59th Vuelta a España - GT
Spain, September 4-26, 2004
Stage 19 - September 24: Ávila - Collado Villalba, 142 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
Looking down from Abantos
Welcome to today's live coverage of the 19th stage of La Vuelta, a relatively
short leg breaker at just 142km, crowded with four Cat. 3 climbs, one Cat. 2 and
one Cat. 1 climb through the Sierra to the east of Madrid between Ávila
and Collado Villalba. It will be another day of high tension in what promises
to be an open race till the end, with the wind and mountains always a factor.
Today and tomorrow are the last days for the climbers to get themselves a buffer
before the final flat time trial on Sunday.
Photo ©: CN
The main climb today is
the Alto de Abantos (starting at km 66), averaging 5.6% for 15.6 km, with some
very steep 17% ramps at the bottom. It's here where Isidro Nozal lost the Vuelta
to Roberto Heras last year. This year they are riding on the same team, but race
leader Heras will be under pressure from Santi Perez and Paco Mancebo. But it
may well be too far from the finish to crack the Liberty train.
sprints are at Las Navas del Marques (km 34.6), Peguerinos (km 90.7), and Alpedrete
It's already warm at the start in Avila, with temps in
the mid- to high-20's. It's supposed to be a bit cooler in the mountains and at
14:39 CEST 22km/120km to go
The only non-starter
today was Italian Luca Paolini (Quick.Step). There are now 124 riders left in
The first rider to attack (from kilometre zero) was Francisco
Tomas Garcia, of the always aggressive Cafes Baque team. After almost snaring
a second stage win yesterday in Avila, the Baque boys are in the hunt for one
Isidro Nozal chased down Garcia, and the peloton reformed
with the attacks continuing. The Cat. 3 Alto de Valdelavia (km 16) saw mountains
leader Felix Cardenas (Cafes Baque) go over first, followed by Ruslan Ivanov
(Alessio-Bianchi), Eladio Jimenez (Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme) and Constantino
Zaballa (Saunier Duval-Prodir).
14:46 CEST 32km/110km to go
Over the top of the
climb, a break of 20 riders has formed: Marcos Serrano (Liberty Seguros), Felix
Cardenas, David Plaza, Ivan Parra (Cafes Baque), Eladio Jimenez, Francisco Cabello
and David Latasa (Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme), Juan Manuel Garate (Lampre),
José Luis Arrieta (Illes Balears-Banesto), Haimar Zubeldia and Roberto Laiseka
(Euskaltel-Euskadi), Dario David Cioni (Fassa Bortolo), Ruslan Ivanov (Alessio-Bianchi),
Stefano Garzelli (Vini Caldirola), Luis Pasamontes (Relax-Bergasol), Damiano
Cunego and Eddy Mazzoleni (Saeco), Constantino Zaballa, Joaquin Rodriguez (Saunier
Duval-Prodir) and Benoît Joachim (US Postal).
They currently have
1'46 on the peloton. The best placed rider in the break is Garzelli, who is
17 minutes down on GC in 12th place. It's a well mixed group, and all the big
teams are here.
14:56 CEST 37km/105km to go
Zaballa has attacked
the break shortly before the sprint at Las Navas del Marqués (km 34). He takes
the points, 50 seconds ahead of Ivan Parra and Benoît Joachim and the rest of
the 20 man break. The peloton is now four minutes back.
15:05 CEST 44km/98km to go
The leaders are now
on the Cat. 2 Puerto de Santa Maria, altogether except for Zaballa, who has
1'20 on the 19 chasers and 4'30 on the peloton. It's an interesting break, with
Cunego, Cardenas, Garzelli...
Zaballa is first over the climb, with
Cardenas taking second place and more points for his jersey. Garate was up there
for third or fourth.
This morning, another 26 riders from
the following teams were blood tested: Fassa Bortolo, Illes Belears-Banesto,
Cofidis, Alessio-Bianchi and Liberty Seguros. All riders were declared fit to
15:11 CEST 48km/94km to go
The leaders are descending
the Santa Maria, en route to the Cat. 3 Alto de Robledondo. Zaballa is still
15:17 CEST 52km/90km to go
The break is working fairly well, with Joaquin Rodriguez (Saunier) sitting on
because he has Zaballa up the road. Mazzoleni is working hard to try to set up
Cunego. Serrano (Liberty) is not doing too much.
