60th Vuelta a España - GT
Spain, August 27-September 18, 2005
Results & report
Stage 16 - Tuesday, September 13: Leon-Valladolid, 162.5 km
Commentary by Shane Stokes and Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from
Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:00 CEST
Welcome back to the Vuelta a España's
third and final phase, with six more stages on offer before the tour finishes
in Madrid on Sunday. The riders endured two very tough stages last weekend,
which resulted in Roberto Heras finally cracking his rival Denis Menchov to
take the golden jersey in a brilliant ride on the Puerto de Pajares. Heras now
leads the Russian by 4'30 on the general classification, and there are few chances
for Menchov to take back any of that time.
Today's 162.5 km 16th
stage from Leon to Valladolid will probably not be one of them. It's pretty
much dead flat with no categorised climbs en route. The three intermediate sprints
are at Jabares (km 29), Valderas (km 68.9), and La Mudarra (km 131.8). The only
difficulty may come from crosswinds, but you can be sure that Liberty Seguros
will not be caught napping there. They are the masters of creating gaps when
the wind blows from the side.
The 16th stage started at 13:39 with
140 riders signing on today. Only T-Mobile's Paco Lara did not, and he became
the 57th rider to abandon since the start. On the other hand, Alessandro Petacchi
certainly did put his name down, and he'll be the favourite to take his fifth
The first attack came in the first kilometre when Hervé
Duclos Lassalle (CA) took off, chased by Perdiguero, and Zaballa (Saunier),
Garcia Acosta (Illes Balears), Adolfo Garcia Quesada (Comunidad Valenciana)
Adolfo), Velo (Fassa) and Nardello (T-Mobile). They gained 20 seconds before
getting caught at kilometre 8. The attacks continued of course, with Voeckler,
Bäckstedt, Scheirlinckx, Van Bon, Cañada, and Dueñas trying next, before Fassa
Bortolo closed it down after 13 km.
After 17 km, a more promising
move went with Jorge Garcia (Relax), Thorwald Veneberg (Rabobank), Bart Dockx
(Davitamon-Lotto), Arnaud Coyot (Cofidis), Marcus Ljungqvist (Liquigas), André
Korff (T-Mobile), Sébastien Chavanel (Bouygues), and Matteo Tosatto (Fassa Bortolo).
The group gained 40 seconds after 29 km, with Quick.Step and Illes Balears chasing
hard. Dockx won the first sprint at that point ahead of Veneberg and Chavanel.
Since then, the group of eight has maintained its fairly small advantage over
14:47 CEST 51km/111.5km to go
Phonak has got
to the front to help the chase, and the break has been pulled back to 15 seconds.
49.5 km were covered in the first hour, a very rapid start.
14:54 CEST 52km/110.5km to go
also gets to the front to help control things, as the crosswinds start to cut
in from the side. The breakaways' lead goes up to 20 seconds again.
15:02 CEST 67km/95.5km to go
Leon Van Bon (Davitamon-Lotto)
and Francisco Perez (Illes Balears) have bridged the gap to the eight smoothly
working leaders. The lead oscillates between 20 and 40 seconds, but no-one else
can close it.
There is no-one in front who is even remotely threatening
for the general classification (Perez is 49th at 1:14:15), but some teams have
missed the move, hence the chase.
15:06 CEST 70km/92.5km to go
The second intermediate
sprint at Valderas is taken by Arnaud Coyot, ahead of Korff and Tosatto.
The full composition of the break: Francisco Perez (Illes Balears), Jorge Garcia
(Relax), Thorwald Veneberg (Rabobank), Bart Dockx and Leon van Bon (Davitamon-Lotto),
Arnaud Coyot (Cofidis), Marcus Ljungqvist (Liquigas), Andre Korff (T-Mobile),
Sébastien Chavanel (Bouygues), and Matteo Tosatto (Fassa Bortolo).
15:17 CEST 75km/87.5km to go
Finally, after 60
km of hard chasing, the bunch has neutralised the 10 man break. It's been an
incredibly quick stage up until now, and the attacks will no doubt continue.
15:33 CEST 86km/76.5km to go
The bunch has passed
through the feed zone, still all together. No-one has been able to get away
on this flat, fast stage.
There is a bit of a lull at the moment,
but doubtlessly one or more riders who are still (somehow) feeling aggressive
will turn it on again soon.
It's all about eating and drinking
in the peloton at the moment, but the fast start to the stage means that the
riders have covered the first two hours at over 45 km/h.
This flat stage has 'bunch sprint'
written all over it, unless riders manage to give the likes of Fassa Bortolo
the slip. But I wouldn't bet on that too much..
The different tactics
in preparing for the worlds are interesting. Tom Boonen pulled out of the race
several days ago, feeling that he had got the maximum benefit from the race.
