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62nd Vuelta a España - GT

Spain, September 1-23, 2007

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Stage 3 - September 3: Viveiro - Luarca, 153km

Complete live report

Live commentary by Susan Westemeyer and Bjorn Haake

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

Hello and welcome back to the Cyclingnews live coverage of the 2007 Vuelta a España. Today the riders will face some hilly terrain, to better prepare them for the stage to the Lakes tomorrow. But today a bunch sprint is still possible, so that Daniele Bennati, still smarting from his crash yesterday, can try for another victory. He had to give up the golden jersey without a fight and will hope to at least get another stage win. This shouldn't take away from Oscar Freire, who did a brilliant sprint yesterday and even Bennati would have had a hard time coming around the Spaniard.

15:03 CEST   

The stage today will give the sprinters one more chance to strut their stuff before the mountains get serious tomorrow. To bring them in the mood, we have four small climbs today, none of them over 450 meters high, and three of them in the first third of the stage. But much of the stage is still that up-and-down of the past few days, and a lot of riders will be having aches and pains from the crashes yesterday.

There were a lot of casualties in yesterday's stage, but all of them have started today. Oscar Pereiro of Caisse d'Epargne went down in the mass crash in the finale, and was helped across the finish line, where he said that his right hip hurt but that he assumed it would be all right. He was the last one to sign in today. Carlos Castano of Karpin Galicia was the worst off -- he had a dislocated shoulder, which doctors had to pop back in, right there on the course. But he is riding again today!

Former leader Daniele Bennati was another one involved in that crash, which cost him his golden jersey. His right hand is bandaged but he is willing to give it another try today.

15:06 CEST    48km/105km to go

The day's action started early on. The peloton started in on the first climb only 3 km into the stage. That was the San Andre de Boimente, a Cat. 3 climb. And the first attack came only 1 km later, from Angel Vallejo ( Relax-Gam.) He was quickly joined by David De La Fuenta (Saunier Duval) and Serafin Martinez, who won the mountain jersey when he was in the first stage's escape group.

The pack went over the top of the climb 1'37 ahead of the peloton, with Martinez leading the way to protect his jersey. The rest of the standings were Vallejo, De La Fuenta, Gustavo Cesar (Karpin), Chris Sorensen (CSC) and Joost Posthuma (Rabobank).

At km 33 they went over the second climb, the Puerto Cruz da Campa, in this order: Martinez, De La Fuente, Vallejo and Marc de Maar (Rabobank), with a lead of 3'37.

Carlos Castano has gone to visit the race doctor, so his shoulder injury from yesterday must still be giving him trouble.

And they are nearly at the top of the third climb, with a lead of 3'50 over the peloton.

15:08 CEST   
Rabobank's Oscar Freire is wearing the leader's golden jersey instead of his usual orange-and-blue combination. "Yesterday, I didn't feel well throughout and it showed. Today was a much better performance and I'm really happy with it," he said after yesterday's stage. . "The objective was to win one stage. ... I've done that so I don't feel any more pressure to win any more."

15:11 CEST    48.7km/104.3km to go
And they are all over the top of the third climb as well, with Vallejo taking the points this time, ahead of Martinez, De La Fuente and De Maar.

15:13 CEST   
Freire took to the podium three times yesterday, for his stage win, the overall lead, and to put on the points jersey -- a classification he leads by by 20 points. "It is fantastic to achieve this so early on in the Vuelta," the Rabobank rider said.

15:16 CEST    53km/100km to go
De La Fuente took the trio through the day's intermediate sprint, with Vallejo and Martinez in that order behind him. Their lead is now 3'20.

And the riders are beginning to feel some wind in their faces, which may well affect them today.

We can expect a change of weather as we draw nearer to the mountains. The riders will probably be happy to say goodbye to the glaring sun and 30" of the last two days. Today they will face overcast skies with "perhaps" occasional sun, northeasterly winds and temperatures between 16° and 19°.

