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59th Vuelta a España - GT

Spain, September 4-26, 2004

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Stage 2 - September 5: León - Burgos, 207 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

14:22 CEST   
Welcome to Cyclingnews' coverage of the second stage of the Vuelta a España, which also happens to be the longest of the entire tour. It's 207 km, starting in León and finishing in Burgos, with no categorised climbs at all. There are three intermediate sprints, at Moratinos (km 72), Melgar de Fernamental (km 138.8) and Buniel (km 189). It's a classic sprinters stage, and with very little wind at the start, it won't be a surprise if the entire peloton comes into Burgos together.

14:36 CEST    67km/140km to go
By Vuelta standards, it's been an incredibly slow start to the second stage. Only 31.7 km were covered in the first hour, as opposed to the usual 50+. Obviously the peloton has decided to ease into things gently. The lack of wind has also helped keep the bunch together, as there is no real advantage to be gained by riding hard on the front at the moment.

The first attack was launched by Mariano Piccoli (Lampre) after 40 km. That got things animated for a while, until Kelme got on the front and closed things down.

14:48 CEST   
Cyclingnews caught up with Cadel Evans at the start of stage 2 while he was worrying about his front wheel. Perched on the front step of the T-Mobile bus he told us that he was "happy with yesterday's TT...a good start and a pleasant surprise" after last year's effort.

Evans added that he was "certainly concerned" about the next few stages. "The crosswinds always make it hard and the Spanish teams have a lot of local knowledge." He described them as "unpredictable days with crafty stages...you have to watch out."

Evans is also looking forward to his move to the newly merged Davitamon-Lotto team. "It will be the first time since a national team that I have raced with Aussies," said Evans, who has ridden the past two seasons for T-Mobile.

14:58 CEST    75km/132km to go
The pace picks up a bit for the first intermediate sprint at Moratinos (km 72), with Max van Heeswijk (USPS) winning ahead of Mariano Piccoli (Lampre) and Benoît Joachim (USPS). Illes Balears has got to the front to control the peloton, which is still together after this very measured start.

15:10 CEST    93km/114km to go
It's really a perfect day for riding today, with temperatures now up to 26 degrees at the finish in Burgos, where the crew are setting things up for the finish. The wind is fairly weak still.

After the sprint in Moratinos, two riders have attacked: Bram Tankink (Quick.Step-Davitamon) and Ricardo Serrano (Cafes Baque). The pair get clear of the peloton, which is still not in a hurry, and have built up a 1'25 lead.

15:13 CEST    96km/111km to go
The peloton looks very uninterested, as it rolls along as a solid block behind the two breakaways. The speed has picked up a little, but it's not chase speed yet.

15:19 CEST    98km/109km to go
The two leaders take advantage of the peloton's slow pace, and now have a lead of over five minutes.

The second hour was raced at 36.4 km/h.

15:23 CEST    106km/101km to go
At the moment, a couple of Cofidis riders are sitting at the front of the bunch with a few Fassas next to them. Fassa Bortolo should be interested in setting this stage up for Petacchi, but won't want to ride hard just yet.

The wind is from the right hand side at the moment, but not too strong.

The two leaders, Tankink and Serrano, have about 6 minutes lead at the moment and are making good their escape.

15:26 CEST    108km/99km to go
The two leaders are now at the feed zone, with Tankink grabbing a feed bag full of stuff. Serrano doesn't take anything on board and takes the lead while Tankink unpacks his lunch.

15:28 CEST    110km/97km to go
The peloton passes through the rather pleasant town of Carrion de los Condes 7 minutes behind the two leaders, but the pace is starting to pick up just a fraction. Out of town, it's back to the barren Spanish countryside.

Serrano misses his feed bag...oops.

15:30 CEST   
It's time. The bunch stretches out in a long line, with Cofidis at the helm. Vasseur drives the tempo up.

15:31 CEST    112km/95km to go
Even though the wind is not that strong, this is hurting the peloton. There are some small gaps at the back as the bunch lines out on the extreme left hand side of the road.

This will spell doom for the break, which needed another few minutes before thinking about staying away to the finish. The gap comes down to 6'24.

15:33 CEST   
The pace at the front of the peloton is furious, and already about 70 riders have been shelled from the main part of the bunch. There are about four groups on the road at the moment. There's no shelter.