Alessandro Petacchi believes that sticking around improves his chances, while
Robbie McEwen didn't even start the Vuelta. He took wins in Paris-Brussels and
GP Fourmies over the weekend, so it seems like Plan C is working out well so
far for him.
Rik Verbrugghe (QuickStep Innergetic)
and Egoi Martinez de Esteban (Euskaltel) fell but are back up and on their bikes,
returning to the main group.
16:16 CEST 112km/50.5km to go
It's still relatively
tranquil in the bunch. Although riders had a rest day yesterday, they are still
going to be tired from two weeks of racing and some tough days in the mountain.
Many of them will be happy to roll in today as part of the main bunch, rather
than launching any bids for glory. Race leader Roberto Heras and his Liberty
Seguros team won't argue against that, being content if riders opt to keep their
remaining strength in reserve today. They also know that the sprinters' teams
will take up the pace setting as they get a little closer to the finish.
16:20 CEST 117.5km/45km to go
The peloton passes
through Medina de Rioseco with 45 km to go, Liberty Seguros still driving hard
at the head of affairs. Fassa Bortolo is well placed behind the dark blue boys,
ready to crank things up in the finale so that no more riders get away.
The average speed after two hours is 45.8 km/h.
32 riders were blood tested by the
UCI this morning, from Team CSC, Liberty Seguros, T-Mobile and Fassa Bortolo.
All riders were declared fit to start the stage.
16:28 CEST 122.5km/40km to go
The peloton is
passed by an ambulance, as it hammers up a small climb. Menchov sits next to
Heras, looking good. Heras has his left knee bandaged fairly heavily.
An attack! Angel Gomez (Saunier Duval) and Nacor Burgos (Relax) take off on
this climb with 40 km to go.
16:29 CEST 123.5km/39km to go
The two leaders
have nine seconds, but they'll have a hard time holding off the bunch in the
final 40 km. It's flat, a bit windy, and everyone is fresh and re-motivated.
16:31 CEST 125.5km/37km to go
Liberty isn't too
concerned about the two leaders, who now have 15 seconds. It'll be up to the
sprinters teams to chase them down, maybe in about 10 km.
16:34 CEST 126.5km/36km to go
The leaders eke
out a 25 second lead on this long, straight road. They're hugging the left hand
side, possibly because the asphalt is a bit better here.
16:39 CEST 128.5km/34km to go
Gomez and Burgos
continue to drive hard, with Gomez taking short turns. Burgos is definitely
the stronger of the two at the moment. They're holding the peloton at 35 seconds.
16:41 CEST 132.5km/30km to go
Burgos takes the
final sprint at La Mudarra ahead of Gomez, while the peloton comes through at
50 seconds, led by Laiseka, who sprinted for the point.
The two leaders have carved out an
impressive gap in this late stage of the race, but they're going to need a lot
more than that to stay clear until the end.
16:47 CEST 135.5km/27km to go
The gap grows to
1'09, the biggest lead anyone has got in this very tightly controlled flat stage.
The peloton is relaxed at the moment, still led by Liberty. Phonak has moved
up there, ready to work if necessary.
The road is flat and as straight
as a gunbarrel. The leaders are now back in the centre of the road.
16:48 CEST 137.5km/25km to go
After three hours,
the average speed has dropped to 43.6 km/h. Basically it was very quick in the
first hour (nearly 50 km/h), but since then it's been a steady 40 km/h. On a
stage like this, sitting in the peloton is fairly relaxing.
16:51 CEST 138.5km/24km to go
Burgos gets some
encouragement from his team director in the Relax car again, as the gap stabilises
at 1'05-1'10. No-one is helping Liberty set the tempo yet.
16:56 CEST 142.5km/20km to go
The two leaders
are chased by a man on a horse, riding on the other side of the road. But 45
km/h is hard for the horse to maintain. The bicycle is one of the most efficient
means of transport in the world.
Francesco Mancebo (Illes Balears)
has a flat, but is on his way again, looking for cars to draft behind to get
back to the peloton. He finds Quick.Step and motorpaces his way past four teammates
who dropped back for him. They come back to him, and Mancebo is almost back
in the peloton.
Mancebo's team brings him right to
the front of the bunch, where Liberty are still patrolling. At the back, Jimmy
"the ghost" Casper cruises along with a teammate.
Burgos and Gomez
now lead by less than a minute.
17:00 CEST 145.5km/17km to go
The tempo increases,
but it's still Liberty in front. The leaders are suddenly only 29 seconds ahead
of the hungry peloton.
17:01 CEST 146.5km/16km to go
Aha - the road
curves to the right and the CSC team gets to the front to join Liberty, perhaps
trying to split the bunch in a crosswind. Then Quick.Step assumes the position
as the speed lifts to 55 km/h. This will be fatal for the breakaway, which has
Now Phonak gets to the front, trying
to get a split happening. But maybe the wind isn't strong enough. Fassa moves
17:03 CEST 147.5km/15km to go
The bunch flies
under 15 km to go and Gomez and Burgos are caught soon after. Nice try lads
- 25 km of freedom. Fassa now moves more men to the fore.
