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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

61st Vuelta a España - GT

Spain, August 26-September 17, 2006

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Stage 10 - September 5: Avilés - Museo de Altamira (Santillana del Mar), 199.3 km

Live report

Live Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Shane Stokes

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

13:37 CEST   
The parcours for stage 10 will test the rested legs of the peloton, as the terrain is rolling with a third category climb to negotiate in the final phase. A breakaway group may be hard to reel in by the sprinter's teams, although on the two previous finishes in Museo de Altamira sprinters have won the stage - Barry Hoban in 1964 and Guido Bontempi in 1981.

14:29 CEST   
Welcome back to the Vuelta for the second week of racing, an interesting middle phase where the favourites will eye each other off before the tough final week.

Today's stage between Avilés and Museo de Altamira is 199 km long and contains two sprints at Gijón (km 17.7) and Llanes (km 120.4) and one climb, the Alto del Mirador de Cildad (Cat. 3, km 187.7). It's a pretty lumpy day, although there are no major climbs, and quite suitable for a breakaway.

14:45 CEST    90km/109.3km to go
The story so far...

170 riders signed on in Avilés, with Gerolsteiner's Swiss rider Marcel Strauss the only non-starter. The stage kicked off at 12:30 with Nicki Sorensen (Team CSC), Raúl García De Mateo (Relax-Gam), José Antonio Redondo (Astana Team) and Olivier Kaisen (Davitamon-Lotto) opening the hostilities right away. Lampre sprinter Danilo Napolitano crashed in the opening kilometres, but was able to rejoin the bunch. He even made it into a 19 man breakaway after 26 km, but the group was brought back.

The key escape started at km 32 when David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears), Egoi Martinez (Discovery Channel), Dario David Cioni (Liquigas), Sébastien Joly (Française des Jeux), Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Team CSC) and Ángel Gómez Gómez (Saunier Duval-Prodir) attacked. The group grew to 24 riders, then reduced to the following 15 by km 43:

Vladimir Karpets (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears - best on GC at 6'50), Sergio Paulinho (Astana Team), Iban Mayo (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Evgeni Petrov (Lampre-Fondital), Vladimir Gusev (Discovery Channel), Dario David Cioni (Liquigas), Nicki Sorensen (Team CSC), Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank), Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), David Millar and Francisco José Ventoso (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Sébastien Minard (Cofidis), Sébastien Joly (Française des Jeux), Dmitriy Fofonov (Credit Agricole), Xavier Florencio (Bouygues Telecom).

With Karpets up front, race leader Valverde's team didn't have to ride, and the gap has gone up to 7'40, which means Karpets is the virtual leader. The average after two hours is 44 km/h.

Rony Martias (Bouygues Telecom) and Anthony Charteau (Credit Agricole) have abandoned.

15:00 CEST    106km/93.3km to go
The leaders have reached the feed zone with a handy advantage of 8'07. Astana won't be chasing either, because they have Paulinho in the break, and he is also quite well placed on GC. So it's looking likely that this group of 15 could stay clear.

15:13 CEST    115km/84.3km to go
As the break hammers along towards the final two hours of this stage, its gap is continuing to increase. The last time check was 8'57 at km 108, which will make a few teams nervous with someone like Vladimir Karpets up front. It's unlikely that the break will be caught now, but it could happen with a concerted chase.

15:22 CEST    120km/79.3km to go
Although Team CSC has Nicki Sorensen in the break, he is not well placed on GC. Thus, the boys in red, white and black have started to work in the peloton in order to protect Carlos Sastre from the ravages of Caisse d'Epargne's very own Vlad the Impala (oh deer). The gap is reduced from 9'07 to just under nine minutes.

15:25 CEST    125km/74.3km to go
The results of the second intermediate sprint at Llanes: 1 Francisco Ventoso (Saunier Duval), 2. Sébastien Joly (FDJ), 3. Dario David Cioni (Liquigas).

There's a crash in the peloton, and Matteo Tosatto and Uros Murn are down.

15:32 CEST    129km/70.3km to go
Murn and Tosatto are OK after the crash, and are back in the bunch after visiting the race medico. Meanwhile, CSC is working hard to reduce the gap, and succeeding. The leaders are now 6'57 ahead, and Karpets' time in virtual gold is limited.

15:39 CEST    134km/65.3km to go
Besides Karpets and Paulinho, there are plenty of interesting names in this break. Iban Mayo (Euskaltel) is up here, as are Petrov (Lampre), Rasmussen (Rabobank), Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) and Millar, whose teammate Ventoso would be favoured if it came down to a group sprint. There's also the Clasica San Sebastian winner Xavier Florencio (Bouygues Telecom), who can certainly sprint.

15:42 CEST    139km/60.3km to go
After the third hour, the average has dropped to 43.3 km/h, and the advantage has dropped to 5'33. Karpets is no longer "threatening" the maillot oro of his teammate Valverde.

Now it remains to be seen whether the sprinters' teams will finish off the work of CSC, who have no particular desire to completely reel in this break. Today's stage could suit the sprinters if they all get over the last climb, and Hushovd probably doesn't want to see Ventoso taking lots of points if the break stays away.