Photo ©: CN
They're climbing the
Robledondo at the moment. The skies are crystal clear and there's not a lot of
15:22 CEST 56km/86km to go
Zaballa is first over
the climb, while Cafes Baque sets the tempo in the break behind him, allowing
Cardenas to take the points for second place again at 1'36. Pasamontes is third,
The peloton is now at 5'15.
15:28 CEST 60km/82km to go
Andrle and Hruska
(Liberty) lead the peloton over the Robledondo, not at a particularly hard pace.
The bunch is lagging four minutes behind the 19 man break, and 5'41 behind the
15:36 CEST 67km/75km to go
Carlos Garcia Quesada
(Kelme) has set off in pursuit of the break, probably to give Valverde a few
more men in front for later on. Eladio Jimenez, Francisco Cabello and David
Latasa are all in the break for Kelme.
Zaballa is now riding on the
cobbles through San Lorenzo del Escorial, just before the Alto de Abantos starts.
15:38 CEST 68km/74km to go
Zaballa hits some
more cobbles and opts for the footpath, but not for long. The Abantos is starting
to bite - the bottom is the steepest part of this climb.
15:43 CEST 70km/72km to go
The 17 percent bit
Zaballa hits a steep section of the climb - 12-13% - and gets a couple of kids
jogging beside him for company. But then it gets steeper and he's in a bit of
Photo ©: CN
Behind him, Cardenas has attacked the break and looks very
strong. Rodriguez goes after him, then Garzelli and Cunego.
Further back, the peloton is starting
to tackle the climb's lower slopes, led by Andrle and Hruska.
and Rodriguez hit a 15 percent section, and suffer.
Cunego has now made contact with
Cardenas and Rodriguez. This is a good chase group. Zaballa still has about
Liberty is setting a hard enough tempo that they hope no-one
will attack. But Nozal will be having flashbacks about now: "The cobbles...17
15:50 CEST 72km/70km to go
Zaballa is still solo,
and he's riding well! 1'56 to the Cardenas, Cunego, Rodriguez group, which has
now got Garzelli, Mazzoleni and Cioni in it.
15:56 CEST 72km/70km to go
The Cardenas chase
group has been joined by more riders as the climb descends for a short period.
Joachim and Laiseka are back, as is Parra.
In the bunch, it's Andrle,
Hruska and Gil leading.
Ruben Plaza (Kelme) has abandoned.
Ruslan Ivanov has joined the chase
group too - and has attacked. He's the second rider on the road behind Zaballa,
who is in an open section before he heads back into the dense forest.
16:05 CEST 77km/65km to go
The peloton, still
led by Liberty, is now 7'41 behind Zaballa.
The first chase group
has Ruslan Ivanov (Alessio-Bianchi), Felix Cardenas and Ivan Parra (Cafes Baque),
Joaquin Rodriguez (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Damiano Cunego and Eddy Mazzoleni
(Saeco), Carlos Garcia Quesada (Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme), Stefano Garzelli
(Vini Caldirola), Marcos Serrano (Liberty Seguros), Dario David Cioni (Fassa
Bortolo), Roberto Laiseka (Euskaltel), Benoît Joachim (US Postal) in it
16:08 CEST 81km/61km to go
Zaballa reaches the
top of the climb, still with a nice gap. Behind him, Garcia Quesada has bridged
up to the chase group and puts in an acceleration. But he is well marked. Cardenas
leads the group to the top of the Abantos.
Cunego powers for a bit, with Cardenas,
Rodriguez and Garzelli on his wheel. But the others come back - still 14 riders
in the chase group.
16:14 CEST 85km/57km to go
Top of Abantos
The results of the Alto de Abantos: 1 Zaballa, 2 Cunego, 3 Cardenas, 4 Garate,
5 Rodriguez, 6 Garzelli, 7 Serrano, 8 Joachim, 9 Plaza. The gap was 2'20 to Zaballa
at the top.
Photo ©: CN
The peloton passes over the top,
8'43 behind Zaballa and catching Paco Cabello (Kelme) under the banner. None
of the GC riders are obviously interested in attacking today, but that probably
makes sense given tomorrow's tough mountain top finish. Liberty will just control
things as best they can.
