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59th Vuelta a España - GT

Spain, September 4-26, 2004

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Vuelta a España fantasy game

Vuelta a España fantasy game

Stage 11 - September 14: San Vicente del Raspeig - Caravaca de la Cruz, 165 km

Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Martin Hardie

Complete live report

Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:15 CEST

14:32 CEST   
Welcome to our coverage of Stage 11 of the Vuelta a España, the last one before the first rest day, marking the end of a challenging first half of this three week race. Today's stage is from San Vicente del Raspeig to Caravaca de la Cruz over 165 km, finishing at 620m altitude. Although the stage profile shows that it is an uphill finish, the gradient is not so savage today and there are in fact no categorised climbs. But it could be a finish for someone like Valverde, O'Grady, Zabel or even Cunego.

There are three sprints of course, at Torrellano (km 15.8), Fortuna (km 75) and Cruce Dirección Calasparra (km 131.6). O'Grady holds the sprints jersey by just four points after finishing second in that incredible stage yesterday.

14:39 CEST    49km/116km to go
The stage began at 13:25 with the now usual aggression. David Zabriskie (USPS) was the first rider to attack after 3 km and built up a lead of a minute in a couple of kilometres. But the nervousness of the bunch and high pace saw Kelme's Alejandro Valverde hit the ground hard, suffering abrasions and bruises everywhere. He is riding again, but only at the back of the peloton and is constantly being treated by the race doctor. He had to change his jersey completely. Not a good start for the man who is one of the favourites to take over the gold jersey.

Meanwhile, Zabriskie reached the first sprint at km 15.8 with a lead of several minutes, while Zabel took the points for second and Iñigo Chaurreau was third. That puts Zabel closer to O'Grady in the points classification.

By km 28, Zabriskie had built up a 9'52 lead, which he increased to 14'37 by km 43 after travelling 40.9 km in the first hour.

14:52 CEST    56km/109km to go
The peloton is still riding along calmly, with Comunidad Valenciana nursing the injured Alejandro Valverde. If he can make it to the finish today without losing time, then he'll have tomorrow's rest day to try to recover.

Zabriskie doesn't mind - his lead is now 16'16!

15:01 CEST    62km/103km to go
It's early days yet, but Zabriskie might be able to stay away to win today, providing the peloton remains subdued after the Valverde crash. Valverde is on home ground today, which makes his crash doubly painful. Zabriskie is nearly an hour down on GC, so he's no threat at all to any of the top riders.

Antonio Colom (Illes Balears) has signalled for the race doctor.

15:09 CEST   
An update on the weather today: Cyclingnews' intrepid correspondent Martin Hardie reports that (aside from the fact that he has a hangover) it's 35 degrees at the finish, and it's almost desert-like. Get a drink Martin!

15:16 CEST    68km/97km to go
Zabriskie is now up to 18'52 in front! He has a 100 km, gradually uphill, to try to hold onto it.

Fassa Bortolo, Illes Balears-Banesto, Liberty Seguros and Cofidis have all got to the front now to stop things from getting too ridiculous. Zabriskie's lead was 19'42 at km 61, so the chase is having an effect.

15:22 CEST    72km/93km to go
The outlook is reasonably good for Valverde, who is now sitting in the middle of the bunch being nursed by his teammates. The doctors expect that he will finish the stage OK.

Antonio Colom (Balears) had a slight knee problem, while Sylvester Szmyd (Saeco) also visited the doctor.

15:30 CEST    75km/90km to go
David Zabriskie takes the second sprint of the day at Fortuna with an 18'10 lead over the now woken up peloton. If this was a flat stage, Zabriskie would probably have the stage win in the bag now, but with the long uphill finish, it's going to be tough for him to hang onto his lead if the bunch wants to close it down. The heat isn't making it easier either.

CN reader Don has suggested we could start calling Dave "ZaZa". Well, maybe if he was French...

15:36 CEST    80km/85km to go
Zabriskie looks very good as he hammers along, arms draped over the handlebar tops. He has some good speed at the moment.

But the peloton is definitely riding fast now, with Valverde still being helped by his teammates. He has blood on his leg and ripped shorts, but he's still in the race.