15:51 CEST    144km/55.3km to go
The 15 front riders are working a little harder now in order to preserve their lead. It's 5'20 as they enter Cantabria.

15:58 CEST    150km/49.3km to go
The break continues to work well, as does CSC in the peloton. O'Grady does his turn, then Ljunqvist and Arvesen.

16:01 CEST    154.3km/45km to go
Valverde follows the wheel of a teammate behind the CSC train at the front of the peloton. This is a good move by Caisse d'Epargne to put Karpets in the break. It means that they don't have to work much today.

Nicki Sorensen is obviously not working with the rest of the break, which is now 4'54 ahead of the bunch and heading into San Vicente De La Barquera on the Spanish coast.

16:04 CEST    157.3km/42km to go
Millar is riding with his jersey tucked up underneath itself to keep him cool. He and Ventoso could combine to win this stage today, but there are plenty of other guys in the break who could.

16:07 CEST   
O'Grady leads the CSC train through San Vicente De La Barquera, 4'34 behind the break. The peloton is stretched, but not lined out yet. Vinokourov looks pretty comfy in the middle of the bunch.

16:10 CEST    160.3km/39km to go
The gap comes down to 4'09 as the leaders go past 40 km to go. It's going to be one of the quicker stages today.

In front, Ventoso pulls off after doing another turn, then Joly, Millar, Cioni, then no-one. Hate it when that happens. Millar goes through again from second wheel.

16:14 CEST    162.3km/37km to go
Petrov and Karpets do their turns now as the break flies down a short descent. Cioni is hanging off the break, maybe after visiting the team car.

CSC have five men leading Sastre, who is clad in the white combination jersey.

16:18 CEST    165.3km/34km to go
Millar and Ventoso have a tete-a-tete to discuss tactics. Something like, "Stay away from the peloton and cross the line first."

CSC knows its tactic: chase. The gap continues to fall as the peloton passes through a very green area.

16:22 CEST    167.3km/32km to go
CSC's work is relentless, with Ljungqvist, Cancellara, Arvesen and O'Grady doing a lot of it. Up front, Sorensen is taking it easy at the back of the break.

16:23 CEST    169.3km/30km to go
The leaders are under 30 km to go, riding through La Rabia. Today's stage has taken the riders from west to east along the coast at the top of Spain.

16:26 CEST    172.3km/27km to go
The peloton races through the same town, getting closer and closer to the break. The last time check was 3'06 and it's falling. The bunch rides across another bridge, quite lined out now. The break is working pretty well, but there doesn't seem to be enough urgency. They still have a bit of time to play with.

16:29 CEST    174.3km/25km to go
The temps are warm today are pleasant enough - 28-30 degrees or so, and there is a hazy cloud overhead.

The peloton races past the rather grand Universidad de Comillas.

16:30 CEST    176.3km/23km to go
The bunch sweeps through another seaside town. The last part of the stage turns inland.

16:32 CEST    177.3km/22km to go
Up front, Sorensen is having a free ride in the break as his team is chasing behind. He's a good finisher, and already has a Vuelta stage win to his credit.

16:34 CEST    178.3km/21km to go
Di Luca comes up to the front to probably ask the CSC guys whether they're going to chase down the break. Di Luca has a teammate up there anyway, so Liquigas shouldn't chase unless they have great faith in their sprinter.

Sorensen is working in the lead group now.

16:36 CEST    179.3km/20km to go
Ventoso and Millar guide the break under 20 km to go. They are definitely interested in staying away.

16:38 CEST    181.3km/18km to go
It looks like CSC has eased up a bit, as the gap is stable at 3'11. Credit Agricole has a man in front, so they haven't been chasing. It'll be up to Milram, but it's probably a bit late to bring it back now.

16:40 CEST    183.3km/16km to go
The average is 43.9 km/h after four hours, as Ventoso wins the second intermediate sprint ahead of Millar and Petrov. The stage profile indicated a sprint after only 18 km, but it seems to be with 18 km to go. No matter.

16:42 CEST    184.3km/15km to go
Hushovd is taking it easy at the back of the bunch. He's obviously not too concerned about sprinting for points today, despite Ventoso's presence up front. He has a big advantage anyway.

16:43 CEST   
The leaders commence the Alto del Mirador de Cildad, the day's only climb. Millar sets a strong tempo up front.

16:44 CEST    185.3km/14km to go
Nicki Sorensen is in last wheel, just behind Karpets. The gradient is not so savage - about 4-5%. Millar's work is very good, and he has Ventoso on his wheel.

16:45 CEST   
And now the peloton hits the climb, still a good three minutes behind the break, where Millar has not moved from the front. His pace is hard, but he looks as though he has a bit more in the tank.

16:46 CEST   
But now he will be tested, as Mayo and Rebellin attack. Karpets can also react, and Millar does too, checking back for Ventoso.

16:47 CEST   
The gap is only small, and the others come back, one by one.