16:23 CEST 91km/51km to go
Zaballa rides through
the cobbles in Peguerinos with 50 km to go, before hitting another small climb.
He's got a 2 minute plus lead as Joachim and Cunego try to keep the pace going
in the chase group. They take second and third respectively behind Zaballa in
the intermediate sprint.
16:29 CEST 95km/47km to go
The chase group at
the moment: Carlos Garcia Quesada (Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme), Stefano Garzelli
(Vini Caldirola), Marcos Serrano (Liberty Seguros), Felix Cardenas and David
Plaza (Cafes Baque), Damiano Cunego and Eddy Mazzoleni (Saeco), Juan Manuel
Garate (Lampre), Joaquin Rodriguez (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Dario David Cioni
(Fassa Bortolo), Benoît Joachim (US Postal Service p/b Berry Floor), David Latasa
(Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme), Roberto Laiseka (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Ruslan Ivanov
Joachim and the Italians (who look to be working
together) try to break it up, but Rodriguez is always there to protect his teammate
Zaballa, who now has 1'45. The peloton is 6'40 behind the leader, but picking
Cardenas, Cunego, Mazzoleni, Joachim, Rodriguez and Garzelli
now have a little gap on the rest of the break.
has crashed on the descent of the Abantos and abandoned.
The attempt by the Italians and Joachim
fails, and the chase group reforms.
Danilo Di Luca has abandoned.
We're left with 120 riders.
16:36 CEST 103km/39km to go
Back in the peloton,
which is riding a hard controlling tempo at 7 minutes behind Zaballa, Santi
Perez is sitting on Heras's wheel. Beltran is also up there, as is Mancebo.
Zabel is about 40 riders back with Evans for company.
Zaballa gets some encouragement from
his team car as he rides up the Cat. 3 Alto de Robledondo (again). Just one
more climb after this one before the finish. He attacked the break at 34 km,
and has never got more than 2'20 lead.
16:43 CEST 104km/38km to go
Zaballa can start
to sniff victory as he nears the top of the Robledondo. He's looking strong,
concentrating hard as he muscles his way up the climb.
16:46 CEST 106km/36km to go
Plenty of riders
are being dropped from the peloton, with some taking some very long "bottles"
from the neutral car. The pace is fairly high, but the bunch is still big.
The break is 2'00 behind the leader Zaballa at the top. Cardenas is second,
then Rodriguez and Mazzoleni, who continues to drive on the descent. They had
it down to 1'30 at one stage.
The chase group gets organised behind
Mazzoleni, who has a slight gap on the descent. Garcia Quesada is riding very
hard, as he knows the peloton is now 9'00 back. That's dangerous for the GC.
16:54 CEST 112km/30km to go
Garcia Quesada started
the day just 11'18 behind Heras. At the moment he is about 7 minutes ahead on
the road, as the Liberty led peloton crests the Robledondo 9'02 behind Zaballa.
So it's in Garcia Quesada's best interests to work hard in the break. Marcos
Serrano tells him to slow down :-)
Somewhere in between the chasing
breakaway and the peloton, we have José Luis Arrieta (Illes Balears-Banesto),
Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Luis Pasamontes (Relax-Bergasol). But
we haven't heard much from them lately. <insert references to trees falling
in the forest here>
16:57 CEST 114km/28km to go
Mazzoleni has sat
up as David Latasa leads the break back up to him. Zaballa is still in front
by about 2 minutes.
16:59 CEST 116km/26km to go
Zaballa has been
bitten by an insect, but he's battling on - riding along the cobbles in San
Lorenzo del Escorial now.
In the break, Kelme is chasing a bit harder
with Latasa and Garcia Quesada.
17:03 CEST 120km/22km to go
Zaballa crests the
final climb of the day, the Alto de San Lorenzo del Escorial. He has 1'52 on
the break, which has Saeco and Kelme working. They're not going to get him,
it looks like.
17:05 CEST 122km/20km to go
Zaballa reaches 20
km to go, gradually downhill, and he's now got his head down with victory in
sight. The break isn't working well enough behind to catch the Saunier Duval
17:07 CEST 124km/18km to go
and Garcia Quesada took second through fourth on the Cat. 3 climb. Zaballa has
won every climb today, save for the first one. But Cardenas should be assured
of the mountains jersey now.
