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Vuelta Cycling News for September 17, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

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Hushovd aiming for stage win

By Shane Stokes in Madrid

Crédit Agricole rider Thor Hushovd has had a vice-like grip on the sprinter’s jersey for much of this Vuelta, and he wants to end the race as he did in the Tour de France; victorious on the final stage.

The Norwegian has been the best and most consistent sprinter here, winning stage six and finishing second on stages two, three, four and thirteen. However in recent days the tête-à-tête between Alexandre Vinokourov and Alejandro Valverde has seen the two GC riders edge closer to the distinctive blue points jersey, with Hushovd now 175 as compared to Vino’s 163 and Valverde’s 147.

Vinokourov looks set to take the overall on the final stage of the race and is consequently unlikely to go for the sprint win. However, Hushovd is aiming to make sure of things by being first across the line in Madrid.

"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."

Devolder pleased with 11th overall

By Shane Stokes in Madrid

Discovery Channel rider Stijn Devolder was 18th in the time trial on Saturday, finishing 1’48 behind winner Alexandre Vinokourov and a fraction outside the top ten. "The course was difficult and I felt tired, so I am glad it is over," he told Cyclingnews. "I will stay 11th overall so it is good."

Devolder came into the race expecting to ride for Tom Danielson but the American lost time in the early mountains. Consequently, Devolder was able to finish high up on GC, and said that he was satisfied with his final position.

"I didn’t expect anything in particular before the Vuelta, as regards where I would end up. I was here to do as well as possible so I guess 11th is a very good place," he said.

Next up is the world championships. "This race was my goal, the Vuelta, so now I have no more pressure for the rest of the season," he continued. "I would like to do as well as possible, but I am satisfied. Before then I will spend one day with my wife and daughter. It will be good to recharge the batteries and relax."

Top riders tested at Vuelta

By Shane Stokes in Madrid

The top thirteen riders in the general classification plus the leaders of the various different classifications were all tested yesterday and today at the Vuelta.

In addition, nine health checks were carried out this morning on riders from the following teams: T-Mobile, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Crédit Agricole and Cofidis. None of these were found above the permitted limit of blood parameters.

Tom Danielson diary: Looking towards home

Tom Danielson (Discovery Channel)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Hi there, Cyclingnews readers,

Well, the Vuelta is just about done now. I rode hard today in order to protect my sixth place overall and that worked out fine, even though Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) did a very good time.

Looking back, it has been a difficult Vuelta for me, so to come back from my earlier disappointments and win that stage was an amazing experience. Bouncing back from such a low meant a lot. My season is over tomorrow so it is nearly time for a break. My wife is here now, so it is great to be with her.

To read the full diary entry, click here.

Chris Horner diary: A little taste of home

We're on the home stretch now! Yes!

Today was the TT, which, at this point, is exciting for the guys at the top, and less exciting for the rest of us! It was a good course, and the top guys definitely railed it out there. I went hard so I could hold onto my 20th place - it's the small battles that matter sometimes, especially when it's all I've got going for me at this race! But I got a really good three week training block, so I can't complain!

Normally I wouldn't care, since it's almost the end of the year, but with a good course for the World's, and then the final fall classics coming up, I'm still motivated. Plus, I'm racing cross this fall, so I'm keeping things running at a good level a lot later this year. But, with all the training I got here, I should be good for form for a while!

To read the full diary entry, click here.

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