15:43 CEST    84km/81km to go
The peloton crosses the line in Fortuna some 18 minutes behind Zabriskie. It's Illes Balears/Liberty/Fassa/Cofidis in front, riding fairly hard. Valverde is being pushed by his teammates all the team, risking a serious time penalty.

The finish today is uphill, but not savagely so - it looks like a good one for Petacchi too.

15:47 CEST   
Another reader has informed us that Zabriskie's nickname is "Dizzy".

In answer to the time/points bonus question: there are no more time bonuses for the stage finishes or intermediate sprints. They stopped after Stage 7, we believe.

Zabel took second place in the sprint in Fortuna, meaning that he is now on level pegging with O'Grady.

15:49 CEST    90km/75km to go
The peloton has reached the feed zone now, but it's still over 10 km behind David Zabriskie (USPS). It's going to be hard for him, but he is an accomplished time trialist so he could do it.

15:51 CEST   
By the way, Floyd Landis is still in the gold jersey, so Zabriskie's solo attack is quite useful for USPS. They don't have to ride on the front at all unless he is caught.

The feed zone is chaotic, with the soigneurs standing in the middle of the road and some riders going left and some right.

15:53 CEST    92km/73km to go
David Fernandez (Paternina) and Pieter Weening (Rabobank) have to chase hard after the feed zone, having left a gap. The pace certainly hasn't eased up and the peloton is going flat stick.

15:55 CEST   
The dropped riders make it back onto the bunch, which slows a tiny bit. The gap is 8.5 km / 17 minutes, according to the GPS. That can't be right, because the speed is 40 km/h. We'll trust the time gap.

16:06 CEST    100km/65km to go
Aitor Gonzalez is looking chirpy as he sits towards the back of the bunch. Valverde is looking a bit better, and is still near the front. Zabel is next to his rival O'Grady. The pace is fairly solid, with Fassa, Illes Balears, Liberty and Cofidis doing a lot of work.

Mancebo, in the white combination jersey, is sitting behind his solidly built domestique Jose Vicente Garcia Acosta.

16:09 CEST   
It's Gustov and Cioni on the front for Fassa, with the latter having his jersey completely zipped open. The sun is beating down hard on the riders and it's a tough day out.

Zabriskie still has a nice lead, but it's reducing at a steady rate.

16:13 CEST    109km/55km to go
Zabriskie rides through Cieza, cheered on by a good crowd of people. He shakes his legs to try to get some feeling back into them. He's got another 65 km of tough riding to come, and the peloton is not going slowly. It divides on a giant roundabout and reforms, 15'00 behind Zabriskie.

16:16 CEST    112km/53km to go
Valverde is really suffering now, but his teammates are supporting him both physically and mentally. He's towards the back of the bunch again. A shame for one of the top GC riders, but his race isn't over yet. He is bearing the marks of his crash at km 7, which destroyed his front wheel and ripped his jersey to shreds.

Cioni's tempo is pretty serious. Petacchi must feel like another stage win today.

16:21 CEST    113km/52km to go
Liberty moves more riders up to the front, including Heras. The roads are quite wide and fast here, and organising a chase isn't particularly difficult.

Zabriskie is doing well, but the question is whether he'll be able to last the full 165 km in front. It's a long way to TT on your own. He does look very smooth. He has 13'15.

Now somewhat hydrated, Cyclingnews' Martin Hardie reports that the finishing straight is only 5m wide today and slightly uphill.

16:25 CEST    117km/48km to go
Zabriskie is now 12'47 ahead of the peloton, which has Fassa in front along with Vasseur from Cofidis. The peloton has 56 km to go, while David has 48 km.

16:30 CEST    120km/45km to go
The peloton exits Cieza at high speed and is out in the countryside again. It is very strung out, and the riders in front are doing an excellent job for their respective teams.

Results of the second sprint at Fortuna (km 75): 1. Zabriskie, 2. Zabel, 3. Antonio Colom. There's one more sprint to come, about 8 km before Calasparra with 34 km to go.

Zabriskie now has 11'49 lead, but still looks good.

16:35 CEST   
Zabriskie has got it cranked up to 50 km/h on a slight downhill, hands draped over the tops again. He stops pedalling and gets in a tuck to relieve his legs for a bit. He's riding past a long series of AMD signs (one of his team sponsors) so that might help the motivation.

The gap is 11'05.

