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61st Vuelta a España - GT

Spain, August 26-September 17, 2006

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Stage 14 - September 9: Cuenca - Cuenca ITT, 33 km

Complete live report

Welcome back to our Live coverage of the Vuelta a España. Today's individual time trial in Cuenca is the first in the race, as the event started with a team time trial two weeks back in Malaga. The course is only 33.2 kilometres long, but it includes the Alto del Castillo climb we saw the riders tackle already yesterday - a cobblestone section 1.2 km-long and up to 10 percent steep.

11:30 CEST   
Temperatures today are about 25° Celsius at the start at 11.00am, but they will rise to 28° in the coming hours. The sky is blue at the moment, but the weather forecast predicts more clouds towards the end of the stage - no rain announced, fortunately.

11:34 CEST   
The first rider to start was Cyril Lemoine (Crédit Agricole) at 10.57am. No non-starter has been reported this morning, so 158 riders are still taking on the challenge in Spain today. The cyclists are currently starting with one-minute intervals; only the last 30 will have two minutes between them.

11:38 CEST   
The first interesting rider to have started was Fabian Cancellara (CSC) at 11.07. He is currently leading at the first intermediate time check (km 9.9) with a time of 12.04 minutes. There is a second time check at km 20.7 - on top of the Alto del Castillo - before the riders reach the finish line after 33.2 kilometres.

11:43 CEST   
Stuart O'Grady (Team CSC) is getting ready in the start area; he is scheduled to depart at 11.50am.

11:48 CEST   
Race leader Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears), who will start last at 14.03, took good care to get 8 more seconds on his lead for the maillot oro yesterday. He now leads Andrey Kashechkin (Astana Team) by 35 seconds - the Kazakh may not be a candidate for victory today, but he could make up a few seconds on Valverde...

His teammate Alexandre Vinokourov, meanwhile, is considered one of the favourites for the stage win.

11:49 CEST   
Cancellara still leads at the second time check with 27.02 minutes. He should achieve a first time of reference at the finish.

11:54 CEST   
The Swiss CSC rider has set a good time at the finish in Cuenca: 40.54 minutes. Cyril Lemoine, today's first starter is currently second, 2.15 behind Cancellara.

12:03 CEST   
Matteo Tosatto (Quick Step-Innergetic) is going strong today: he has now beaten Cancellara's split time at the first check by 19 seconds.

12:15 CEST   
CSC rider Stuart O’Grady was unsure yesterday as to whether he would ride the time trial flat out or hold something back. "I will probably decide what to do as I go off the start ramp," he told Cyclingnews. "Fabian [Cancellara] is there and he will be up for the win.

"I am feeling good at this point, although it feels like we have been racing for two weeks. Everything is going pretty well, I can’t complain. The mood is nice on the team - Carlos is still feeling good, the whole team is behind him and we have been riding pretty strong when we have had to. The last few days we have tried to keep back a little bit, though, to chill out."

We should be getting O'Grady's time soon.

12:18 CEST   
Astana’s Aaron Kemps, meanwhile, took it easy today. The first year-pro will have his 23rd birthday on Sunday and said yesterday that he is trying to recover before then in the hope of doing something on stage 15.

"I am starting to get tired, as you do. I will have a sort of a rest day in the time trial. I will just take it easy as possible there, but then hopefully I can have a go on stage 15," he said. He finished 4.18 minutes behind Cancellara.

12:24 CEST   
We also talked to David Millar (Saunier Duval) yesterday and asked him what he expected for this time trial. "I am a bit nervous about it, actually," he said. "That is something that I don’t usually get. I still don’t know... I have felt really good this year and then gone badly in time trials. I am lacking a little bit of confidence, mainly because I haven’t done anything in a TT in over two years and I am still waiting to have a result. That’s why I don’t want to predict anything.

"The thing is, I am flying, so I won’t understand anything if I don’t get a result tomorrow. But that could happen. We will have to wait and see how things go."

The Scot will take on the course at 12.33.

12:27 CEST   
Meanwhile, Tosatto lost a lot of time on the climb and finished 31st behind Cancellara, 5.23 minutes down. Cancellara is still leading.

12:31 CEST   
Stuart O'Grady is going well: He's only 28 seconds down of Cancellara at the second intermediate time check.

12:34 CEST   
And O'Grady finishes second behind the Swiss time trial specialist, 54 seconds behind. That's a decent performance, especially with that Cat. 3 climb on the course.

Millar has started, just after Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne).

12:48 CEST   
One rider who won’t be digging in too deep today is Davitamon-Lotto’s Chris Horner. He will be starting at 13:09.

"The time trial should be a fairly easy day for me," he told Cyclingnews at the start. "I am going to take it handy. Most likely I wouldn’t win the thing anyways and I am not going to move up on GC significantly. So there wouldn’t be any reason to go hard." Horner is more focused on trying to get into the right breakaway in the beginning of next week in search of a stage win.

