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62nd Vuelta a España - GT

Spain, September 1-23, 2007

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Stage 2 - September 2: Allariz - Santiago de Compostela, 148.7km

Complete live report

Live commentary by Susan Westemeyer

Live coverage starts: 15:00 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:45 CEST

Hola amigos de Cyclingnews and welcome back to our live coverage of the 2007 Vuelta a España. Today the riders will be pilgrimaging into Santiago de Compostela, but not quite on the famous St. Jacob's path and not by foot, either. And not even thousands of miles. Just the tiny amount of 148.7 kilometres will bring them from Allariz to Santiago, in Galicia. One of the greenest parts in Spain, thanks to the rain falls, which he hope will stay away today.

15:01 CEST   
Buenos Dias! We are in the far northwestern corner of Spain today, close to the border with Portugal. We have headed our Seat in the other direction, though, and will be going 150 north to Santiago de Compostela.

We can expect today's stage to turn out much like yesterday's: a long escape, caught shortly before the end, followed by a mass sprint. There is one climb about halfway, but it is only Cat. 3. The stage is by no means flat though -- there are lots of ups and downs along the way.

15:03 CEST   
188 riders signed in this morning. The only one missing was Tom Danielson, of Discovery Channel. He was involved in that crash yesterday about 50 km into the stage, and was unlucky enough to be the only one seriously injured, suffering a broken collarbone. This just hasn't been his season -- he missed a lot of time with an intestinal bug, which he finally cured in time for the Vuelta. He was not only going to work for his captain Stijn Devolder here, but was looking for his own chances. After all, he finished sixth here last year. But now the season is over for him.

Damiano Cunego of Lampre was also in that crash yesterday, and took to the start today with 12 stitches and lots of gauze. His teammate Paolo Tiralongo was also injured in the crash. Fabio Sabatini of Milram and T-Mobile's veteran climber Giuseppe Guerini also went down.

15:04 CEST    25km/123.7km to go

The peloton got underway at 1:42. Looks like it's going to be another hot one today, it's already 27°. Good thing we packed our cooler with lots of water and goodies today!

And the first attack didn't wait long. By km 2, Ual Garcia de Mateo of Relax-Gam took off. He was quickly joined by Manuel Vazquez (Andalucia-Cayasur) and Gustavo Dominguez (Karpin Galicia). All three are Professional Continental teams which are here on wild-card invitations and apparently want to show their stuff as quickly as possible.

By km 25 they had opened up a lead of 3'10. They took the points in the first intermediate sprint, with Dominguez winning ahead of Vazquez and Garcia de Mateo third.

15:07 CEST    40km/108.7km to go

km 40
The lead is up to 3.20. Sergio Paulinho of Discovery Channel has made a visit to the race doctor's car, but we don't know why.

15:11 CEST   

Second place in yesterday's sprint went to Oscar Freire of Rabobank, who has been having some stomach problems the last few days. "It was never really a worrisome thing, but you never know," said Directeur Sportif Erik Breukink. "He wasn't feeling very well" on Saturday", but he is expected to keep on improving.

15:18 CEST    46km/102.7km to go
It's dangerous out there! Vazquez has just been stung by a wasp, and has gone back to the race doctor accompanying the escape group for help. The group now has a 3'17 lead.

15:22 CEST   
Milram's Alessandro Petacchi, who finished third yesterday, hasn't had an easy year of it. After finally coming back from his injuries of last season, he won some stages at the Giro before getting hit with a positive doping test. He had to sit out the Tour de France before the charges against him were dismissed, but then the case was appealed to the Court of Appeals for Sport. That has taken its toll on the Italian sprinter, team manager Gianluigi Stanga said, "It isn't easy for Alessandro to sprint with a free mind in light of the stress he has had the last three months."

15:27 CEST    54km/94.7km to go

The three escapees have started their way up the only ranked climb of the day, the Alto do Parano, Cat. 3, carrying with them a lead of 3'32.

