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2001 Vuelta

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Vuelta News for September 21, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones

Stage 13 wrap up

It was another fast, wind assisted stage today from Burgos to Santander in the north of the country, with the average speed well above 45 km/h. Again an early break of 16 escaped, and this time were successful in staying away. After yesterday's efforts, the sprinters teams took a rest day and let the Kelme team sit on the front, to the annoyance of some who thought they were going too fast. However with a rider at 15 minutes on GC in the break, Kelme couldn't afford to relax too much, and limited the damage to 9 minutes or so.

The leading break sorted itself out with 9 km to go when Giovanni Lombardi, Pietro Caucchioli, Paolo Bossoni and Marco Velo got away from the rest. Although they were caught by Bramati and Laguna just before the finish, Giovanni Lombardi took the easiest of sprint wins to bring Acqua e Sapone's win tally up to four stages in this Vuelta.

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Giovanni Lombardi (Acqua e Sapone, 1st stage)

Giovanni Lombardi
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"It was a very hard day because I went in the break from the start, and there were so many attacks and counter-attacks that I had to work a lot. The sprint was the easiest part of the stage, because the hardest thing is to arrive at the finish in a group.

"I have a lot of sprinting practice by working for Cipollini. I am also convinced that Mario would be winning more stages if he were still here."

Oscar Sevilla (Kelme, 1st GC)

"The riders complained that we went too fast, but we are the team of the leader and we could not allow them to get 30 or 40 minutes. It was a relatively calm day overall thanks to the break being so big."

Joseba Beloki (ONCE, 5th GC)

Joseba Beloki was one of those who couldn't believe how fast the peloton was travelling once the break had gone. "Behind it was also very fast, Kelme does not call any kind of a truce and it seems that each time we go faster," he said.

"It's clear that the Angliru and also the Covatilla are going to be the keys, but we can't forget the last time trial," added Beloki.

Santiago Botero (Kelme, 91st GC)

"We are following the orders of our director, we finish a little tired, but we have conserved the leadership. We didn't want to lose too much time to those up in front. What's important is to get through each day, everyone is suffering and we share the work between us and everyone is punished, not just the leader's team."

Gonzalez not looking for a battle with Sevilla

With Aitor Gonzalez lying in second overall just one second behind Oscar Sevilla, there have been plenty of rumours about a rivalry between the pair, especially as Gonzalez will leave Kelme at the end of the year. Both riders refuse to acknowledge a rivalry, and are more focused on holding off the riders behind them on GC.

"My rival is not Oscar Sevilla - he is my teammate, but if I have to look for one it would be Heras," said Gonzalez to Europa Press. We must lose the least amount of time possible to him. I think that the last week more than the Angliru will determine who wins the Vuelta."

"I'm not obsessed with the Angliru," he added. "I know that it is a very hard climb and depends on everyone's strength."

On his team's work in today's stage, Gonzalez said that "There was no tranquility. The stage was very hard and the team deserves a big medal. Now I must rest because tomorrow is another day and I'll see how I am."

Four less as Blijlevens and Mercado pull out

Last year's Lagos de Covadonga stage winner Juan Miguel Mercado (iBanesto.com) was the second rider to retire from his team, choosing not to start today's 13th stage. Mercado came to the Vuelta short of preparation, and has not had any impact in any of the mountain stages, which are normally his preferred terrain.

Other riders to abandon today include Andreas Klier (Telekom), Mauro Zanetti (Alessio) and Jeroen Blijlevens (Domo-Farm Frites) who could not make his mark on the race as he'd hoped.

Index-Alexia down to three

After Ivan Quaranta and Paolo Savoldelli's departures in the first few stages, the Index-Alexia team is looking rather thin. Just three riders are left: Giuseppe Di Grande, Alessandro Guerra and Eddy Serri, with Di Grande the best placed rider on GC at 66th overall. With the team reportedly experiencing problems paying their riders, lack of motivation may have something to do with the all round performance.

Stage 14 - September 21: Santander - Gijón, 190.2 km

Tomorrow's stage 14 from Santander to Gijón across the north of Spain can be considered a transition stage for those seeking success before El Angliru on Sunday. It's flatter than today, with just two Cat. 3 climbs which are situated near the finish. If Zabel and Petacchi's teams are sufficiently motivated, then expect a bunch sprint in Gijón. Don't count out Lombardi either following today's performance. The Acqua e Sapone rider is quite capable in a mass sprint, even though the team has lost a few lead out riders.

Join us tomorrow at 14:45 CEST/05:45 PDT/08:45 EDT/22:45 Aust. EST for live coverage of Stage 14.

(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2002)


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