Champs Elysées...
After 47 km, three riders attacked:
Laszlo Bodrogi (Credit Agricole), Sébastien Rosseler (Quick Step-Innergetic)
and Kjell Carlström (Liquigas). The trio gained a minute, but were chased down
after 55 km, with local boys Relax-GAM being aggressive.
12:50 CEST 65km/77.2km to go
Relax-GAM is still
leading the peloton, as it nears the second intermediate sprint at Fuenlabrada
(sponsors of the team).
12:59 CEST 70km/72.2km to go
The second hour
saw a lifting in the pace, and we now have a more respectable 34.1 km/h average
after two hours of racing in this final stage.
13:06 CEST 76km/66.2km to go
The Relax-GAM boys
can ease off now that they've pleased their sponsor. At the second sprint in
Fuenlabrada, it was Relax 1-2-3 with Daniel Moreno, David George, and José Miguel
Elias crossing in that order.
It's a rather pleasant day for a
bike race down here in Madrid. Our man on the spot (Shane Stokes) reports that
it's 22 degrees with clear blue skies. Noice.
Thor Hushovd wants to go out with
a win today, to stamp his authority on the points jersey. "I am feeling good,"
he told Cyclingnews after Saturday’s time trial. "I had a good race until now
and I want to keep this jersey. My goal is winning [the stage] tomorrow (today)
so we will see."
His hope is that his strong Vuelta condition will
translate into a good ride at the world championship road race Sunday week.
"I am feeling strong going into the world's and everything works well. I know
I have good form so I just hope I recover before then. For the next few days
I will take it easy, not train too much - just move the legs."
13:24 CEST 85km/57.2km to go
The peloton enters
Madrid, still all together. Another 20 km or so to go and they'll be on the
six finishing circuits.
13:33 CEST 93km/49.2km to go
The bunch continues
to make its way through the city streets, en route to the finishing circuit.
Six laps of six kilometres.
Vino is riding along with a gold
helmet on a gold bike in the gold jersey with gold shorts. His Astana team is
leading the peloton up to the finishing circuit.
13:41 CEST 100km/42.2km to go
The bunch is on
the circuit that was used in the World's last year, and is motoring along at
45-50 km/h now. Astana has a tight grip on the race.
Vin is enjoying himself today, as
he sits on the wheels of his Astana teammates. Kashechkin is behind him, in
the white jersey, even though Vino will likely end up winning that classification.
The mountains leader Egoi Martinez (Discovery) is well placed, while points
leader Hushovd is toward the back.
13:45 CEST 104km/38.2km to go
Aha - the attacks
start again with Chris Horner winding it up. 64 km/h - that's a good attack,
but the bunch isn't fair behind. There's seven in front.
The break opens up a small gap as
it takes a wide U-turn. The race is definitely on now. The peloton is strung
13:50 CEST 106km/36.2km to go
The break numbers
seven: Frédéric Bessy and Luis Perez (Cofidis - best on GC at 11'32), Chris
Horner (Davitamon), Ángel Vallejo and Raúl García De Mateo (Relax-Gam), Oscar
Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne), Pierre Drancourt (Bouygues).
19 seconds on the bunch as they go past the finish, with Credit Agricole, Phonak,
Gerolsteiner all working.
13:52 CEST 107km/35.2km to go
The riders have
crossed the finish line for the first time, and the break of seven is working
well together. The presence of Luis Perez in the break is interesting. He's
10th on GC and has an outside chance of threatening Beltrán's ninth place. But
that is probably not his motivation for working in the break - he just happened
to be in the right place at the right time, and is always an aggressive rider.
13:53 CEST 108km/34.2km to go
The break takes
a wide U-turn at one end of the course, then gets up to speed again. The bunch
is definitely not going to let them go, as the sprinters teams are working pretty
13:54 CEST 109km/33.2km to go
There are only
three Gerolsteiners left in the race, but two of them are working in the front
of the bunch to reel in this break. Why? Because their third man is sprinter
Horner does another turn and the speed is constantly
up around the 50 km/h mark. The gap hovers between 15-20 seconds.
13:55 CEST 110km/32.2km to go
There's also an
AG2R and Milram rider working in the bunch, which is moving at 60 km/h. The
break slows to 56 km/h as it comes into a corner.
Vallejo sprints out of the corner
with Horner on his wheel. They hammer down the tree lined straight that leads
to the finish line.
13:57 CEST 112.2km/30km to go
The break crosses
the line with a healthy advantage over the peloton. One moment of hesitation
in the bunch, and the break will be gone. But that doesn't look likely.
14:00 CEST 114.2km/28km to go
15 seconds is the
lead as the seven man break powers along. Two teams have two riders each, while
the other three are individuals. There's plenty of horsepower in the chase.
14:01 CEST 116.2km/26km to go
Oscar Pereiro rolls
through for a turn or two. He's not in the Spanish selection for the world's,
but Luis Perez certainly is.
14:03 CEST 117.2km/25km to go
Pereiro sits out
a turn as Perez drops back and looks to see where he can jump in the chain.
Drancourt is on the back of the break.
14:05 CEST 118.2km/24km to go
The second lap
flies by, and this seven man break keeps its 22 second lead over the bunch.
AG2R has put more men in the chase with CA, Phonak, Milram and whoever else
wants to have a ride at the front.
Vino has gold everything, even the
rims of his wheels and his break cables are gold.
14:08 CEST 122.2km/20km to go
The break starts
to tire a little, but only a little. Horner is one of the real work horses,
but everyone is pulling through.
14:09 CEST 123.2km/19km to go
The peloton has
pulled back 7 seconds in the last few kilometres, knocking the gap back to 15.
