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60th Vuelta a España - GT

Spain, August 27-September 18, 2005

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Stage 9 - Sunday, September 4: Lloret de Mar-Lloret de Mar TT, 48 km

Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Hernan Alvarez

Live report

Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:10 CEST

14:33 CEST   
Welcome to Lloret de Mar for our live coverage of the Vuelta's first long time trial, 48 km around the Spanish seaside town. The ninth stage is not an easy one, climbing at the start before a short descent to the 10.8 km mark, then climbing the Cat. 3 Alto de Tossa (250m) after 21.4 km. Then it's mostly downhill to the finish, with a few little ups and downs.

The first rider off is José Antonio Garrido (Quick.Step), who leaves at 12:57pm. The riders then depart at 1 minute intervals until the last rider, Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) sets off at 16:15. Early favourites include Niels Scheuneman (Rabobank, 13:11), Magnus Bäckstedt (Liquigas-Bianchi, 13:23), Uwe Peschel (Gerolsteiner, 13:41), Rik Verbrugghe (Quick.Step, 14:08), Leif Hoste (Discovery, 14:21), Santiago Botero (Phonak, 14:42), José Ivan Gutierrez (Illes Balears, 14:50), José Azevedo (Discovery, 14:53), Bradley McGee (Francaise des Jeux, 14:57), Aitor Gonzalez (Euskaltel, 15:22), and Christian Vandevelde (CSC, 15:33).

The top 20 on GC leave at 2 minute intervals, and favourites for the stage include Santos Gonzalez (Phonak, 15:53), Tom Danielson (Discovery Channel, 15:55), Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears, 16:05), Carlos Sastre (CSC, 16:11), Denis Menchov (Rabobank, 16:13), and Heras at 16:15. Menchov in particular could take the gold jersey again, but Heras has improved his riding against the clock over the last few years, and should finish right up there.

14:43 CEST   
31 riders of 180 have completed the 48 km, and the best time so far is that of Rabobank's Niels Scheuneman. The Dutch rider clocked 1:05:03 for a respectable 44.27 km/h average. But back down the course at the 21.4 km mark, Uwe Peschel (Gerolsteiner) has gone through in 32'37, 1'20 faster than Scheuneman.

14:53 CEST   
Peschel comes to the finish and he's smashed the time of Scheuneman with a 1:02:33, a full two and a half minutes quicker than the Rabobank rider. Peschel's time looks to be a good one on this tough course, but there are still plenty of big guns to come.

Rik Verbrugghe is third at the 21.4 km check, 1'10 slower than Peschel. That's going to be hard to make up.

15:00 CEST   
Belgian TT specialist Leif Hoste (Discovery) has clocked a good time at the 10.8 km mark, coming through in 14'40, nine seconds quicker than CSC's Andrea Peron and 15 better than Uwe Peschel. Let's see how he performs at the next check, which is at the top of the Alto de Tossa.

15:02 CEST   
Hoste is indeed quickest at 21.4 km, by 12 seconds. The Discovery Channel rider is on a good day, it looks like. Can he bring it home over the last 27 km?

15:11 CEST   
CSC's Andrea Peron has finished his ride in an impressive 1:02:45, just 12 seconds slower than Uwe Peschel, who is currently in the hot seat. Meanwhile, at the 35 km check, Leif Hoste has come through in second place, but only 1 second slower than Peschel. This will be close over the last 13 km.

15:25 CEST   
Hoste is still to finish, as we get a time check from Santi Botero at km 10.8. The 2002 World TT Champ is not on a good day, as he already sits in 66th position at 1'27 from Hoste!

15:29 CEST   
The weather today is once again good for racing, 28 degrees and sunny, with a moderate 20-25 km/h breeze blowing from the southwest.

