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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

62nd Vuelta a España - GT

Spain, September 1-23, 2007

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Stage 11 - September 12: Castellón - Algemesí, 191.3km

Complete live report

Live commentary by Gregor Brown

Live coverage starts: 15:00 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:40 CEST

15:02 CEST   
Hola! Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the 62nd Vuelta a España. The transfer south and a well earned rest day is followed by a stage suited for an escape group. The two categorized altos that appear midway will solidify a small group that should be able to stay clear to fight out for the finale in Algemesí. The category three climb at Marianet (kilometre 58) and the category three climb at Chirivilla (kilometre 90) will leave 100 kilometres through Valencia with no 'major' challenges.

After two hours of hot racing, we have two riders free.

15:03 CEST    81km/110.3km to go
The average for the first two hours of racing is 40.1 km/h. The two escapees, Raul García de Mateo (Relax-GAM) and José Antonio López (Andalucia-Cayasur), are on the day's second of two climbs. They have 4'45" in hand over the gruppo led by Lampre and Milram.

15:10 CEST    88km/103.3km to go
Raul García de Mateo (Relax-GAM) led the duo over the Puerto del Mariane at kilometre 58. There the advantage was 5'24".

The duo hit out at kilometre eight. They took the first sprint in Benicassim with a 24" advantage (kilometre 10). The gap was nearly up to six minutes by kilometre 33 (5'55"). Milram, for Petacchi, and Lampre-Fondital for Bennati, immediately went to the front to keep the gap at a manageable distance.

Currently, on the Puerto de la Chirivilla, the advantage is 4'33".

15:12 CEST   
All 173 riders from Monday's finish started this morning. The riders who have left the Vuelta include
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

15:15 CEST   
Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval-Prodir) and Carlos Sastre (Team CSC) missed the sign on this morning. They will be fined a handful of Swiss Francs. For more on Sastre, and the first few stages of the Vuelta, read Carlos Sastre: Bring on the racing. For a review of the first stages of this Vuelta read our rest day wrap-up.

15:20 CEST    89km/102.3km to go
They are edging closer to the summit of this climb, and they keep a hold of a 4'50" gap.

15:34 CEST    99km/92.3km to go
What is this? We see spots on our dusty Seat 1.2 windshield! There are drops of raining falling down on us as we motor south.

This could work in the favour of our duo, now with 4'33". Saunier Duval shines at the front of the peloton on the descent of the Puerto de la Chrivilla.

15:48 CEST    115km/76.3km to go
Raul García de Mateo (Relax-GAM) has been an active rider; recall the Spaniard was in the escape group along with Magnus Backstedt (Liquigas) the other day? Thanks for all the e-mails! Apparently there are lots of Raul fans out there reading Cyclingnews, which is great!

Raul García de Mateo (Relax-GAM) led José Antonio López (Andalucia-Cayasur) over the Paso de Montaña Puerto de la Chirivilla. Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval-Prodir) darted off the peloton to grab third spot, followed by Jurgen Van Goolen (Discovery Channel), David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval-Prodir) and Serafín Martínez (Karpin-Galicia).

Little Leo now leads the mountains classification. He was hungry for points and, now, for food. We enter the feed-zone. The boys are grabbing their musettes and we are pulling over here Lliria for some sort of food. The front Spanish duo lead by only four minutes.

The rain has eased up, but the wind hits the riders hard. The current temperature is 27°C.

15:54 CEST    116km/75.3km to go
The winds are coming from the left. This could split up the main gruppo.

16:04 CEST    125km/66.3km to go
Bettini is rolling along smoothly at the back of the pack. Yesterday, he went on a ride with Cunego and Di Luca. They also met with Franco Ballerini, who is here in Spain to talk with his charges in light of the upcoming World Championships, September 30.

16:06 CEST   
After three hours of racing, the gap to our front duo is 3'14". The average is now at 39.2km/h, and it has taken its toll on the riders. We figure there will be a slight head wind on the sprint finish.

Oh no! Ángel Vallejo of Relax-GAM suffers a flat tire.

16:08 CEST   
Ángel Vallejo is serviced by his team, and he is quickly going again.

16:10 CEST    132km/59.3km to go
We are heading in to Cheste. It is a great little town here in Valencia. The gap is 3'15".

16:14 CEST   
Cyclingnews is seeing red again! Relax and Andalucia both have red as a predominate colour in their kits. Raul, highest placed in the overall classification, leads the duo. The sun is pushing through the clouds and allowing for slight shadows to be cast on the pavement. Over to the right of the riders there are darker clouds. Lots of shades of grey! (Grateful Dead?) Those clouds are the same clouds that released rain on us over the last climb.

