61st Vuelta a España - GT
Spain, August 26-September 17, 2006
Results & report
Stage 9 – September 3: A Consagrada-Alto de La Cobertoria, 207.4 km
Live Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Shane Stokes
Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:30 CEST
Today’s stage will be full of big
ups and downs with six mountains: Alto de Miñide (Cat. 3 – 510 m. above sea
level – km 4), Puerto de Connio (Cat. 1 – 1,315 m. – km 50), Puerto de Rañadoiro
(Cat. 1 – 1,140 m. – km 75.3), Puerto de Cerredo (Cat. 3 – 1,360 m. – km 102),
Alto de San Lorenzo (Cat. special – 1,350 m. – km 166.6) and Alto de La Cobertoria
(Cat. 1 – 1,170 m. – km 207.4 finish). There are two intermediate sprints: San
Antolin (km 29) and San Martin de Teverga (km 177.8).
It will be
an exhausting and tough stage for all the riders. Alto de San Lorenzo is very
high but 40 km to the end, so La Cobertoria at the end should be the decisive
climb. This is a key stage for all the favourites.
Today's stage start at 11:25 with
Pietro Caucchioli (Credit Agricole) and Alberto Benítez (Saunier Duval-Prodir)
making the first offensive move. It wasn't too offensive, as they were caught
In any case, Caucchioli was the first to the top of
the Alto de Miñide (km 5), ahead of Landaluze (Euskaltel), Egoi Martinez (Discovery),
and Igor Anton (Euskaltel). A dangerous group of 18 got away after that with
Menchov, Rasmussen, Pereiro, Arroyo, Caucchioli, Bettini, Millar, Piepoli and
Paulinho, among others. But they weren't allowed to stay away for long, and
it was more or less back together after 23 km.
The attacking continued
and at the sprint in San Antolín (km 29), it was Dario Cioni (Liquigas) leading
Xabier Zandio and Igor Anton over. They were part of a larger group containing:
Igor Anton and Iñigo Landaluze (Euskaltel-Euskadi), David Arroyo, Joan Horrach
and Xabier Zandio (Caisse d'Epargd ne-Illes Balears), Carlos Barredo (Astana
Team), Mauricio Ardila and Pieter Weening (Rabobank), José Miguel Elias and
and Ángel Vallejo (Relax-Gam), Pietro Caucchioli (Credit Agricole), Lars Ytting
Bak (Team CSC), Egoi Martinez (Discovery Channel), Dario David Cioni (Liquigas),
and Ángel Gómez Gómez (Saunier Duval).
On the Puerto del Connio (km 50),
the order across the top was: 1 Pietro Caucchioli (Credit Agricole), 2 José
Miguel Elias (Relax-Gam), 3 Ángel Vallejo (Relax-Gam), 4 David Arroyo (Caisse
d'Epargne-Illes Balears), 5 Pieter Weening (Rabobank), 6 Mauricio Ardila (Rabobank),
7 Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi), 8 Dario David Cioni (Liquigas), 9 Lars Ytting
Bak (Team CSC). The peloton was over two minutes behind at this stage.
Juan Jose Cobo (Saunier Duval), Andre Greipel and Thomas Ziegler (T-Mobile),
Mathieu Claude (Bouygues) and Nicolas Jalabert (Phonak) all abandoned before
On the Cat. 1 Puerto de Rañadoiro (km 75), the points again
went to Pietro Caucchioli (Credit Agricole), followed by 2 José Miguel Elias
(Relax-Gam), 3 Ángel Vallejo (Relax-Gam), 4 Pieter Weening (Rabobank), 5 Dario
David Cioni (Liquigas), 6 David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears), 7 Mauricio
Ardila (Rabobank), 8 Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi), 9 Lars Ytting Bak (Team
The average after two hours was 35.8 km/h.