12:55 CEST   
Millar is going well: he is currently second at the first time check, ten seconds behind Cancellara. We will see how he does in the climb - that's not usually his specialty.

13:04 CEST   
And David Millar holds his pace through the Alto del Castillo - that's impressive! He lost only one more seconds on Cancellara at the second time check; he's now 11 seconds down. He's got it going today...

13:12 CEST   
In the meantime, Laszlo Bodrogi (Credit Agricole) has beaten O'Grady for the current second place. He finished 45 seconds down of Cancellara. Looks like O'Grady ran out of juice in the last part of the course, as Bodrogi was still behind him on top of the climb. Or maybe Bodrogi is just the better descender...

Waiting for Millar to come in.

13:22 CEST   
Millar has achieved a new best time: 40.54, the same time as Fabian Cancellara! That's great for the Scot!

13:25 CEST   
Discovery Channel’s Stijn Devolder will start the time trial 17th overall, 6.44 minutes behind race leader Alejandro Valverde. He has been climbing strongly and is now hoping for a decent performance in the race against the clock.

"The mountain stages went well, I felt good," he told us prior to the start of stage 13. "The time trial may be good for me. Last year I was seventh in the final time trial, so I will try to do a top ten again."

Devolder is on the start ramp now. The countdown is on for the GC men!

13:27 CEST   
Before that last hour of racing gets under way, let's have a look at what happened so far:

km 9.9
1 Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC) 12.04 2 David Millar (Saunier Duval-Prodir) 0.10 3 Stuart O'Grady (Team CSC) 0.11 4 Sébastien Rosseler (Quick Step-Innergetic) 0.16 5 Laszlo Bodrogi (Credit Agricole) 0.22 6 Magnus Backstedt (Liquigas) 0.27 7 David George (Relax-Gam) 0.33 8 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Team CSC) 9 Mario De Sarraga (Relax-Gam) 0.34 10 Torsten Hiekmann (Gerolsteiner) 0.39  
km 20.7
1 Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC) 27.02 2 David Millar (Saunier Duval-Prodir) 0.11 3 Stuart O'Grady (Team CSC) 0.28 4 Laszlo Bodrogi (Credit Agricole) 0.37 5 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Team CSC) 0.46 6 Sébastien Rosseler (Quick Step-Innergetic) 0.58 7 David George (Relax-Gam) 1.22 8 Torsten Hiekmann (Gerolsteiner) 1.25 9 Magnus Backstedt (Liquigas) 1.36 10 Dmitriy Fofonov (Credit Agricole) 1.40  
km 33.2 - Finish
1 David Millar (Saunier Duval-Prodir) 40.54 2 Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC) 3 Laszlo Bodrogi (Credit Agricole) 0.45 4 Stuart O'Grady (Team CSC) 0.54 5 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Team CSC) 1.12 6 Sébastien Rosseler (Quick Step-Innergetic) 1.23 7 Magnus Backstedt (Liquigas) 2.01 8 David George (Relax-Gam) 2.06 9 Cyril Lemoine (Credit Agricole) 2.15 10 Torsten Hiekmann (Gerolsteiner) 2.22

13:37 CEST   
Millar will be hoping for a podium placing now... Valverde and Kashechkin, the last two to start, are rated today's favourites for the victory.

13:39 CEST   
Andrey Kashechkin (Astana) is optimistic for today stage. He hopes to obtain "a good result and, even, take the leader's jersey. I believe that it is a good route for me," he said, adding, "I don't believe that there will be big gaps with Valverde."

13:47 CEST   
We talked to Nicki Sorensen (Team CSC) at the finish, who told us that "the course is really difficult. The roads are sticky, and maybe the altitude has an effect as well [Cuenca is at 950 metres above sea level - ed.]. I couldn't find a rhythm in the first half of the course, but then I did a good descent."

13:49 CEST   
Stijn Devolder seems to live up to his hopes today, as he is currently fourth at the first time check, at 13 seconds of Cancellara, who still led the race at that point.

14:03 CEST   
Chris Horner, finally, did put on some pressure on the pedals even though he wanted to spare his forces for next week. "I always do, as soon as I see a guy in front of me I have to go for it," he told us at the finish. "I'm pretty happy with my time, actually. I could have gone 30 seconds faster, but no more.

"The climb is just 500 metres too long for me. I blew on the soft cobbles at the top - they were actually tougher than the ones in the first part of the climb. The descent is nice, not too difficult. But I almost hit a spectator as I went into a curve on the inside, I missed him by a foot or two."

14:06 CEST   
Meanwhile, Devolder is having a really good day: he's passed the second time check 9 seconds down of Cancellara, where Millar had 11 seconds. Now it's up to his descending qualities and if he can hold his pace towards the finish.

14:08 CEST   
Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears) has started, so everybody is on the course now! The race leader is grinding his teeth already in the first kilometres. He looks motivated...

14:11 CEST   
Valverde is all in yellow except for his red Pinarello TT bike. Sastre is using a high cadence, on a flat stretch now, approaching the first intermediate time check.