15:31 CEST   

Our finish today is in Santiago de Compostela, which is also the destination of an important medieval pilgrimage route (The Camino Santiago). It still has its devotees, as over 100,000 pilgrims a year still make their way here. The Vuelta has made its way here before, too but only half a dozen times. The most recent visit was in 1993, when Alex Zülle won the stage.

15:33 CEST    58km/90.7km to go

Daniele Bennati's Lampre teammates have things well in hand back in the peloton. Enrico Franzoi, David Loosli, Morris Possoni, and Paolo Tiralongo are leading things and have brought the lead back down to 3'12.

15:42 CEST   
Today's mountain is a little one -- only 800 meters high. But the whole stage more or less resembles a sawblade, with very little rest time for the riders. It evens out a bit towards the end, but still isn't entirely flat.

15:45 CEST    62km/86.7km to go

The escapees are nearly to the top of today's mini-summit, and may have to put on jackets: the temperature has dropped to a chilly 26° on the mountaintop. And the lead is falling, too, it is down to 3 minutes.

15:51 CEST    63km/85.7km to go

We're over the top, the Seat has conquered the Alto do Parano. And so have the riders, with Dominguez coming over first ahead of Garcia and Vazquez. Serafin Martinez of Karpin Galicia took the fourth place points, so he will retain his mountain jersey for another day.

16:00 CEST    63.7km/85km to go
The three escapees have reached the feeding zone, no problem for them to take their bags. We in the Seat are unpacking our ham sandwiches,to keep them company.

Meanwhile, some 3 minutes back in the pack, Bradley McGee has paid a visit to the race doctor.

16:03 CEST   

The race is going through some lovely green sections today, with lots of trees. Quite a contrast to some of the dry brown stages that we usually associate with the Vuelta!

The peloton is now at the feeding zone, and a number of riders are taking advantage of the opportunity for a nature break.

16:05 CEST    79.7km/69km to go
The three in front drive through the village of Forcarei. It is definitely uphill work.....

Cunego arrives with a team-mate
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

16:09 CEST    83km/65.7km to go

The first racing hour held a pace of 40 km/h, and the second hour was 39.1 km/h. That seems to suit Damiano Cunego, who is nursing his injuries but riding comfortably near the back of the peloton.

Meanwhile, the blue sky is slowly disappearing behind a series of clouds. We hope this doesn't portend something wet.

16:16 CEST    88km/60.7km to go
We're in a flatter section right now, and the lead has dropped to just over two minutes. Bradley McGee has pad another visit to the race doctor's car, but there is still no word on what his problem is.

16:22 CEST    90km/58.7km to go

Three riders have hit the ground, Szmyd ((Lampre), Vande Velde (CSC) and Sébastien Minard (Cofidis). They were in the middle of the peloton, but the others managed to avoid them. All three got back up and on their way. And Sergio Paulinho has made another visit to the race doctor, too.

16:26 CEST   
The crash slowed the peloton a little, and the break has a 2'50 advantage again.

16:31 CEST   
If it comes down to the expected mass sprint finish today, T-Mobile won't be as well represented as it had hoped. The German team has sent two sprinters to the race, Andre Greipel, who won the first two stages of the Sachsen Tour, and veteran Andre Korff. Korff was supposed to be lead-out man for his younger colleague but it may not work out that way. When he arrived at the airport in Spain on Wednesday, he fell and hurt his foot. "The foot is pretty swollen," according to Directeur Sportif Brian Holm. "Andre has problems putting his cycling shoe on, but he wants to continue."

16:34 CEST    109km/39.7km to go

The three escapees ride into A Escada to the applause of a family on the sidewalk. They are quickly out the other side of the village.

16:37 CEST   

Sorry,that must have been just a suburb of A Estrada, the escape group is now riding uphill in downtown.

Sébastien Minard's left leg matches his Cofidis jersey -- red. It probably doesn't feel real good.

16:38 CEST   

Milram and Rabobank have both sent riders up to share the lead with Lampre. Do they perhaps have hopes of a mass sprint? Oh yes, now who were those riders yesterday in the top three......

Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne) waves to the crowd
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

16:42 CEST    113.7km/35km to go
We nearly crashed the Seat trying to figure out a banner that read "SCAR PEREIRO"" -- but it made sense again when the policeman standing in front of it stepped away and we could see the O in OSCAR. The lead is now 2'30.

16:49 CEST   
Milram, Rabobank and Lampre have really turned up the speed. We are going so fast we don't have time to read the signs telling us where we are. The lead is, of course, starting to go down and is just over two minutes.

16:51 CEST   
And the lead is under two minutes, with Niki Terpstra of Milram leading the charge. The young Dutchman won the moutain jersey in the Deutschland Tour.

16:55 CEST    122.7km/26km to go
The lead is under a minute now, and the follow cars are coming out from behind the break, so they won't be in the way. It won't be long now.

16:57 CEST    24,7km/124.7km to go
The three managed to stay away for the final sprint, with the peloton just 1'05 behind them.

17:02 CEST   
The last km could be a little tricky today, as it features a traffic circle with a turn to the right, then a slight left and a "straight curve" before running slightly uphill the last 400 meters to the finish line.

17:03 CEST    127.7km/21km to go
The peloton has cut the lead to 1'09 and is content to leave it there for the time being -- no point in overtaking the leaders too soon, someone might just the wrong idea and make another break, which is not at all what the sprinter teams have in mind.

17:04 CEST   
Alberto Fernandez of Saunier Duval went down, but bounced right back up.

17:08 CEST    128.7km/20km to go
Angel Gomez Gomez of Saunier Duval can't wait any longer and shoots out to try his chances, as the trio in front passes under the 20 km banner.

17:11 CEST   
Gomez Gomez is quickly catching up with the escapees, he is only 10 seconds behind them.

17:14 CEST    133.7km/15km to go
Gomez Gomez has caught the three and they all ride together -- but the thundering horde isn't all that far back.

17:17 CEST    138.7km/10km to go
The four leaders are fighting desperately as they all ride up up up, and Dominguez takes off to try and hold a lead. But he can't do it, and now Martinez takes off.

17:18 CEST   
Martinez crosses the finish line for the next to last time with a slim lead of two seconds or so. The rise up to the finish line looks to be more than expected.

17:19 CEST   
Gustavo Cesar is the next to seek his luck, opening a slight lead.

17:21 CEST    140.7km/8km to go
He was joined by Martinez, but they had no chance, as the peloton relentlessly caught them.

17:24 CEST    143.7km/5km to go
Many are trying to break out from the fast-moving peloton, but nobody is able to get away. Liquigas is currently leading the charge.

17:26 CEST    144.7km/4km to go
One Milram rider is in front, followed by a mess of pea-green Liquigas jerseys. They are tearing through town at 60 km/h.

17:29 CEST    146.7km/2km to go
As expected, T-Mobile's Korff is at the very back of the peloton. He won't be puling a sprint for Greipel today.

17:30 CEST    1,7km/147.7km to go
The leaders have gone so fast that they have pulled the peloton apart. And a big crash takes out 12 to 15 riders, slowing down the rest.

17:31 CEST   
Race leader Benatti was one of those taken down, and he is having words with a Euskaltel rider

17:32 CEST   
Freire wins out a group of 20.

17:33 CEST   
It was a messy and uncoordinated finish, since the peloton was torn apart by that crash. Erik Zabel tried to set up his team-mate Petacchi, but Freire was faster.

17:34 CEST   
3 Caisse D'Epargne riders make their way up to the finish, with a teammate holding a hand on Oscar Pereiro's back to help him. The 3-km rule was in effect, so all the riders should get the same time today.

17:35 CEST   
Gracias for joining us today! We look forward to another good stage tomorrow, but without another one of those mass crashes.

Provisional results

1 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank
2 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step - Innergetic
3 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis
4 Erik Zabel (Ger) Milram
5 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner
6 Rene Mandri (Est) Ag2r Prévoyance
7 Aurélien Clerc (Swi) Bouygues Telecom
8 Luis León Sánchez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
9 Renaud Dion (Fra) Ag2r Prévoyance
10 Lorenzo Bernucci (Ita) T-Mobile

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