17:05 CEST 149.5km/13km to go
A new attack, again
involving a Saunier rider. It's Rafaele Casero. He powers along the flat, really
There's no panic in the peloton,
as various teams put riders in front. Illes Balears, Phonak, Fassa, and Liberty
all have men there.
17:07 CEST 150.5km/12km to go
Casero goes under
12 km with a 10 second gap to the bunch, which has him in its sights.
17:08 CEST 151.5km/11km to go
CSC, Phonak, Liberty
and Rabobank all have men in the front rank, which is four riders across sometimes.
It's not strung out yet.
Paolo Bettini slides himself up the
side of the bunch, next to the Fassa train.
17:09 CEST 152.5km/10km to go
Casero is caught
by the bunch after about 3 km of freedom. It gets harder and harder to get away
in the finale.
17:10 CEST 153.5km/9km to go
The speed lifts
to 75 km/h on a slight descent, with CSC and Phonak now in front. You can't
escape at this speed.
17:11 CEST 154.5km/8km to go
CSC holds the speed
at above 70 for quite a while. Their 53x11 gears will be turning over quickly.
The kilometres fly by.
17:12 CEST 155.5km/7km to go
The bunch exits
the main road as a longish string, but not totally strung out. 7 km now, still
CSC on the front.
Fassa Bortolo is lying in wait, ready
to lead out Petacchi for a likely fifth win. But, anything can happen...
17:13 CEST 156.5km/6km to go
It's 6 km now and
no-one is going to be able to attack effectively at this speed. Zabel is moving
up on the left side with T-Mobile. Heras is also well placed.
17:14 CEST 158.5km/4km to go
Here comes Fassa,
with three men alongside the remaining CSC rider. A Discovery rider leads up
Danielson, but ends up with Heras on his wheel. Baldato keeps it at 65 km/h
with under 5 km to go. It's almost flat too.
17:15 CEST 159km/3.5km to go
The sprint itself
is uphill, and that could make it interesting.
A sharp right hander
with a few barriers in the middle of it. All riders make it intact. Baldato
looks back and sees the train intact, as the other Fassa riders move up. Bäckstedt
is there for Zanotti too.
17:16 CEST 160km/2.5km to go
The speed is still
extremely high as Baldato leads under 3 km. Petacchi is in about 6th wheel,
ready to go. Baldato pulls off at 2.5 km.
17:17 CEST 160.5km/2km to go
Petacchi still has
plenty of teammates in front of him, as Lotto leads Steegmans up.
17:17 CEST 160.5km/2km to go
Two clicks to go
and Fassa has five riders for Petacchi! Zanotti moves up on Bäckstedt's wheel,
next to Petacchi and Zabel. A right hander now.
17:18 CEST 161.5km/1km to go
It's uphill from
now on, and the Fassa train keeps the pressure on. An attack by Fuentes just
before the final kilometre. He gets a Cofidis rider on his wheel, but he blows.
Then a Gerolsteiner counters - is that Ziegler?
The Gerolsteiner rider has 20 metres
with 700m to go.
17:20 CEST 162.5km/0km to go
He blows, as the
road continues uphill. Sanchez attacks! Bettini counters, Petacchi in third
wheel. Petacchi comes up but can't quite get around Bettini, and the Quick.Step
rider wins the stage!! Perdiguero third. That was a really tough sprint uphill.
Well that was a pretty impressive
sprint by Paolo Bettini, who definitely has the advantage over Petacchi in an
uphill finish like this. Bettini hit out from a long way and Perdi and Petacchi
battled all the way to the line to try to get him, but he had it by half a bike
No changes to GC, as Heras took 10th today. We'll be back
with tomorrow's tougher mountain stage from El Espinar to La Granja de San Ildefonso.
Join us then!
1 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step - Innergetic 3.40.56
2 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
3 Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems
4 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Saunier Duval - Prodir
5 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
6 Mauricio Alberto Ardila Cano (Col) Davitamon - Lotto
7 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile Team
8 Pablo Lastras (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne
9 Thomas Ziegler (Ger) Gerolsteiner
10 Roberto Heras Hernandez (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team
11 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC
General classification after stage 16
1 Roberto Heras Hernandez (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team 62.28.36
2 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 4.30
3 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 4.50
4 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne 6.45
5 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana 8.02
6 Oscar Sevilla (Spa) T-Mobile Team 11.16
7 Ruben Plaza Molina (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana 11.30
8 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel 12.05
9 Juan Miguel Mercado (Spa) Quick Step - Innergetic 13.32
10 Santos Gonzalez (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems 14.20
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