61st Vuelta a España - GT
Spain, August 26-September 17, 2006
Results & report
Stage 17 – September 13: Adra-Granada, 159.2 km
Live Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Shane Stokes
Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:30 CEST
Wednesday’s stage will be the second
of three important mountain stages. There are three climbs and a finale in the
city of Granada. The mountains are: Alto de Albondon (Cat. 1 – 1,300 m. above
sea level – km 37), Alto de Lanjaron (Cat. 3 – 660 m. – km 79) and Alto de Monachil
(Cat. 1 – 1,510 m. – km 139.4). There is a final 20-kilometre descent to Granada.
Monachil and the downhill seem to be the crucial parts of the stage.
Welcome to today's 17th stage of
the Vuelta a España, where we are en route to Granada after having started in
Adra. Apart from the two cat. 1 and one cat. 3 climbs today, there are intermediate
sprints at Durcal (km 107) and Monachil (km 137), the latter being at the foot
of the final climb.
14:46 CEST 52km/114.7km to go
142 riders signed
on this morning in Adra, after yesterday's stage reduced the field by 14. With
only a few more chances for glory in the Vuelta, the attacks were on from the
gun. Relax-GAM was aggressive and after a couple of kilometres, the bunch had
already split with a 43 rider group off the front. After 8 km on the lower slopes
of the Alto de Albandon, another large group containing Bettini, Nardello, Horrach,
Caucchioli, Paulinho, E. Martinez, Rasmussen and Mayo went clear, gaining 1'05.
But several teams worked to reduce the gap, and after 25 km, most of the riders
After 32 km, and still on the climb, race leader Valverde,
together with Vinokourov, Kashechkin, Sastre and most of the other GC riders
had formed a rearguard action behind the front group. Andrey Kashechkin was
able to get across, but on the descent, Valverde and co. all rejoined. The pressure
is definitely on today!
Egoi Martinez won the maximum mountain
points at the summit of the Alto de Albondón ahead of mountains leader Pietro
Caucchioli. The mountains competition is very much alive now, as both those
riders are on equal points!
15:02 CEST 64km/102.7km to go
The attacks haven't
really let up after the descent, and we now have a group 1'15 in front of Valverde's
group and 2'06 ahead of the main peloton. The group contains Tom Danielson (Discovery
Channel - best placed on GC at 8'05), Sergio Paulinho (Astana Team), Lars Ytting
Bak (Team CSC), Stéphane Goubert (AG2R Prevoyance), Dmitriy Fofonov (Credit
Agricole), and Eric Leblacher (Française des Jeux).
15:07 CEST 70km/96.7km to go
The lead group reaches
the bottom of the descent and starts to go back up again with 2'15 on Valverde's
group, which is being caught by the main bunch. The next summit will be the
cat. 3 Alto de Lanjarón.
15:14 CEST 76km/90.7km to go
keeps increasing its lead over the gold jersey. It's 2'44 now - not enough to
threaten Valverde just yet.
15:25 CEST 80km/86.7km to go
The average speed
in the second hour is 36.4 km/h, which is quite decent for this sort of terrain.
The break nudges out to three minutes ahead of the favourites' group.
15:33 CEST 90km/76.7km to go
The sextet in front
reaches the top of the not-that-mighty Alto de Lanjarón, with Leblacher crossing
first ahead of Goubert, Paulinho and Danielson. That won't really have a big
effect on the mountains GC. Their lead is now 3'42, which means Danielson is
threatening fifth place on GC.
15:46 CEST 95km/71.7km to go
It looks like the
lead group won't get much more than this. The gap is 3'47 as Caisse d'Epargne
works to stabilise it. Danielson's a good climber, as is Paulinho (they will
be teammates on Discovery next year), and Valverde won't want to give him too
15:52 CEST 98km/68.7km to go
The leaders get
a short descent and then start climbing again up to the feed zone. The next
part should be a little easier before the final climb starts at km 137.
