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63rd Vuelta a España - GT

Spain, August 30 - September 21, 2008

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Stage 11 - September 10: Calahorra - Burgos, 178km

Complete live report

Live commentary by Gregor Brown

Live coverage starts: 15:00 CEST
Estimated finish: 18:00 CEST

14:58 CEST    62km/116km to go
Hello and welcome to our coverage of stage 11. We currently have Team Lampre heading the peloton, while a break of three is up the road.

Egoi Martínez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) leads the race
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

15:04 CEST   
Our escape trio consists of Serafín Martínez (Xacobeo Galicia), José Antonio López (Andalucía-Cajasur) and Andriy Grivko (Team Milram). After the move of Matej Jurco yesterday, Team Milram is represented again. The escapees, who went clear at kilometre 33 with the initiative of Martínez, have 6'50" over the peloton. The lead was over seven minutes a little ways back.

15:04 CEST   
Team Euskaltel, which has the race leader in its ranks, is helping with the pace-making.

15:06 CEST   
José Antonio López (Andalucía-Cajasur) stops to check his bike... the other two wait for their companion.

15:07 CEST   
We are in the town of Navarrete.

15:17 CEST   
A lot is going on in the world of cycling. Namely the return of Lance Armstrong and the possible signing of Floyd Landis. What are your thoughts on this? Write in, our e-mail is below.

15:18 CEST    75km/103km to go
The gap is 5'32" now. We see Freire's Rabobank team moving up to lend a hand to the work of Lampre and Euskaltel.

15:20 CEST   
Loyd Mondory of Team AG2R La Mondiale told Cyclingnews' Bjorn Haake about his feelings after sprinting to second place yesterday. "I was very content and I had a bit of a hard time sleeping!"

Mondory added, "I will try again today. I think it will be quite an active race. There are some hills in it and small roads. Our team will try to control it for a small break. If Milram or Quick Step has a rider in it, then it will be harder to get to a bunch sprint."

15:31 CEST   
Haake noted that it is another hot day at the Vuelta, although some clouds have moved this in afternoon. It should be another dry sprint if the breaks can't make it all the way to Burgos.

15:31 CEST    86km/92km to go
The gap is a touch under six minutes, 5'55", for the trio.

Stage 10 broke up into echelons
Photo ©: Unipublic
(Click for larger image)

15:32 CEST   
The many little hills in the area often have a lot of windmills. Fortunately for the riders, most of them are still today, so it is not too windy.

15:34 CEST   
If our car reads right, it is 29°C out there. We have to pull over for an ice-tea or some sort of lunch... these are long Spanish hauls!

15:48 CEST   
To have a look at yesterdays stage see the video or read our live report.

15:48 CEST    97km/81km to go
The gap is now at 5'30".

15:49 CEST   
Mikhail Ignatiev of Tinkoff Credit Systems told Cyclingnews' Bjorn Haake that the team was very motivated for the stage to Burgos. "Today, Oleg Tinkov arrives, so the team will have to do something. Either be in the break of the day or a top-three finish."

The motivation will be there tomorrow as well. "Oleg may be in the car tomorrow, so we will try then, too."

15:59 CEST   
Please use the commentator e-mail to direct all of your thoughts regarding our live coverage.

Today looks to be another sprinters delight. Will we see Freire or Boonen see revenge on the French riders?

16:01 CEST    102km/76km to go
We are heading through Redecilla del Camino, a great little city. We got a time check to Serafín Martínez (Xacobeo Galicia), José Antonio López (Andalucía-Cajasur) and Andriy Grivko (Team Milram) and we see that it is going down. From the once 7+ minute gap, we now have 5'15" for the "band on the run."

Levi Leipheimer weighs in on the Armstrong comeback
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

16:03 CEST   
Levi Leipheimer told Cyclingnews about the upcoming stages. "We have to pay attention. Any stage is dangerous, it could be windy. But in theory we have a strong team to get myself and Alberto [Contador] to the bottom of the Angliru in good condition, and there I think it is going to be every man for himself."