15:32 CEST   
82 riders have completed the 48 km around Lloret de Mar, and the best time is still held by Uwe Peschel. The top 10 so far:

1 Uwe Peschel (Gerolsteiner) 1.02.33
2 Andrea Peron (CSC) 0.12
3 Rik Verbrugghe (Quick Step) 0.52
4 Niels Scheuneman (Rabobank) 2.30
5 Ruslan Ivanov (Domina Vacanze) 2.50
6 Frédéric Finot (Française des Jeux) 2.55
7 Gorka Gonzalez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) 3.02
8 Nicki Sørensen (CSC) 3.06
9 Magnus Bäckstedt (Liquigas) 3.07
10 Christophe Edaleine (Cofidis) 3.25

15:35 CEST   
Leif Hoste finishes his ride in 1:03:27, for fourth best behind Peschel, Peron and Verbrugghe. He must have tanked a bit over the last 13 km, because he lost nearly a minute to Peschel between the last time check and the finish.

15:37 CEST   
Another of the pre-stage favourites, Brad McGee (FDJ) has come through 10.8 km in 9th place, 33 seconds slower than Hoste. Let's see how he goes up to the next check, which is one of the most important ones.

15:46 CEST   
Although Botero is not on a good day today, his teammate and compatriot Victor Hugo Peña (Phonak) certainly is. Peña comes through 21.4 km just 2 seconds slower than Leif Hoste, who still has the best time at that point.

Stijn Devolder (Discovery) has done a good time today, with a 1:04:40 for fifth on the leaderboard at the moment.

15:51 CEST   
Another impressive ride has come from Fabio Sacchi (Fassa Bortolo), who lies in sixth at the moment, 2'20 behind Uwe Peschel. Sacchi is not usually renowned as a time triallist, but he gets plenty of practice riding at the front of the peloton for Petacchi.

15:54 CEST   
We have a new best time at km 10.8 by Ruben Plaza (Comunidad Valenciana), and it's a good one: His 14'07 shaves 33 seconds off the time of Leif Hoste. Plaza is a good rider against the clock, and has a couple of professional TT wins to his credit. He also won the Spanish road championship in 2003.

15:57 CEST   
Oscar Pereiro Sio (Phonak) has come into the finish now, with a 1:02:41, just 8 seconds slower than Peschel, who still has the best time. Pereiro's teammate Victor Peña should be in soon. He has the best time at km 35.6 by six seconds, and could well knock Peschel off the top spot. But the German finished very strongly.

15:58 CEST   
Tom Danielson (Discovery) is under way now, and the American is powering along the first uphill part of the course. He's chasing Santos Gonzalez (Phonak), and the pair are level pegging at the moment.

16:00 CEST   
Juan Miguel Mercado (Quick.Step) is getting the final 10 seconds countdown. He's off! The Quick.Step rider is sitting in the top 10 on GC, and will hope to defend that today.

Santos Gonzalez struggles up the climb, riding at a slow cadence. He's Phonak's main GC rider.

16:01 CEST   
Ruben Plaza has done the best time at km 21.4, not surprising there.

His teammate Carlos Garcia Quesada his starting now.

16:02 CEST   
Brad McGee comes home in a time of 1:04:22, 1'49 behind Peschel for 7th. That's good but not good enough.

16:03 CEST   
Victor Peña comes in with a time of 1:02:30, getting the best time by 3 seconds! Excellent ride by the Colombian, who has been out for most of the season due to injury.

Unai Yus (Bouygues) sets off for his ride.

16:06 CEST   
Paco Mancebo (Illes Balears) is now on his way, as the sixth last rider to go.

Danielson is keeping a good rhythm on the climb, pedaling smoothly.

16:08 CEST   
The top 10 so far:

1 Victor Hugo Peña (Phonak) 1.02.30
2 Uwe Peschel (Gerolsteiner) 0.03
3 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Phonak) 0.11
4 Andrea Peron (CSC) 0.15
5 Rik Verbrugghe (Quick Step) 0.55
6 Leif Hoste (Discovery) 0.57
7 Christophe Kern (Bouygues) 1.21
8 Bradley McGee (Française des Jeux) 1.52
9 Stijn Devolder (Discovery) 2.10
10 Fabio Sacchi (Fassa Bortolo) 2.23

16:10 CEST   
Carlos Garcia Quesada makes his way up the first climb as his teammate David Blanco starts. As usual, the Comunidad Valenciana boys are very much at the top of the results table in the Vuelta.

