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Photo ©: Bettini

62nd Vuelta a España - GT

Spain, September 1-23, 2007

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Stage 17 - September 19: Ciudad Real - Talavera de la Reina, 175km

Complete live report

Live commentary by Gregor Brown

Live coverage starts: 15:00 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:20 CEST

15:00 CEST   
Hola! Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the Vuelta a España. The sprinters that remain in the race will order their men to give all they have to ensure the race arrives in a bunch gallop as the following days will be too vertical for them. The 17th stage between Ciudad Real and Talavera de la Reina does not present a single ranked climb. A quick finish will allow for the men to check out the town known for its ceramics and to prepare for the following day.

15:00 CEST   
We currently have an escape with nearly five minutes on the Lampre-led peloton.

15:01 CEST    67km/108km to go
Jorge García (Relax-GAM) and Juan Olmo (Andalucia-Cayasur) went clear at kilometre 11. They were part of a larger group, but are now working as a two-man strong move. They have 4'55".

15:07 CEST   
Milram is there helping with the pace-making. The team will aim for Zabel or Petacchi. Bennati is still in this race, he will be supported by Lampre. Then we have Davis, Bettini, etc. for the sprints.

Ciao Guerini
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

15:11 CEST   
Bert Grabsch (T-Mobile) and Giuseppe Guerini (T-Mobile) did not start today. Bert was the winner of the time trial the other day, while 'Beppe Turbo' raced his last professional race yesterday. The Italian had said he would retire the end of the Vuelta.

"Giuseppe has unfortunately become rather ill, and is riding with only about 20 percent of his total ability," said DS Brian Holm. T-Mobile confirmed it was his last race. Ciao Beppe!

15:11 CEST    73km/102km to go
The race is entering Toledo. The duo has 4'22" over the chasers.

15:15 CEST   
Here is an update on the races DNS and DNFs:
Stage 1 DNF - Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel
Stage 3 DNF - Mathieu Claude (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
Stage 4 DNS - Lorenzo Bernucci (Ita) T-Mobile
Stage 5 DNS - Sergio Paulinho (Por) Discovery Channel
Stage 5 DNF - Giovanni Bernaudeau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
Stage 5 DNF - Rémi Pauriol (Fra) Crédit Agricole
Stage 7 DNF - Alberto Fernández De La Puebla (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir
Stage 7 DNF - Bert Roesems (Bel) Predictor-Lotto
Stage 9 DNF - Arkaitz Durán (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir
Stage 9 DNF - Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Liquigas
Stage 9 DNF - Bradley McGee (Aus) Française Des Jeux
Stage 9 DNF - Oscar Pereiro (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
Stage 10 DNS - Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank
Stage 10 DNF - Ian McLeod (RSA) Française Des Jeux
Stage 10 DNF - Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Discovery Channel
Stage 10 DNF - Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
Stage 12 DNS - Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir
Stage 12 DNF - Cyrille Monnerais (Fra) Française Des Jeux
Stage 12 DNF - Egoi Martínez (Spa) Discovery Channel
Stage 12 DNF - Rony Martias (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
Stage 13 DNS - Xavier Florencio (Spa) Bouygues Telecom
Stage 13 DNS - Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step - Innergetic
Stage 13 DNS - Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner
Stage 14 DNS - Michael Blaudzun (Den) Team CSC
Stage 14 DNS - Carlos Castaño (Spa) Karpin-Galicia
Stage 14 DNF - Angelo Furlan (Ita) Crédit Agricole
Stage 14 DNF - Josep Jufré (Spa) Predictor-Lotto
Stage 14 DNF - Serafín Martínez (Spa) Karpin-Galicia
Stage 14 DNF - Dimitri Champion (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
Stage 14 DNF - Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) Crédit Agricole
Stage 14 DNF - Jesús Hernández (Spa) Relax-GAM
Stage 15 DNS - Mickaël Delage (Fra) Française Des Jeux
Stage 15 DNF - Aurélien Clerc (Swi) Bouygues Telecom
Stage 15 DNF - Andreas Klier (Ger) T-Mobile
Stage 16 DNS - Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
Stage 17 DNS - Giuseppe Guerini (Ita) T-Mobile
Stage 17 DNS - Bert Grabsch (Ger) T-Mobile

15:20 CEST   
There are no birthday boys in the peloton today, but there are two riders celebrating another year of riding today. Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital), who retired from the Vuelta yesterday, is 26 years old today. German sprinter Gerald Ciolek (T-Mobile) turns 21 years old today.

15:25 CEST    80km/95km to go
Even though there are no categorized climbs today there are plenty of risers. The boys are humping their way up a small climb here. The gap still holds over four minutes, and it will likely stay there. Lampre-Fondital, and the other sprinters' teams, will want to keep the gap at a manageable distance. The sprint teams will crush the duo in the last kilometres of the race. It is beautiful how the sprint trains time this game of catch.

