Recently on Cyclingnews.com

Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

59th Vuelta a España - GT

Spain, September 4-26, 2004

Preview     Map    Profile    Start List   Results

Vuelta a España fantasy game

Vuelta a España fantasy game

Stage 20 - September 25: La Vega de Alcobendas - Puerto de Navacerrada, 178 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

14:28 CEST   
Welcome (spelling right this time) to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the penultimate stage of the Vuelta a España, the last mountain stage and one that will really test the reserves of all 119 riders left in the race. Today we start in La Vega de Alcobendas and finish atop the Cat. 1 Puerto de Navacerrada, a nasty 7 km climb averaging 8.6%. In between we have three other Cat. 1 climbs: Alto de Marasiegos (km 47.8), Puerto de Cotos (km 76.8) and Alto del León (km 120.7), none of which are easy.

The first sprint today is at km 63 in Rascafria, after the first climb. That is followed by one at Alpedrete (km 105.5) and La Pradera (km 163.8).

14:43 CEST    72km/106km to go
At the start this morning, all 119 riders signed on for today's fun. But the big news that was filtering through was that the UCI's Pro Tour will likely not even get off the ground, as the organisers of the three major tours (Tour, Giro and Vuelta) do not want to be a part of it. See this news item for more.

After 10 km, the break of the day escaped with the following riders: Eladio Jimenez and David Latasa (Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme), Joan Horrach (Illes Balears-Banesto), José Enrique Gutierrez (Phonak Hearing Systems), Cedric Vasseur (Cofidis), Aitor Perez (Cafes Baque), Antonio Cruz (US Postal Service), Rafael Casero (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Maarten Den Bakker (Rabobank), Mauro Gerosa (Vini Caldirola), Manuel Quinziato and Daniele Righi (Lampre).

With Jimenez the best placed on GC at 32 minutes down, Liberty Seguros did not chase and the break now has a 9'50 lead over the bunch at 62 km.

On the Cat. 1 climb of Morcuera, the riders crossed in the following order: Eladio Jimenez (Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme), Gonzalo Bayarri (Phonak Hearing Systems), Maarten Den Bakker (Rabobank), Manuel Quinziato (Lampre), José Enrique Gutierrez (Phonak Hearing Systems), David Latasa (Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme), Joan Horrach (Illes Balears-Banesto), Aitor Perez (Cafes Baque), Cedric Vasseur (Cofidis).

At the sprint in Rascafría, it was Rafael Casero (Saunier Duval-Prodir), David Latasa (Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme) and Mauro Gerosa (Vini Caldirola) who were the first three across the line.

14:54 CEST    76km/104km to go
There were more blood tests carried out at the Vuelta this morning, when 19 riders from the following teams were visited by the UCI's medical inspectors: Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme, Phonak Hearing Systems, Costa de Almería-Paternina and CSC Team. No rider was declared unfit to start.

The lead of the break reached as much as 10'55 on the first climb, but now it's a more stable 9'50. None of the GC riders will really worry about who's up the road, because they are all more than half an hour down.

The leaders are now climbing the Puerto de Cotos, the second of today's Cat. 1's.

15:04 CEST   
After a first hour ridden at 40.9 km/h, the second hour has been somewhat slower at 37.1 km/h. Perfectly understandable, given the two Cat. 1 climbs covered so far.

15:20 CEST    83km/95km to go
At the top of the Puerto de Cotos, it's again Eladio Jimenez (Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme) taking the points ahead of Manuel Quinziato (Lampre), Rafael Casero (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Maarten Den Bakker (Rabobank), Daniele Righi (Lampre), José Enrique Gutierrez (Phonak), Cedric Vasseur (Cofidis), Aitor Perez (Cafes Baque) and Joan Horrach (Illes Balears-Banesto).

The break still leads by 10'25 over the Liberty and Cafes Baque controlled peloton,

15:22 CEST   
By the way, even if Eladio Jimenez wins every climb today (70 points total) he won't come near mountains leader Felix Cardenas, who started the day on 167 points with a 60 point buffer over Heras. All he has to do now is finish the race and he will win the maroon coloured jersey.