15:36 CEST    115km/92km to go
The rear group contains three Euskaltel riders as well as a few Rabos, Alessios, Paterninas, Libertys, Quick.Steps... The Italian champion Moreni is among them. The gap is about 40 seconds to the front peloton.

In between there are another two small groups, but they don't have much hope in getting back to the front group.

Illes Balears is doing a bit of damage, as are US Postal. The front group is about 80 riders strong.

15:40 CEST   
A crash at the back: Guido Trenti (Fassa Bortolo) and Daniele Righi (Lampre) come down, but are unhurt apart from torn shorts. They are on their bikes again, but won't see the front group until after the finish. Trenti is not going to be able to lead out Petacchi today, as he catches the dropped Pavel Tonkov. With Righi, the three will try to regain the front group.

The pace is still on, with Illes Balears doing most of the work. Phonak is also up there.

15:41 CEST   
Heras, Gonzalez de Galdeano, Sevilla, Hamilton, Vinokourov, Botero, Cunego are all in the front group, and are not afraid to work.

Tankink and Serrano are still out in front, but they won't last too long at this pace.

15:44 CEST   
Petacchi is in the third group, together with most of the Fassa team.

Beloki is chasing with the second group, and his Saunier Duval teammates have done a good job in bringing him back to the peloton, which has eased off slightly.

15:44 CEST   
39.6 km were covered in the third hour.

US Postal is controlling the front of the peloton with Landis well protected. Beloki is now up near the front.

15:47 CEST    119km/88km to go
The second group is not working well, but it is closing the gap to the front peloton, which is now maybe 100 riders strong and slowing down. The gap between the two groups is 30 seconds.

15:49 CEST    128km/79km to go
The leading pair are in Osorno with 79 km to go, still working well together but with a somewhat reduced lead. They'll have news from their team directors that there have been some fireworks behind them, but they can only hope that it will stop and give them a chance to stay clear.

The second group is now 15 seconds behind the front. They will catch them, surely.

15:53 CEST    131km/76km to go
The groups come back together again, after the front riders stepped off the gas. That caused more than a small degree of panic.

As soon as the groups reform, attacks begin anew. The two front riders have just 3'07.

15:54 CEST    132km/75km to go
Righi, Trenti and Tonkov have also made it back to the peloton, and maybe Petacchi can count on Trenti to lead him out. It'll probably be Velo though.

Scott Sunderland (Alessio) is the counter attacker. He has about 10 seconds lead but is being hunted by the bunch. He looks back and sees them coming.

15:56 CEST   
Sunderland is still a little way in front of the peloton, which is not riding hard yet. About 2km up the road, he can see Tankink and Serrano.

15:57 CEST    134km/73km to go
The slow pace allows riders to drop back to the team cars to get bottles and stuff.

Tankink and Serrano have 2'17 of their lead left.

16:01 CEST    136km/71km to go
Sunderland, having no-one for company, sits up and waits for the bunch to catch him.

16:08 CEST    140km/67km to go
The peloton passes across a narrow bridge, just before the second intermediate sprint at Melgar de Fernamental, with Iñigo Cuesta and Santos Gonzalez chatting to each other on the front.

The two leaders are 2'46 ahead of the bunch at the sprint. Mancebo cheekily takes the points and two second time bonus for third.

16:09 CEST    141km/66km to go
Race leader Floyd Landis is sitting near the front of the bunch, next to his future teammate Tyler Hamilton. There is no chasing being done now.

16:11 CEST    143km/64km to go
Full results of the sprint at Melgar de Fernamental: 1. Bram Tankink, 2. Ricardo Serrano, 3. Francisco Mancebo.

16:13 CEST    145km/62km to go
The pace is picking up again in the peloton as US Postal and T-Mobile get to the front.

The leading pair are now in Padilla with 61 clicks to go. They are still cooperating well, even though the chances of staying away are slim.

David Canada (Saunier Duval) punctures, but it doesn't take him long to get a wheel change and is chasing back on. He takes advantage of the Quick.Step-Davitamon car (his former team).

16:20 CEST    150km/57km to go
The leading pair are holding about a 2'40 advantage over the Postal-led peloton, which is picking up the pace as we approach the final hour. Guido Trenti, wearing two thirds of a pair of shorts, is still working hard, bringing his Fassa teammates towards the front.