15:26 CEST    84km/91km to go
Hungry? We are! Time for the feeding. The escape enters the feed-zone.

15:40 CEST   
We have been powering along in the Seat Ibiza 1.2 for two hours. The boys have passed the first two hours at a pace of 42.7 kilometres/hour. They are finishing off their Scooby snacks, and getting back down to racing.

15:41 CEST    95km/80km to go
Jorge García (Relax-GAM) is 27 years-old, and Juan Olmo (Andalucia-Cayasur) 25. They are both riding for wildcard invitees. They are both on Spanish Professional Continental teams. Their gap has tipped back over the five minute marker, now at 5'04".

15:50 CEST   
We have not forgotten about Blaudzun. The Dane from Team CSC crashed in stage 13 and was unable to start in stage 14. He is now added to our long list of DNS and DNFs. Thanks to reader Niels for sending an e-mail as a reminder.

Stage 14 DNS - Michael Blaudzun (Den) Team CSC

15:56 CEST    100km/75km to go
The gap is holding at 5'10". Juan Olmo (Andalucia-Cayasur) has taken the sprint in Menasalbas over Jorge García (Relax-GAM). The pack comes through led by Matej Jurco (Milram).

David Garcia (Karpin-Galicia) is holding on to the doctor's car for some needed medical attention.

16:00 CEST    115km/60km to go
The pace has significantly increased. The gap to our two Spaniards has dropped to just over four minutes.

16:04 CEST    120km/55km to go
Both of these boys are winless in the past two years. Juan Olmo (Andalucia-Cayasur) won a stage 5 in Tour de Normandie in 2005, while Jorge García (Relax-GAM) took out stage 4 in Vuelta a la Comunidad Valenciana in his first year as a professional, 2004. It will be tough stuff for them to survive, and notch a win for 2007. However, they keep pumping along...

The gap is three minutes.

16:12 CEST   
It is hot here today. The metre reader next to me says it is 29°.

16:14 CEST   
Amid the flurry of planning that goes on this time of year, one important bit of negotiating for the 2008 season has stalled out completely, and it's perhaps the most important one facing the sport: the relations between the UCI and the Tour de France organisers, Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO). Cyclingnews' Hedwig Kröner caught up with ASO president Patrice Clerc about the UCI/ASO battle and found that the only thing going on between the two organisations is tension.

16:17 CEST   
Lampre and Milram are tugging this peloton along. Lots of the riders, and journalists, have their minds on the Worlds. Today, France announced its squadra, and surprisingly there was no Moreau. The team is Stéphane Augé (Cofidis), Sandy Casar (Française Des Jeux), Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis), Pierrick Fédrigo (Bouygues Telecom), Romain Feillu (Agritubel), Amaël Moinard (Cofidis), Ludovic Turpin (Ag2r Prévoyance), Benoît Vaugrenard (Française Des Jeux), Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom). Have a read of the news article from today.

16:18 CEST    128km/47km to go
The front duo has no time to stop and enjoy the olives. Their gap is now at 2'44".

16:23 CEST   
Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step - Innergetic) is in his last day of the Vuelta. We have heard 'Il Grillo Livornese' will drop out of the race after today's stage. He will go home to prepare for the Worlds, where he will seek to defend his World title.

Bettini had asked Franco Ballerini to include in-form Daniele Bennati (Lampre-Fondital) in the Squadra Azzurra selection, but the rider from Arezzo was left out. His team-mate, Alessandro Ballan, was selected. Many of us are tipping Ballan as a red-hot outside favourite to put on the rainbow jersey Sunday afternoon, September 30.

'Benna' no doubt would have been a good pick. The winner of the Vuelta's first stage packs a mean sprint, and can power along all day in an escape. He would have been a rider for Italy to put in an escape.

The Spanish fans
Photo ©: AFP Photo
(Click for larger image)

16:25 CEST   
Cavalli! A horse powers along the side of the road, near the peloton. He must be a fan. (Zabel, watch out!)

16:26 CEST   
Just as we say that, a fan is nearly taken out by the horsey fan. Poor horse. The fan, strangely enough, had full Indian headdress on. "Young man, there is no need to be down. Young man, pick yourself off the ground!"

16:28 CEST    138km/37km to go
We are in the red zone. The two escapees are wearing red kits, and they look sharp! Gios versus Orbea, Record versus Shimano, Spaniard versus Spaniard, Jorge García versus Juan Olmo...

The gap is 2'22".

16:29 CEST   
The pace after three hours of racing is 42.8km/h.