Joaquin Rodriguez (Saunier Duval) is next to go. He's the fourth on GC, and has done a great Vuelta so far.

16:11 CEST   
Ruben Plaza's time after 21.4 km was 31.15, a whole 1'10 quicker than Leif Hoste.

Carlos Sastre (CSC) is next to go. He needs to do a good ride today to pick up time on Heras.

16:13 CEST   
Mancebo is on the first climb now, keeping a good cadence but struggling a bit to get comfortable. He sits right on the front of the saddle.

Roberto Heras is getting ready to go now, following Denis Menchov.

16:14 CEST   
Menchov is now under way. The Russian is clad in a green, yellow and white skinsuit, which marks the leader in the combination classification. He doesn't actually lead that, but Heras can't wear the jersey so second placed Menchov will. This could be a one use only skinsuit!

16:16 CEST   
Roberto Heras, looking very calm, is on his way now. He gets quickly up to speed, but doesn't go flat out at the start.

Danielson is through the first time check in fourth place, 35 seconds behind Ruben Plaza. His teammate Michael Barry comes to the finish in 1:04:00 for 10th best. A good ride.

16:19 CEST   
Menchov grunts his way up the climb. He's got a nice low position on the bike, but he does wobble a bit from side to side when he's going uphill. Speed is what counts though, and he's got that.

16:20 CEST   
Heras is now on the climb, sitting at 30 km/h as he gets out of the saddle. He's fighting with it on a steeper part. Now he gets a short downhill. He's already four seconds up on Menchov.

16:21 CEST   
Mancebo is through 10.8 km just 18 seconds slower than Ruben Plaza, who has the best time there. That's a good ride from the Illes Balears captain, who is pretty handy against the clock for a climbing specialist.

16:22 CEST   
Heras again gets out of the saddle in the big chainring, trying to keep the small advantage he has over Menchov.

Carlos Sastre looks very quick as he rides next to the witches hats on a small descent.

16:25 CEST   
Jakob Piil (CSC) is also on track for a good ride. He was second at the 21.8 km check, 52 seconds slower than Ruben Plaza. The latter has smashed through the 35 km check in 45:09, a whole 1:18 better than Victor Peña. He'll get the best time for sure.

16:28 CEST   
Aitor Gonzalez (Euskaltel) comes to the finish in 1:04:35, for 13th. That's not a great ride by the TerminAitor, who dominated this discipline in 2002.

Heras and Menchov are level pegging out on the course. The gap on GC between the two is only 12 seconds, but there's a long way to ride yet.

16:29 CEST   
Plaza still has the best time at km 10.8 as Menchov goes through 5 seconds slower, and Sastre 14 seconds. It remains for Heras to come past this first check.

16:31 CEST   
Here's Heras, getting into a good rhythm through town. He's third at 7 seconds behind Plaza, meaning he's only lost 2 seconds to Menchov.

Ruben Plaza finishes his ride in a great time of 1:01:03, easily the best time today. Could be enough to win. Marcus Burghardt is almost on his wheel at the finish, the tall T-Mobile rider being caught for five minutes by Plaza.

16:32 CEST   
Joseba Beloki (Liberty) comes home now, in a pretty good time of 1:03:51 for 9th. That's a hell of a lot better than his prologue. But he too got caught by Plaza.

16:35 CEST   
Carlos Garcia Quesada is through 21.4 km in 32'09 for third best behind Plaza and Piil. He is on track to defend his 8th place on GC quite well, possibly even improving it.

16:37 CEST   
Heras and Menchov are both on the Alto de Tossa, and Menchov has 6 seconds advantage over the leader. He needs 12. The Russian is working well, powering along at a good cadence. It's 9 seconds now.

