57th Vuelta a España
Spain, September 7- 29, 2002
Main page Start
List Map Stage
Stage 7 - September 13: Jaen - Malaga, 196.8 km
Complete Live Report
Start time: 12:45 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:15 CEST
14:54 CEST 90 km/107 km to go
Welcome to the seventh stage of the Vuelta, a made-to-measure-for-the-sprinters
run from Jaen inland down to the coast at Malaga; relatively long (for the Vuelta)
at 198 km, but without any listed climbs.
The story so far: after a couple of hours' racing, the usual all-day break has
gone clear. Today we have four riders up the road: Relax-Fuenlabrada's German
Nieto (definitely one of the usual suspects), the young Belgian Jurgen Van Goolen
(Domo), former Giro mountains winner Mariano Piccoli, and AG2R's Nicolas Portal.
They have three and a half minutes lead over a bunch which is moving fairly
briskly led by the Kelme team. Elio Aggiano (Mapei) who was in the break earlier
has been dropped and caught by the bunch.
There have been a few casualties already today; crash victim Roberto Laiseka
(Euskaltel) did not start this afternoon, and Saeco's Alessandro Spezialetti
(who was a key part of the team support for Danilo di Luca and Gilberto Simoni
in the mountains) and sprinter Jeremy Hunt (BigMat) have climbed off early in
15:14 CEST 108 km/89 km to go
There have been two intermediate sprints so far, mopped up by the leading quartet; at Cabra (km 80) German Nieto went through first ahead of Van Goolen and Portal, while at Lucena ten kilometres further on it was the Belgian who took it ahead of Nieto and Piccoli. The third sprint for the day is on the outskirts of Malaga itself, just 4.5 km before the finish.
There is not a lot of wind today, and as the race rolls through the Andalucian olive groves the temperature is around 33°C. The pace of the race is more or less on its fastest schedule, 45 kph
The break is still pulling away from the bunch - over 5 minutes lead now - but
with a long descent down to sea level in the closing 30 km they will need a
good margin to stand any chance.
The chasing is now clearly the job of the sprinters' teams, with Telekom, Acqua
e Sapone and Fassa Bortolo all represented at the front of a well strung-out
bunch along this broad main road. Much more than the other two Grand Tours,
the Vuelta shows off the sheer emptiness of much of Spain, with small towns
many kilometres apart separated by miles of olive groves; no little villages,
spectators only at the rare road junctions.
The lead of the break has peaked at about 5.30 and is now coming down again to around 5 minutes.
A few people have enquired about the Vuelta's "regularity" classification. It
is in fact a combined classification, calculated by adding together the riders'
positions in the three other competitions (GC, points, mountains)- lowest total
gets the white jersey. The name is a bit confusing since "regularidad" is what
the Spanish usually call the ordinary points classification. This is new for
the Vuelta this year (replacing the red jersey for the intermediate sprints),
although the Tour had a similar one in the 1980s with a four-quartered jersey
(yellow, green, white and spotty bits) as worn by Bernard Hinault in the pictures
of him finishing at Alpe d'Huez hand in hand with Greg Lemond.
The break's lead has now fallen below four minutes. After three hours of racing, the average speed of the race is 42.2 kph.
16:06 CEST 140 km/57 km to go
At the town of Antequera the gap to the four leaders - Van Goolen, Nieto, Piccoli and Portal - is still coming down steadily, towards the three minute mark. Cofidis are showing some faith in their young track rider Robert Sassone by coming up to join the teammates of Petacchi, Cipollini and Zabel in the chase.
Bill Canilang from New Jersey points out quite correctly that the fourth corner of the Tour combined jersey was red, not white.
After Antequera the race leaves the plain into the range of coastal hills; any real climbing has been engineered out of this motorway-style road but it looks a bit more up and down, and the leaders don't look as if they'll be out there for much longer.
On a long drag German Nieto is dropped by his three breakaway companions, with Van Goolen looking the strongest and putting in most of the effort, but he manages to get back. Their lead is down to 1.30 now, though, which on this sort of road means that the bunch will have them well in sight much of the time.
