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Photo ©: Bettini

62nd Vuelta a España - GT

Spain, September 1-23, 2007

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Stage 16 - September 18: Jaen- Puertollano, 161.5km

Complete live report

Live commentary by Gregor Brown

Live coverage starts: 15:00 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:40 CEST

14:56 CEST   
Hola from Cyclingnews! We are back and rested after the second 'day off' in the 62nd Vuelta a España. The riders face up to six days of racing until the Vuelta concludes in Madrid. Today's stage and tomorrows, stage 17, will present two transitional stages before the GC men will slug it out for the final jersey oro.

Today, starting in olive oil Mecca Jaén and finishing in Puertollano, will be a 'short' but demanding stage of 161.5 kilometres.

The climbs will mix it up and likely allow an escape to survive. On tap for the day are the category two climb at Andujar Natural Park (km 76), category three ascent of Sierra Madrona (km 102) and the category the climb at Rehoyos (km 118).

15:00 CEST   
After one hour of racing, run at 43km/h, we have a large escape group away (formed at kilometre 58) with 1'09". In the escape are Bert Grabsch (T-Mobile), Eduard Vorganov (Karpin-Galicia), David Herrero (Karpin-Galicia), Mario Aerts (Predictor-Lotto), Alexandr Kolobnev (Team CSC), Javier Mejías (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Leonardo Bertagnolli (Liquigas), Yuriy Krivtsov (Ag2r Prévoyance), Jean-Marc Marino (Crédit Agricole), Dionisio Galparsoro (Euskaltel-Euskadi), José Ruiz (Andalucia-Cayasur), David López García (Caisse d'Epargne), Leonardo Duque (Cofidis), Juan Manuel Gárate (Quick.Step - Innergetic), Koldo Fernández (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Sébastien Minard (Cofidis), Joan Horrach (Caisse d'Epargne) and Geoffroy Lequatre (Cofidis). That is 18 riders by our count.

15:01 CEST    63km/98.5km to go
The gap is 1'09" as the riders start of the climb of Puerto del Parque Natural de Andujar.

15:04 CEST    69km/92.5km to go
The gap has gone up to 2'35". Rabobank has its boys on the tip of the peloton to make sure that the escape is kept in check.

15:14 CEST    72km/89.5km to go
Rabobank seems to be cutting this escape group some slack. The 18 men have over three minutes in hand (3'07") as they work their way up the Puerto del Parque Natural de Andujar.

15:17 CEST   
'Il Piccolo Principe' (Damiano Cunego) did not start the race today. He had confirmation from Franco Ballerini that he will be included on Italy's Squadra Azzurra for the World Championships, September 30, and he wanted to return home to hone his form for the race. Italy will be defending its title with Paolo Bettini, who is still racing in the Vuelta.

15:18 CEST   
Here is an updated list of the Vuelta's DNF and DNSs so far.
Stage 1 DNF - Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel
Stage 3 DNF - Mathieu Claude (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
Stage 4 DNS - Lorenzo Bernucci (Ita) T-Mobile
Stage 5 DNS - Sergio Paulinho (Por) Discovery Channel
Stage 5 DNF - Giovanni Bernaudeau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
Stage 5 DNF - Rémi Pauriol (Fra) Crédit Agricole
Stage 7 DNF - Alberto Fernández De La Puebla (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir
Stage 7 DNF - Bert Roesems (Bel) Predictor-Lotto
Stage 9 DNF - Arkaitz Durán (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir
Stage 9 DNF - Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Liquigas
Stage 9 DNF - Bradley McGee (Aus) Française Des Jeux
Stage 9 DNF - Oscar Pereiro (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
Stage 10 DNS - Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank
Stage 10 DNF - Ian McLeod (RSA) Française Des Jeux
Stage 10 DNF - Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Discovery Channel
Stage 10 DNF - Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
Stage 12 DNS - Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir
Stage 12 DNF - Cyrille Monnerais (Fra) Française Des Jeux
Stage 12 DNF - Egoi Martínez (Spa) Discovery Channel
Stage 12 DNF - Rony Martias (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
Stage 13 DNS - Xavier Florencio (Spa) Bouygues Telecom
Stage 13 DNS - Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step - Innergetic
Stage 13 DNS - Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner
Stage 14 DNS - Carlos Castaño (Spa) Karpin-Galicia
Stage 14 DNF - Angelo Furlan (Ita) Crédit Agricole
Stage 14 DNF - Josep Jufré (Spa) Predictor-Lotto
Stage 14 DNF - Serafín Martínez (Spa) Karpin-Galicia
Stage 14 DNF - Dimitri Champion (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
Stage 14 DNF - Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) Crédit Agricole
Stage 14 DNF - Jesús Hernández (Spa) Relax-GAM
Stage 15 DNS - Mickaël Delage (Fra) Française Des Jeux
Stage 15 DNF - Aurélien Clerc (Swi) Bouygues Telecom
Stage 15 DNF - Andreas Klier (Ger) T-Mobile
Stage 16 DNS - Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Fondital