15:20 CEST   

Needless to say, Rabobank is happy with its star sprinter. "It was about time for him to win a stage again after all those second places. Twice in the Tour, Hamburg and the first Vuelta-ride. We had all the confidence in Oscar's abilities today and fortunately that turned out to be right," said directeur sportif Erik Breukink. "It is good for the rest in the team, which was also one of the main reasons for us to let him start here. And, he might of course win some more races."

15:22 CEST   

Christian Vande Velde of CSC took a bang on his head when he went down yesterday, but the team assures us he is ok. The American went down early in the race. "I think Christian suffered the worst injuries, but he seemed ok, though. I'm sure he'll be fine," said CSC DS Kim Andersen. Alexandre Kolobnev went down in the mass crash, but captain Carlos Sastre managed somehow to avoid it and finish 19th. " Carlos didn't quite know how he managed to avoid the crash, but he did, which was the main thing," Andersen said.

15:26 CEST   

The big crash in the last few kms in the second stage didn't surprise some people. "You could almost expect it. The streets on the closing round course were very narrow. It only takes one rider taking too much of a chance, and then it happens," said T-Mobile DS Brian Holm. He had one rider, Lorenzo Bernucci, in the leading group, and was just thankful that none of the others was injured in the big pile-up. Gerolsteiner's DS Reimund Dietzen echoed those sentiments, saying, "Thankfully, none of us were involved in the crash."

15:30 CEST    61km/92km to go
The lead is down to 3'20 as Rabobank controls the peloton while not letting the escapees get too far away.

15:34 CEST   

Erik Zabel finished fourth in yesterday's stage and might have done better it he'd known he was alone. "I started to early, about 250 meters before the line, because I thought Petacchi was behind me," he said. His Italian colleague called to him to sprint for himself, "but that was pretty hard in the wind."

Danielson crashed yesterday
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

15:37 CEST    68km/85km to go
The riders have left the province of Galicia and entered the province of Asturias. The lead is down to 3'07.

And here's an update on Discovery Channel's Tom Danielson: the team reports that he broke his shoulder and is expected to undergo surgery next week. This is really not his season, since he missed the Tour de France with a nasty intestinal problem. What's that old line: "If it weren't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all....." His teammate and captain Stijn Devolder was one of those who hit the pavement in the finale, but managed to come away uninjured.

15:40 CEST    70km/83km to go
It's lunchtime along the racecourse, with the lead continuing to drop to 2'58. The riders are also getting the full blast of the wind in their faces now.

15:45 CEST    73km/80km to go
After two hours of racing, the average speed is 35.6 km. The wind is coming in strong off the ocean to the riders' left, and will be with them the rest of the way. Rabobank has brought the lead down to 2'50.

15:50 CEST    77km/76km to go

Freire can work wonders: he takes a turn at the front of the peloton and lo and behold, the lead falls again! Now it is down to 2'37.

15:53 CEST   
The race started today in Viveiro, a debut in the Vuelta. Viveiro is a small coast town on the very northwestern tip of Spain. Its population of some 15,0000 triples in the summer as tourists come to hit the beaches. But the finish town of Luarca has hosted the race three times, most recently exactly 60 years ago. Luarca is a small town, with under 6000 inhabitants. As its tourist office describes it, "Built around an S-shaped cove sitting between sheer cliffs, the historic quarter of Luarca, its promenade and the port are all worth visiting. A small river divides the town in two, although several narrow bridges are there to unite it."

And just in case the riders have a little spare time this evening, they can sample some local traditions in the "chigres" or taverns, "where visitors can learn the art of drinking cider."

15:58 CEST   

There's a birthday boy in the peloton: Jason McCartney of Discovery Channel has turned 34 today. He still has not yet announced his plans for next year. A contract with a new employer would sure be a nice birthday present!

16:05 CEST    80km/73km to go
The lead is back to 3 minutes. It will probably stay steady around there for a while, until the sprint teams decide it is time for them to start getting their guys into position.

16:09 CEST   

Let's hope that today's finish doesn't go crash-bang-boom like yesterday's. In the final km, there are several curves in the first 700meters, followed by a 90 degree left hand turn. There is a slight right hand curve 100 meters later, leading up to the 200 m straightaway to the end line.

And who is going to win that final sprint? Write in to commentator @ cyclingnews.com (take out the blank spaces!) and let us know. Freire? Bennati again? Petacchi? Zabel?

