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62nd Vuelta a España - GT

Spain, September 1-23, 2007

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Stage 19 - September 21: Ávila - Alto de Abantos, 133km

Complete live report

Live commentary by Gregor Brown

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

15:02 CEST   
Hola! Welcome to our live coverage of stage 19 of the Vuelta. The third-to-last stage of the Vuelta will sort out the GC and see Menchov defend his golden top or a new champion snatch the threads with the hope of running clear to Madrid. The stage is only 133 kilometres but it is packed with five classified climbs before the final mountain top arrival on the Alto de Abantos.

Nervous eyes will be forced to watch every move that goes in the early portion of the day. Valdelavía and Hoyo de la Guija will be faced before the cyclists reach the two closing circuits that include climbs Alto de Robledondo and Alto de Abantos. The second round ends at the summit of Alto de Abantos; the climb averages 5.7% gradient and with section of 19%.

15:08 CEST    40km/93km to go
We have a group of nine away with a small advantage. Javier Mejías (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Ángel Vallejo (Relax-GAM), Iñaki Flores (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Joost Posthuma (Rabobank), Sébastien Minard (Cofidis), David López García (Caisse d'Epargne), Alessandro Vanotti (Liquigas) and Karsten Kroon (Team CSC) are working their way up the Cat. 2 Alto Hoyo de la Guija with 24 seconds

15:12 CEST   
Over the top the two escape groups have formed. The primary move of Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis), José Luis Arrieta (Ag2r Prévoyance), Alan Pérez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Marcus Ljungqvist (Team CSC), Manuel Váquez (Andalucía-Cajasur), Imanol Erviti (Caisse d'Epargne), Marco Marzano (Lampre-Fondital), Juan Manuel Gárate (Quick.Step - Innergetic) and Stéphane Augé (Cofidis) was joined the trailing eight. We now have 17 leading.

15:15 CEST    53km/80km to go
CSC has two men in this move that could help Sastre later in the stage. Cofidis has three. The highest place rider in the move is David López García (Caisse d'Epargne), in 15th overall, at 15 minutes back.

15:17 CEST   
The order over the top of the Alto Hoyo de la Guija was
1 José Luis Arrieta (Ag2r Prévoyance)
2 Juan Manuel Gárate (Quick.Step - Innergetic)
3 Ángel Vallejo (Relax-GAM)
4 Manuel Ortega (Andalucía-Cajasur)
5 Marco Marzano (Lampre-Fondital)
6 Alan Pérez (Euskaltel-Euskadi)

The gap is currently 1'35".

15:20 CEST   
The two groups went clear around kilometre 26, after the first climb of Alto de Valdelavía. They united their forces around kilometre 40.

15:21 CEST   
Stijn Devolder, who wore the leader's jersey for one day in the Vuelta, did not start today. He's still suffering from a knee injury suffered when he crashed earlier in the race.

"The knee stills hurts too much," he said. He'll fly home to Belgium and rest for a few days. He's not sure whether he will be able to ride the Worlds. His loss would be another big blow to the Belgian team, which has already lost Tom Boonen to similar problems.

15:25 CEST   
Adiós! Andrea Tonti (Quick.Step - Innergetic) did not start today's stage.

Here is our long list of DNSs and DNFs:
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 - Michael Blaudzun (Den) Team CSC
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
Stage 17 DNS - Giuseppe Guerini (Ita) T-Mobile
Stage 17 DNS - Bert Grabsch (Ger) T-Mobile
Stage 18 DNS - Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step - Innergetic
Stage 18 DNS - Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun) Crédit Agricole
Stage 18 DNS - Allan Davis (Aus) Discovery Channel
Stage 18 DNS - Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner
Stage 19 DNS - Andrea Tonti (Ita) Quick.Step - Innergetic
Stage 19 DNS - Stijn Devolder (Bel) Discovery Channel

15:28 CEST    56km/77km to go
A group made up of Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas), Johannes Fröhlinger (Gerolsteiner), Alexandr Kolobnev (Team CSC), Ludovic Turpin (Ag2r Prévoyance), Gustavo Dominguez (Karpin-Galicia), Dionisio Galparsoro (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Iñigo Landaluze (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Philippe Gilbert (Française Des Jeux) and Xabier Zandio (Caisse d'Epargne) has made its way off the front of the peloton. CSC has put Kolobnev in the move. Remember he was the one to battle out for the stage with Leonardo Duque (Cofidis).

The nine man move is at 1'12" back on the escape of 17.

15:33 CEST   
The front group is heading up the Alto de Robledond. The second escape group looks doomed as the peloton is right on its heels.

15:35 CEST    57km/76km to go
Ángel Vallejo (Relax-GAM) is leading towards the top. He has about 15 seconds on Sébastien Minard (Cofidis) and Manuel Váquez (Andalucía-Cajasur).