World Champ Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step - Innergetic)
Photo ©: Unipublic
(Click for larger image)

15:21 CEST   
In fact, today Franco Ballerini selected the nine men that will form the Squadra Azzurra. The men to race in Stuttgart will be Paolo Bettini, Danilo Di Luca, Davide Rebellin, Filippo Pozzato, Damiano Cunego, Alessandro Ballan, Alessandro Bertolini, Marzio Bruseghin, Andrea Tonti, Vincenzo Nibali and Giovanni Visconti. Nibali will join Marco Pinotti for the time trial championships.

The two reserves for the road team have not been named.

15:29 CEST    75km/86.5km to go
David López García (Caisse d'Epargne) is the highest placed in this group of fugitives. He holds 22nd position in the overall rankings, at 18 minutes behind jersey oro Denis Menchov (Rabobank). If the escape's advantage grows it could force some teams that are interested in their classification positions to start to chase.

We are nearing the top of the climb in our Seat 1.2.

15:33 CEST   
The following teams have won stages so far this year in the Vuelta...
Caisse d'Epargne has won one stage with Vladimir Efimkin
Discovery Channel has won one stage with Jason McCartney
Euskaltel took the last stage with its ace Samuel Sánchez
Lampre won the Vuelta's opener with Daniele Bennati
Quick.Step has won one stage with Paolo Bettini
Rabobank has taken four stages of the Vuelta so far. It has three with Freire and one with Menchov.
Saunier Duval has won one stage with Leonardo Piepoli.
Milram has three stages in its pocket with the twofer of Petacchi and the lucky day of Zabel.
T-Mobile counts for two stages with Bert Grabsch and Andreas Klier

15:37 CEST    77km/84.5km to go
We are over the top of the category two Puerto Parque Natural de Andújar. Bert Grabsch (T-Mobile) led Juan Manuel Gárate (Quick.Step - Innergetic), Dionisio Galparsoro (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Mario Aerts (Predictor-Lotto), Leonardo Bertagnolli (Liquigas) and Sébastien Minard (Cofidis) past the line.

15:40 CEST   
The gap has stabilized at a touch over three minute mark, 3'25". The riders are barrelling down this decent. But there is not much time for recovery as we have hit a plateau of sorts. The next respite will come with the feed-zone at kilometre 97.7 in Sierra Madonna

15:51 CEST    90km/71.5km to go
Where are we? We are cutting a path through the Parque Natural de Andújar. It is a lovely day, with the dash board metre of our Seat reading 28°. We have been going along for two hours, the riders have an average pace of 42km/h so far.

The gap is controlled by Team Rabobank. They are holding it, and not trying to cut it down or allow it to balloon. This is the riding tactic that is necessary to be deployed by a team once it has the leader's jersey in its grip. The boys will need all the strength they have when the end of the week arrives.

16:04 CEST    100km/61.5km to go
One after another. The climbs don't seem to stop on this short, but demanding stage. After the feed-zone, the boys will be starting up the Alto Sierra Madrona. The gap of the 18-man move is 5'32" over the Rabobank-controlled gruppo. This climb, in the Castile-La Mancha region, is third category affair.

Rabobank has determined that this escape is of no threat, and it has let the door open. Could this one stay clear?

16:12 CEST    108km/53.5km to go
Juan Manuel Gárate (Quick.Step - Innergetic) takes top honours over the third category climb of Alto Sierra Madrona. He is followed by Dionisio Galparsoro (Euskaltel-Euskadi), David Herrero (Karpin-Galicia), Javier Mejías (Saunier Duval-Prodir), ...

The boys have six minutes.

16:17 CEST   
The escape continues to gain time on the Rabobank-led group. The boys in the peloton are strung out in one long line. It is really beautiful here, the sun is beating down on the riders' back as they their way along the mountainous roads.

16:21 CEST   
There are three Cofidis men in this move. The boys could use a win in this Grand Tour.

We see Yuriy Krivtsov (Ag2r Prévoyance) signalling for the team car. The boys are going over the top of the Alto del Tamaral, a category three climb.

16:23 CEST    115km/46.5km to go
Yuriy Krivtsov (Ag2r Prévoyance) is getting service. He is taking on water and talking to the team DS about what he should do in this move. The boys will soon start attacking each other. They won't stay together all the way to the finish. It is likely we will see group of five on the flat run in. The riders won't want to take Koldo Fernández (Euskaltel-Euskadi) to the finish; he is a great sprinter.

