Recently on Cyclingnews.com

Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

61st Vuelta a España - GT

Spain, August 26-September 17, 2006

Main Page    Results & report      Stage Details      Previous Stage  

Stage 21 – September 17: Madrid-Madrid, 142.2 km

Live report

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

Live coverage starts: 12:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 14:30 CEST

The victory procession for the Amarillo jersey, Alexandre Vinokourov, in Madrid. The route is flat and will surely feature the sprinter's teams lining up their stars for one final shot at glory. It's a spectacular finish with six laps of that take in some of Madrid's breathtaking architecture around the Paseo del Prado and the Plaza Emperor Carlos V.

12:34 CEST   
Welcome to Madrid for our live coverage of the final stage of the Vuelta a España, a race that's been very interesting right up until the end. Yesterday, Alexandre Vinokourov cemented his lead in the overall classification, despite the best efforts of Alejandro Valverde, who seems destined to win a grand tour one of these years. Andrey Kashechkin will end up third in Madrid, capping off a strong performance by the Astana team, while Carlos Sastre (CSC) will finish a very consistent season with his second fourth place overall in a grand tour, not forgetting that he also rode the Giro d'Italia in support of Ivan Basso.

Today there are no climbs, but there are two intermediate sprints at Morata De Tajuña (km 33) and Fuenlabrada (km 66.8), where Thor Hushovd will be looking to put a few more points between himself and Vinokourov.

12:42 CEST    60km/82.2km to go
All 134 riders who finished yesterday's time trial signed on for the final stage today. The first hour of the stage was very quiet, with just 30.9 km covered. At the sprint after 33 km, it was points leader Hushovd who beat FDJ riders Eric Leblacher and Fabien Patanchon. Another six points to his total, which should be enough to stave off Vino, unless the race leader does one of his late attacks like he did last year on the Champs Elysées...

After 47 km, three riders attacked: Laszlo Bodrogi (Credit Agricole), Sébastien Rosseler (Quick Step-Innergetic) and Kjell Carlström (Liquigas). The trio gained a minute, but were chased down after 55 km, with local boys Relax-GAM being aggressive.

12:50 CEST    65km/77.2km to go
Relax-GAM is still leading the peloton, as it nears the second intermediate sprint at Fuenlabrada (sponsors of the team).

12:59 CEST    70km/72.2km to go
The second hour saw a lifting in the pace, and we now have a more respectable 34.1 km/h average after two hours of racing in this final stage.

13:06 CEST    76km/66.2km to go
The Relax-GAM boys can ease off now that they've pleased their sponsor. At the second sprint in Fuenlabrada, it was Relax 1-2-3 with Daniel Moreno, David George, and José Miguel Elias crossing in that order.

13:13 CEST   
It's a rather pleasant day for a bike race down here in Madrid. Our man on the spot (Shane Stokes) reports that it's 22 degrees with clear blue skies. Noice.

13:20 CEST   
Thor Hushovd wants to go out with a win today, to stamp his authority on the points jersey. "I am feeling good," he told Cyclingnews after Saturday’s time trial. "I had a good race until now and I want to keep this jersey. My goal is winning [the stage] tomorrow (today) so we will see."

His hope is that his strong Vuelta condition will translate into a good ride at the world championship road race Sunday week. "I am feeling strong going into the world's and everything works well. I know I have good form so I just hope I recover before then. For the next few days I will take it easy, not train too much - just move the legs."

13:24 CEST    85km/57.2km to go
The peloton enters Madrid, still all together. Another 20 km or so to go and they'll be on the six finishing circuits.

13:33 CEST    93km/49.2km to go
The bunch continues to make its way through the city streets, en route to the finishing circuit. Six laps of six kilometres.

13:40 CEST   
Vino is riding along with a gold helmet on a gold bike in the gold jersey with gold shorts. His Astana team is leading the peloton up to the finishing circuit.

13:41 CEST    100km/42.2km to go
The bunch is on the circuit that was used in the World's last year, and is motoring along at 45-50 km/h now. Astana has a tight grip on the race.

13:44 CEST   
Vin is enjoying himself today, as he sits on the wheels of his Astana teammates. Kashechkin is behind him, in the white jersey, even though Vino will likely end up winning that classification. The mountains leader Egoi Martinez (Discovery) is well placed, while points leader Hushovd is toward the back.

13:45 CEST    104km/38.2km to go
Aha - the attacks start again with Chris Horner winding it up. 64 km/h - that's a good attack, but the bunch isn't fair behind. There's seven in front.