Marcos Serrano finishes in 1:03:55 for 10th. That's decent.

16:38 CEST   
Christian Vandevelde (CSC) finishes his ride now, clocking 1:03:46 for eighth thus far. His teammate Jakob Piil is better, finishing in 1:02:49 for sixth. Very decent.

Paco Mancebo is 28 seconds slower than Plaza at km 21.4. That puts him in second on the stage, with a few quicker riders to come.

16:39 CEST   
Menchov now has 15 seconds on Heras, making him the virtual leader of the Vuelta.

16:40 CEST   
Menchov slows to 21-22km/h near the top of the Alto de Tossa, fighting with it all the time. Carlos Sastre still looks a picture of smoothness.

16:42 CEST   
David Bernabeu (Comunidad Valenciana) finishes off in 1:04:05 for 17th.

Heras now reaches the steep part of the Alto de Tossa, already 20 effectively seconds behind Menchov, who should do better on the second part of the parcours anyway.

16:44 CEST   
Sastre reaches the top of the climb 19 seconds slower than Plaza for a provisional second. He's better than Mancebo.

Oscar Sevilla finishes his ride, really struggling with it for 1:04:15 (18th).

16:45 CEST   
Sastre is catching Joaquin Rodriguez on the descent. The Saunier rider started 2 minutes ahead of Sastre.

Menchov reaches the top of the climb in the best time of 31:14, even better than Ruben Plaza.

16:46 CEST   
Sastre flies past Joaquin Rodriguez on the descent! That's motoring.

16:50 CEST   
All riders are through the km 21.4 check now, and it's Denis Menchov with the best time. Plaza is at 1 second, then Sastre at 20 and Heras at 27. On the GC, Menchov now has a 15 second advantage.

The top five at km 21.4:

1 Denis Menchov (Rabobank) 31.14
2 Ruben Plaza Molina (Comunidad Valenciana) 0.01
3 Carlos Sastre (CSC) 0.20
4 Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) 0.27
5 Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears) 0.29

16:51 CEST   
Heras flies on the descent, slaloming between the witches hats (for some reason, the course isn't completely closed).

16:53 CEST   
Menchov stays on the correct side of the witches hats, otherwise he risks being cleaned up by one of the oncoming cars. That would be bad.

Danielson is in third at the third time check, 1'09 behind Plaza. Good riding by the American. His Discovery teammate is at the finish now in 1:03:04 for 7th, 2:01 behind Plaza.

He is followed by Gilberto Simoni (Lampre), who finishes in 1:05:41 for 36th.

16:55 CEST   
Heras risks a time penalty for not keeping within the course on the descent. We'll see - it's up to the commissaires. Still, it's crazy not to have a fully closed parcours.

The gap between Heras and Menchov on the road is effectively 34 seconds, in Menchov's favour. Menchov is on track to win the stage and the gold jersey.

16:56 CEST   
Santos Gonzalez sprints home in a very good time of 1:02:39 for fourth place.

16:58 CEST   
Tom Danielson is on an excellent ride too. He finishes in 1:02:10, just 1:07 slower than Ruben Plaza for a provisional second place. That should help him into the top 10 on GC, and he'll be satisfied with that. We'll have a diary update from him a bit later.

17:02 CEST   
Menchov goes through 35.6km in 45 minutes dead, 9 seconds better than Ruben Plaza. Heras is through there in 5th place at 40 seconds. Menchov is catching Joaquin Rodriguez for four minutes!

Michele Scarponi finishes 1'51 slower than Plaza for 9th so far.

17:04 CEST   
On the virtual general classification, Menchov has 28 seconds on Heras. He'll be hoping for a minute or so because the next two stages will suit Heras more.

Mercado finishes in 1:04:24 for 24th.

17:04 CEST   
Here comes Quique Quesada, driving hard up the finishing straight to end in 1:02:56 for 10th.