16:38 CEST    126km/39km to go
The order in the peloton is a little different to most stages. We have a combined Fassa/Cofidis/Liberty chase, then Illes Balears has six men (including Mancebo) behind the front five, then Saeco (protecting Cunego), then US Postal, protecting Floyd and Beltran.

There are really only five or six riders chasing, but the speed is quite high.

16:43 CEST    127km/38km to go
Some readers are tipping that Zabriskie will be caught with 10 km to go. Don't write him off yet! Although the last 35 km are all uphill, he still has 10'30 with 40 km to go. Cofidis has put three men in front and the pace lifts. 10'15 now.

16:45 CEST    131km/34km to go
Zabriskie gets a bottle from his team director Dirk Demol. He has 35 km of gradual climbing to go, and still a 9'50 lead. If he keeps up this tempo he should survive...

16:47 CEST    132km/33km to go
Although it's hot, there's no wind today, and that helps a breakaway. A tailwind is the best for a break to succeed, and a headwind usually results in a slow death.

9'22 and dropping.

16:52 CEST    138km/27km to go
Naturally, Zabriskie takes the third and final sprint at Cruce Dirección Calasparra (km 131). Zabel is second again, and it looked like Gustov was third. Zabel is now the outright leader in the points classification.

Zabriskie is roughly another 6 km head, or 8'43.

16:55 CEST    140km/25km to go
Zabriskie slows at the road climbs...if it was flat to the finish he'd certainly make it, but the reigning US TT champion has a real fight on his hands to hold off the Cofidis/Fassa led peloton. Zabriskie does climb well though...

16:56 CEST    141km/24km to go
Zabriskie is in Calasparra with 25 km left - the climb gets steeper now, but only averages about 1 percent. His lead is 7'51.

16:58 CEST    142km/23km to go
There are many Dave Zabriskie fans emailing us with "Go Dizzy!" messages of support. He's going well, now clenching his teeth with the pain of his long escape. It started at km 5, and he's got another 23 km to go.

The chase behind hasn't eased off, and it's still Cofidis and Fassa driving. But they might be too late.

(Fabio Sacchi was third in that final sprint)

17:00 CEST   
The gap is down to 7'11 as the peloton gets close to Calasparra. Surely Zabriskie can hang on to that...

17:02 CEST    145km/20km to go
Fassa and Cofidis continue to lead the pursuit, with one Liberty rider up there for guidance. Phonak has moved up too. Valverde is hanging on, but the next part will be difficult for him.

Dave has just 20 km to go, and he's surviving well.

17:04 CEST    146km/19km to go
The peloton rumbles through Calasparra, getting a big cheer from the crowds lining the roads.

17:05 CEST   
A couple of Vini Caldirola riders have joined the party, narrowing the gap to 6'40. Zabriskie is dying out in front, but he hasn't got long to go now.

17:07 CEST    148km/17km to go
Evans moves up the peloton, past Valverde who is looking ok. In front, Vini Caldirola has three men to help out Cofidis and Fassa. Petacchi looks pretty calm, but he might not be sprinting for the win today.

17:09 CEST    149km/16km to go
If Zabriskie can hold on, it will be an impressive comeback after crashing in the Redlands Classic earlier this year. His knee needed reconstruction as a result.

The bunch reaches 20 km to go less than 6 minutes behind the American.

17:10 CEST    150km/15km to go
Zabriskie is now at 15 km to go, still looking good with his arms draped over the tops again. He gets some verbal encouragement from Demol in the car.

O'Grady is sitting behind Matt White near the back of the peloton, but moving up. Valverde is also at the back, suffering.

17:13 CEST    152km/13km to go
It's still 5'29, and Zabriskie is getting closer to a fantastic solo victory.

Cofidis, Vini Caldirola and Alessio are riding.

17:14 CEST    153km/12km to go
Fassa has given up the chase. Petacchi's not interested it seems. You don't give a national TT champion a 19 minute lead in a stage like this!

Zabriskie gets out of the saddle as he goes under 12 km to go. 5'14.

17:16 CEST    155km/10km to go
The bunch is travelling at over 60 km/h on a slight downhill, but it's not going to catch Dizzy in front. His teammate Floyd Landis is moving up the peloton, past Heras and co.

17:17 CEST   
Zabriskie reaches 10 km to go with 4'40. No problems - he should win by a minute.