13:46 CEST   
The break opens up a small gap as it takes a wide U-turn. The race is definitely on now. The peloton is strung out behind.

13:50 CEST    106km/36.2km to go
The break numbers seven: Frédéric Bessy and Luis Perez (Cofidis - best on GC at 11'32), Chris Horner (Davitamon), Ángel Vallejo and Raúl García De Mateo (Relax-Gam), Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne), Pierre Drancourt (Bouygues).

They have 19 seconds on the bunch as they go past the finish, with Credit Agricole, Phonak, Gerolsteiner all working.

13:52 CEST    107km/35.2km to go
The riders have crossed the finish line for the first time, and the break of seven is working well together. The presence of Luis Perez in the break is interesting. He's 10th on GC and has an outside chance of threatening Beltrán's ninth place. But that is probably not his motivation for working in the break - he just happened to be in the right place at the right time, and is always an aggressive rider.

13:53 CEST    108km/34.2km to go
The break takes a wide U-turn at one end of the course, then gets up to speed again. The bunch is definitely not going to let them go, as the sprinters teams are working pretty hard.

13:54 CEST    109km/33.2km to go
There are only three Gerolsteiners left in the race, but two of them are working in the front of the bunch to reel in this break. Why? Because their third man is sprinter Robert Förster.

Horner does another turn and the speed is constantly up around the 50 km/h mark. The gap hovers between 15-20 seconds.

13:55 CEST    110km/32.2km to go
There's also an AG2R and Milram rider working in the bunch, which is moving at 60 km/h. The break slows to 56 km/h as it comes into a corner.

13:56 CEST   
Vallejo sprints out of the corner with Horner on his wheel. They hammer down the tree lined straight that leads to the finish line.

13:57 CEST    112.2km/30km to go
The break crosses the line with a healthy advantage over the peloton. One moment of hesitation in the bunch, and the break will be gone. But that doesn't look likely.

14:00 CEST    114.2km/28km to go
15 seconds is the lead as the seven man break powers along. Two teams have two riders each, while the other three are individuals. There's plenty of horsepower in the chase.

14:01 CEST    116.2km/26km to go
Oscar Pereiro rolls through for a turn or two. He's not in the Spanish selection for the world's, but Luis Perez certainly is.

14:03 CEST    117.2km/25km to go
Pereiro sits out a turn as Perez drops back and looks to see where he can jump in the chain. Drancourt is on the back of the break.

14:05 CEST    118.2km/24km to go
The second lap flies by, and this seven man break keeps its 22 second lead over the bunch. AG2R has put more men in the chase with CA, Phonak, Milram and whoever else wants to have a ride at the front.

14:06 CEST   
Vino has gold everything, even the rims of his wheels and his break cables are gold.

14:08 CEST    122.2km/20km to go
The break starts to tire a little, but only a little. Horner is one of the real work horses, but everyone is pulling through.

14:09 CEST    123.2km/19km to go
The peloton has pulled back 7 seconds in the last few kilometres, knocking the gap back to 15. Oscar Pereiro powers through for another turn. He's a classy looking rider. As is Luis Perez, who always looks smooth. They come up to another U-turn.

14:11 CEST    124.2km/18km to go
The break nears the finish line for the fourth time, and the peloton now has it in its sights. Luis Perez looks back and sees the big bunch.

14:12 CEST    125.2km/17km to go
Horner is first across the line, but now the bunch is just 11 seconds behind, and the chasers actually seem to ease off slightly. If they catch this break, another will go. It's amazing what a deadening effect a breakaway has on the rest of the riders in the bunch.

14:13 CEST    126.2km/16km to go
AG2R, Phonak, Credit Agricole and Milram are setting a comfortably fast chasing tempo, 10 seconds behind the break. It's now a matter of controlling things. Can Hushovd take another stage, or will Ventoso or Förster or Zabel do it?

14:14 CEST    127.2km/15km to go
Horner accelerates out of a corner, trying to keep the pace up as the break is running out of a bit of gas. Pereiro rides without gloves, as does Horner.

14:15 CEST    128.2km/14km to go
Garcia de Mateo skips a few turns, and there's only five riders working in the break. The gap goes up to 13 seconds. Phonak has a couple of riders in the chase, but it's mostly Credit Agricole now.

14:16 CEST    129.2km/13km to go
Quick.Step has marshalled its troops behind the chasing part of the peloton. They don't really have a sprinter of note though.

14:17 CEST   
The break goes under the 1 km to go banner, which is actually 13 km to go as there are another two laps. The final straight is a good 800m long, with a slight kink in it.