15:34 CEST    105km/73km to go
The leading break of 12 is now 8'30 ahead of the peloton, which picked up the pace on the Puerto de Cotos. They are approaching the second sprint in Alpedrete.

Temperatures today are a little cooler, and it's only 13 degrees at the finish on top of the Navacerrada. It is sunny with blue skies.

15:36 CEST   
The two Lampre riders, Righi and Quinziato, lead Gerosa past the second sprint in Alpedrete.

The peloton is 8'50 behind, being led by Cafes Baque (who have a rider in the break) to set things up for another possible Felix Cardenas stage win.

15:42 CEST    110km/68km to go
The Baque chase is not having a big effect at the moment, as the gap has grown to 9'15 again. But there are only three Baque riders in front of the peloton while there are 12 riders working in the break.

15:46 CEST    112km/66km to go
The peloton passes under the sprint banner at 9'02, battling a headwind. It's fairly strung out at the front, with Baque and Liberty jerseys to the fore. Santi Perez, who needs to climb well today to give him a chance against Heras tomorrow, is in about 20th wheel, looking relaxed.

15:50 CEST    114km/64km to go
The break is now at the foot of the Alto del Leon, which measures 7.7 km and has an average of 7.5% (although it doesn't look that way from the stage profile).

15:57 CEST    117km/61km to go
The peloton is now in Guadarrama, with Cafes Baque pulling hard on the front with three men, and Liberty tucked in behind them.

The 12 leaders are now halfway up the Alto del Leon.

A closer look at the profile of the Navacerrada reveals a few errors, especially between kilometre 3 and 4 where there is supposedly a 180m altitude difference (18%). However, it's marked as 8% on the profile. We'll try to find out how steep it is, if Martin has made it to the top, but it's likely that 8% is the correct gradient for that sector.

9'10 between the break and the peloton.

16:01 CEST   
Gerosa leads up a steeper section of the Leon, before Latasa takes over. Latasa must be feeling tired from yesterday, as he was in the break all day too. The roads on this climb are quite wide, unlike the Abantos yesterday.

The peloton is fighting the wind at the bottom of the climb.

16:03 CEST    118km/60km to go
A herd of cows takes absolutely no interest in the peloton as it rides by, led by two Cafes Baque riders.

16:06 CEST   
The tempo has increased in the peloton, and plenty of riders are being shelled now. The gap has come back to under 8 minutes, with Baque's two workers doing the damage.

16:08 CEST   
This is interesting - Kelme has put four men on the front with Valverde in third wheel. The pace increases sharply and the Baque boys drop back. Liberty is next in line, with Heras a few wheels back looking a bit surprised.

16:10 CEST    120km/58km to go
Cabello blows a valve and drops off the front, leaving three Kelme riders. Heras and Perez have moved up behind four Liberty riders. This is a pretty savage pace.

16:11 CEST   
Mancebo moves up to the front, looking interested in attacking. But he doesn't.

16:12 CEST    121km/57km to go
The break is over the top of the climb with Gutierrez summiting first.

16:13 CEST   
Here goes Mancebo!! Sanchez (Euskaltel) follows. There is a bit of consternation in the Liberty camp, but Mancebo is finding it tough.

16:15 CEST    123km/55km to go
Heras talks on the bat-phone with his team director, as Mancebo and Sammy Sanchez increase their gap. Heras chooses to stay with his four Liberty teammates, who can control things better rather than leaving their team leader isolated before the last climb. Cunego, Valverde and Perez are all shadowing Heras.

16:16 CEST   
Garcia Quesada is the next to attack the peloton, and no-one reacts.

16:17 CEST    126km/52km to go
Liberty's Koldo Gil turns the screws and Garcia Quesada comes back quickly. Mancebo and Sanchez are still about 20 seconds ahead of the bunch, crossing the top of the climb just 5'35 behind the break. The peloton is right on their heels. What's left of it anyway - four Libertys plus Heras, then about 10 others.