17:07 CEST   
Mancebo nears the finish and picks up speed with the tailwind. He's in his biggest gear now. He takes the last corner and goes all out to the line, ending in 1:01:31 for second provisionally. Great ride by Paco.

17:10 CEST   
Heras is defending his jersey well, but he'll still lose it to Denis Menchov again. The Russian winner of the prologue is on track for a great time as he drives it through the final part of the course.

Carlos Sastre is also doing a good ride, and should move himself closer to Heras on GC, although he might not move into second.

17:11 CEST   
David Blanco finishes in 1:03:18 for 13th.

Meanwhile, Menchov has got it really cranked up in the finale. He has 3 km to go.

17:12 CEST   
Sastre is into the final kilometre now, on track for a good time.

17:14 CEST   
Sastre finishes off in 1:02:32, just a little bit slower than Mancebo for third.

Meanwhile, Heras has picked it up and is still 43 seconds behind Menchov on the road. Menchov is into the final 500m now.

17:14 CEST   
Denis Menchov drives it all the way to the line, finishing in 1:00:54 for the best time!! He will win the stage and the jersey, and he's very happy.

17:16 CEST   
Joaquin Rodriguez comes through after Menchov, in a relatively ordinary time off 1:06:48, nearly 6 minutes slower than Menchov.

Heras is in the final kilometre now.

17:17 CEST   
Heras takes the last corner, extracts a bit more juice out of his legs for the final sprint to the line. He finishes in 1:01:43 for 5th, 49 seconds slower than Menchov. He'll lose the jersey, but not by too much. 37 seconds on GC.

17:23 CEST   
Well, that wraps it up for the time trial in Lloret de Mar, where Denis Menchov has ridden back into the golden jersey. Heras is now in second overall at 37 seconds, with Sastre in third at 1:36. Mancebo and Danielson round out the top five, after both did great rides today.

Now we have two stages in the Pyrenees coming up, which will no doubt change things around again. Until tomorrow!

Intermediate timing

km 21.4 (all riders through)
1 Denis Menchov (Rabobank)                       31.14
2 Ruben Plaza Molina (Comunidad Valenciana)       0.01
3 Carlos Sastre (CSC)                             0.20
4 Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros)                 0.27
5 Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears)               0.29
6 Jakob Piil (CSC)                                0.53
7 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Comunidad Valenciana)    0.55
8 Michele Scarponi (Liberty Seguros)                  
9 Santos Gonzalez (Phonak)                        1.03
10 David Bernabeu (Comunidad Valenciana)               
km 35.6 (all riders through)
1 Denis Menchov (Rabobank)                       45.00
2 Ruben Plaza Molina (Comunidad Valenciana)       0.09
3 Carlos Sastre (CSC)                             0.24
4 Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears)               0.40
5 Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros)   
6 Tom Danielson (Discovery)                       1.18
7 Jakob Piil (CSC)                                    
8 Santos Gonzalez (Phonak)                        1.21
9 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Comunidad Valenciana)    1.25
10 Victor Hugo Peña (Phonak)                      1.27

Finish - km 48
1 Denis Menchov (Rabobank)                     1.00.54
2 Ruben Plaza Molina (Comunidad Valenciana)       0.09
3 Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears)               0.37
4 Carlos Sastre (CSC)                             0.41
5 Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros)                 0.49
6 Tom Danielson (Discovery)                       1.16
7 Victor Hugo Peña (Phonak)                       1.36
8 Uwe Peschel (Gerolsteiner)                      1.39
9 Santos Gonzalez (Phonak)                        1.45
10 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Phonak)                     1.47

General classification after stage 9

1 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank                              34.23.53
2 Roberto Heras Hernandez (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team      0.37
3 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC                                  1.36
4 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne        1.51
5 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel                         3.07
6 David Blanco Rodiguez (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana              3.23
7 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana              3.29
8 Santos Gonzalez (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems                  3.38
9 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team             3.46
10 Ruben Plaza Molina (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana                4.11


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