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59th Vuelta a España - GT
Spain, September 4-26, 2004
Stage 15 - September 19: Granada - Sierra Nevada (I.T.T.), 29.6 km
Commentary by Jeff Jones and Hedwig Kröner, with additional reporting from Martin Hardie
Complete live report
Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
14:24 CEST The first important news of today is that Alessandro Petacchi, Fassa Bortolo's star sprinter, has not taken the start and abandoned the race due to a tendon problem in his left forearm. He is taking a flight back to Italy soon and stated that "My form is good - I'm only quitting this race as a precaution for my ultimate goal this season, Paris-Tours. It made no sense to remain in the race as my arm would only have got worse during the mountain stages of next week. But I'm leaving Spain very satisfied, having won four stages and returning in good form."
14:31 CEST Roberto Laiseka (Euskaltel) has left the start ramp. The Basque could mark a good result in this race up the Sierra Nevada.
14:35 CEST The weather in southern Spain hasn't changed from the past days: It is still very hot at 33° Celsius, and the sun is shining.
14:39 CEST Erik Zabel (T-Mobile) is now on his way up that gruelling climb too. After Freire, O'Grady and now Petacchi have abandoned the race, his chances of winning the sprint jersey or a stage are higher, but it will not be as satisfying.
14:46 CEST Cadel Evans (T-Mobile) is leaving the start behind now. He might want to test himself on this stage. Matthew White (Cofidis), the first rider to embark on today's journey, has reached the finish. His time is 1.18.34, which corresponds to an average speed of 22.6 km/h.
14:57 CEST Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel), one of Armstrong's rivals at last year's Tour de France, has also departed. He is 49th, 54.29 behind Heras. Jan Boven (Rabobank) has set a new mark at the finish: with 1.14.10, he is already 3.15 quicker than Paolo Fornaciari (Saeco).
15:08 CEST Jörg Jaksche (CSC) and Victor Hugo Peña (US Postal) are also on their way up. T-Mobile's Alexandre Vinokourov has reached the first timecheck at km 13 and is ahead of everybody with 31.20.
15:26 CEST Ruslan Ivanov (Alessio) is a little quicker than Hruska at the finish: 1.11.23 (24.87 km/h). Vinokourov gets to the second time check at 20 km the fastest with 44.00.
15:33 CEST Manuel Calvente (CSC) is riding now. Benoit Joachim (USPS) was about 30th at 13km, suffering on the climb. Joseba Beloki has finished with 1.11.17. Not too bad, as he must have pushed harder during the last part.
15:35 CEST Oscar Sevilla (Phonak) has just started. We have a new best: 1.06.57 from Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Kelme). Vinokourov is coming in... 1.05.35!
15:42 CEST Aitor Gonzalez (Fassa) is starting. He's using Ksyrium wheels, like many of the riders today. Miguel Perdiguero (Saunier) is also off the ramp now. His teammate Leonardo Piepoli is second at 13.5 km, 8 seconds behind Vinokourov.
15:47 CEST The riders are pushing hard to the top of Sierra Nevada, and there is no shelter from the blistering sun. Roberto Laiseka (Euskaltel) finishes in 1.09.45 (3rd), 4.10 behind Vinokourov. Damiano Cunego (Saeco) sets off now. Let's see what this year's Giro d'Italia winner can do.
15:55 CEST The 10th rider on GC, Carlos Garcia Quesada (Com.Valenciana-Kelme) sets off next, followed by Manuel Beltran (US Postal Service p/b Berry Floor). Just eight more riders to come.
15:57 CEST Neo-pro Angel Gomez (Paternina-Costa De Almeria) is next off. The Paternina rider has had a very consistent Vuelta so far, and finds himself in eighth overall. Zabel comes up to the line in a full points classification skinsuit with a more than decent time: 1'11'40 for 15th.
15:59 CEST Francisco Garcia (Cafes Baque) crosses the line in 1'09'11, 3'36 slower than Vinokourov for 4th place. Floyd Landis is now under way. He has no bar extensions, but is draping his hands over the front of the bars to gain a bit more aero advantage.
16:00 CEST Yesterday's hero, Santiago Perez (Phonak) is next off. He is a good time trialist and has good morale after yesterday's win, but we'll see how much it took out of him.
16:01 CEST Jose Luis Rebollo (Relax) fights with his bike to the top, finishing in 1'10'31 for 8th, 4'56 slower than Vino. Then Ivan Parra (Cafes Baque) finishes in 1'06'59, 1'24 back. That gives him third. Sastre is now on his way.
16:03 CEST Oscar Sevilla gets a big cheer as he comes past 13km in 33'22, well off the pace of Alexandre Vinokourov. Next up to the chopping block is Isidro Nozal (Liberty Seguros).
16:05 CEST Quique Gutierrez (Phonak) ends as 5th in 1'08'44, 3'09 slower than Vinokourov. Nozal has had a good start.
16:07 CEST Valjavec is a bit quicker than his teammate, finishing in 1'08'17 and moving into fifth. Alejandro Valverde (Com.Valenciana) is now motoring along the first flat part in his black and white combination classification skinsuit. He is wearing it, even though Heras is the combination classification leader. Heras has the gold. Paco Mancebo is next off, the second last rider today.
16:10 CEST Hernan Buenahora (Cafes Baque) is home in 1'07 flat, which puts him in fourth overall. Finally, Roberto Heras heads off the start ramp, riding a fairly standard light climbing bike. No bar extensions. He's the favourite for today's stage. Aitor Gonzalez (Fassa) is 14th at km 13 in 32'34.
16:13 CEST Nozal is still on the approach to the Monachil, flying along. Valverde has reached a small climb, a couple of minutes behind Nozal. He is hammering!