16:10 CEST   
Tom Boonen is talking to Mario Aerts, while the peloton is led by Rabobank. Freire's boys are doing a good job on the front, nit letting the gap grow too large.

16:13 CEST   
There are some clouds in the background, but it should stay dry. The winds aren't too bad either, but nonetheless Karpets hair is flying wildly out his helmet as the peloton rides a long, straight road down at a brisk pace.

16:15 CEST   
Freire is moving up on the left side of the peloton. Well, he won't find his Rabos there, as they are all lined up on the right. How did he miss the red-white-blue Dutch champion jersey of Koos Moerenhout?

16:22 CEST   
The pace has increased as the road tilts slightly upwards and the lead to the trio is reduced to less than two and 1/2 minutes. Horrillo, riding for Rabobank, is currently at 80 percent of his hear rate, showing that the pace isn't too leisurely, as the field is strung out single file on the front.

16:25 CEST   
The three in the front, David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Ángel Vallejo (Relax-GAM) and Serafín Martínez (Karpin-Galicia), are out of the saddle as the terrain is rolling, flanked by fields on both sides of the road. Moerenhout is trying to figure out how many bottles he can take. He's got one in each pocket and one safely stuck in the back of his jersey. Probably not a new world record just yet, as the Dutch champion moves back up the peloton on the left hand side of the road

16:27 CEST    102km/51km to go
The ardoissier is showing 2'10 now for the break. Not so good news for the three in front who have still more than 50 kilometres to race.

16:29 CEST   
The road is also pretty wide, which isn't good for the break, either. Rabobank is still powering at the front, their orange socks gleaming in the Spanish afternoon sun. Lampre is also there, hoping for a sprint and another Bennati victory.

German Schumi
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

16:32 CEST   
Schumacher smiles as he talks into his race radio. Good thing he is in a better mood than earlier today, when he was very upset to find out that Henn, his directeur sportif, will not be available at the Worlds.

16:36 CEST    103km/50km to go
Jorge Garcia (Relax)has flatted. Meanwhile, Lampre has moved up to share the work with Rabobank. The wind is blasting right into the rider's faces now.

16:41 CEST    105km/48km to go

The lead is now under two minutes, at 1'50. Lampre and Rabobank continue to put the pressure on.

16:44 CEST    111.6km/41.4km to go
The trio goes through the second intermediate sprint of the day. Vallejo sprints out to take the points ahead of De La Fuente and Martinez.

16:48 CEST   
The peloton is starting up the final climb of the day, and some other jerseys are starting to show up at the front: Gerolsteiner, Credit Agricole, Discovery Channel.

16:51 CEST   
This is just a Cat. 3 climb, but the three in front have been on their own for a long time, and aren't finding the going easy. Even after the peak, there are lots of little ups and downs on the way to the finish line.

16:54 CEST   
Quick.Step moves into the lead of the peloton, with World Champion Paolo Bettini right there to help.

16:57 CEST   

Denis Trubetskoy of the Ukraine is picking Erik Zabel today, noting his expertise in the hills.

Jan Peter Bultman from the Netherlands is going for Bettini.

16:58 CEST   
The hill is turning out to be nastier than expected. The lead has shrunk to some 43 seconds, and Quick.step's high pace is dropping a lot of riders off the back of the peloton.

17:00 CEST   
Martinez can't do it any more either, and has to let the other two go.

17:02 CEST   
Some of the non-climbers are having a tough time. T-Mobile's Andre Korff was one of the first off the back, and he is joined by such names as Stéphane Augé, Hary (Cofidis) and Bodrogi (Crédit Agricole). Boonen and Petacchi are also finding it difficult to follow suit.

17:04 CEST    130km/23km to go
Vallejo and De La Fuentes sprinted for the mountain ranking, with the Relax rider taking the points. The peloton is not far behind.....

17:06 CEST    125km/28km to go
Paolo Bettini and Stefan Schumacher are helping to lead the chase, but it is Euskaltel who leads things as the peloton slurps up the two former leaders.

