62nd Vuelta a España - GT
Spain, September 1-23, 2007
Results & report
Stage 13 - September 14: Hellin - Torre-Pacheco, 176.4km
Complete live report
Live commentary by Susan Westemeyer
Live coverage starts: 15:00 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:30 CEST
Welcome back to the Cyclingnews live coverage of the Vuelta a España.
Today the sprinters will try again to bring it all together in the end, for
a mad dash to the line in Torre-Pacheco, where the riders will arrive after
176.4 kilometres. They started earlier today in Hellin. We hope there won't
be any crashes. One of the victims of a fall in Zaragoza, Tom Boonen, may do
his last stage today before heading home to get some X-rays taken. He is questionable
for the Worlds, too.
We're looking at another one of those
"early escape group who gets a big lead but is gobbled up by the peloton five
km before the mass sprint finish" stages today -- the suspense is killing us
as to what will happen today. Anyone want to bet on Alessandro Petacchi making
it three in a row? Anybody want to throw their money away betting against him?
There are a few minor ups and downs in the stage, with even one Cat. 3 climb
not quite halfway through, before it turns into a flat-as-a-pancake run in to
15:05 CEST 75km/101.4km to go
We have a breakaway group underway! Who would have thought it! Today's group
is made up of Jeremy Roy (FdJ), Tom Stamsnijder (Gerolsteiner) and Andreas Klier
(T-Mobile). They got away at kilometre 20 and have built their lead up to 9'52
Three riders didn't start today.
Gerolsteiner's Davide Rebellin and Xavier Florencio of Bouygues Telecom have
dropped out to prepare for the Worlds. The third rider is Tom Boonen, who also
hopes to ride the Worlds, but is suffering from some physical problems that
could stop him from going to Stuttgart.
The other big story of the day is
the weather. The forecast was for warm and mostly sunny, with a chance of showers.
Well, weather forecasts seem to be the same the world over -- and that is, they
are always wrong.
It started raining about 1:30, and hasn't stopped.
There are even forecasts about some nasty heavy storms, so let's hope those
forecasts are wrong, too. Good thing we had new windshield wipers put on our
Seat before the Vuelta -- didn't we?
There was a crash at km 45, with
Bouygues Telecom and Saunier Duval being involved. David de la Fuente (SD) and
Luis Perez Rodriguez (Andalucia - Cayasur) subsequently paid visits to the race
At km 56, Alessandro Petacchi flatted,
but his loyal teammates were on the spot to bring him back to the peloton. Looks
like the rain has stopped too, which makes us happy as when we look at our smeared
windshield we realize that someone forgot to have the wiper blades changed.
Meanwhile, the temperature has dropped from 25° at the start to 19°. We sincerely
hope that storm system isn't moving in. Oh yes, it's raining again, too...
15:15 CEST 69.5km/106.9km to go
Our leading trio
has passed the first intermediate sprint in this order: Roy, Klier, and Stamsnijder.
15:18 CEST 85km/91.4km to go
So much for "partly
cloudy"! We are now suffering torrential rains, which means we don't see a darned
thing through the windshield, and there is water standing on the road. The gap
is now 8.54. Back in the pack, a group of about 30 has broken away to try to
swim its way to the lead.
15:22 CEST 89km/87.4km to go
The lead is staying
steady at 8'40.
The riders over in the Tour of Poland must be jealous:
today's stage is 176 km, as was yesterday's. Thursday's Poland stage was a whopping
255,7 km. Compare that to our longest stage here: 207 km tomorrow. The riders
in Poland have their experiences with the rain, too.
At km 38, the peloton drove through
the town of Cieza, the home of former pro rider Mariano Rojas. He turned pro
with ONCE in 1994 and showed himself to be a tireless worker for captains Laurent
Jalabert and Alex Zülle. He never achieved any wins but showed promise. Unfortunately
he never had a chance to live up to that promise. He was in an auto accident
while driving to the Murcia airport in June 1996, en route to the Spanish national
championships. Despite several operations, including liver and kidney transplants,
he died two days later at the age of only 23.
15:28 CEST 93km/83.4km to go
The heavy downpours
have split the peloton, with one group 15 seconds ahead of the other. The three
in front are still over eight minutes ahead.
Our start today was in Hellin, where
the stage finished yesterday. This is its first experience with the Vuelta.
It is 578 meters above sea level and has a population of nearly 30,000. It is
known for its sulphur mines, which have been worked since the days of the Romans,
and also boast clay and gypsum quarries.
Hellin is in the province
of La Mancha, and we will keep our eyes open for Don Quixote. We hope that he
won't mistake our Seat for a windmill!
15:33 CEST 95km/81.4km to go
The rain has let
up a little and the two halves of the peloton have come together again.