15:58 CEST 105km/61.7km to go
has the peloton lined out 3'52 behind the break. The sprint in Durcal is won
by Danielson ahead of Paulinho and Leblacher.
Danielson and Paulinho do strong
turns in the break, but Fofonov and Bak are not working.
16:03 CEST 115.7km/51km to go
Paolo Bettini chats
to yesterday's winner Igor Anton. The Euskaltel camp is very happy now after
The lead break effectively has four riders working: Danielson,
Paulinho, Leblacher and Goubert.
16:08 CEST 117.7km/49km to go
Horrach lifts the
tempo a bit in the peloton, as the gap is now 4'27. Danielson needs 8'05 to
take the jersey, and he's trying to conserve as much energy as possible before
the final climb.
The Valverde group is a about four minutes ahead
of the main peloton.
16:12 CEST 120.7km/46km to go
A cloud covers
the sun for the time behind, but there's no chance of rain at the moment. The
Valverde group has five Caisse d'Epargne riders working for the leader. The
rest of the group, which is a good 40-50 riders strong, is lined out.
The average speed after three hours is 37.5 km/h as the break hits 72 km/h on
a bit of a descent. Lars Bak looks quite happy with himself on the back of the
break, as he doesn't have to work.
16:15 CEST 122.7km/44km to go
The pace eases
in the chase as one of the Caisse d'Epargnes stops for a mechanical.
The leaders are perfectly happy with that. They continue to roll along at high
With their teammate back in the bunch
bearing many bidons, Caisse d'Epargne starts to ride again. Valverde looks very
relaxed and confident today.
Tom Danielson writes in his Cyclingnews
diary today, "I am getting better and I hope to improve more today and tomorrow,
and then in the time trial. I felt good yesterday and tried to go in a lot of
breakaways at the beginning of the stage. I wasted a lot of energy doing that
but I was hoping to be in a break and try for the stage win from there.
"Now it is not possible for me to be in the early breakaway, so I will just
be concentrating my efforts on the end of the race."
16:23 CEST 131.7km/35km to go
Jose Vicente Garcia
Acosta, who clearly enjoys this work, leads the Valverde bunch 4'20 behind the
break. Monachil is approaching and the speed is going up.
16:28 CEST 134.7km/32km to go
The break and the
bunch exits the main drag and heads into Monachil. It's a bit windy here is
the four working riders continue to drive it. Danielson is using the hands draped
over the tops position a lot, which is usually more efficient than riding on
Caisse d'Epargne has their six riders on the front, while
CSC and Astana are also well represented. The rest of the peloton is sitting
in the gutter on the left.
16:31 CEST 135.7km/31km to go
the break is working
well too, as it nears the day's second sprint. Danielson and Paulinho are the
strongest, but their gap is only 3'17.
16:32 CEST 136.7km/30km to go
The road starts
to climb and Danielson eases up and Fofonov comes through for a rare turn. The
40 rider GC group is now led by CSC, with Ljungqvist and O'Grady driving it.
16:35 CEST 137.7km/29km to go
The climb of the
Monachil starts, and Millar and Landaluze choose to take it a bit easier and
drop off the back. O'Grady hammers on the front, then Sorensen takes over. At
the sprint banner, the mini-peloton is just 2'28 behind the leaders.
16:38 CEST 138.7km/28km to go
The gradient steepens
to 10-11% and Danielson and Paulinho lead the break. Bak hangs on in third wheel.
In the bunch, it's CSC's Gustov working with Cuesta and Sastre. CSC is really
working hard. Vino and Valverde are next, with Valverde suffering a bit on the
12% section. Kashechkin looks a bit better.
Now Piepoli comes to the front and
tries to lift the pace even more as the Valverde group shreds to pieces on this
nasty climb. Kashechkin attacks!
16:41 CEST 139.7km/27km to go
Luis Perez reacts
with Piepoli, while Valverde hangs back with Vino. Kashechkin looks back and
sees he has a gap, and continues to hammer.
