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2001 Vuelta

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Vuelta News for September 29, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones & Chris Henry

Stage 20 wrap up

Alessio's sprinter Angelo Furlan recorded his second Vuelta stage win, beating Alessandro Petacchi and Erik Zabel in the sprint in Warner Bros Park in San Martin de la Vega. Furlan burst from the front of the pack in the final 50 metres to claim victory by over a bike length.

Other than that, the stage was fairly uneventful, with the GC riders thinking of tomorrow's time trial and the sprinters teams banding together to close a nearly 10 minute gap to the lone breakaway, Oscar Laguna. The Relax-Fuenlabrada rider was rewarded with some TV time, but no stage win.

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Angelo Furlan (Alessio, 1st stage)

Angelo Furlan
Photo: © AFP
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"Coming into the sprint up a slight rise, I knew I had an advantage because I'm a bit heavier. Also in this sprint I had more freedom to manoeuvre than in Salamanca."

On his chances of World's selection, Furlan said that "The fact that I've won two stages does not mean anything for the selection of the Italian team for the World's. I am in form, but I am not going to give advice to the selector. I'll respect his decision."

Roberto Heras (USPS, 1st GC)

Roberto Heras
Photo: © Lavuelta.com
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Heras will be defending a 1'08 lead going in to tomorrow's time trial, with Aitor Gonzalez (Kelme) sure to close some of that gap. Heras can lose 1.6 seconds per kilometre and still win overall. That's certainly achievable, but he will have to have the time trial ride of his life.

"We are both very strong. I hope to have a good result, as Sunday will be the day that decides everything."

"The key to the time trial is to not lose much time in the first 10 or 15km, then to attack the second part. I would like very much to win the Vuelta."

Oscar Sevilla (Kelme, 3rd GC)

Sevilla saw his chances of Vuelta victory slide away on the treacherous slopes of l'Angliru, where he lost nearly 3 minutes to Roberto Heras and slipped to third overall.

"I was hoping to arrive in Madrid in the lead, but it wasn't possible. This situation is ok, and I have to look at it from a positive perspective."

"I have finished well, and hope to ride at a good level (in the time trial). I'm not going to take it easy. I'm doing what I like, which is enjoying cycling. People have supported me, and that's a source of pride."

Oscar Sevilla turns 26 tomorrow

Kelme's Oscar Sevilla, who wore the leader's jersey for 10 days, will celebrate his 26th birthday tomorrow on the final day of the Vuelta. Sevilla, currently in third place overall, has come close to winning the Vuelta before. Last year he was in a similar position to Heras, holding the lead by a slender margin until the final day's time trial, when Angel Casero took it. This year his best hope is a podium finish, as he will likely find it impossible to close the 2 minute gap to Heras.

Sevilla has surprisingly not won a race this season. He finished second in the Classique des Alpes behind teammate Santiago Botero, second in the 10th stage of the Vuelta, and third in the Subida a Naranco this year. However the soon to be 26 year old is still to reach is physical peak as a cyclist, and the next few years could see him win a major tour.

Zabel and Osa claim points and mountains classifications

Aitor Osa
Photo: © Lavuelta.com
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Erik Zabel (Telekom) and Aitor Osa (iBanesto) wrapped up the points and mountains classifications today, having merely to complete the distance tomorrow in Madrid to claim their respective jerseys. Zabel has been pushed all the way by Alessandro Petacchi, but his consistency proved superior to the Italian's, and he should finish with a 25 point lead. Osa has done what Jalabert did in the Tour, attacking early in the stage to take as many mountain points as possible before the peloton catches him. He is not a bad climber - not at the same level as Heras but certainly able to hold his own in a mountain stage. Today he took four points to finish with 107 points, 8 more than Heras who is undeniably the best climber in the race.

Stage 21: Warner Bros Park - Stadion Santiago Bernabeu ITT, 41.2 km

The Vuelta ends tomorrow with what's expected to be a thrilling finale, as Roberto Heras and Aitor Gonzalez go head to head in a 41.2 km individual time trial starting from Warner Bros Park and finishing in Real Madrid's home of Santiago Bernabeu stadium. The stadium will be open from 14:00.

The parcours is undulating, with a couple of small hills in the first part before the final uphill finish into Madrid. The weather is expected to be perfect, with temperatures around 26-28 degrees celsius and a light southerly breeze, which will assist the riders for most of the way.

The first rider (Sven Teutenberg) will leave at 14:24 CEST, with the next 111 riders following at 1 minute intervals. The final 20 riders will start at two minute intervals, with Heras the last to go at 16:55 CEST. Besides the top GC riders, favourites for the TT include Santiago Botero (Kelme), who is definitely riding better in the final week than he did the first two weeks, Botero's teammate Antonio Tauler, who rode well in the first TT, Christian Vandevelde (USPS) who did likewise, and David Plaza (Team Coast) who is good against the clock.

Join us tomorrow at 15:00 CEST/06:00 PDT/09:00 EDT/23:00 Aust. EST for live coverage of Stage 21.

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


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