16:14 CEST Perdiguero looks a little sluggish at km 13 as he passes in 33'52, just inside the top 40. Paco Mancebo isn't look quite as quick as Valverde, but we'll see once they both reach the 13km mark.
16:15 CEST Paco Lara (Paternina) is chased by a man with a large leg of ham on his shoulder at the 13 km mark. That is a worry. He's outside the top 20 though. What we really want to know is what happened to the dog that appeared on the Monachil yesterday? Garzelli is 6th at km 13 in 32'05 - not bad at all.
16:18 CEST Daniel Atienza (Cofidis) is just outside the top 10 as he finishes in 1'10'04, catching Joan Horrach (Illes Balears) at the top. Heras has punctured - he gets a new bike in about 5 seconds and is off again. That was an incredibly fast change. Vino holds the best time with 1'05'35, then Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme) at 1.22 and Ivan Parra (Cafes Baque) at 1.24. Piepoli comes across in 17th in 1'10'58, not going too hard and looking tired.
16:20 CEST Heras is effectively 10 seconds behind Valverde (including his bike change) at the 5 km mark. But the climb hasn't really started yet.
16:21 CEST Mancebo is on a steep 10-11 percent section, riding a small gear which looks like a 39x23. He's got it cranked up at a good speed though.
16:23 CEST Carlos Garcia Quesada is past the 13 km check in 31'02 in first place, 18 seconds better than Vinokourov. Valverde is also on a steep part of the Monachil, really fighting to keep it going. Heras is a picture of smoothness.
16:25 CEST Eladio Jimenez hammers up to the finish in 1'07'36 for fifth place so far.
16:27 CEST Beltran is dying at the 13km mark is he comes through in 26th place, more than 2 minutes behind Garcia Quesada. Heras is being encouraged by Saiz in the car. Venga, venga, venga!
16:30 CEST Santi Perez is feeling good. He knocks a minute off Garcia Quesada's time at 13 km. That's flying!
16:30 CEST Floyd Landis comes up next, having been passed by Perez, in 32'47, nearly 3 minutes behind. Oh dear he looks as tired as Beltran.
16:34 CEST Alejandro Valverde is 0.15 ahead of Heras.
16:36 CEST Perez is hammering, pushing his bike to the sides. Nozal gets to the timecheck: 31.47 - he's suffering.
16:39 CEST Valverde's speeding through a less steep bit, while Mancebo (Illes Balears) needs a lower gear, as he's getting to the first timecheck: 31.16.
16:40 CEST Heras is approaching the 13.5 mark though a wild crowd: 30.24. It's a rolling part after that, then going up steep again.
16:46 CEST Cylingnews correspondent Martin Hardie lets us know some gears used on this time trial: Haimar Zubeldia used 39x25, Sastre used a compact crank with 36, some others are using 36x25. At the 20 km mark, Santi Perez has 42'01, nearly 2 minutes better than Garcia Quesada! Aitor Gonzalez gets into the finish at 1.07.52 (8th).
16:49 CEST Valverde catches Nozal - that's two minutes faster!
16:51 CEST Garzelli's coming in at 1.07.39, he's 8th.
16:54 CEST Santi Perez is at the 4000 m mark. David Blanco marks 1.06.29 at the finish.
16:56 CEST Roberto Heras is pedaling steadily, swaying a little with the shoulders. Valverde apparently has his girlfriend in the car, encouraging him.
16:59 CEST Quesada finishes second behind Vino, riding curves. He's given everything.
17:01 CEST Perez is still flying as he passes the 1000 m mark. This looks very good.
17:02 CEST Valverde still has 38 seconds on Heras - this would put him only 11 seconds behind him on GC. Perez gets in, 1.02.29! Unbelievable!
17:05 CEST Unless Heras puts on a turbo, Santi Perez should win this stage. He must now defend his jersey against Valverde. This will be close!
17:07 CEST Floyd Landis gets in 18th, looking over his shoulder. 30 seconds between Valverde and Heras now.
17:09 CEST Heras is grimacing in pain, but pushes himself further. Valverde is nearly sprinting on the last kilometer. Sastre finishes 10th.
17:09 CEST Here comes Valverde: 1.03.36. Waiting for Heras...
17:11 CEST Nozal comes up the climb pushing his big gear. He is seventh until now. Mancebo passes the last kilometer mark.
17:12 CEST Heras passes it too, now. Mancebo is not far away, if he can see him it might give him an extra boost.
17:14 CEST Here comes Heras: 1.04.20. He's keeping the jersey, by five little seconds.
Finish - km 29.6 1 Santiago Perez (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems 1.02.29 2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme 1.07 3 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros 1.51 4 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile Team 3.06 5 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Banesto 3.18 6 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme 3.24 7 Angel Gomez (Spa) Paternina-Costa De Almeria 3.59 8 David Blanco (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme 4.00 9 Isidro Nozal (Spa) Liberty Seguros 4.24 10 Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme 4.28 General classification after stage 15 1 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros 54.04.25 2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme 0.05 3 Santiago Perez (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems 1.45 4 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Banesto 2.02 5 Isidro Nozal (Spa) Liberty Seguros 3.45 6 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 6.12 7 Floyd Landis (USA) US Postal Service p/b Berry Floor 8.21 8 Manuel Beltran (Spa) US Postal Service p/b Berry Floor 8.44 9 Angel Gomez (Spa) Paternina-Costa De Almeria 8.51 10 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme 8.59 Intermediate timing km 13 (all riders through) 1 Santi Perez (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems 30.02 2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme 0.05 3 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros 0.22 4 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme 1.00 5 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Banesto 1.14 6 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile Team 1.18 km 20 (all riders through) 1 Santiago Perez (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems 42.01 2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme 0.27 3 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros 0.57 4 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme 1.52 5 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Banesto 1.58 6 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile Team 1.59