16:19 CEST   
Mancebo sits up and goes back to the gold jersey group of 16, while Sammy Sanchez makes the most of the slowing in pace and attacks on the descent. It's not too technical, but he's an excellent downhill rider and is about 10 seconds ahead.

16:24 CEST    130km/48km to go
The results of the Alto del Leon: Eladio Jimenez (Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme) (again), José Enrique Gutierrez (Phonak), Manuel Quinziato (Lampre), Rafael Casero (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Daniele Righi (Lampre), David Latasa (Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme), Aitor Perez (Cafes Baque), Antonio Cruz (US Postal Service p/b Berry Floor), Maarten Den Bakker (Rabobank).

The front part of the peloton is at 5'35 behind the break, but is growing all the time. A few riders have tried to get off the front, catching Sanchez.

16:26 CEST    133km/45km to go
The leaders are on the wide roads of the Cat. 3 Alto de los Angeles de San Rafael, and Maarten den Bakker tries an attack. It doesn't work, as the two Kelme riders chase him down.

16:29 CEST    134km/44km to go
A chase group has formed behind the break with Jurgen van Goolen (Quick.Step), Luis Perez (Cofidis), Tino Zaballa (Saunier Duval), Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel), Unai Osa (Illes Balears) and David Blanco (Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme). But they don't cooperate, and the peloton led by Buenahora catches them.

Another big group rejoins on the descent, and we have a good 70-80 riders in the bunch.

16:32 CEST    135km/43km to go
Jimenez reaches the top of the Alto de Los Angeles first ahead of Quinziato and Gutierrez. It's a very stiff headwind still.

16:38 CEST    138km/40km to go
The two Baque riders lead the peloton over the Alto de Los Angeles 5'36 behind the break, having made up no more time in the last 15 km. But that gap could certainly vanish once the action starts on the last climb.

The riders in the break (which escaped after 10 km) again: Eladio Jimenez and David Latasa (Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme), Joan Horrach (Illes Balears-Banesto), José Enrique Gutierrez (Phonak Hearing Systems), Cedric Vasseur (Cofidis), Aitor Perez (Cafes Baque), Antonio Cruz (US Postal Service), Rafael Casero (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Maarten Den Bakker (Rabobank), Mauro Gerosa (Vini Caldirola), Manuel Quinziato and Daniele Righi (Lampre).

16:42 CEST    141km/37km to go
On the front of the peloton we now have three Baque riders riding hard, with mountains leader Cardenas ensconced in fourth wheel ahead of the Liberty train. Cardenas is not interested in any more mountain points today - he wants another stage win. But can he outclimb Heras, Perez and Mancebo? He'll have to be feeling good.

16:48 CEST    144km/34km to go
The Baque chase isn't doing much except keep the gap at 5'35. Liberty Seguros' Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano moves up to help them a bit. The gold jersey peloton is about 60-70 riders strong at the moment, with one more climb to come in the Vuelta.

16:52 CEST    147km/31km to go
The gap goes up to six minutes, despite the assistance of Liberty Seguros in the chase. If the break can survive with its lead intact, we might see Eladio Jimenez, José Enrique Gutierrez, Cedric Vasseur or Rafael Casero in the hunt for the stage win.

16:59 CEST    154km/24km to go
The race has settled down into a bit of a stalemate, as the 12 breakaways charge to the base of the Puerto de Navacerrada. The peloton is quite large now, moving along at a rapid clip behind the break.

17:01 CEST   
The Baque and Liberty chase has pulled back the break to 5'16.

Some data on the last climb: 7 km long, averaging 8.6%.

17:05 CEST    158km/20km to go
The attacks are starting to come in the break, with Den Bakker, Vasseur and Righi accelerating off the front. But they are chased down. The gap is now 4'53 and falling.

17:07 CEST   
Quinziato and Gerosa attack next, then Den Bakker goes after them, with Aitor Perez and David Latasa chasing. Den Bakker makes it up to the two leaders.