The stage ends today in Torre Pacheco,
which has a largely agricultural economy. It raises and exports around Europe
such yummies as peppers, melons, lettuce, beans, artichokes and celery. Too
bad the riders won't have any time to pull over for a picnic. Although, it is,
we admit, hardly perfect picnic weather.
15:42 CEST 96km/80.4km to go
The one and only
climb of the day, the Cat. 3 Alto de Espuña, has given out its points in this
order: Stamsnijder, Klier, and Roy. Meanwhile, the nasty weather has caused
a number of riders, including Igor Anton, to puncture.
15:44 CEST 103km/73.4km to go
The second sprint
of the day went: Roy, Stamsnijder, and Klier. It is still raining, and the gap
is now up to 9'20.
Will the sprinters' teams be able
to catch the breakaway today? Or will they need canoes or flippers?
Petacchi dedicated his win yesterday to his teammates, saying, "They worked
hard to catch the breakaway group." He also had a lot of praise for Erik Zabel,
saying "What Erik did today was extraordinary. He has enormous experience and
when he saw that I was on Bennati's wheel, he took over. I was in a good position
and felt strong, but I broke almost too soon."
15:49 CEST 109km/67.4km to go
Hail, hail, the
gang's all here -- and the hailstones, too. We are afraid to ask what the weather
has in store for us next. The trio is still 9'20 ahead.
T-Mobile invested a lot of manpower
in the lead to the finish yesterday, but it came -- again -- to nothing. "We
are trying everyday to get on the podium," said DS Brian Holm. "Unfortunately
Andre (Greipel) waited too long." Greipel finished fourth in the sprint Wednesday
and tenth yesterday.
15:56 CEST 112km/64.4km to go
It's a miracle
-- the rain has stopped! At leasts for the moment.
group now has a lead of 10'20 -- are they going to make it? Will they be able
to stay away until the end?
It sounds like a real love-fest developing
over there at Milram between Petacchi and Zabel. "I'm lucky to have a champion
like Zabel preparing the sprints for me," the Italian gushed. He is "a real
champion, a great person and we get along just great."
But will they
have a chance for a mass sprint today?
16:02 CEST 118km/58.4km to go
We hear that our
finish line is dry, and that gives us hope. As does the fact that the rain seems
truly to have stopped and is not supposed to return.
The lead is
still at 9'55.
Rabobank jumped in to help hunt down
the breakaway group yesterday. "It is not like we really wanted them to be captured,
it is just that we wanted to help out Milram a little bit. And, with a view
to the final ten kilometres and a potential change of wind direction, we also
wanted to position ourselves in the front ranks," said DS Erik Breukink.
16:10 CEST 122km/54.4km to go
Oops! Crash in
the field, with a number of riders down. No details yet.....
There is either another crash or
an extension of the first mass crash -- kind of hard to tell, sometimes.
16:16 CEST 128km/48.4km to go
With less than
50 km to go, the escape group still has a lead of 8'44, and we think their chances
of making it to the finish alone are increasing.
16:19 CEST 130km/46.4km to go
Just relax guys
.... the crash has broken the peloton into several groups. The last group is
the relaxed group, well, Team Relax-GAM. They are so relaxed that they are trailing
One Rabobank rider was happy just
to finish the stage yesterday. 22 year-old Sébastien Langeveld, who is
making his Grand Tour debut, became very ill Wednesday night. According to DS
Breukink, "He had to vomit; he was complaining about a headache and was bothered
by diarrhoea. He did not eat a lot this morning. Hence, he was actually feeling
too weak to give a lot of effort. Hopefully, he will feel better quickly so
that he can also eat a little bit more." The youngster finished the stage absolute
last, over 16 minutes down.
Incidentally, Langeveld is from Lisse,
Netherlands, home of the famous Keukenhof Gardens, which are world renowned
for their fabulous spring blooms -- and highly recommended by us!
16:24 CEST 136.4km/40km to go
The peloton is
stretched out in one long line. Allan Davis (Discovery Channel) is just coming
back to the tail end of it. Crashes always bring hectic into the otherwise orderly
In the mean time the three breakaway
riders at the front - Tom Stamsnijder (Gerolsteiner), Jérémy Roy (Française
Des Jeux) and Andreas Klier (T-Mobile) - still have over eight minutes. The
skies look threatening. The three will hope to stay dry, but now they have a
good chance of succeeding with their break. Less than 40km to go and over eight
And another roundabout that the peloton
needs to master. Stijn Devolder is now moving up in his Belgian Champ jersey.
He grimaces and looks like he may have been beaten up in the crash a bit.