The other escape is being absorbed by the peloton.

15:38 CEST    57km/76km to go
Ángel Vallejo (Relax-GAM) stays free to pass the top of Alto de Robledondo first. He is followed by Sébastien Minard (Cofidis), Manuel Váquez (Andalucía-Cajasur) and Alan Pérez (Euskaltel-Euskadi).

15:46 CEST    69km/64km to go
Ángel Vallejo (Relax-GAM) is pulled back.

Ludovic Turpin (Ag2r Prévoyance) and José Luis Rubiera (Discovery Channel) hold a slight advantage over the peloton.

15:47 CEST   
This morning, Tour de France champion Alberto Contador, President of the Spanish Popular Party Mariano Rajoy and Mayor of Ávila Miguel Ángel García Nieto received a diploma and medal from the Vuelta organisation as "Friends of the Vuelta".

15:48 CEST   
We couldn't find any Vuelta rider's birthday today, we couldn't even find any ProTour team birthdays. But out of the ranks of Professional Continental teams, we salute Daniele Callegrin of Team LPR on his 25th and Christian Pömer of Team Volksbank on his 30th. Not to forget Udo Müller of the Continental team Notebooksbilliger.de, who also hit 30 today!

15:51 CEST    70km/63km to go
The riders are getting their first taste of the Alto de Abantos; the climb, 1630m, averages 5.7% gradient and with section of 19%.

15:53 CEST    71km/62km to go
Joost Posthuma (Rabobank), Stéphane Augé (Cofidis), Imanol Erviti (Caisse d'Epargne) are edging off of the escape group. The main escape now has 2'32" on the group of jersey oro Menchov.

15:55 CEST    73km/60km to go
Alessandro Vanotti (Liquigas) makes a move. He is trailed by David López García (Caisse d'Epargne) and Iñaki Flores (Euskaltel-Euskadi). They have a small gap.

16:03 CEST    75km/58km to go
Alessandro Vanotti (Liquigas) keeps clear with about 17 seconds on David López García (Caisse d'Epargne) and Iñaki Flores (Euskaltel-Euskadi). The rest of the escapees are about 30 seconds back.

The group, 3'10" back, is cranking up the pace on the Vuelta's last mountain stage. Iñigo Cuesta (Team CSC) launches a missile.

16:06 CEST    78km/55km to go
Iñigo Cuesta (Team CSC) continues his blasting... Sastre is edging towards the front. CSC is up to something again today.

We have passed two hours of racing with an average pace of 38.2km/h.

Carlos Sastre (CSC)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

16:06 CEST    80km/53km to go
Sastre fires! Denis Menchov (Rabobank) immediately follows to protect his race lead.

16:08 CEST   
The race is near the mountains 10% pitches.

Sastre is marked by the usual suspects -- Denis Menchov (Rabobank), Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto), Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Igor Antón (Euskaltel-Euskadi)...

16:13 CEST    81km/52km to go
'Triki' and 'EZ' do it... Manuel Beltrán (Liquigas) and Ezequiel Mosquera (Karpin-Galicia) are there with Menchov, Evans, Sastre, Sammy Sánchez and hard-hitting Antón.

16:15 CEST    83km/50km to go
Australia's Evans could be in trouble. The man who finished second in the Tour de France is in a world of pain, but he is hanging on. Igor Antón (Euskaltel-Euskadi) is losing ground.

Stage leader Alessandro Vanotti (Liquigas) hits the top of the Alto de Abantos solo.

16:17 CEST   
David López García (Caisse d'Epargne) passes the summit 23" back on the Italian. Then come Iñaki Flores (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Alan Pérez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), José Luis Arrieta (Ag2r Prévoyance), José Luis Rubiera (Discovery Channel) and Ludovic Turpin (Ag2r Prévoyance) at 55".

16:18 CEST   
Sastre keep attacking, and being marked.

16:21 CEST   
The light rain is making this descent all the more dangerous.

Vanotti has been joined by López. The Italian is leading the duo.

16:26 CEST    86km/47km to go
Carlos Sastre (Team CSC), Denis Menchov (Rabobank), Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto), Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Manuel Beltrán (Liquigas), Ezequiel Mosquera (Karpin-Galicia), Igor Antón (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Vladimir Karpets (Caisse d'Epargne), Carlos Barredo (Quick.Step - Innergetic), Daniel Moreno (Relax-GAM), Stéphane Goubert (Ag2r Prévoyance), Oliver Zaugg (Gerolsteiner), Maxime Monfort (Cofidis) and Vladimir Efimkin (Caisse d'Epargne) make up the chase group.

It is nasty now. The rain is hitting hard.

Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) is hitting the front hard. Attacking on this wet descent.

16:28 CEST   
The order over the top of the Alto de Abantos
1 Alessandro Vanotti (Liquigas)
2 David López García (Caisse d'Epargne)
3 Iñaki Flores (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
4 José Luis Arrieta (Ag2r Prévoyance)
5 José Luis Rubiera (Discovery Channel)
6 Ludovic Turpin (Ag2r Prévoyance)
7 Alan Pérez (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
8 Marcus Ljungqvist (Team CSC)
9 Ángel Vallejo (Relax-GAM)

16:37 CEST    100km/33km to go
The rain is really making it hard for us to see out the windows.
Here is what we have. Three groups... Alessandro Vanotti (Liquigas) and David López García (Caisse d'Epargne) lead. Behind them are Alan Pérez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Iñaki Flores (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Ludovic Turpin (Ag2r Prévoyance), José Luis Arrieta (Ag2r Prévoyance) and José Luis Rubiera (Discovery Channel).

16:40 CEST   
Juan Manuel Gárate (Quick.Step - Innergetic), Carlos Barredo (Quick.Step - Innergetic), Manuel Váquez (Andalucía-Cayasur), Imanol Erviti (Caisse d'Epargne), Marco Marzano (Lampre-Fondital), Ángel Vallejo (Relax-GAM), Javier Mejías (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Sébastien Minard (Cofidis), Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis), Maxime Monfort (Cofidis), Vladimir Efimkin (Caisse d'Epargne), Chris Horner (Predictor-Lotto) are there with the GC leaders.

16:41 CEST   
Alessandro Vanotti (Liquigas) and David López García (Caisse d'Epargne) have been caught by the chase group.

16:42 CEST   
Alto de Robledondo is bringing a lot of these escape groups together. There is a bit of consolidation before the final push of Alto de Abantos.

16:44 CEST    102km/31km to go
Iñaki Flores (Euskaltel-Euskadi) takes a look over at José Luis Rubiera (Discovery Channel). The two Spaniards are wondering why there is so much rain today. The forecast had a slight chance of rain, but mostly sunny. Instead, we are treated to a brute of a stage today.

16:45 CEST   
It's raining here in Spain, but the sun is shining in Germany, where Marcus Burghardt of T-Mobile won the third stage of the 3-Länder Tour, ahead of Christian Knees of Milram and Andre Schillinger of Team Sparkasse. Rabobank's Thomas Dekker continues to hold the overall lead.

16:45 CEST    107km/26km to go
The front group holds 1'20" near the top of Alto de Robledondo.

16:48 CEST    108km/25km to go
Over the top, the gap is 1'07" to the GC favourite group. What is strange is that Euskaltel leads both groups. In the second group is Sánchez, but in the front they have two men to vie for the stage win.

16:53 CEST    107km/26km to go
José Luis Rubiera (Discovery Channel) hits out! He is hammering down this descent. The Spaniard is going solo on a white American bike, Trek.

16:54 CEST   
José Luis Arrieta (Ag2r Prévoyance) has a flat! He is getting a quick change from his mechanic, but he will have to do some chasing.

16:56 CEST   
The group behind 'Chechu' are scattered. Alessandro Vanotti (Liquigas) grabs a bottle from the team car. He looks over at the two Euskaltel boys... 'What are they thinking?' he wonders.

16:56 CEST    110km/23km to go
David López García (Caisse d'Epargne), Ludovic Turpin (Ag2r Prévoyance) and Alessandro Vanotti (Liquigas) join 'Chechu'

16:57 CEST   
The order over the top of Alto de Robledondo was
1 José Luis Rubiera (Discovery Channel)
2 David Garcia (Karpin-Galicia)
3 Ludovic Turpin (Ag2r Prévoyance)
4 José Luis Arrieta (Ag2r Prévoyance)

17:02 CEST    121km/12km to go
David López García (Caisse d'Epargne) is leading this group of four for the start of the day's final climb. Alessandro Vanotti (Liquigas) looks really tired. The group leads by 43" over the Igor Antón (Euskaltel-Euskadi) group.

17:02 CEST   
This climb hits 15% right away! Ouch!

17:03 CEST   
Riders are popping left and right on this first part of the climb, part of which is cobbled!

17:04 CEST   
Ludovic Turpin (Ag2r Prévoyance) is suffering and being dropped.

17:05 CEST   
The fans are lining this road... It is a great sight. David López García (Caisse d'Epargne) is off on his own.

17:05 CEST    123km/10km to go
The Spaniard is on sections of 14%.

17:06 CEST   
Menchov kicks. Beltrán follows. Where is Evans and Sastre? We are looking for them.