Valverde, Sastre, Vino
and Devolder are all together, and Valverde has to work until Zandio gets to
the front and helps him. Now Devolder is working (?)
18 seconds, with several Saunier Duvals coming up to him ahead of Valverde.
The first group behind Kashechkin
contains Piepoli, Marchante and Luis Perez. Then the Valverde group at 20 seconds.
Gomez Marchante now does a turn to bridge up to Kashechkin.
16:44 CEST 140.7km/26km to go
Up front, Danielson
has dropped the rest and is hammering away on his own. Paulinho and Goubert
are second and third on the road, with the other three further back.
Gomez Marchante hasn't made it up to Kashechkin yet, but he's 10 seconds ahead
of Valverde's group which now has just Devolder, Valverde, Vino and Sastre.
16:46 CEST 141.7km/25km to go
Leblacher is the
first of the breakaways to be caught and spat. Fofonov and Bak will be next.
Valverde accelerates and Vino gets his wheel, then Sastre. They catch and pass
Luis Perez, and Devolder is tailed off.
The Valverde trio makes its way through
a phalanx of motorbikes and closes in on Marchante and Kashechkin. Not yet though.
16:48 CEST 142.7km/24km to go
has finally caught Kashechkin, and the pair have 11 seconds on Valverde's group
as they pass Lars Bak. The young Dane holds on for a bit.
Meanwhile, up front Danielson is
still going strong. He likes the hills, and if he makes it to the summit with
a bit of a gap, he could well win the stage. He has 1'15 on Marchante/Kashechkin,
and 1'25 on Valverde's group.
Fofonov is the next rider to be caught
and dropped by the GC men. Valverde is driving the chase, as Vino doesn't have
to work today. They catch Bak, who does a big turn to try to close the gap to
Kash and Marchante. Not for long though. The two favourites' groups are 20 seconds
16:51 CEST 143.7km/23km to go
Fofonov is now
caught by the Valverde group, which has Valverde, Perez, Vino, Sastre and Bak
Sastre now does a turn in the Valverde
group, which is 24 seconds behind Kash and Marchante. Bak and Fofonov are doing
a great job to hang on here.
Danielson is holding ground on Valverde's
group, while Kash and Marchante are within 1'06.
That was a huge move! He gaps Valverde and Sastre!
16:56 CEST 144.7km/22km to go
back and sees Kashechkin suffering, but then a blue and white flash as Vino
bridges the gap in about a minute. Holy fiery Kazakhstanis Batman, that was
a massive attack.
Sastre and Valverde are working together now, 23
seconds behind Vino's trio, which has just caught Paulinho and Goubert. The
Astana Cunning Plan is now revealed.
16:57 CEST 146.2km/20.5km to go
Valverde is now
dropping Sastre as they reach a steep section at the top of the climb. But the
CSC man clings on. It's about 17 seconds at the top.
already over, but has a little uphill and then the descent to go.
16:59 CEST 147.7km/19km to go
The climb goes
down a bit and the chasing group behind Danielson splits, with Paulinho and
Goubert dropped. Vino is on the front, hammering. They will catch Danielson
17:03 CEST 148.7km/18km to go
away from Sastre on the next uphill section, and bridges up to Vino, Kashechkin
and Marchante, who are 30 seconds behind Danielson. Valverde is doing 80 km/h
on the descent. He takes a breather as he catches Marchante and Kash, but Vino
attacks again on the descent.
Marchante works with Valverde in
pursuit of Vino, but Kashechkin doesn't.
17:05 CEST 151.7km/15km to go
Sastre has lost
out here, as he's behind all the riders that matter. Danielson is still clear
of Vino, then Valverde, Kashechkin and Marchante, then Sastre. The gaps are
small. Vino is descending like a demon.
17:07 CEST 153.7km/13km to go
This is a fantastic
finish as Valverde and Marchante try to close to Vino, who is descending like
a loony. He still hasn't caught Danielson.