16:19 CEST    137km/54.3km to go
Piepoli will lead the climbers' classification outright tomorrow. He is currently in the white jersey of best climber but that was because Russian Menchov was the overall leader heading into today's stage, and, as such, was in the maillot oro. Tomorrow, Leo will don the white maillot with 72 points to Menchov's 71.

The gap is under three minutes, at 2'25". Is it going to be a day for Petacchi or Bennati? Or Allan Davis (Discovery Channel) or Koldo Fernández (Euskaltel-Euskadi)?

16:21 CEST   
Not much of a side-wind now; the peloton is strung out in a long, long line. They are currently passing a big, white factory. We are looping around the town of Valencia, heading down Spain's east coast.

16:23 CEST   
Italy versus Spain: Raul García de Mateo (Relax-GAM) is on that famous, cool blue Gios bicycle. José Antonio López (Andalucia-Cayasur) is riding on a Basque-built Orbea.

16:27 CEST   
We had a long drive, and 'rest day' yesterday. There was about four hours of driving, passing team buses. It is really a shame that these riders had to travel so much on a rest day. Looking at the map, rest day two will be more of a relaxing day.

16:29 CEST   
Italy versus Japan: Raul García de Mateo (Relax-GAM) keeps the Italian theme going with his Campagnolo gruppo. José Antonio López (Andalucia-Cayasur), although from Spain like Raul, has an eastern feel to him. Why? he is riding on a Japan-produced Shimano gruppo.

16:31 CEST    146km/45.3km to go
A special message for the Rabobank directeur sportifs: Freire is no longer in the race. The three-time 2007 Vuelta stage winner pulled out the other day but the Dutch squad is here, pulling on the front. What is going on? Well, they are keeping Russian Menchov on the front, and out of trouble.

Niki Terpstra (Milram) is in third wheel, looking at the finishing map. He will be one of Petacchi's henchmen in the finale.

16:39 CEST    150km/41.3km to go
The boys are suffering out here on the front. They have given their teams plenty of publicity. The Relax car is up along side the duo, to talk (and protect the riders from the side wind!).

If the escapees listen, they can hear the suction of the Milram train.

16:41 CEST   
Carlos Barredo (Quick.Step - Innergetic), a super nice rider, is chatting with team-mate, World Champion Paolo Bettini. Barredo joined the Belgium-based team to learn from the Classic stars, like Bettini, Boonen and newly-retired Van Petegem. However, the Spaniard is riding highly in the overall classification of this Grand Tour. Barredo himself would tell you that it does not mean much, and that he will be working for Boonen and Bettini in the finishes.

16:47 CEST   
Cunego and Piepoli are talking. They are likely chatting about the Italian 'calcio' team. Over the weekend the squadra played France, in sort of a repeat of last year's big championship match, on July 9. The game, on Saturday night, was not that exciting, finishing 0-0.

16:54 CEST    159km/32.3km to go
Passing through Montroi the gap is at 2'01".

16:56 CEST   
And here's some news from the other races: Danilo Napolitano of Lampre won the mass sprint in the fourth stage of the Tour of Poland, ahead of Roman Vaitkus of Discovery Channel and Robert Förster of Gerolsteiner. Unfortunately, the sprint was marred by a nasty crash, which saw T-Mobile's Gerald Ciolek go down in front of the on-rushing peloton and slide across the finish line more or less on his face. Others followed him down, and so far it is not clear who is injured and how badly.

Napolitano also took over the lead, and is now 2 seconds ahead of former leader Wouter Weylandt, who was caught up in the crash -- or we should say, went down in the crash.

The stage in the Tour of Britain ended more peacefully, as Matthew Goss of CSC won the sprint of an escape group, with Freddy Bichot (Agritubel) and Roger Hammond of T-Mobile. There was no change in the overall GC.

17:01 CEST   
Milram has the gap locked at 1'45". The treno blu is followed by the orange team of Rabobank. Race leader Denis Menchov is riding in about 10th wheel.

17:04 CEST    165km/26.3km to go
Theo Eltink (Rabobank) is passing out water bottles to his mates. He just returned from the team car.

José Luis Carrasco is at the back of the gruppo getting water bottles for his Andalucia-Cayasur team.

17:04 CEST   
Matej Jurco (Milram) leads the chase.