14:12 CEST   
Devolder gets in: 41.38 - that's fourth place at the moment. Very good performance! He was screaming for water as he crossed the line, and threw two bottles over and into himself right away. He gave it all...

14:16 CEST   
Kashechkin, meanwhile lost quite some time in the first part of the course: 12.36 at the first time check - that's 22 seconds slower than Cancellara at that point. But he might be able to make it up in the climb.

14:22 CEST   
Devolder, after getting his breath back, told us as we asked him if he was happy with his ride: "I'm not happy unless I win. But I was riding very hard today. It might be easier for the guys who are further down on GC because they haven't been riding this hard until now. Plus, they started when it wasn't as hot as it is now."

We asked him if he thought Millar's time could be the wining one today. "Well, it could be, but it depends on what the others do. It's certainly a very good time!"

14:25 CEST   
Meanwhile, Valverde has established a new best time after 9.9 kilometres, followed by Kashechkin at 35 seconds.

Vinokourov is riding as best-placed at the moment: he passed the Alto del Castillo at 26.57, a few seconds faster than Cancellara.

14:27 CEST   
Kashechkin and Valverde are about 11 seconds apart as they are both on the climb now.

14:30 CEST   
Valverde is speeding up the last sections of the climb - over the soft cobbles... Kashechkin reaches the top at 27.22 - 20 seconds slower than Cancellara. That won't be the winner's time.

14:32 CEST   
But his teammate Vinokourov looks like he has the winner's legs today... waiting for him at the finish now.

Valverde passed the second check after 27.07 minutes. Oh no, he has a derailleur problem!

14:33 CEST   
Valverde couldn't shift and had to reach down to fix something. That will cost him some time - but he still has 16 seconds on Kashechkin.

14:35 CEST   
Sastre is on the descent. He should be limiting his losses today, but Vinokourov will make some time up on GC.

14:38 CEST   
Millar still leads in the finish: Vinokourov got in after 40.59 minutes! Five seconds slower than Millar - he lost a total of 21 seconds on Millar on the last part of the course.

14:40 CEST   
This is all very tight - will Millar retain his lead in the end? Valverde led him by six seconds on top of the climb.

Gomez Marchante gets in: 42.09. No threat there.

14:43 CEST   
Sastre is in the finish: 41.40 - that's sixth place at the moment. Kashechkin is in back in town, trying to limit his losses on GC. He will lose to Valverde today, with his teammate Vinokourov gaining some time.

Here he comes: 41.20 for Kashechkin.

14:44 CEST   
Valverde is speeding through the 1 km-mark. He still looks smooth, barely moving his upper body.

14:45 CEST   
But it looks good for Millar! Millar wins the TT as Valverde gets in after 41.07 - 8 seconds down on Vinokourov. The Spaniard retains his jersey, as planned.

14:55 CEST   
That's all from us for today - join us again tomorrow for stage 15, which will start in Motilla del Palancar and finish at the Ford factory in Almussafes. The 175 km-long stage is basically flat or downhill. The race heads toward the south-east Valencian coast, where the winding roads may present an opportunity for a break to escape, but it's more likely to end in a bunch sprint.



1 David Millar (GBr) Saunier Duval-Prodir                               40.54
2 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC                                           
3 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana Team                                 0.05
4 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears                0.13
5 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana Team                                    0.26
6 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team                0.44
7 Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun) Credit Agricole                                   0.45
8 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC                                           0.46
9 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team CSC                                          0.54
10 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears                 1.03
General classification after stage 14
1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears            54.23.28
2 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana Team                                    0.48
3 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC                                           1.25
4 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana Team                                 1.38
5 José Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir                  2.06
6 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team               3.49
7 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears                  4.00
8 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas                                          4.31
9 Manuel Beltran (Spa) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team                5.03
10 Ruggero Marzoli (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                                 7.02

Intermediate times

km 9.9
1 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC                           12.04
2 David Millar (GBr) Saunier Duval-Prodir                     0.10
3 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team CSC                               0.11
4 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team     0.13
5 Sébastien Rosseler (Bel) Quick Step-Innergetic              0.16
6 Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun) Credit Agricole                        0.22
7 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana Team                      0.24
8 Magnus Backstedt (Swe) Liquigas                             0.27
9 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team         
10 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears    0.32
km 20.7
1 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana Team                     26.57
2 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC                            0.05
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears     0.10
4 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team     0.14
5 David Millar (GBr) Saunier Duval-Prodir                     0.16
6 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana Team                         0.25
7 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC                                0.30
8 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team CSC                               0.33
9 José Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir       0.40
10 Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun) Credit Agricole                       0.42
km 33.2 - Finish
1 David Millar (GBr) Saunier Duval-Prodir                    40.54
2 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC                                
3 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana Team                      0.05
4 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears     0.13
5 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana Team                         0.26
6 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team     0.44
7 Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun) Credit Agricole                        0.45
8 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC                                0.46
9 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team CSC                               0.54
10 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears      1.03

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