Of course most questions were centred on Lance Armstrong's comeback. Leipheimer told Haake "It's big news. It's a surprise to me and to everyone." He thought it was a good thing. "It is a lot of publicity. Look at the interest that it has already generated. It's huge. Our sport can definitely use some more publicity."

As fore Armstrong's chances to win the Tour de France again, Leipheimer was more optimistic than Bruyneel and Contador. "I would definitely never say he couldn't [win the Tour]. He has already won it seven times. He is a big champion. There is no reason why he can't win again."

16:04 CEST   
Thanks for all the great e-mails!

Armstrong ready to face the media pressure again?
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

16:09 CEST   
Doug wrote, "I wish Armstrong would just stay retired. I guess his ego is so big that he needs to race again for attention?"

Ron wrote, "I think it's great to see two of cycling's greats back on the road!"

Randy weighs in "Lance's comeback is just what pro cycling needs right now. With all of the turmoil between ASO and UCI there is much trouble in the pro ranks. His comeback would certainly bring some much needed $$$ back into the sport."

Dale adds "Is Jan Ullrich coming back too? Maybe if Armstrong is reading he can write in too?"

16:12 CEST    109km/69km to go
We see the gap fall below five minutes, 4'47", for the trio – err, band on the run, mister commentator.

Ivan Basso must be itching his head, thinking 'err, I have to face Armstrong again in the Tour.'

16:17 CEST   
Ken writes "If I were Alberto Contador, I’d quit. He was unable to defend is title this year and now, he could be overshadowed by Lance." No, we think Contador should continue, he is a huge talent.

Mike in Missouri wrote, "I sincerely admire Alberto Contador's comment, 'If Lance comes back I will open the door.' Well done Alberto."

16:19 CEST   
Cyclingnews diarist Sylvain Chavanel checked in. "It goes well for the team. Now it is the time for the sprinters. We wait for the stage to the Angliru, but I know I will be far back... Yes, the French are doing a good Vuelta. There are sprinters, workers, climbers like Moncoutié..."

His ambition is still to get his targeted stage win. "I will try."

16:21 CEST   
J to T: Big news in the world... Armstrong, Big Bang test and a new iPod Nano. Hmmm.... What good timing. Anyone know the albums that were released yesterday? A new T-Rex album would be cool, but we suspect there might be new Jay-Z instead.

16:23 CEST   
We get a lot of readers' e-mails regarding a Jay-Z look alike. Do you know who that rider is?

A special Happy Birthday to one of Cyclingnews' greats, Susan. 'Buon compleanno' We think she is playing with her new iPod stereo.

Alberto Contador of Team Astana thinks about Armstrong v3 and Jay-Z look alikes
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

16:36 CEST   
Tom wrote, "I figured as soon as Lance heard that Hinault came back to win a stage in the Vuelta, he would want to come back too." Of course, he is joking, Sébastien is not linked to the great hard-man Hinault.

Janet wrote, "I think it's exciting for US cycling, maybe it will keep the Tour of Georgia going one more year, but I also feel bad for Levi, who has had to relinquish team leadership first to Basso, then Contador, now possibly Lance."

16:37 CEST    131km/47km to go
The climb of Alto de Valmada starts for the lead trio – the only climb of the day. The gap is at 4'45".

16:39 CEST   
Top three for today's Britain's stage:
1 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Columbia
2 Giairo Ermeti (Ita) LPR Brakes
3 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) LPR Brakes

16:45 CEST   
Denis wrote of today's stage, "Freire? Boonen? Maybe, now it's time for Erik Zabel to win again?" And Denis, we don't rate Zabel very high for the Worlds in Varese. We look for Stefan Schumacher to lead the way.

16:45 CEST   
USA's Floyd Landis, 32, will make his return to professional cycling after a two-year suspension with the team currently sponsored by Health Net-Maxxis, under a new title sponsor for 2009, sources confirmed with Cyclingnews. The team, run by Momentum Sports Group, has also re-signed many of its current riders, including two-time NRC champion Rory Sutherland, current USA cyclo-cross champion Tim Johnson and Karl Menzies. Read the full article.