17:08 CEST    165km/26.3km to go
Milram, Lampre, Milram and then a Rabobank rider lead the race. The rest of the peloton seem to be in a relaxed mood. The riders know that today will be one for the sprinters. Unless there are some crafty boys that might pop off the front in the final metres.

Raul García de Mateo is being serviced by the Relax-GAM car.

17:08 CEST   
After four hours of racing the average is 39.5km/h.

17:12 CEST    172km/19.3km to go
Cyclo-cross star Enrico Franzoi (Lampre-Fondital) leads the chase. He will hope that team-mate Bennati get's his second stage win in this year's Vuelta.

17:17 CEST    175km/16.3km to go
What an amazing image. The peloton is lined out across the road. The multiple colours of the teams are on display. We see Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) in his red-blue team colours.

It may be spectacular for us, but for the two Spaniards up front it is a different story. They head through Carlet with a small advantage.

17:18 CEST   
The gap is 50 seconds.

17:23 CEST    180km/11.3km to go
The run-in today is a bit difficult. There is a 90° left, and then a 90° right in the final kilometres.

Petacchi will want the win, but Bennati seems to have a higher morale. Watch out for Zabel, Davis and Fernández.

Raul García de Mateo (Relax-GAM) and José Antonio López (Andalucia-Cayasur) are holding on, at 30". They are making their way through crowd-lined streets that feed into the finishing town of Algemesí.

17:25 CEST    182.3km/9km to go
This is going to be a really dodgy finale. The boys will need to play it cool, and be safe.

There are nine kilometres remaining. The magenta boys of T-Mobile are moving to the front, and the duo only has eight seconds.

17:26 CEST    183.3km/8km to go
The escape is swallowed. It is now gruppo compatto.

17:27 CEST    184.3km/7km to go
A Milram man leads, but we see Discovery moving to the fore. They join the T-Mobile boys in the pace-making.

17:29 CEST    185.3km/6km to go
The peloton seems to be slowing down. The head-wind could be playing with the pace here. Any rider wishing to make a bid for freedom would have to have super-hot legs.

Six kilometres to go. Brace yourself for a sprint.

17:29 CEST   
Disco leads. Liquigas moves to the front as well.

17:29 CEST   
The sun is at the riders' back, but the wind is not.

17:30 CEST   
A overpass makes it difficult for the riders who were already suffering at the rear-end of the pack.

17:31 CEST    186.3km/5km to go
Rabobank is doing its last bit of pace work to keep Menchov out of difficulties.

17:31 CEST   
Control is now back over to T-Mobile. Little Paolo Bettini is there too, in about sixth wheel.

17:32 CEST   
This tricky finish could be one for Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step - Innergetic). T-Mobile will be working for André Korff. Giuseppe Guerini is doing some pace work for the German.

17:33 CEST    188.3km/3km to go
Single file, down the left side of the road with three kilometres to go.

17:33 CEST   
T-Mobile is still humping along on the front. About 20 positions back riders are fighting with all they have to gain positions for the sprint.

17:34 CEST    189.3km/2km to go
Milram is trying to edge back into the game for Petacchi's chances.

17:34 CEST   
T-Mobile is fading.

17:34 CEST   
It is becoming dicey.

17:34 CEST   
Bettini gives it gas to move to the front.

17:34 CEST   
Two Milrams, followed by Quick.Step.

17:35 CEST    190.3km/1km to go
This is going to be a serious affair. Milram leads.

17:35 CEST   
It will soon be a hard left.

17:35 CEST   
Everyone makes it through safely.

17:35 CEST   
Bennati is there. Fighting. But it is all Milram.

17:35 CEST   
Through a right at 300m.

17:36 CEST   
This could be a Petacchi day.

17:36 CEST   
The big Italian finally gets the win! Zabel is super-pleased with the team's leader.

17:37 CEST   
Bettini got second and Zabel third. André Korff (T-Mobile) in fourth.

17:41 CEST   
It looks like Bennati might have slotted in there for fourth.

Wow! What an exciting rush to the line. Zabel led his man down the left side after that final bend. Petacchi was untouchable by the charge of World Champ Bettini on the left. Zabel kept his pace to finish third.

Thanks for joining us today on our coverage of stage 11. Adios!

Provisional results

1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Milram
2 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step - Innergetic
3 Erik Zabel (Ger) Milram

General classification after stage 11

1 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank
2 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor-Lotto
4 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC
5 Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Karpin-Galicia
6 Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
7 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne
8 Manuel Beltrán (Spa) Liquigas
9 Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir
10 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Discovery Channel

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