16:27 CEST   
The peloton passes the top of the Tamaral with a 5'52" disadvantage.

16:32 CEST   
Rabobank are full-force on the front of this peloton. The roads are either up or down in this area. It is a taxing day for all the riders. The riders in the escape have the extra motivation of adding a Vuelta stage win to their palmarès. The 18-men are on some 18% gradients right now. The escape is being led by Javier Mejías (Saunier Duval-Prodir).

16:35 CEST   
Thanks as always for all of your encouraging e-mails. Feel free to write in with any comments. Our special live e-mail is at the bottom of this page.

We have been getting a lot of e-mails today about the selection of the Italian team. Also, for information on the Australian team, see today's news. The elite men selected for the road race are Allan Davis, Simon Gerrans, Mathew Hayman, Matt Lloyd, Trent Lowe, Michael Rogers, William Walker, Cadel Evans and Bradley McGee. The latter two will also take part in the time trial with Cameron Wurf.

16:38 CEST    130km/31.5km to go
The gap is currently at 5'23". The peloton has bunched back up after being in a snake formation for so long.

16:40 CEST   
The top riders, in order, over the Alto del Tamaral were Joan Horrach (Caisse d'Epargne), David Herrero (Karpin-Galicia), Leonardo Bertagnolli (Liquigas) and Javier Mejías (Saunier Duval-Prodir). The four men lead the 18-strong group over the category three affair.

There has been three hours of racing with an average of 40.2km/h.

16:44 CEST   
Right after the Tour de France it was Leonardo Bertagnolli (Liquigas) who won the Clásica San Sebastián. The Italian out-foxed escape companion Juan Manuel Gárate (Quick.Step - Innergetic). Both of the boys are in this 18-man escape. Could it be a day for the Spaniard to get revenge?

"This was one of my most important victories, as important as the stage win of the Vuelta a España and the stage win of the Giro d'Italia," proudly stated Bertagnolli to Cyclingnews after that race win. "After the health problems I had this year and the five-month break in competition I was had to make I am very happy about my win in San Sebastián.

"I did not expect to win, but when I saw that Gárate began the sprint very early, I knew that I had luck."

16:46 CEST   
There has been a reported problem with the roads, and this is why the riders took in the Alto del Tamaral as the last climb of the day.

16:49 CEST    135km/26.5km to go
In addition to Cofidis, Karpin-Galicia has multiple men in the day's move. These riders will need to profit from their numbers or they will be in trouble with their team directeur sportifs tonight.

16:51 CEST   
Denis Menchov (Rabobank) is in the leader's jersey oro with a matching gold helmet. He has a tattoo on his bicep of his left arm that is poking out of his jersey sleeve. Kids, we want to remind you that tattoos do not make you a Grand Tour winner. Your mom would likely confirm this.

16:55 CEST   
Iñigo Cuesta (Team CSC) and the crew at Cyclingnews have something in common... He is enjoys Nutella! The Spanish rider is digging into a slice of bread covered with the world's famous Nutella. For those of you who don't know, Nutella is a chocolate/hazelnut-based sweet spread created by the Italian company Ferrero.

16:58 CEST    137.5km/24km to go
We have some action. Eduard Vorganov (Karpin-Galicia) has gone out on what has to be considered a suicide move. He has attacked off the front of the escape group. He has his Orbea bike cranking along... the chain is on the big ring as the 24 year-old Russian gets rolling.

16:58 CEST    139.5km/22km to go
Bert Grabsch (T-Mobile) leaps off the escape group to join Eduard Vorganov (Karpin-Galicia).

16:58 CEST   
The boys are being dragged back by the other escapees.

17:00 CEST    140.2km/21.3km to go
There is a slight hill here. David Herrero (Karpin-Galicia) hits out. The Karpin boys are trying to form something here. Juan Manuel Gárate (Quick.Step - Innergetic) was immediately there.

17:01 CEST   
Joan Horrach (Caisse d'Epargne) and Leonardo Duque (Cofidis) are now of the front.

17:01 CEST   
The duo is on a descent and being chased by Alexandr Kolobnev (Team CSC).

17:02 CEST    141.5km/20km to go
Alexandr Kolobnev (Team CSC) joins as they roll under the 20 kilometres to go banner. There is a 12" gap to the rest of the escapees.

17:04 CEST   
At the sprint in Mestanza the gap is 15" to the chasing 15.

17:05 CEST   
David Herrero (Karpin-Galicia) bridges to make a group of four on the front.