17:07 CEST   
Beltrán takes over. Menchov follows. Okay, Sastre and Evans seem to bee there. Evans is in all white today, about seven wheels back.

17:08 CEST   
Vladimir Karpets (Caisse d'Epargne) is in the third group and suffering.

17:09 CEST    124km/9km to go
Beltrán is having quite a different day than yesterday. He is leading the group with the GC favourites.

17:09 CEST   
Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) drives away. He can join the front runners, where there are two (or three) of his team-mates.

17:10 CEST   
Sánchez is driving to the leading move. The roads show the reflection of the Basque rider.

17:12 CEST   
'Samu' joins Igor Antón (Euskaltel-Euskadi). The two are going to start pounding out the rhythm. Sastre can't let the Spaniard go too far because his GC position will be threatened.

17:12 CEST   
Sastre and Menchov are chasing on their own.

17:15 CEST    126km/7km to go
Igor Antón (Euskaltel-Euskadi) is on the wheel of Sastre and Menchov as his team-mate 'Samu' drives on.

Evans is losing time.

17:15 CEST    127km/6km to go
Carlos Sastre (Team CSC) drags back Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi). Denis Menchov (Rabobank) is looking fatigued.

17:18 CEST   
Sylvester Szmyd (Lampre-Fondital) has popped out of no where, and he is now with David López García (Caisse d'Epargne) at the front of the race.

17:18 CEST   
The GC riders are gaining on the front duo.

17:19 CEST   
Evans is forced to work hard. Carlos Barredo (Quick.Step - Innergetic) is parked on his wheel.

17:20 CEST   
Sastre is driving the pace of his group. He is moving up on Evans, who is 50" back.

17:22 CEST   
The lead group is Sylvester Szmyd (Lampre-Fondital), David López García (Caisse d'Epargne), Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Menchov and Sastre.

Szmyd and Garcìa might be allowed to fight for the stage win.

17:23 CEST   
The road is very, very narrow, and the condition is terrible. The gap is 55" from the Sastre group to the Evans group.

17:24 CEST   
The road widens, and Sastre cranks up the pace.

17:24 CEST   
Ezequiel Mosquera (Karpin-Galicia) is there with Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto). HE starts to drive the pace. Carlos Barredo (Quick.Step - Innergetic) is also there, as is Vladimir Efimkin (Caisse d'Epargne).

17:25 CEST    131km/2km to go
Daniel Moreno (Relax-GAM) is there with the Menchov/Sastre group.

17:28 CEST   
What an epic day. 'Samu' is driving up this cloud covered climb. Will he take the stage?

17:28 CEST    132km/1km to go
Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) is followed by race leader Denis Menchov (Rabobank), Carlos Sastre (Team CSC) and Daniel Moreno (Relax-GAM) going under the one kilometre banner.

17:29 CEST   
Evans looks in a world of pain, and very uncomfortable. He is slipping back, but might be able to hold on to his podium spot.

17:30 CEST   
Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) leads Daniel Moreno (Relax-GAM) for the stage win. The Relax rider can't catch.

17:31 CEST   
Next is Sastre and Menchov.

17:31 CEST   
Igor Antón (Euskaltel-Euskadi) is passing the line with his arms in the air for Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi).

17:31 CEST   
Evans is motoring...

17:32 CEST   
Oliver Zaugg (Gerolsteiner) leads Maxime Monfort (Cofidis)... Evans is there too. He lost 1'23" and will hold on to 3rd overall.

17:32 CEST   
He stops, and rests against the barriers.

17:33 CEST   
Too bad for Moreno. A great win for Sánchez. He has two wins in this Vuelta, and is on hot-form for the Worlds, next Sunday.

17:34 CEST   
The rain keeps coming down.

17:34 CEST   
Riders are coming to the line.

17:39 CEST   
Please join us later for a full report and results. Tomorrow will be the final time trial. See you then. Adios!

Provisional results
1 Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
2 Daniel Moreno (Spa) Relax-GAM
3 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank
4 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC
5 Igor Antón (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
6 Sylvester Szmyd (Pol) Lampre-Fondital
7 Stéphane Goubert (Fra) Ag2r Prévoyance
8 Manuel Beltrán (Spa) Liquigas
9 Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Karpin-Galicia
10 David López García (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
11 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Cofidis
12 Oliver Zaugg (Swi) Gerolsteiner
13 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne
14 Carlos Barredo (Spa) Quick.Step - Innergetic
15 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor-Lotto
16 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne
17 Ludovic Turpin (Fra) Ag2r Prévoyance

General classification after stage 19

1 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank
2 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC           3.02
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor-Lotto      3.49
4 Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
5 Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Karpin-Galicia
6 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne 
7 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne
8 Igor Antón (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
9 Manuel Beltrán (Spa) Liquigas

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