14:54 CEST 120km/87.4km to go
After 84 km, Cioni
attacked the group, which was 3'40 ahead of the peloton. He gained 45 seconds
but came back 15 km later then suffered on the Puerto del Cerredo, where Caucchioli
again took the points ahead of Arroyo, Elias, and Anton. After three hours,
the average was still 35 km/h.
Iñigo Landaluze was the next to attack,
but he didn't get far and the breakaway group of 15 is still together, with
3'30 on the bunch.
15:09 CEST 130km/77.4km to go
The leaders are
on the Puerto de Somledo (not categorised) and the bunch has closed the gap
to just over 2 minutes, as Paolo Bettini seeks assistance from the race doctor.
Igor Anton (Euskaltel) is the best
placed on GC of this break. He's only 4'38 down, which is why they haven't been
given too much of a lead by Discovery.
15:14 CEST 138km/69.4km to go
The leaders are
now on the descent before the special category Alto de San Lorenzo, which should
sort things out somewhat.
15:28 CEST 140km/67.4km to go
CSC is starting
to work a bit and the gap comes down to 1'53. Still 15 in front, with Igor Anton
(Euskaltel) as the best placed rider on GC.
15:40 CEST 148km/59.4km to go
The leaders are
just at the foot of the Alto de San Lorenzo, the biggest climb of the day. It's
10 km long and averages around 9%. That is steep!
15:45 CEST 156km/51.4km to go
The group's lead
is just 50 seconds as they hit the bottom of the climb.
has lost Iñaki Isasi, who is the next rider to abandon today. There have been
15:53 CEST 159km/48.4km to go
The break disintegrates
on the steep slopes of this climb, and only Arroyo and Martinez remain out in
front. In the peloton, Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) attacks, putting plenty of
riders in difficulty. Oscar Pereiro is one of them.
16:02 CEST 162km/45.4km to go
Iñigo Cuesta (CSC)
is now setting tempo for Carlos Sastre in the peloton, which is some 20 riders
strong. Martinez and Arroyo are 40 seconds ahead, with Igor Anton (not Sanchez)
(Euskaltel) in between them.
16:04 CEST 163km/44.4km to go
Sastre drops back
for a bike change, as Jose Miguel Elias struggles to keep hold of the bunch.
Sastre easily regains the group. Danielson drops back for water, and picks up
Martinez and Arroyo reach a flatter part of the climb.
Now Di Luca, clad in the mountains
jersey (although Caucchioli will probably have this at the end of the day) drops
back to the team car.
On his way back to the bunch, Sastre
(in the white combination jersey) picks up bidons for his teammates. Cuesta
is still on the front, but not riding hard. Devolder and Vinokourov are next
16:07 CEST 164km/43.4km to go
Martinez and Arroyo
continue to work together, and Arroyo grabs a bidon from a soigneur standing
on the roadside.
Wim de Vocht (Davitamon) has abandoned.
16:09 CEST 166km/41.4km to go
The two leaders
can see the summit as the bunch sets a moderately hard tempo behind them at
40-50 seconds. It's Arroyo over first, with Martinez on his wheel.
16:10 CEST 167km/40.4km to go
Anton is third,
then Elias takes fourth at a minute, followed up Luis Perez and Carlos Sastre.
Igor Anton joins the front pair on
16:17 CEST 171km/36.4km to go
The three leaders
fly down the descent, trying to grab bidons from the neutral car when they can.
Tricky when you're doing 75 km/h. Six riders are chasing them at a minute, with
the rest of the bunch about 5 seconds behind. Bettini has chased back on on
16:21 CEST 178.4km/29km to go
The leaders reach
the second sprint in San Martín De Teverga with Arroyo, Martinez and Anton crossing
in that order. Carlos Barredo is setting tempo behind. The bunch is under a
minute back: only 46 seconds.
16:24 CEST 180.4km/27km to go
is good, and he reduces the gap to 35 seconds to the three leaders, who are
descending through a deep rocky valley towards the last climb.