Johan Bruyneel looks on
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

16:46 CEST   
"I spoke to Lance yesterday evening, and he confirmed that he wanted to make a comeback into professional cycling. I said to him, 'there are a lot of things we have to talk about. If you are a professional cyclist I can't imagine you would make a comeback with any other team.' ... I don't know if Lance can come back at the highest level. He has been training and keeping in shape, it is different than riding at the highest professional level," said Bruyneel Tuesday morning. Read the full article.

16:49 CEST   
Jonathan Vaughters, former teammate of Lance Armstrong, said yesterday, "I'm not surprised to be honest. I mean he's always been keeping fit and in shape. You could see that from the results he's had recently. If anything I'm just curious as to how he'll do and what level he can come back to. That's the big question for me. Assuming he rides, I don't think anyone can say how he'll get on in the Tour next year. There will be barometers along the way with the smaller races that he'll ride like Paris - Nice and the Dauphiné but one thing I'd bet on is that he certainly won't suck during the Tour

"There was a rumour that I was going to come back to the sport and race a while ago but if I wanted to come back I'd have to cut my wine intake by around 98 per cent. I'm happy not coming back."

Cheers Vaughters! It was nice seeing you recently in Denver.

16:53 CEST   
Pat McQuaid said, "There's nothing to stop him coming back – there is no administrative, legal or sporting issue to stop him. From the UCI's point of view, he's free to race. He can come back but the question is if he can return to the same level; maybe he doesn't know that himself, maybe he just wants to see what he can do.

"He's been a superb athlete, both in coming back from cancer and in winning seven Tours."

The news only became official on Tuesday but McQuaid said that the planning had been going on before that. "His management contacted the UCI three or four months ago to request that he be put into the [testing] system. He's already been on it a couple of months so if he starts racing in February, he'll be in the system for the required six months.

The full article

16:55 CEST   
Matt wrote in, "Hey Cyclingnews, I hear that Lance is going to ride for the New York Jets. As for new tunes, the new Okkervil River is pretty sweet." Matt, Armstrong is strong, but we think he might not make the cut for USA football.

16:56 CEST   
Liquigas and Rabobank are pulling the peloton.

Up front, we see José Antonio López has the air conditioner on – his jersey is unzipped. He looks like he is struggling on this cat. three climb.

The gap is 3'00"

16:58 CEST   
José Antonio López is dropped before the top of the climb. He covers the top about 10 seconds back on the other two and he should re-join on this descent.

17:00 CEST   
We know Tinkov is here today watching the Tinkoff riders, but Franco Ballerini is also here watching all the Italians so that he can select the optimum mix for the national team that will compete in the Worlds, September 28. Ballerini will make the announcement on the 15th, in Varese.

José Antonio López (Andalucía-Cajasur) in yesterday's move. He will surely be feeling the efforts today.
Photo ©: Unipublic
(Click for larger image)

17:03 CEST    142km/36km to go
David Moncoutié (Cofidis) pips off the front to take the fourth place points over the climb. He will add one point to his mountains classification lead. Remember, Moncoutié won stage eight of this Vuelta. It was his first win in three years. He looks like a strong rider for the World Championships.

The gap was 3'08" over the Alto de Valmala.

Liquigas leads through the town of Alarcia

17:08 CEST   
Our sources have Armstrong wanting to race just five races in 2009, starting with the Tour of California, Paris-Nice, Tour de Georgia and Dauphiné-Libéré, in addition to the Tour de France.

17:10 CEST   
José Vicente Garcia (Caisse d'Epargne) is back grabbing water bottles for his team. He will bring those back up to Valverde, et al. He could learn from Fabio Sacchi, who put a record amount of bottles in his jersey/bike in the 2006 Giro d'Italia.

17:16 CEST   
Lampre has two men on the front doing the muscle work.

17:18 CEST   
Liquigas is turning the screws tight. It helps Lampre with the work.

17:21 CEST    158km/20km to go
20km for the riders.

Manuele Mori signed for Lampre, he will join them for the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Enrico Gasparotto will also join the blue and pink team.

17:24 CEST    163km/15km to go
15 kilometres left for the trio, which has been out front since kilometre 33.

17:25 CEST   
The peloton passes 1'33" later.

17:27 CEST   
World Champion Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) is leading the peloton for Tom Boonen. 'Tommeke' will search for stage win number two today.