14:18 CEST    130.2km/12km to go
Caucchioli works in the chase, along with his other teammates. Up in the break, Pereiro leads to the line with Perez on his wheel. The gap is 14 seconds.

14:19 CEST    131.2km/11km to go
It's warmed up on the road and in the race. The chase starts to get harder now that there are just 11 km to go in the bike race.

14:20 CEST    132.2km/10km to go
12 seconds, and the peloton looks like a centipede on wheels as it hunts the breakaway.

14:21 CEST    133.2km/9km to go
Pereiro accelerates out of a corner at the top of the course, with his breakaway companions looking slightly ragged. Nine seconds.

14:22 CEST   
Drancourt rolls through for his turn in the break. It looks doomed, but you knew that anyway.

14:22 CEST    134.2km/8km to go
The break starts to fragment with 8 km to go, then decides to keep working. 5 seconds, and they will be goooooone soon.

14:23 CEST    135.2km/7km to go
Despite rolling along at 60 km/h, the break is caught by the peloton with 7 km left.

14:24 CEST    136.2km/6km to go
And we have a counter - it's another Bouygues rider. Or is it Drancourt? Yes, it is, the last survivor of the break.

14:25 CEST   
Quick.Step's De Weert bridges up and passes Drancourt on the finish line with one lap to go. That's a nice attack.

14:26 CEST    137.2km/5km to go
De Weert gives it everything as he opens up a few seconds. But now he starts to feel it in his legs. He looks back.

14:26 CEST    138.2km/4km to go
De Weert continues to work hard, and holds his gap impressively as CSC comes to the front for O'Grady.

14:27 CEST   
Ventoso is also moving up, as Sastre does a big turn.

14:27 CEST   
De Weert is caught at 4 km to go.

14:27 CEST   
CSC is on the front as the bunch takes the wide U-turn at the top of the course. Then it's a flat out sprint up to over 60 km/h.

14:28 CEST    139.2km/3km to go
CSC has five riders, then four for O'Grady with 3 km to go.

14:28 CEST   
The peloton groups up behind the CSCs. Two Phonaks are up there, for Clerc. The speed is constantly around 60 km/h.

14:29 CEST    140.2km/2km to go
Sorensen and Arvesen do their turns, lining out the bunch. 2 km left.

14:29 CEST   
Zabel, Clerc, Hushovd are moving up behind the CSC train. Not long to go now.

14:30 CEST   
CSC is doing an impressive job for O'Grady as Arvesen does a massive turn up towards 1 km to go.

14:30 CEST    141.2km/1km to go
They go under 1 km to go, take the turn, and it's all on. One rider crashes in the middle of the bunch. Zandio?

14:31 CEST   
A Rabobank rider attacks on the left behind the moto. But he'll be caught.

14:31 CEST   
The sprint winds up behind Horrillo and he is caught by a Milram/Liquigas lead out.

14:32 CEST    142.2km/0km to go
Milram leads out with Zabel having to go from a long way and wins the stage!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hushovd takes second ahead of Clerc. Nice sprint by the German, who still has it.

14:40 CEST   
And so ends the 61st Vuelta a España. Alexandre Vinokourov has won his first ever grand tour (and is the first Kazakhstani rider to do so) with an average speed of around 39.3 km/h. Alejandro Valverde finishes second at 1'12 with Andrey Kashechkin third at 3'12. Egoi Martinez is crowned the king of the mountains and Thor Hushovd a very worthy points champion. Vinokourov will win the combination classification, even though he will finish on the same points as Valverde, who has the white ProTour leader's jersey anyway so he probably doesn't need another one. Finally, Discovery Channel won the teams classification.

That is all. Join us for more live blimp coverage from the world championships next week in Salzburg. BE THERE!


1 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram                                 3.40.47
2 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole                           
3 Aurélien Clerc (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems             
4 Robert Förster (Ger) Gerolsteiner                            
5 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team CSC                                
6 Francisco José Ventoso (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir            
7 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Davitamon-Lotto                         
8 Marco Velo (Ita) Team Milram                                     
9 Claudio Corioni (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                          
10 Davide Vigano (Ita) Quick Step-Innergetic                       

Final general classification

1 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana Team                      81.23.07
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears         1.12
3 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana Team                             3.12
4 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC                                    3.35
5 José Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir           6.51
6 Thomas Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team       8.09
7 Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                          8.29
8 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears          10.36
9 Manuel Beltrán (Spa) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team        10.47
10 Luis Pérez (Spa) Cofidis, le Credit par Telephone             11.32

Back to top