55th Vuelta a España - Grand Tour

Spain, August 26 - September 17, 2000

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Complete live report

Stage 20 - September 16: Ávila-Alto de Abantos, 128.2 km

15.30 CET - 75 kms to go

Welcome to the penultimate stage of the Vuelta a España. This is the last chance for leading Roberto Heras (Kelme) to put some more minutes between him and second placed Angel Casero (Festina). H has 3.41 already and that might be enough for tomorrow's TT stage in Madrid.

So far a trio is a couple of minutes ahead of the peloton with some 80 kms to go. The riders are Piccoli (Lampre), Nieto (Fuenlabrada) and Casagranda (Alessio).

15.45 - 67 kms to go

On the way down now from the second climb of the day, Santa María de la Alameda (Cat. 2) the peloton was chasing and the gap shrunk to one and a half minute, but now it's opening again towards two minutes.

16.00 CET - 50 kms to go

The gap is really growing and is now three minutes. None of the break aways have anything to do in the general classification anyway. After the category three climb Robledondo the riders are now I an easier part of the stage. Next difficulty is the category three climb to La Cruz Verde, 23 kilometres from the finish on top of the Alto de Abantos.

The final climb is a category one. It is possible to increase tha gap here for Heras but on the other hand the ride so far has been easy. Question is who will loose most strength for tomorrow on a tough ride up the Abantos. Heras might opt for keeping Casero company and save himself for the ITT.

16.30 CET - 30 kms to go

Casagranda is the first to be in trouble in the front trio and falls behind. Then Nieto hits something at the roadside, falls and must change bike. He comes back to Piccoli though after a while but is unable to follow and drops back to the peloton. A lone Piccoli will have a tough ride. His gap is a minute and a half.

16.40 CET - 26 kms to go

It is Kelme and Mapei driving the peloton and the gap is shrinking to less than a minute for Piccoli on the cat. 3 climb to La Cruz Verde.

16.50 CET - 20 kms to go

Piccoli wins the climb with a 25 seconds margin. The peloton is all green and white now in the front as Kelme raises the tempo on the climb. There is a small downhill now before the final ascent to the Abantos.

17.00 CET - 13 kms to go

Piccoli gained some down from La Cruz Verde and had 36 seconds for a while. At the sprint in San Lorenzo del Escorial in the valley it is 20 seconds but it takes the peloton less than a mkilometre of the final climb, Alto de Abantos to catch him. Time for the final climb in the Vuelta a España 2000.

17.08 CET - 8 kms to go

Laiseka makes his by now almost habitual attack early in the climb, and why not? Curo Garcia (Jazztel) hangs on for a little while but soon Roberto Laiseka is on his own.

Then Heras launches an unexpected attack. Simoni comes along and the two catches Laiseka. So Heras wants to gain some more on Casero. They have already gained half a minute.

17.15 CET - 3 kms to go

Tonkov (Mapei) ,Curro Garcia and overall second Casero (Festina) tries to catch the trio at the front. The gap is 18 seconds for a while but they are not able to close in. Instead Gentili (Cantina Tollo) and Rubeira (Kelme) tries their luck. The latter is merely hanging on of course and they are caught by the following group.

17.22 CET - 1 km to go

Heras wants to finish in style and launches another attack in the 10 percent part. Simoni hangs on but Laiseka is in trouble but manages to join the others after a while. Their gap to the group becomes 40 seconds. There are also bonus seconds to gain.

17.27 CET - Finish

Roberto Heras wins the stage ahead of Simoni and Laiseka. The margin to Casero becomes approximately40 seconds to add to the 3.41 that Heras had this morning.

Preliminary stage results:

1. Roberto Heras Hernandez (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca          3.16.42
2. Gilberto Simoni  (Ita) Lampre Daikin         
3. Roberto Laiseka Jaio (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                 0.03
4. José Luis Rubiera Vigil (Spa)  Kelme-Costa Blanca            0.45
5. Fernando Escartín (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca         
6. Angel Casero Moreno (Spa) Festina Watches         
7. Pavel Tonkov (Rus) Mapei-Quick Step         
8. Raimundas Rumsas (Ltu) Fassa Bortolo         
9. Massimiliano Gentili (Ita) Cantina Tollo         
10. Txema Del Olmo Zendegi (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi         
11. Santos Gonzalez Capilla (Spa) ONCE-Deutsche Bank         
12. Haimar Zubeldia Aguirre (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi         
13. Santiago Blanco Gil (Spa) Vitalicio Seguros                 1.03
14. Óscar Sevilla Ribera (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca         
15. Francisco Garcia Rodriguez (Spa) Vitalicio Seguros          1.08
16. Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) ONCE-Deutsche Bank               1.29
17. Wladimir Belli (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                          1.38
18. Richard Virenque (Fra) Team Polti                           2.21
19. Felix Garcia Casas (Spa) Festina Watches         
20. Pascal Hervé (Fra) Team Polti         
21. Fabian Jeker (Swi) Festina Watches         
22. Alvaro González de Galdeano (Spa) Vitalicio Seguros         
23. Jon Odriozola Mugarza (Spa) Banesto                         2.37
24. Andrei Zintchenko (Rus) LA-Pecol         
25. Massimo Codol (Ita) Lampre Daikin                           2.50
26. Gianni Faresin (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step                       2.57

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