16:27 CEST 182.4km/25km to go
The leaders start
to climb a little with just 19 seconds advantage, and Martinez sits up. The
peloton is a good 25 riders strong, as Barredo continues to set tempo. Then
two Caisse d'Epargne riders with Valverde and race leader Brajkovic on their
16:29 CEST 184.4km/23km to go
They all sit up,
and rejoin the bunch. 23 km to go, with the final climb beginning at around
17 km to go. But the hard part of it starts at 10 km to go.
attacks. Well, he ain't got nothing to lose.
16:31 CEST 187.4km/20km to go
The bunch can let
Bettini go if it wants. He's 24 minutes down on GC, and he will have a very
tough time winning this stage.
Valverde has one of his men on the
front of the bunch now, with himself in second wheel. Brajkovic up there too,
with his four Discovery teammates (Beltrán, Devolder, Martinez and Danielson).
16:34 CEST 189.4km/18km to go
Bettini has 24
seconds lead. A group with Iban Mayo follows the bunch at 1'36.
16:36 CEST 190.4km/17km to go
his lead out to 46 seconds as three Caisse d'Epargne riders set a steady pace.
Valverde is fourth in line, and then there's another Caisse rider.
Bettini starts to climb through another tunnel, and you can see he's hurting.
But he's still in the big ring.
16:39 CEST 191.4km/16km to go
Discovery and Caisse
d'Epargne have 10 riders in this main group. Brajkovic looks comfy in sixth
wheel, with his next test to come. Chris Horner sits towards the back with Sastre,
who only has a couple of teammates.
Bettini reaches a flat bit and pounds
away, concentrating on keeping his 44 second lead. It's not going to be enough,
but he isn't going to win the stage by sitting on Valverde's wheel.
16:45 CEST 194.4km/13km to go
The slope is still
gentle here, and the bunch is maintaining a 35-40 km/h tempo.
16:48 CEST 197.4km/10km to go
Bettini keeps 37
seconds with Caisse d'Epargne stringing things out behind. He has 10 km to go,
and the last climb is just about to start as he rides through Bárzana.
16:50 CEST 198.4km/9km to go
Now the road starts
to climb properly. Bettini loses a little more time, as expected. But he still
has 34 seconds.
16:52 CEST 199.4km/8km to go
8 km to go and the
Alto de la Cobertoria starts to bite as Bettini rides a good tempo. The boys
in black are riding harder though.
Zandio drops off, having done a good
16:54 CEST 200.4km/7km to go
Bettini goes under
7 km to go, and his speed is quite low now as the road steepens to 8.5%. Sylvester
Szmyd (Lampre) attacks, and Lars Bak goes out the back. As does Carlos Barredo.
Szmyd flies past Bettini.
Anton, Elias and Martinez are all
dropped. They were part of the early break.
16:55 CEST 201.4km/6km to go
Bettini is also
dropped, thanks to the pace of Arroyo, who brings Karpets and Valverde up to
Vinokourov counters with teammate Kashechkin. They look back.
Karpets sets tempo.
Devolder and Beltrán pace Brajkovic
at the back of the bunch, which is being shredded. Danielson is hanging on behind.
The two Kazakhstanis have 10 seconds. Interesting move. Karpets is riding hard
for Valverde, with MArchante, Di Luca and the rest in tow.
16:59 CEST 202.4km/5km to go
The chase group
looks like this: Brajkovic, Beltrán, Devolder, Danielson, Karpets, Valverde,
Di Luca, Gomez Marchante, Goubert, Paulinho, Sastre, Piepoli, Sanchez, Marzoli,
They are 15 seconds behind the Vinokourov-Kashechkin train,
which is being driven by Vino all the way. Kashechkin is getting a free ride
from his experience captain.
17:00 CEST 202.9km/4.5km to go
Kash will be the
virtual leader soon, as he was only 23 seconds down on Brajkovic at the start
of the day.
Karpets continues to set tempo, but Valverde is getting
ready to move. Piepoli helps out.
Marzoli is dropped.