17:29 CEST   
The race is going at 62km/h.

17:29 CEST    168km/10km to go
The gap is 53" to the three leaders.

17:31 CEST    169km/9km to go
Will Pozzato do another last minute dig today? Yesterday, he almost made it.

17:31 CEST   
Gap is at 30"

17:32 CEST    170km/8km to go
The sprint: Look out for Oscar Freire (Rabobank), Tom Boonen (Quick Step), Erik Zabel (Team Milram), Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas), Sébastien Hinault (Crédit Agricole), Alexandre Usov (AG2R La Mondiale) and Loyd Mondory (AG2R La Mondiale).

Gap is at 17"

17:33 CEST    171km/7km to go
The trio nears seven kilometres. Serafín Martínez (Xacobeo Galicia) has a look back. He sees the eyes of the Liquigas riders.

17:34 CEST   
The trio is caught.

17:34 CEST   
Matti Breschel (CSC-Saxo Bank) and Mikhail Ignatiev (Tinkoff Credit Systems) go on the counter-attack.

17:34 CEST   
Two riders join them.

17:35 CEST    172km/6km to go
Looks like Flecha from Rabobank. He gives a gesture with his hand as the race is now back together at -6km.

17:35 CEST   
Another counter move.

17:35 CEST   
Tinkoff rider?

17:36 CEST    173km/5km to go
Silence-Lotto is leading the race with Liquigas and Euskaltel.

17:36 CEST    173km/5km to go
They catch the Tinkoff rider with -4800m

17:37 CEST    174km/4km to go
Liquigas is back at the top of the group.

17:37 CEST   
Lots of twists and turns in the finale...

17:37 CEST   
Where is Team Quick Step?

17:37 CEST   
Here we go. The Belgian power team comes to the fore.

17:38 CEST   
That metre is in the red, and we are not talking about the Seat we are driving.

17:38 CEST    175km/3km to go
AG2R takes over.

17:38 CEST   
Bettini is still near the front, near some Silence riders.

17:38 CEST   
'Il Grillo' Bettini leads the race.

17:39 CEST   
Followed by one Rabobank and three Quick Steps. The pace is 62km/h.

17:39 CEST   
Bettini pulls off.

17:39 CEST    176km/2km to go
-2km for the riders.

17:40 CEST   
Quick Step has about five men at the front. Tonti, Van Impe, Tosatto, Velo...

17:40 CEST    177km/1km to go
Coming to the final kilometre...

17:40 CEST   
Quick Step still leads.

17:40 CEST   
Freire looks to be in seventh spot.

17:40 CEST   
Three Quick Steps and one Milram at the front. Is that Zabel?

17:40 CEST   
A large right turn.

17:40 CEST   
Freire loses ground

17:41 CEST   
Tosatto pulls off

17:41 CEST   
Boonen is being led out...

17:41 CEST   
A long lead out...

17:41 CEST   
Boonen hits the front at 200m

17:41 CEST   
Freire comes on the left of him.

17:41 CEST   
We think it is Freire, the 3x World Champ.

17:42 CEST   
A clash of World Champions here in Burgos.

17:43 CEST   
Oscar the Cat pounces on Tommeke. Zabel is in fourth. JJ Haedo in third.

17:45 CEST   
5 Loyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
6 Koldo Fernández (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
7 Xavier Florencio (Spa) Bouygues Telecom
8 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Silence-Lotto
9 Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Lampre
10 Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Gerolsteiner

17:45 CEST   
Great work by Quick Step, but they could not manage the cagey Freire.

17:46 CEST   
Freire kept himself on Boonen's wheel as the race went down the right side.

17:47 CEST   
He blasted off on the left... A true Big Bang on the Quick Step train by Freire. What strength from the 32 year-old Spaniard.

17:50 CEST   
Thanks for joining us today in our Armstrong chat/Live Coverage! Please come back tomorrow for more great coverage of the Spanish Grand Tour. Hasta luego!

Provisional results

1 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank
2 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step
3 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Rabobank
4 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram
5 Loyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
General classification after stage 11
1 Egoi Martínez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
2 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana
3 Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana

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