17:17 CEST    155.5km/9.5km to go
Every time the road goes up, Zabriskie suffers and loses speed. But the average grade is not so savage - it's more a long false flat.

17:18 CEST    156km/9km to go
Valverde gets a madison sling from a teammate, and funnily enough that puts him up next to Olympic madison champion O'Grady.

The peloton is now at 12 km to go, 4'20 behind Zabriskie.

17:20 CEST   
The chase is still being led by Vini Caldirola, Cofidis and Alessio, with Saeco putting a few men in front too. The peloton is really stretched.

17:21 CEST    157km/8km to go
3'54 with 8 km to go. Zabriskie can't lose from here - he's got more than a 2 km advantage. He's still hammering too.

17:22 CEST    158km/7km to go
Zabriskie is in a lot of pain, his jersey is covered with salt, but he's only got 7 km to go before the finish. The peloton is coming 3'33 behind him. He passes a supporter with a US flag - rare for this tour.

17:23 CEST    159km/6km to go
Zabriskie has got it cranked up to 44 km/h on a downhill false flat with 6 km to go. He has 3'25. That will be more than enough to celebrate his stage victory for the length of the finishing straight.

17:24 CEST    160km/5km to go
His teammates call him "Brisk", the locals call him "Dizzy". David Zabriskie is en route to a huge stage win in the Vuelta a España as he hits 5 km to go. The peloton is not chasing as hard and is still over 3 minutes back.

17:25 CEST    161km/4km to go
4 km left and Dave still has 3'09. The peloton is 3 km behind the young American, who can now see the finishing town.

17:26 CEST    162km/3km to go
The peloton reaches six km to go in a very long line again - there's still points to be taken for Zabel, O'Grady, Freire and perhaps Petacchi. A Quick.Step rider is on the front - Horrillo.

17:27 CEST    163km/2km to go
Zabriskie is now just 2 km to go, with the peloton at 2'44. He still has his hands over the tops of the bars, but everything is hurting - his back, his legs, his arms...

17:28 CEST    164km/1km to go
The peloton is racing for second place, as Dave grinds his way up the final 1.5 km. He sees the 1 km to go banner and knows that he's won, but he keeps the pace up.

17:29 CEST   
Valverde is still in the peloton, so he shouldn't lose any time today. Some riders are being dropped though.

It's 2'06. Irrelevant.

17:30 CEST   
Zabriskie keeps his aero position all the way into the final kilometre, tongue hanging out as he pushes himself to the finish.

17:31 CEST   
Zabriskie gets to 500m to go, sits up and starts to relax a bit.

17:32 CEST    165km/0km to go
Zabriskie can't believe it. He's so exhausted, but he's won the stage. He raises a smile as he crosses the line in Caravaca de la Cruz with a very tired salute, averaging 40.5 km/h for the whole stage.

17:33 CEST   
O'Grady has a good sprint but is pipped by Petacchi on the line for second. Then Zanotti in fourth, Zabel fifth, and Garzelli sixth. The gap was 1'11 to Zabriskie.

Thus, Floyd Landis keeps the gold jersey going into the first rest day, and O'Grady takes back the points jersey from Zabel by two points.


1 David Zabriskie (USA) US Postal Service p/b Berry Floor        4.05.30
2 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                           1.11
3 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis, le credit par Telephone         
4 Marco Zanotti (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie  
5 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile Team                            
6 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie      
7 Jorge Ferrio (Spa) Paternina-Costa De Almeria                
8 Erki Pütsep (Est) Ag2R Prevoyance                            
9 Luis Perez (Spa) Cofidis, le credit par Telephone             
10 Antonio Cruz (USA) US Postal Service p/b Berry Floor         

General classification after stage 10
1 Floyd Landis (USA) US Postal Service p/b Berry Floor          40.30.33
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme               0.09
3 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Banesto                     0.29
4 Isidro Nozal (Spa) Liberty Seguros                                0.32
5 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros                               0.47
6 Manuel Beltran (Spa) US Postal Service p/b Berry Floor            0.59
7 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC                                      1.35
8 Denis Menchov (Rus) Illes Balears-Banesto                         2.42
9 Aitor Gonzalez (Spa) Fassa Bortolo                                2.50
10 Angel Gomez (Spa) Paternina-Costa De Almeria                     4.16

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