62nd Vuelta a España - GT
Spain, September 1-23, 2007
Results & report
Stage 8 - September 8: D. O. Cariñena - Zaragoza (ITT), 52.2km
Complete live report
Live commentary by Susan Westemeyer
Live coverage starts: 15:00 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:30 CEST
Welcome back the Cyclingnews live coverage of the 2007 Vuelta,
where the riders will face the race of the truth today. 52 kilometres racing
against one-self and the clock. No drafting. No hiding. May the best man win.
It's all downhill today in the time
trial -- but don't expect to see the mountain specialists excelling in flying
down the mountain. It is more of a gradual thing, dropping from 560 metres at
the start in Carinena to 210 metres in Zaragoza.
So who's going to
have the best legs for the long course? Cadel Evans, Stefan Schumacher, Denis
Menchov, Stijn Devolder?
Vincent Jerome of Bouygues Telecom
was the first to leave the starting blocks today promptly at 12:49. Looks like
the riders will have a sunny and warm day to cover their 52.2 km. But they will
also have to fight the wind, as they are facing a strong head- and cross wind
on all those nasty little climbs.
Laszlo Bodrogi of Credit Agricole
has the best time so far, 57'39, and his time may hold up for quite a long time.
He is more than a minute faster than Magnus Backstedt, who is in second place.
And the good news is that the riders report that the wind is not as strong as
The 181 riders still in the race
will go off at one minute intervals, until we get to the top 30. They will have
a two-minute interval. It looks like everybody came out of that huge stage-ending
crash with no problems, we have not yet heard of anyone not starting today.
Did we say that Backstedt's time
might hold for a while? We were just joking, of course. Bert Grabsch of T-Mobile,
who also happens to be the German national Time Trial champion, just busted
through with a new best time of 57'05.
Current race leader Vladimir Efimkin
of Caisse d'Epargne is hoping that the leader's jersey will lend him wings.
"I know that it will not be easy, but I will start very motivated thanks to
the golden jersey. Time-trials are not my specialty and until now, I disputed
only once such a long one, last year during the Giro d'Italia.
this year I lost the Tour of Switzerland on the occasion of the final time trial,
but the conditions are different and I feel much better now than I felt then,"
he added. "The riders which follow me in the general classification are all
more or less specialists, to begin with [Denis] Menchov and [Cadel] Evans, and
I know that it will be difficult to fight with equal chance, but I will certainly
not give up."
CSC's Carlos Sastre, who is third
going into the time trial, 1'06 down, isn't real thrilled with the stage today.
"It is maybe the longest in the history of Vuelta a España. It is what we [have]
got to ride," said Sastre to TVE. "It doesn't matter whether it is that long
or shorter. For me, it is a time trial that needs too much power; it is not
the most favourable for me."
The start today is in Cariñena, which
is hosting the start of a Vuelta stage for the first time. We parked our Seat
outside one of the city's famous "wine bodegas" last night and paid it a visit
-- all in the name of scientific research, of course.
José Gómez Marchante (Saunier Duval-Prodir)
Photo ©: Sirotti
José Ángel Gómez Marchante (Saunier
Duval - Prodir) is 16th going into the day, 2'23 down. He is hoping for some
help from Mother Nature. "It would be great if we had a tailwind ... - and it
seems we will - because there'll be smaller differences this way. I don't like
the route at all - it's a fully flat course for time trialists only. We, climbers,
will find it difficult."
The stage ends in Zaragoza, which
should look familiar to the riders, as yesterday's stage also finished here.
The city, which is the capital of the Aragon region, has hosted seven Vuelta
time trials in the past, most recently in 2003.
Gerolsteiner's Stefan Schumacher
is underway, and he may be a good pick for the stage. "Schumi" isn't related
to German speedsters Michael and Ralf Schumacher, but he's no slowpoke, either.
This year's Amstel Gold winner will probably be captain of the German team at
the Worlds, and is one of the big favourites for Stuttgart. His form has been
improving in nearly every Vuelta stage and he has already spread the word that
he "would like to try something" today.
Schumacher wasn't happy with his
Tour de France. He went into it with great hopes, all of which were dashed.
He started out with a cold and then came down with intestinal problems. He felt
better by the third week, but could never get into the right escape group. His
biggest chance came in the final time trial where he was looking to finish in
the top ten, but a crash brought him down to 15th. We hope that he -- and all
of the riders --stay upright today.
Jason McCartney of Discovery Channel
has finished fourth behind Grabsch, 1'55 down.
His team-mate Tom
Danielson is looking at surgery this coming Wednesday to repair the damage done
in his crash in the first stage. He not only has torn tendons, but also a badly
broken "Glenoid cavity." As we understand it -- and we are the first to admit
our Dr. titles are strictly honorary -- that is the socket in the shoulder blade,
where the top of the arm bone goes to form the shoulder joint.
to put it another way, the arm bone connected to the shoulder bone.....
Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne) suffers
Photo ©: Sirotti
Things aren't looking good for Oscar
Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne) at the moment. He is currently 13th overall, not
quite two minutes behind leader Efimkin. He has been hit by an intestinal virus,
as has team-mate Xabier Zandio. The apparent 2006 TdF winner suffered dreadfully
from vomiting, diarrhea and fever Thursday night, and was unable to keep any
food down until just before Friday's stage started.
"Luckily I have
gotten better," he said. "I can eat again and I trust that I can rest and recover
Luis Leon Sanchez of Caisse d'Epargne
was hoping to recommend himself for the Spanish national team for the time trial
at the Worlds later this month -- but he won't do that if he keeps on as he
is. At km 27 he is already 1'42 off the best time.
This is the Vuelta a España as we
usually think of it: riding on a turnpike, lots of brown scenery, and of course,
a lack of on-lookers.
Schumacher has gone through both
intermediate timing points as fourth fastest.
Jose Angel Gomez Marchante may get
a ticket for going too slowly. He just passed a sign announcing a speed limit
of 120 km/h. We doubt he has picked up quite that much speed.
Anybody notice that three-time stage
winner Oscar Freire was nowhere to be seen in yesterday's finale? It's because
he is not only an outstanding sprinter, he can also foretell the future. He
took a look at Friday's closing kilometres, and yesterday morning at the breakfast
table told his team-mates they could take the day off from pulling a sprint
for him. They are going to fall in the finale; I am not taking any risks," the
speedy Spaniard accurately predicted.
Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto)
Photo ©: Sirotti
Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) is
on his way now. He has to be one of the top favourites today to win the stage
and possibly take over the leader's jersey.
Vladimir Karpets of Caisse d'Epargne
is a disappointing ninth at the first time check, 44 seconds behind Grabsch.
A lot of fans had picked the Russian to win today.
Number two Denis Menchov has now
started. Rabobank will take its attention away from "three-peater" Freire today
and look towards 2005 Vuelta winner Menchov, who will try to protect his second
place overall. Directeur Sportif Adri Van Houwelingen said that the mostly straight
course "is not really to Denis's advantage. A more difficult time trial would
have been better for him."
And now Efimkin is on the course.
Will he still be wearing the golden jersey tomorrow?
Evans is seventh at the first time
check, a bit slower than expected.
Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) currently
Photo ©: Sirotti
Schumacher was fourth fastest at
the intermediate time checks and he carries through with the theme: he is fourth
fastest at the finish. He is 1'52 down, but that could still be enough for a
top ten finish on the day.
Stijn Devolder of Discovery comes
through the first time check as fifth.
We think we can safely say that Pereiro
won't win today. He hit the second intermediate time check 2'57 down, which
is 46th place.
Sastre is riding smoothly down the
equally smooth highway -- looks like it was recently freshly paved. He is 32d
at the first time check.
Menchov is flying today and he may
well pass Sastre eventually. He flew through the time check only 9 seconds slower
that Grabsch, putting him in second place there.
Efimkin is 17th at the time check,
46 seconds down. It would be enough to keep him in the golden jersey, though,
ahead of Menchov and Devolder.
There don't seem to be any birthdays
in the Vuelta today that we know of, but outside the Vuelta, Koen de Kort of
Astana is turning 25, Alessandro Maserati of Team LPR is 28, Marcos Antonio
Serrano Rodriques (Karpin Galicia) is 35, and Frederik Willems of Liquigas is
also 28 today.
At the 27,7 km time check, Devolder
is 3d, at 28 seconds down.
Stijn Devolder (Discovery) is not in
the Belgian Champ kit in today's TT
Photo ©: Unipublic
Menchov has made up the two minutes
and caught Sastre at the 27,7 km time check. The Rabobank rider is third through
the check, and goes on by Sastre.
Sammy Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
Photo ©: Sirotti
Samuel Sanchez crosses the finish
line as 13th, in just over one hour.
Karpets is seventh best at the 27
km check, 1'12 behind Grabsch.
Pereiro has survived his tummy troubles
to come in 36th at the finish.
Only 6 km to go for Devolder.
Cadel Evans is over the finish line.
He comes in as ninth in 59'25. That is 2'20 slower than Grabsch.
Stijn Devolder gets up out of the
saddle to get maximum power as he crosses the finish line 48 seconds down, in
Monfort is in now, too, in 13th place,
exactly 3 minutes down. There are only three riders left on the course.
And now Menchov has crossed the finish
line. He is fourth fastest, 1'18 down. He is followed by Sastre, who comes in
4'03 behind Grabsch, in 24th place. Now we only have Efimkin underway.
1 km to go for Efimkin.
Efimkin is 18th fastest on the day,
3'22 behind surprise winner Bert Grabsch.
It's a surprise win and a big day
for Grabsch and his magenta-clad team-mates. The team came here in search of
stage wins, and probably hadn't expected this one -- but they will be glad to
Stijn Devolder has taken over the
leader's golden jersey, while Menchov remains in second place.
Things will get difficult again tomorrow
for the riders. The Pyrenees are on the agenda, and Sunday's stage features
two cat. 2 and one cat. 3 climbs, before ending up with an hors catégorie mountaintop
finish. Adios until then!
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