Zabel also went down. He is showing
his wounds on the elbow to team-mate Sabatini. The Italian takes a bottle of
water and provides First Aid. Zabel is tough, even a horse couldn't completely
knock him out a few years ago in Gent-Wevelgem.
Photo ©: Hedwig Kröner/CN
Iñigo Cuesta (Team CSC) is getting
chain lube. The mechanics are amazing, hanging out the window and fixing stuff
on the fly. Rabobank is in control of things on the front, but the sprinters
may miss out today.
16:39 CEST 146km/30.4km to go
Lots of riders
are sporting natty bandages now. Kevin Hulsmans is jealous and wants one too,
so he calls for the race doctor.
The lead is still 8'50 and it looks
like the peloton is conceding this stage.
Pedro Horrillo Munoz of Rabobank
eats what looks like - but probably isn't -- a chocolate cookie.
Meanwhile Scott and Alan Davis catch
up on family news.
16:44 CEST 148km/28.4km to go
Andrea Tonti wants
to wear the new in-style gauze look and calls for race doctor, too. We hope
that the race doctors packed lots of gauze bandages today. We are thinking about
which parts of our body to adorn.
Good heavens! The leading trio just
rode through a little sunshine, enough to see their shadows on the (still wet)
road. It didn't last, though.
16:49 CEST 153km/23.4km to go
The three leaders
ride into a town and have to be very careful. Everything is very wet, and not
only are the street markings dangerous, but there are lots of puddles, too.
Erki Pusep of Bouygues Telecom is
the latest to adopt the new fashion fad, having just visited the race doctor.
Caisse d'Epargne has taken over the
lead -- do they really think they can catch the breakaway group?
16:54 CEST 151.4km/25km to go
Since the gap is
still over nine minutes, we have our serious doubts that the peloton will get
to the escape group. But Caisse d'Epargne has put on enough speed that it has
blasted the peloton into many little groups.
Caisse d'Epargne has a man second
in the overall, Efimkin. Are they hoping to pickup a few seconds, if they can
drop Menchov? It doesn't seem to be working, as the Russian is in the first
group, right there with Caisse d'Epargne.
17:00 CEST 161km/15.4km to go
There is a group
of about 30 riders, including the favourites Menchov, Sastre, Evans and Efimkin,
being led by Caisse d'Epargne. Behind them is a group of 20 or so, with lots
of littler groups dribbling on behind. Devolder and Cunego are among those who
aren't in the first following group.
17:01 CEST 162km/14.4km to go
Devolder has made
it up to the C d'Epargne group.
17:03 CEST 163km/13.4km to go
The three in front
still have a lead of over 7 minutes. Behind them, C d'Epargne turned it up a
notch and dropped some out of their group, it's about 20 or so now.
The three are 5'43 ahead of the C
d'Epargne group, which is 18 seconds ahead of the next following group. Devolder
has fallen back to that third group. Menchov, Sastre, Bettini, Evans are all
in the C d'Epargne group.
A flat for Stamsnijder. Will the
tall youngster be able to catch up again with his two companions?
17:09 CEST 170km/6.4km to go
C d'Epargne leads
the way around a near-hairpin curve, and seems to have given up hope of overtaking
the two leaders. They slow down and are caught by the second group behind them.
The two in front continue on and are no doubt starting to whether the other
one can sprint.
17:10 CEST 170.4km/6km to go
The two in front
are now the three in front again, as Stamsnijder has caught up with them.
17:11 CEST 171.4km/5km to go
goes for it! The others don't let him get away with it , though. But then Klier
opens up a gap to the others, as they don't even try to follow.
Will Klier win the stage and give
T-Mobile an unusual honour today? T-Mobile riders finished third in the tour
of Poland, and second in the Tour of Britain -- now they just need a first place
to round it out.
17:13 CEST 172.4km/4km to go
caught up with Klier. Roy is nowhere to be seen.
Will the young Netherlander
neo-pro take his very first pro win today?
17:15 CEST 173.4km/3km to go
Klier and Stamsnijder
work well together -- but not for much longer, we suspect. Who will have the
biggest kick left, the youngster or the veteran?
17:17 CEST 175.4km/1km to go
The last kilometre.
Klier looks back to make sure no one is sneaking up. Stamsnijder goes!
Stamsnijder leads and Klier flies
by him with 200 meter left , winning by some 20 meters. Experience shows!
Bennati takes the sprint of the field
ahead of Petacchi, a little more than 4 minutes after Klier jubilantly crossed
the line. Nearly a minute later another big group comes in. We assume that Roy
was somewhere ahead of the Bennati group.
T-Mobile came in to the Vuelta with
very modest expectations, and surely didn't expect to win two stages. They,
like us, will be looking forward to what tomorrow might bring. Hope you enjoyed
the stage and will join us again tomorrow!
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