17:08 CEST   
The break reforms. Time to attack again!

17:09 CEST    162km/16km to go
Eladio Jimenez sees a chance and goes really hard. There is no immediate reaction...

17:11 CEST    163km/15km to go
The Baque/Liberty chase is picking up speed. It's 4'41 now as Jimenez drives under the 15 km to go banner. It's all uphill now, but the next 7 km or so aren't too steep.

17:15 CEST    165km/13km to go
The last sprint at La Pradera sees Eladio Jimenez (Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme) first, about 10 seconds ahead of José Enrique Gutierrez (Phonak), then another 5 seconds to Maarten Den Bakker (Rabobank). The rest of the break is at 20 seconds.

Gutierrez has now caught Jimenez.

17:17 CEST    166km/12km to go
Jimenez ditches his helmet to a soigneur, but Gutierrez still has his on. The Phonak rider is in the big ring, pedalling slowly. They ease up and wait for Den Bakker, who is with them now.

17:18 CEST    168km/10km to go
Jimenez takes over the tempo making as the three man break flies under 10 km to go. Then Den Bakker does a turn. They're flying, and the peloton is still 4'30 back, not looking like closing the gap in time.

17:19 CEST    169km/9km to go
Both Den Bakker and Gutierrez give their helmets to the Shimano neutral support car. The rest of the break is 25 seconds behind them.

17:20 CEST   
Now Liberty is driving hard on the front of the peloton. This is it, the final showdown. It's Caruso and Gil in front.

17:22 CEST    170km/8km to go
We have seven Liberty riders on the front of the peloton, with Heras in fifth wheel. It's a drag race to the top, and the bunch once again starts to thin down.

In front, Jimenez, Den Bakker and Gutierrez are working well with 8 km to go. It starts to get steep now.

17:23 CEST    171km/7km to go
It's now down to 4'11 as the peloton picks up momentum. The break should be able to hang on...

17:24 CEST   
Joachim has got Beltran's helmet stuffed down the back of his jersey.

Vasseur has closed the gap to the three leaders. But Gutierrez has attacked! The Phonak rider is solo with 7 km to go. Then Jimenez, Vasseur and Den Bakker chasing.

17:26 CEST    172km/6km to go
Gutierrez is pedalling a big gear up this eight percent section of the climb. He changes down, and looks a bit more comfortable. He's a big guy, but very strong and goes well in the mountains.

The peloton is at 3'49, still big. Gil leads under 8 km to go, just before the road gets steeper. Cabello is back at the front for Kelme, ready to do his suicidal turn.

17:28 CEST   
Gutierrez goes under 6 km to go with 3'40 to the bunch.

Sevilla and Valjavec do a 1-2 from the peloton, giving Valjavec a bit of a gap. He'll try to stay there to wait for Santi Perez. Not a bad idea.

17:29 CEST   
It's the other Perez - Luis - making the tempo in the peloton with Santi Perez and Heras on his wheel. Valjavec suddenly blows apart and is passed by the peloton (meaning top 20 riders).

17:30 CEST    173km/5km to go
Gutierrez goes under 5km to go, looking back to see where Jimenez is.

The golden jersey group is now Heras, Perez, Mancebo, L and S. Perez, Cunego, Garcia Quesada, Valverde, Cardenas, Piepoli, Osa, Nozal.

Ferrio attacks. The gap is still 3'27 to the leader on the road. Ferrio now has Luis Perez for company.

17:32 CEST    176km/2km to go
The Liberty axe-man, Isidro Nozal picks up the pace in pursuit of Luis Perez and Jorge Ferrio. Heras is glued to his wheel. Valverde is well placed about 5 wheels back. The group is thinning... Valverde chats to Perez.

Gutierrez has 4 km to go - he should win the stage.

17:33 CEST    175km/3km to go
The gold jersey group goes under 5 km to go at 3'13 behind Jose Enrique Gutierrez, led by Isidro Nozal.

Gerosa, one of the early breakaways, is caught.