17:09 CEST 125km/17km to go
The peloton is still
8'41 behind the leader, with the break at 1'43. Ruslan Ivanov grabs a coke from
a following car. Kelme is working hard in the break to put Garcia Quesada up
as far as possible on GC.
Mancebo gets to the front of the
peloton as Liberty keeps control, 8'37 behind the stage leader Zaballa. Nozal's
fifth place on GC is in danger from Garcia Quesada, but Liberty will probably
pick up the pace a bit now.
17:13 CEST 126km/16km to go
Zaballa is fighting
pretty hard to keep his lead over the break - it's still 1'44 and he's doing
incredibly well to hold them off. He doesn't have too long to go now, another
20 minutes or so of pain.
17:14 CEST 128km/14km to go
It's a headwind for
the last 15km, and the break is also struggling to hold the tempo. 1'42 to Zaballa.
The peloton is lined out - they'll make up a few minutes now.
17:17 CEST 131km/11km to go
Zaballa reaches 12
km to go, having ridden the last 100km solo. He's en route to a very impressive
stage win. It doesn't get much harder than this. He sits up momentarily and
17:18 CEST 132km/10km to go
The break comes through
12km to go at 1'31 behind Zaballa. It's not quite over, but they're going to
have to ride flat out to get him.
CSC is now helping Liberty chase
in the peloton, which is at 7'49 with 15km to go (for the peloton). The break
is disorganised, still 1'31 behind Zaballa.
17:21 CEST 134km/8km to go
Zaballa is now under
the 8km to go banner, head down and riding fast. It's not a headwind at the
moment and he's got it cranked up to 45-50 km/h.
17:23 CEST 135km/7km to go
The chase group is
still being led mainly by Kelme, although most of the other riders are helping
from time to time, including Cunego and Garzelli. They're at 1'32 with 8 km
to go. Incredible riding by Zaballa.
17:24 CEST 136km/6km to go
Zaballa reaches 6
km to go with the break over a kilometre behind. The peloton is at 7'30 and
closing very gradually.
17:25 CEST 137km/5km to go
Zaballa can really
smell victory now as he flies under 5 km to go, then 4 km. It's still 1'30,
and the break is strung out in pursuit.
17:26 CEST 138km/4km to go
at 50km/h on a slight downhill to go under 4 km to go. He's nearly home.
17:27 CEST 139km/3km to go
Zaballa is under 3km
to go, at warp speed. He has well over a kilometre lead now, but it's still
1'30. That gives you an idea of the speed.
17:28 CEST 140km/2km to go
Zaballa takes a roundabout,
then heads down a long straight to go under 2km to go. The yellow of the banner
matches his jersey.
17:29 CEST 141km/1km to go
Zaballa takes another
roundabout, safely, and rides through the crowds into the final kilometre. Up
a little rise, then under the orange banner.
One more roundabout and Zaballa is
into the finishing straight.
17:30 CEST 142km/0km to go
Zaballa drives and
drives all the way up the straight, then sits up with 100m to go to celebrate
his win. A couple of victory salutes, then a big one over the line.
The break comes in at 1'22, with Latasa hammering for his teammate Garcia Quesada.
Laiseka and Cardenas start the sprint, but it's Ivanov and Cunego taking second
The peloton comes in at 6'25 with Mancebo leading out the sprint but being passed
by a few others. So that means Carlos Garcia Quesada moves up to 6th overall
ahead of Sastre, but his gap wasn't quite enough to get past Nozal for 5th.
1 Constantino Zaballa (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir 3.33.32
2 Ruslan Ivanov (Mda) Alessio-Bianchi 1.23
3 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Saeco
4 José Luis Arrieta (Spa) Illes Balears-Banesto
5 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Saeco
6 Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Lampre
7 Felix Cardenas (Col) Cafes Baque
8 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie
9 Benoit Joachim (Lux) US Postal Service p/b Berry Floor
10 Dario David Cioni (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
General classification after stage 19
1 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros 72.13.01
2 Santiago Perez (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems 1.13
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme 2.15
4 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Banesto 2.16
5 Isidro Nozal (Spa) Liberty Seguros 6.08
6 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme 6.16
7 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 7.56
8 Angel Gomez (Spa) Paternina-Costa De Almeria 10.21
9 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie 12.21
10 Luis Perez (Spa) Cofidis, le credit par Telephone 12.25
the commentary team