17:06 CEST   
Jean-Marc Marino (Crédit Agricole) loses it and off roads it. He kept it up-right...

17:06 CEST   
He chases, and now re-joins the others. He is shaking his head in confusion.

17:07 CEST   
The four have almost 20 seconds.

17:08 CEST   
Dionisio Galparsoro (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Koldo Fernández (Euskaltel-Euskadi) have missed this move. The two team-mates should have been on this move. Cofidis and Karpin did well to get their men in the move.

17:09 CEST    146.5km/15km to go
The front four are keeping it tight. There is a small group of three chasing with Leonardo Bertagnolli (Liquigas).

The gap to the peloton is 5'40"

17:11 CEST   
José Ruiz (Andalucia-Cayasur), Sébastien Minard (Cofidis), Jean-Marc Marino (Crédit Agricole) and Leonardo Bertagnolli (Liquigas) are the four chasers behind the four front runners. There is about 10" separating them. Minard is not working because he has a team-mate up front. (A smart move!)

17:14 CEST   
This is leg-breaking stuff. The two four-man groups are slugging it out. The gap between the two is nine seconds. It looks like it is closing...

17:14 CEST   
Cofidis is going to have the advantage now...

17:15 CEST   
Joan Horrach (Caisse d'Epargne) hammers out solo.

17:15 CEST   
Joan Horrach (Caisse d'Epargne) is joined by Leonardo Duque (Cofidis) and Alexandr Kolobnev (Team CSC). They are now on a small downhill stretch.

17:16 CEST   
The gap is reported as eight minutes to the peloton.

17:17 CEST    151.5km/10km to go
The gap is at 20 seconds for the three. They have a nice gap.

17:18 CEST    152.5km/9km to go
The chase of five is at 34 seconds. There are others from the original escape group that have joined this move of five. Our group of three is looking good.

We pass a big nuclear tower.

17:20 CEST    154.5km/7km to go
The front three are humping along at 55km/h. Joan Horrach (Caisse d'Epargne) has the better sprint of the three. Leonardo Duque (Cofidis) and Alexandr Kolobnev (Team CSC) will need to launch an attack in the final metres.

17:21 CEST    155.5km/6km to go
There is some talking going on up front. Joan Horrach (Caisse d'Epargne) is accused of not pulling his weight.

Alexandr Kolobnev (Team CSC) swings off wide to the right. He takes a look at his rivals.

17:22 CEST    156.5km/5km to go
Under five kilometres to go... The tactics will start to play out in the group of three, but there is not enough time for too much messing about.

17:23 CEST    157.5km/4km to go
This is a gripping finish... The riders hit four kilometres to go, and the tension is building. The Colombian, Spaniard or Russian will win this day.

17:24 CEST   
The remainder of the escapees are fighting desperately to rejoin and save their day. It is a hopeless affair...

17:24 CEST   
Yuriy Krivtsov (Ag2r Prévoyance) is chasing on his own.

17:25 CEST    158.5km/3km to go
Leonardo Duque (Cofidis) powers away!

17:25 CEST   
Alexandr Kolobnev (Team CSC) pulls him back but Joan Horrach (Caisse d'Epargne) refuses to help.

They are all back together.

17:25 CEST   
A swing to the right...

17:26 CEST   
Duque leads the three.

17:26 CEST   
Horrach sits on the back. Kolobnev hits out and the Spaniard has to chase.

17:27 CEST   
The three are looking back to keep an eye on the others.

17:27 CEST   
Kolobnev and Duque are chatting, worried about Horrach.

17:28 CEST    160.5km/1km to go
We are in the final kilometre.

17:28 CEST   
The boys have to be careful or they are going to be caught...

17:28 CEST   
Duque has given up, he leads Kolobnev and Horrach.

17:28 CEST   
Here come the others...

17:28 CEST   
Duque continues.

17:29 CEST   
Kolobnev fires on the right of Duque. They are heading down the finishing straight.

17:29 CEST   
It is head to head... Duque is holding!

17:30 CEST   
The little Colombian gets it. Bravo! He held off the charge of the Russian over the final 200 metres.

17:31 CEST   
All of the glass-cranking by Horrach did not work. The big Spaniard could not come to terms on the duo.

That was a well earned win by Duque!

17:31 CEST   
The 27 year-old's first win of 2007.

17:32 CEST   
The others escapees from the original move are rolling in...

17:37 CEST   
Rabobank comes across. Menchov is kept safe for another day.

17:40 CEST   
Thanks for joining us today in the live coverage. Please come back tomorrow. Adios!

Provisional results

1 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis
2 Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Team CSC
3 Joan Horrach (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne

General classification after stage 16

1 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank
2 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor-Lotto
4 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC

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