16:33 CEST 162 km/35 km to go
Van Goolen tries to jump his three companions but they catch him again, led by Piccoli; Nieto looks stuffed and Portal has not seen much of the front for a while. The bunch are still advancing steadily, though, and the lead is down below the minute.
Frustrated, Van Goolen has a second go on a descending section, but they come back to him again in short order.
In the bunch, Tiralongo takes a long pull on the front; they are descending at 75 kph.
16:43 CEST 167 km/30 km to go
The inevitable happens and the bunch mop up the four leaders who have been on the offensive for some 130 km as the race passes one of the immense black silhouettes of bulls that dot the landscape in these parts. Pelotón agrupado, and likely to stay that way all the way in from here, I would say.
17:05 CEST 182 km/15 km to go
The whole field plunges en masse down to the coast at speeds over 65 kph; Domo - who have of course been taking it easy all day with their man up the road - have now joined the teams leading the way, suggesting that maybe Jeroen Blijlevens feels that he could do something today, although it has to be said that he hasn't really figured in the sprints for a couple of years now (his last win of any kind was in 2000), although he does have four Vuelta stage wins to his name in earlier years.
17:08 CEST 188 km/9 km to go
As the road pitches up a bit, Relax and Jazztel send a man each up the road, António Colom and Dario Gadeo, the lone attacker from last Tuesday's stage.
Their lead is only a handful of seconds as they go under the 8 km banner.
17:13 CEST 190 km/5 km to go
Coming into the city the two adventurers are caught once again; Leif Hoste (Domo) and Robert Bartko (Telekom) lead the train along.
17:15 CEST 194 km/3 km to go
The trains are forming, Zabel in fifth position in the Telekoms at the front.
The intermediate sprint at 4.5 km went completely unnoticed - Bartko took it.
17:16 CEST 195 km/2 km to go
Acqua e Sapone move up and all of a sudden the pink vests are all but swallowed up. Spruch trying to bring up Svorada.
17:19 CEST Finish
Cipollini is in fourth position under the red triangle, and through the last
corners; Lombardi takes him up to 200 m to go at a speed that nobody can do
more than stay with and then launches his boss - as straightforward a win as
you will get, his 180th pro win. Zabel was on Cipollini's wheel coming in, and
there he stayed for second place. Teutenberg, Petacchi and Blijlevens follow
him across the line.
There were no splits in the bunch, so no change on GC or to any of the other jerseys; Zabel has only one point in hand over Cipollini for the points, but the Italian is in any case intending, by all accounts, to head for home after Sunday's stage.
Results (provisional) 196.8 km
1 Mario Cipollini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Cantina Tollo 4.33.47
2 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom
3 Sven Teutenberg (Ger) Phonak Hearing Systems
4 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
5 Jeroen Blijevens (Ned) Domo-Farm Frites
6 Angelo Furlan (Ita) Alessio
7 Gerrit Glomser (Aut) Saeco-Longoni Sport
8 Fabio Sacchi (Ita) Saeco-Longoni Sport
9 Oscar Freire (Spa) Mapei-Quick Step
10 Angel Edo (Spa) Milaneza-MSS
General classification after stage 7
1 Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 25.25.04
2 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Team Telekom 0.14
3 Roberto Heras (Spa) US Postal Service 0.39
4 Aitor Gonzalez (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 0.41
5 Félix Garcia Casas (Spa) Bigmat.Auber 93 0.52
6 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0.57
7 Iban Mayo (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 1.14
8 Mikel Zarrabeitia (Spa) ONCE-Eroski 1.25
9 Jörg Jaksche (Ger) ONCE-Eroski 1.32
10 Joseba Beloki (Spa) ONCE-Eroski 1.43
Thanks for following today's stage with us; we'll be back tomorrow afternoon for the hilly stage to Ubrique, taking a route similar to that over which Marco Giovanetti made the decisive move to win the 1990 Vuelta.
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