Oscar Pereiro powers through for another turn. He's a classy looking rider.
As is Luis Perez, who always looks smooth. They come up to another U-turn.
14:11 CEST 124.2km/18km to go
The break nears
the finish line for the fourth time, and the peloton now has it in its sights.
Luis Perez looks back and sees the big bunch.
14:12 CEST 125.2km/17km to go
Horner is first
across the line, but now the bunch is just 11 seconds behind, and the chasers
actually seem to ease off slightly. If they catch this break, another will go.
It's amazing what a deadening effect a breakaway has on the rest of the riders
in the bunch.
14:13 CEST 126.2km/16km to go
AG2R, Phonak, Credit
Agricole and Milram are setting a comfortably fast chasing tempo, 10 seconds
behind the break. It's now a matter of controlling things. Can Hushovd take
another stage, or will Ventoso or Förster or Zabel do it?
14:14 CEST 127.2km/15km to go
out of a corner, trying to keep the pace up as the break is running out of a
bit of gas. Pereiro rides without gloves, as does Horner.
14:15 CEST 128.2km/14km to go
Garcia de Mateo
skips a few turns, and there's only five riders working in the break. The gap
goes up to 13 seconds. Phonak has a couple of riders in the chase, but it's
mostly Credit Agricole now.
14:16 CEST 129.2km/13km to go
marshalled its troops behind the chasing part of the peloton. They don't really
have a sprinter of note though.
The break goes under the 1 km to
go banner, which is actually 13 km to go as there are another two laps. The
final straight is a good 800m long, with a slight kink in it.
14:18 CEST 130.2km/12km to go
in the chase, along with his other teammates. Up in the break, Pereiro leads
to the line with Perez on his wheel. The gap is 14 seconds.
14:19 CEST 131.2km/11km to go
It's warmed up
on the road and in the race. The chase starts to get harder now that there are
just 11 km to go in the bike race.
14:20 CEST 132.2km/10km to go
12 seconds, and
the peloton looks like a centipede on wheels as it hunts the breakaway.
14:21 CEST 133.2km/9km to go
out of a corner at the top of the course, with his breakaway companions looking
slightly ragged. Nine seconds.
Drancourt rolls through for his turn
in the break. It looks doomed, but you knew that anyway.
14:22 CEST 134.2km/8km to go
The break starts
to fragment with 8 km to go, then decides to keep working. 5 seconds, and they
will be goooooone soon.
14:23 CEST 135.2km/7km to go
along at 60 km/h, the break is caught by the peloton with 7 km left.
14:24 CEST 136.2km/6km to go
And we have a counter
- it's another Bouygues rider. Or is it Drancourt? Yes, it is, the last survivor
of the break.
Quick.Step's De Weert bridges up
and passes Drancourt on the finish line with one lap to go. That's a nice attack.
14:26 CEST 137.2km/5km to go
De Weert gives it
everything as he opens up a few seconds. But now he starts to feel it in his
legs. He looks back.
14:26 CEST 138.2km/4km to go
De Weert continues
to work hard, and holds his gap impressively as CSC comes to the front for O'Grady.
Ventoso is also moving up, as Sastre
does a big turn.
De Weert is caught at 4 km to go.
CSC is on the front as the bunch
takes the wide U-turn at the top of the course. Then it's a flat out sprint
up to over 60 km/h.
14:28 CEST 139.2km/3km to go
CSC has five riders,
then four for O'Grady with 3 km to go.
The peloton groups up behind the
CSCs. Two Phonaks are up there, for Clerc. The speed is constantly around 60
14:29 CEST 140.2km/2km to go
Sorensen and Arvesen
do their turns, lining out the bunch. 2 km left.
Zabel, Clerc, Hushovd are moving
up behind the CSC train. Not long to go now.
CSC is doing an impressive job for
O'Grady as Arvesen does a massive turn up towards 1 km to go.
14:30 CEST 141.2km/1km to go
They go under 1
km to go, take the turn, and it's all on. One rider crashes in the middle of
the bunch. Zandio?
A Rabobank rider attacks on the left
behind the moto. But he'll be caught.
The sprint winds up behind Horrillo
and he is caught by a Milram/Liquigas lead out.
14:32 CEST 142.2km/0km to go
Milram leads out
with Zabel having to go from a long way and wins the stage!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hushovd
takes second ahead of Clerc. Nice sprint by the German, who still has it.
And so ends the 61st Vuelta a España.
Alexandre Vinokourov has won his first ever grand tour (and is the first Kazakhstani
rider to do so) with an average speed of around 39.3 km/h. Alejandro Valverde
finishes second at 1'12 with Andrey Kashechkin third at 3'12. Egoi Martinez
is crowned the king of the mountains and Thor Hushovd a very worthy points champion.
Vinokourov will win the combination classification, even though he will finish
on the same points as Valverde, who has the white ProTour leader's jersey anyway
so he probably doesn't need another one. Finally, Discovery Channel won the
That is all. Join us for more live blimp coverage
from the world championships next week in Salzburg. BE THERE!
1 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram 3.40.47
2 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole
3 Aurélien Clerc (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems
4 Robert Förster (Ger) Gerolsteiner
5 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team CSC
6 Francisco José Ventoso (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir
7 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Davitamon-Lotto
8 Marco Velo (Ita) Team Milram
9 Claudio Corioni (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
10 Davide Vigano (Ita) Quick Step-Innergetic
Final general classification
1 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana Team 81.23.07
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 10.36
9 Manuel Beltrán (Spa) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 10.47
10 Luis Pérez (Spa) Cofidis, le Credit par Telephone 11.32
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