16:47 CEST    186.3km/13km to go
Seb Joly counter attacks, and no-one reacts immediately. Cioni is driving it behind the Frenchman.

16:48 CEST   
Joly gets out of the saddle and continues to press his advantage. He looks back and sees he has a gap over the rest.

16:49 CEST    187.3km/12km to go
Karpets decides that enough is enough, and leads the group back to Joly. Ventoso is in trouble at the back. Petrov is the next to counter, and Rebellin marks him with Karpets and Paulinho.

16:49 CEST    187.8km/11.5km to go
Rebellin takes the points at the summit ahead of Karpets, Petrov and Paulinho. Then a little gap to the rest of the break.

16:52 CEST    190.3km/9km to go
The peloton is on the climb, with Hushovd in about last wheel.

Meanwhile, the break has regrouped on the descent. Millar counter attacks, or maybe just is keeping the tempo up.

16:53 CEST    191.3km/8km to go
It certainly looks like Millar is working for Ventoso today, but he could end up going for it himself at the end. He has a fierce final kilometre.

The bunch is over the top of the climb 3'20 behind the break.

16:54 CEST    192.3km/7km to go
Millar stays on the front on the descent, with the break sitting on his wheel. The kilometres are ticking down quickly.

16:56 CEST    193.3km/6km to go
Millar is still on the front and Rebellin and Rasmussen are right behind him. Surely someone will try to attack. He eases off a bit, but stays on the front.

16:57 CEST    194.3km/5km to go
The road climbs again and Millar grits his teeth as he continues on the front.

16:58 CEST    195.3km/4km to go
And there is an attack. Cioni and Minard go before 4 km to go, marked by Rebellin.

Karpets counters. Now it's on for young and old. Ventoso is still there, but...

Sorensen tries next, then Paulinho. Millar has dropped off a bit.

16:59 CEST    196.3km/3km to go
Gusev is the next to have a go, with Petrov and Paulinho easily able to mark him. Petrov rolls through but the whole break is there. Sorensen counters again with Rebellin. Ventoso marks them.

17:00 CEST   
Rebellin rolls through easy and Ventoso swings off as Sorensen attacks again.

17:00 CEST    197.3km/2km to go
Nice move by Nicki Sorensen. There is reaction behind, and he's caught. And Rasmussen attacks!

17:01 CEST    197.8km/1.5km to go
This has been the best attack so far. Fofonov is in pursuit with Cioni, then the rest of the break not far behind. Rasmussen keeps looking back and he's blown.

17:02 CEST   
Cioni on the front with 1.5 km to go with Joly and Petrov on his wheel. Gusev is there too. Time for one more attack?

17:02 CEST    198.3km/1km to go
Cioni tries to ride away but he can't. Mayo attacks on an uphill and Ventoso gets his wheel. Rebellin is third with Florencio and Karpets behind. 1 km to go.

17:02 CEST   
The next attack could win it. Paulinho tries and Karpets marks him.

17:03 CEST   
Paulinho opens it up a bit more as Karpets goes past a moto, 20m behind the Portuguese rider. The break is in bits. Florencio and Rebellin are there with Karpets.

17:03 CEST   
Ventoso won't win this, that's for sure.

17:04 CEST    199.3km/0km to go
Paulinho drives it to the line, over the little climb and wins the stage ahead of Rebellin, Florencio and Karpets. That was quite a tough finish actually. Three in a row for Astana!

17:12 CEST   
Millar rolls across in 15th place at 2'40, a bit disappointed that Ventoso couldn't finish it off. The peloton is now led by Pereiro and Valverde for the final 500m. It finishes 3'54 behind the break, which means that Karpets will move up to 9th on GC and Paulinho to 10th.

17:15 CEST   
And that will do us from stage 10. A well timed attack by Sergio Paulinho to take his first win in two years. Winning a race from a break is always a chess game, and although you have to be strong, you've got to make your move at the right time.

There were no big changes to GC. Tomorrow's stage will take us from Torrelavega (Oscar Freire Velodrome) to Burgos - a difficult course in parts and one that could suit another breakaway.

Hasta manaña!


1 Sergio Paulinho (Por) Astana Team                           4.33.44
2 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner                             0.02
3 Xavier Florencio (Spa) Bouygues Telecom                      
4 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears          0.06
5 Francisco José Ventoso (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir              0.07
6 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team      
7 Sébastien Joly (Fra) Française des Jeux                      
8 Sébastien Minard (Fra) Cofidis, le Credit par Telephone      
9 Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz) Credit Agricole                        
10 Evgeni Petrov (Rus) Lampre-Fondital                         
11 Nicki Sorensen (Den) Team CSC                               

General classification after stage 10

1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears    41.19.09     
2 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana Team                            0.27
3 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC                                   0.44
4 José Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir          0.56
5 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana Team                         1.38
6 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team       2.05
7 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas                                  2.21
8 Manuel Beltran (Spa) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team        2.28
9 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears          3.02  
10 Sergio Paulinho (Por) Astana Team                             3.42          


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