17:33 CEST   
Heras drops back a bit behind S. Perez and Valverde. Cardenas is dropped.

Garcia Quesada attacks.

17:34 CEST   
Valverde counters, but Heras is right on him. Now Santi Perez goes. Heras reacts....

17:34 CEST   
Santi Perez puts in a big attack and Heras has to go deep to get him. The rest of the group is distanced.

17:35 CEST   
Santi Perez needs to get rid of Heras, but the gold jersey wearer looks comfortable behind the Phonak rider.

Chasing are Valverde, Garcia Quesada and Mancebo.

17:36 CEST   
Another early break, Quinziato is caught and dropped.

Heras and Perez have 16 seconds to Valverde/Mancebo/Garcia Quesada, who are now caught by Luis Perez, Sastre and Gomez(?).

17:37 CEST    176km/2km to go
Santi Perez and Heras are putting more time into the Valverde group, but will it be enough to win the Vuelta?

Stage leader Gutierrez has 2'25 lead with 2km to go.

17:38 CEST   
In the lead we still have Jose Enrique Gutierrez (Phonak) who is chased by Vasseur, Jimenez and the remnants of the early break, which are now being steamrolled by the Heras/Santi Perez train.

24 seconds is the time gap to Valverde's group.

17:39 CEST   
Heras and Perez steam past Rafael Casero, Daniel Righi and Tony Cruz. There are still a few more riders left in front, but Gutierrez should be able to win the stage.

Valverde, Mancebo et al are at 30 seconds.

Now Den Bakker and Horrach are caught.

Perez is away!

17:40 CEST    177km/1km to go
Perez gives it everything and Heras, who hadn't moved from his back wheel, has lost 20m - then 30m. Is this the Vuelta winner?

His teammate Gutierrez is now 1 km away from the stage win.

17:41 CEST   
Heras can't drop Den Bakker, which is a bad sign. He finally does. He runs into a flag, which slows him down but no disaster.

Perez is flying - now passing Vasseur.

Gutierrez is nearly home for the stage win.

17:41 CEST   
Perez has 12 seconds on Heras as he reaches 1 km to go, passing Aitor Perez.

17:42 CEST   
Heras is really struggling, losing time to Santi Perez. 17 seconds with 1 km to go.

17:42 CEST   
But the stage win goes to Jose Enrique Gutierrez, after another long breakaway succeeded! He is delighted with his performance.

17:43 CEST    178km/0km to go
Santi Perez is now in the final metres, but he won't get second. Jimenez is now across the line at 40 seconds behind Gutierrez.

17:45 CEST   
Perez has already 22 seconds on Heras, who is now with Vasseur.

Latasa finishes third at 1'25, then Perez flies home at 1'37.

Aitor Perez is next at 2'01. Then Heras and Vasseur at 2'06. Mancebo close behind them - he will pass Valverde on GC. So Perez picks up 30 seconds on GC, cutting the gap to 45 seconds. Tomorrow's time trial will be very interesting!


1 José Enrique Gutierrez (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems        4.52.20
2 Eladio Jimenez (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme               0.38
3 David Latasa (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme                 1.25
4 Santiago Perez (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems                   1.37
5 Aitor Perez (Spa) Cafes Baque                                 2.03
6 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros                           2.07
7 Cedric Vasseur (Fra) Cofidis, le credit par Telephone             
8 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Banesto                 2.10
9 Jorge Ferrio (Spa) Paternina-Costa De Almeria                 2.18
10 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme              
11 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme       2.24
12 Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir                  2.27

General classification after stage 20

1 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros                        77.07.28
2 Santiago Perez (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems                    0.43
3 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Banesto                  2.19
4 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme            2.26
5 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme         6.33
6 Isidro Nozal (Spa) Liberty Seguros                             7.16
7 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC                                   8.16
8 Angel Gomez (Spa) Paternina-Costa De Almeria                  12.11
9 Luis Perez (Spa) Cofidis, le credit par Telephone             12.45
10 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie    14.35


Mail the commentary team