16:33 CEST   
Does Koldo Fernández (Euskaltel-Euskadi) have a chance today? We say 'no.' He was in that 18-man move yesterday, and he must be tired. However, the Basque team is amassing at the front of the gruppo.

Photo ©: AFP Photo
(Click for larger image)

16:35 CEST    145km/30km to go
His team-mate, Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), is one of our picks for the World Championships. 'Samu' hit out hard on the downhill stage finish the other day to show his class, the same class that we saw last year in the GP Zurich. The Spaniard has the punch to win the Worlds, if not this year, one day soon.

The gap is dropping below the two minute mark.

16:40 CEST   
A reminder, Giuseppe Guerini (T-Mobile) did not start today, and ended his career. 'Beppe Turbo' had said he would retire the end of the Vuelta. We talked to T-Mobile and it confirmed the stage was his last race. "Giuseppe has unfortunately become rather ill, and is riding with only about 20 percent of his total ability," said DS Brian Holm.

16:42 CEST    150km/25km to go
The gap is at 2'38". The peloton is strung out in a single file, under the influence of Lampre, Milram and Euskaltel.

16:44 CEST   
Jorge García (Relax-GAM) talks with his directeur sportif. The red team car is to the right of the escape duo. They are working out what the tactics will be. Garcìa could turn on Olmo before the race enters the final 10 kilometres. It would be a heck of an effort (almost impossible) for the Spaniard.

16:49 CEST   
Rows and rows of olive trees are rolling along. Many attribute Italy or its olive oil, just ask Bettini, who has his own farm, but Spain has very good olives (if not better).

Bettini is digging in the back of his pocket, could it be for olives?

16:50 CEST    155km/20km to go
The gap is 2'14". The Lampre train is driving the pace. Bennati may have the extra motivation to win today. If he is to win, it would send a signal to Ballerini that he may have been mistaken in his national team selection.

16:58 CEST    162km/13km to go
Where is Discovery Channel? The team does not have a full complement of lead-out men. However, there will be some Disco dancing in the final kilometres, as the American team strives for a Allan Davis victory.

The gap is 1'08".

17:00 CEST    165km/10km to go
The ambulance passes the peloton. They are likely going to the finish line, to wait for the riders in the sprint.

Ten kilometres to go for the duo. Its gap is 33".

17:02 CEST    166km/9km to go
Jorge García (Relax-GAM) puts down the hammer. He has dropped Juan Olmo (Andalucia-Cayasur). Adios amigo!

17:02 CEST    167km/8km to go
Olmo latches on with eight kilometres to go.

17:03 CEST   
The day looks done for them. They will not make it to kilometre seven.

17:03 CEST    168km/7km to go
They barely make it to the seven kilometre banner.

17:05 CEST    169km/6km to go
The duo is caught right before the six kilometre banner. Milram has two men on the front.

17:05 CEST   
Martin Müller (Milram) and Niki Terpstra (Milram) have been doing a lot of the work. But watch out for Daniele Bennati (Lampre-Fondital) in the sprint.

17:06 CEST    170km/5km to go
Five kilometres to go. Lampre adds a man to the front One Lampre, then five Milrams.

17:08 CEST   
Here comes Disco. There is one Discovery man in the mix. But there are six Milrams here.

17:08 CEST   
A long, straight run in. There are a few round-abouts in the final kilometres.

17:08 CEST    172km/3km to go
T-Mobile is adding colour to the front end. Its pinks are flying behind the blues of Milram.

17:09 CEST    172.5km/2.5km to go
The boys pass in the shadows of the high rises.

17:09 CEST    173km/2km to go
Milram is just dominating affairs for Petacchi. Can the Italian take number three of the Vuelta today?

17:09 CEST   
Watch out for Bettini.

17:10 CEST   
We pass a bull ring... So Spanish!

17:10 CEST   
There is a surge from the left from FDJ.

17:10 CEST   
Gilbert is on the front for De Cruz.

17:10 CEST    174km/1km to go
Final kilometre. The FDJ's are washed away.

17:10 CEST   
Still four Milrams on the front.

17:11 CEST   
Bennati is still there.

17:11 CEST   
Two Milrams at 500 metres.

17:11 CEST   
Benna comes on the right.

17:11 CEST   
Bettini is on his wheel. The World Champ is a danger man.

17:12 CEST   
The rider from Arezzo takes it. Bennati wins!

17:12 CEST   
Petacchi is gesturing. Maybe ordering a caffè. ;)

17:14 CEST   
Behind 'Benna' is Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step - Innergetic), Alessandro Petacchi (Milram) and André Greipel (T-Mobile).

Benna came on the right in the last 100 metres. Petacchi was already on the front and could not hold off his country man. Petacchi slapped his helmet when he crossed the line.

17:19 CEST   
Thanks for joining us in today's live coverage. Please return for a full report.


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