Meanwhile, back at the
ranch, Sastre is with Paulinho and Goubert, chasing, chasing, chasing...
17:08 CEST 154.7km/12km to go
Vino is 31 seconds
behind Danielson, but 13 seconds ahead of Valverde, who is doing all the work
in the chase. Sastre is another 21 seconds back.
17:11 CEST 157.7km/9km to go
Vino goes under
9 km to go 17 seconds behind Danielson. Then the Valverde group at 45 seconds.
Valverde isn't getting much help as Gomez Marchante is sitting last wheel, and
obviously Kashechkin won't work. Sastre's trio is 1'06 behind.
17:11 CEST 159.7km/7km to go
Vino is puffing
his way down the descent at 70 km/h, 15 seconds behind Danielson. Less than
8 km to go. Valverde on Vino on Danielson.
17:12 CEST 160.7km/6km to go
The Astana captain
powers away, drink cages empty (faster if he had a bidon now). Valverde leads
while Kash and Marchante discuss the price of oil in the Middle East.
17:14 CEST 161.7km/5km to go
Sanchez, Bak and
Piepoli have joined the Sastre group, which is still 1'00 behind the leader.
Vino bears down on Tom Danielson. There will be no stopping him now. Valverde's
group is 44 seconds back.
17:15 CEST 162.7km/4km to go
Vino catches Danielson
with 5 km to go and goes to the front. Will Danielson work?
is working with Valverde, the gap is nearly a minute. The Sastre group is another
10 seconds back.
Vino needs 1'42 to take the jersey...
17:16 CEST 163.7km/3km to go
Marchante and Valverde
swap off as Kashechkin checks back to see Perez leading the next group up. That
contains Sastre, Paulinho, Goubert, Piepoli, Sanchez and Perez.
Danielson is working with Vino.
17:18 CEST 164.7km/2km to go
Less than 3 km to
go, and Vino and Danielson are over a minute ahead of the Valverde group, which
is growing in size. Danielson is cooperating fully with Vino, maybe getting
the stage win as a bonus, but maybe not. Bonus seconds will be important. And
Danielson will improve his GC place.
Sanchez attacks the Valverde
17:18 CEST 164.7km/2km to go
Vino has taken 1'17
out of Valverde on this descent! He and Danielson are driving, driving it to
17:20 CEST 165.5km/1.2km to go
on the front of the Valverde group in pursuit of Vino, Danielson and now Sanchez.
The group has Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne), Kashechkin, Paulinho (Astana), Piepoli,
Marchante (Saunier Duval), Sastre (CSC), Goubert (AG2R) and Perez (Cofidis)
1'24 is the gap!
17:21 CEST 166.7km/0km to go
Vino hammers to
1 km to go with Danielson in tow. He wants every second possible. Danielson
sprints at 100m to go and wins the stage!!!!!!!!
Sanchez comes in for third at 1'08,
then Kashechkin powers his group home at 1'38. Vinokourov has taken the jersey!!
Incredible finish to that stage.
Valverde had just bridged up to Vino's group on the descent when Vino attacked
and put 1'38 into the Vuelta leader, with Danielson taking a great stage win.
That was good bike racing all round.
Vino now has the gold jersey
by 9 seconds. Tomorrow's stage is in the mountains, and there's still a TT to
1 Thomas Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 4.09.55
2 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana Team
3 Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 1.10
4 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana Team 1.39
5 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC
6 Stéphane Goubert (Fra) AG2R Prevoyance
7 Luis Pérez (Spa) Cofidis, le Credit par Telephone
8 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears
9 José Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir
10 Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir
General classification after stage 17
1 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana Team 67.29.41
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears 0.09
3 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 1.51
4 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana Team 2.14
5 José Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir 4.32
6 Thomas Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 6.09
7 Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 7.25
8 Luis Pérez (Spa) Cofidis, le Credit par Telephone 9.04
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