17:07 CEST   
The Basque climbers are setting a blistering pace down the final climb. The peloton is strung out behind them in single file.

17:11 CEST   
The speed has now split the peloton, with a group of about 50 staying up with the Euskaltel leaders.

17:14 CEST   
Euskaltel races at 68 km/h past a corn field.

17:15 CEST    133km/20km to go
Horrillo finds the downhill easier, with his heart rate at only 170 bpm's. On the climb he was at 190 and close to his maximum. But many have not been able to follow the brisk pace and the peloton is a lot smaller than it used to be, but some riders are now catching the back end, with a daredevil descent.

17:16 CEST   
A Quick-Step rider takes off -- who is it it? He doesn't really seem to be trying to get away, though.

17:19 CEST    133km/20km to go
A crash as the peloton passes under the 20 km banner. Traffic cones on the street take down Haimar Zubeldia, who takes a long long time to get up.

17:20 CEST   
Zubeldia's left shoulder is hurting, but he is back on his bike, even if he is moving rather slowly. No chances for him today....

17:21 CEST    135km/18km to go
Barredo and Hulsmans are leading the charge of a peloton of about 60 riders, with another pack behind them.

17:23 CEST   
The peloton has reached Luarca. The shocked Euskaltel riders, who had virtually the whole team on the front, have now moved to the back of the field. But they haven't sent anybody back for Zubeldia.

17:26 CEST    139km/14km to go
They may be in town, but they are still climbing, and riding on some narrow roads with sharp curves.

17:28 CEST   
Lampre has taken over the lead, and the pace stays high Duque's heartbeat is 192, or 94%.

17:29 CEST    141km/12km to go
Quick.Step is driving the peloton again and the large group safely negotiates its way around a large traffic island.

17:32 CEST   
Claude has dropped out of the race. A defect for Relax, with a teammate turning over his bike as replacement.

17:34 CEST    8.5km/144.5km to go
It was Daniel Moreno (Relax) with a flat tyre, but gets a quick change - from his team-mate. He also tries to push his captain back on to get going, but it's not easy running with those cleats. Moreni is underway and a couple of team-mates are waiting to pace him back

17:35 CEST    146km/7km to go
Hope none of the riders are afraid of heights -- they are crossing a very long and very high bridge over the valley.

17:36 CEST    147km/6km to go
A lot of the riders who had fallen back have caught up again. It's not all 188, but a nice big group.

17:37 CEST   
It goes up again the last 3 km, with a rise of 7,5 %. That could be a rude shock to some of the sprinters.

17:38 CEST    148km/5km to go
The peloton tears through a largely deserted downtown.

17:39 CEST   
Quick.Step is trying to get Bettini in a good position, which is why they are riding hard in the front. But watch out for Schumacher, too, who has won the Amstel Gold race on a similar climb to that which we find in today's finish

17:41 CEST   
two riders crashed right at the top of the climb on the turn. Two Saunier Duval riders went down and just moved directly to the side of the road. One is holding his mouth.

17:42 CEST   
And Bettini pays his team back for their hard work, taking the win, over the protest of Freire.

17:46 CEST   
Freire claims he was blocked in by Bettini. It looks like the Spaniard came in second. Allan Davis of Discovery third, and Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) fourth.

17:49 CEST   
Former World Champion Oscar Freire was definitely not happy with current World Champion Paolo Bettini and let him know about it, sharing his opinion after the two crossed the finish line.

They may not be amigos right now, but we hope that our amigos out there have enjoyed today's stage and will join us again tomorrow. We go up in the big mountains tomorrow, so our Seat is off to the garage tonight to make sure it is up to the challenge!

Provisional results

1 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step - Innergetic
2 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank
3 Allan Davis (Aus) Discovery Channel
4 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner
5 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Française Des Jeux
6 Rene Mandri (Est) Ag2r Prévoyance
7 Xavier Florencio (Spa) Bouygues Telecom
8 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor-Lotto
9 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas
10 Francisco José Terciado (Spa) Relax-GAM

General classification after stage 3

1 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank
2 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step - Innergetic
3 Allan Davis (Aus) Discovery Channel
4 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Lampre-Fondital

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