17:01 CEST 203.4km/4km to go
Sastre decides to
test his legs and takes Di Luca, Valverde, Piepoli, Gomez Marchante and Luis
Brajkovic is dropped. He still has two teammates up the road
Valverde's group goes past 4 km to
go just 16 seconds behind the two leaders. Another 16 seconds back is Brajkovic,
who is alone. Well, Sammy Sanchez is just in front of him.
17:04 CEST 204.4km/3km to go
Brajkovic is losing
time quickly now. The two Kazakhstanis are holding their own out in front. Vino
looks back to see how Kash is doing.
Devolder and Danielson sit up
and wait for the gold jersey. They are riding a bit too hard for him though.
The Valverde group has lost Perez,
and it's just Valverde, Di Luca, Sastre and Gomez Marchante. They go under 3
km to go 17 seconds behind the two up front.
Sanchez, Beltrán and Piepoli are
at 42 seconds. Then Brajkovic's group at a minute or so.
Valverde attacks, but he can't shake
the rest. He is doing most of the work too. But now it's 23 seconds! Kashechkin
could well be in gold tonight. Great two man attack by the Astana boys.
17:08 CEST 205.4km/2km to go
Di Luca takes a
turn in the chase group. He's riding more for a stage win rather than GC. Valverde
looks the best of this group. Sastre is there, as always, drinking a bidon and
throwing it away. Gomez Marchante is sweatin' on the back.
17:09 CEST 205.4km/2km to go
gapping the others for a bit, but they come back.
Vino and Kash
go under 2 km to go. They have 17 seconds. Amazing stuff!
Brajkovic is now pacing behind Danielson
and Devolder. Their teammate Beltrán is further ahead.
Kashechkin looks comfortable as he
sits on Vino's wheel. He hasn't had to do anything other than hold it - which
is still hard!
Brajkovic is 1'15 behind at 2 km to go.
Valverde attacks again, and gets
a small gap on the rest. Can he do it? The two in front might be just too far.
17:11 CEST 206.4km/1km to go
Valverde has left
the other three behind as he homes in on the two Kazakhstanis. 11 seconds.
Vinokourov attacks! Kashechkin probably told him to go.
17:12 CEST 206.4km/1km to go
Vino puts in a powerful
acceleration as Valverde gets close to Kashechkin. This will be a very tight
finish again. Can Vino do it? 1 km to go.
Kash and Valverde go under 1 km to
go at 12 seconds, then Di Luca, Sastre and Gomez Marchante at 30 seconds. A
fan waving a ham bone runs wildly beside them.
Valverde has a lot in the tank, but
it might not be enough to get Vino.
Valverde's tongue hangs out and he
is cooked. Kashechkin is not with him, but he might be able to come back.
You have to hand it to Vino, who
will take his second stage win in a row. He has 250m to go.
17:15 CEST 207.4km/0km to go
back and can't see anyone. He goes even harder, teeth clenched, and wins the
stage atop the Alto de la Cobertoria. Fantastic riding!! He's put himself back
in contention for GC.
Valverde is second at 16 seconds,
then Kashechkin at 21, then Sastre, Marchante and Di Luca at 42 seconds.
Beltrán and Piepoli come up at 1'47.
Devolder leads the gold jersey up at 2'14, which means that Alejandro Valverde
is the new leader of the Vuelta! Good timing, just before the rest day.
Valverde is definitely good in this
Vuelta, but can he hold it until the end? We'll see next week, and certainly
in the final week. Don't count out Vino, who is riding himself into decent form.
We'll be back on Tuesday with more live coverage of the Vuelta. See you then!
1 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana Team 5.50.43
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears 0.16
3 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana Team 0.21
4 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 0.43
5 José Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir
6 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas
7 Manuel Beltran (Spa) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 1.47
8 Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir
9 Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 1.59
10 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 2.13
General classification after stage 9
1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears 36.41.31
2 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana Team 0.27
3 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 0.44
4 José Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir 0.56
5 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana Team 1.38
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