There are some rain clouds on the horizon.

16:24 CEST    153km/54km to go
A correction to the first intermediate sprint results: Max van Heeswijk (USPS) won (not Joaquin Rodriguez), which means that he is the virtual leader at the moment, assuming the front two riders will get caught.

16:28 CEST    155km/52km to go
The two leaders are coming back to the bunch, which is being led at a steady tempo by three US Postal riders. The latest time check is 1'40 as the clouds overhead become more threatening and the roads show signs of earlier rain.

16:37 CEST    161km/46km to go
The two leaders are definitely tiring, as the peloton is not chasing particularly hard but is now just 1'03 behind Tankink and Serrano. The pair broke away after the first sprint at around the 75 km mark, and have been out there for nearly 100 km.

16:40 CEST    165km/42km to go
Dariusz Baranowski (Liberty) signals to his team car for a front wheel change, and gets one very quickly. He'll have no problems in regaining the peloton, which is not really riding yet.

The sun is out again, and the riders should have a dry run to the finish.

Toni Colom gets some adjustment to his shoe straps(?!) from his team car. That's a bizarre mechanical!

Tankink and Ricardo Serrano are climbing up a long, steady drag over the motorway, and are looking tired.

16:41 CEST   
Julien Laidoun (Ag2r) sees an opportunity to go and attacks hard on the hill. He's out of the saddle for a good 300m before sitting down. He has a good sized gap already.

16:44 CEST    168km/39km to go
Laidoun's attack has caused the peloton to wake up a bit, and the pace picks up on the descent as he flies off. He should be able to close the gap to the two leaders, if the peloton let him.

16:46 CEST    170km/37km to go
The two leaders sit up but Laidoun doesn't bother to slow down for them and flies right past. Tankink takes his wheel, while Serrano realises that it's over and goes back to the peloton, which is about 20 seconds behind.

16:48 CEST    172km/35km to go
The bunch rides through Villaneuva de Argaño, 21 seconds behind Laidoun and Tankink, who is sitting behind the Frenchman. The peloton is not in chase mode yet though.

16:54 CEST    177km/30km to go
Tankink is holding onto his fresher companion's wheel but not doing a turn, which is understandable. 30 km to go and the leaders have 40 seconds on a relatively calm peloton, which has Postal at the front still.

A horse rider is successfully keeping pace with the breakaways (until the horse runs out of gas after about 1km)

16:58 CEST    178km/29km to go
It's stretching out again as various teams start to manoeuvre themselves towards the front of the peloton. Tankink now does a turn, which will help Laidoun a lot. These guys want to get to the finish in front!

17:00 CEST    180km/27km to go
The gap is steady at 36 seconds, as the bunch starts to form the arrow head.

After 190 km, there is an uphill drag of about 10 km - more of a false flat than anything else - but if the pace is on by then, it's going to hurt.

Postal has stretched things out a bit more, helped by Liberty Seguros.

17:01 CEST   
That horse was the first official Livestock sighting of this year's Vuelta. But no cows...

17:04 CEST    182km/25km to go
The peloton can see the two leaders in its sights, just 22 seconds ahead. Laidoun is soldiering away with Tankink on his wheel.

In the bunch, O'Grady has moved up. He's a good chance for the stage win today, if he can get around Petacchi and Zabel.

17:08 CEST    183km/24km to go
The gap is steady at 20 seconds - the peloton is just letting these two hang out there. Laidoun is suffering a bit now, and Tankink isn't much use. They'll start the 10 km drag shortly.

17:11 CEST    184km/23km to go
Laidoun and Tankink finally sit up, and the peloton is together again. Tankink was away for nearly 110 km. We can probably expect a few more attacks now, although US Postal is keeping a tight rein on things. T-Mobile is also moving up.

17:14 CEST    187km/20km to go
The bunch is massed together, still not really strung out, with Guennadi Mikhailov, Benoît Joachim and Tony Cruz on the front for Postal. It's getting nervous...

The next intermediate sprint is due in 2 km.

17:15 CEST    188km/19km to go
Jurgen Van Goolen (Quick.Step) counter attacks on a small climb, carrying on the work of his teammate Tankink who was caught a few km ago.

17:16 CEST    189km/18km to go
Van Goolen has a good gap now, as no-one else in the peloton reacted. He's not really a threat to the leader's jersey unless he can get 3 minutes, and that's not going to happen.

17:18 CEST    190km/17km to go
Van Goolen takes the sprint in Buniel, 19 seconds ahead of Piccoli (Lampre) and one of the Posties. Piccoli also took second in the first sprint, which should give him the sprinters jersey today.

17:22 CEST    193km/14km to go
Van Goolen gives it full gas as he reaches the main road into Burgos with 15 km to go. The peloton, ready to pounce, is being led by Cofidis with Vasseur and White.

The gap is about 15 seconds.

17:24 CEST    194km/13km to go
The Cofidis train picks up speed as a alternative Phonak train comes up the right hand side of the road. Then Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme, for Valverde. A few Fassa jerseys are spotted, then Garcia Acosta leads Mancebo up to the front.

Van Goolen is caught.

17:26 CEST    195km/12km to go
The speed is now picking up as various teams vie for position in front. Kelme, Fassa, Postal, Illes Balears... Landis is still well placed in about 10th wheel.

17:27 CEST   
Moreni is now near the front as Phonak's Gutierrez takes over. Jalabert (CSC) gets his wheel.

17:28 CEST    197km/10km to go
The bunch rides under the 10 km to go banner, doing a good 50 km/h along the fast, wide road. As predicted, a bunch sprint is on the cards today.

17:30 CEST    199km/8km to go
Fassa Bortolo has assumed the position in front now, with Phonak up there as well. How good is PEtacchi?

Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano lifts the pace even more, with a couple of Liberty teammates on his wheel. Maybe trying to cause a break. The wind is sufficient, and everyone is in the right side of the road.

17:31 CEST    200km/7km to go
The Liberty Seguros pace is dropping a few riders out the back, but there are no big splits yet. An interesting move to try and gain a few seconds. The peloton is in a very long line now.

Beloki's men are moving him up the bunch too.

17:32 CEST    201km/6km to go
Fassa has several riders near the front, driving the tempo up with 6 km to go.

Zabriskie is sitting in second last wheel.

17:33 CEST    202km/5km to go
It's Cioni on the front now for Fassa, doing his job for Petacchi. The peloton takes an exit onto another motorway, and there are about 25 riders off the back. They're not returning.

17:34 CEST    203km/4km to go
A suicide break is made by Inaudi (Ag2r) with 4.5 km to go on a descent. He gets about 20m, but it's not going to work.

17:35 CEST    204km/3km to go
The Fassa train swallows Inaudi and there are eight of Petacchi's teammates in front. The wheel to be on is Petacchi's.

17:36 CEST    205km/2km to go
Vini Caldirola is moving Marco Zanotti up, taking over from Fassa with just under 3 km to go. The pace is extreme as Milesi hammers.

17:37 CEST    206km/1km to go
Milesi does a turn until the 2 km to go banner but then the Fassa train takes over and jacks up the speed to over 60 km/h on a slight descent.

17:37 CEST   
Fassa has five men in the last kilometre with Petacchi in fifth wheel.

17:37 CEST   
Petacchi is getting a perfect leadout. He has Zabel and Freire behind him.

17:38 CEST    207km/0km to go
Trenti begins the sprint for Petacchi, who takes over with 200m to go. Zabel on his wheel, but doesn't get much room from Trenti when he pulls off. Then Freire goes the long way round but doesn't get close. Petacchi wins the first stage!! Zabel second, then Freire and O'Grady.

That means Max van Heeswijk (USPS) will take over the leader's jersey from his teammate Floyd Landis, by virtue of the 6 bonus seconds he picked up in the first sprint. Benoît Joachim will move up to second overall.


1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo       5.02.05
2 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile
3 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank
4 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis
5 Pedro Horrillo (Spa) Quick.Step
6 Giosue Bonomi (Ita) Saeco
7 Antonio Cruz (USA) US Postal-Berry Floor
8 Marco Zanotti (Ita) Vini Caldirola
9 Erki Putsep (Est) Ag2r

General classification after stage 2

1 Max van Heeswijk (Ned) US Postal-Berry Floor
2 Benoit Joachim (Lux) US Postal-Berry Floor

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