62nd Vuelta a España - GT
Spain, September 1-23, 2007
Results & report
Stage 21 - September 23: Rivas Vaciamadrid - Madrid, 104.2km
Complete live report
Live commentary by Susan Westemeyer
Live coverage starts: 15:00 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:00 CEST
Hola fans and welcome back to the Cyclingnews' live coverage of the
Vuelta a España for one final time in 2007. Most decisions have been
made in yesterday's time trial and Denis Menchov will take home the overall
win, barring accident, which of course we don't hope to happen. There are only
two more open questions, which is who will today's stage, with many favouring
Italian Alessandro Petacchi. But also the points jersey is still a close battle
between Menchov and Samuel Sánchez, who is only eight points behind the Russian.
So on we go to stage 21 and the ride into the Spanish capital.
We expect a casual and relaxed ride
leading up to the usual mass sprint finish on the closing course in Madrid today.
There won't be anything relaxed about the finale, though, as the sprinters'
teams will go all out to win the final sprint of the race. We expect to see
Alessandro Petacchi and Daniele Bennati fight it out – but one thing we have
learned from our years observing cycling is that we should always expect the
15:01 CEST 3km/101.2km to go
The race has only
just started, so nothing has really happened. No surprise, the peloton is all
together and setting an easy pace.
We are on our way today to Madrid,
which has more experience with Vuelta stages than any other city. It has hosted
63 stages in all, with 38 of those being the final stage. Traditionally the
Vuelta ended with a time trial, but in the last few years it has moved that
to the next-to-last stage, giving the sprinters their chance to strut their
15:10 CEST 5km/99.2km to go
The riders are enjoying
the lovely late summer weather -- 75° and partly cloudy -- and don't see any
reason to hurry along today.
15:14 CEST 10km/94.2km to go
The riders are whopping
it up today, indulging in the usual jokes and light-heartedness of the last
stage -- they are all relieved to have made it his far and looking forward to
having the whole thing come to an end.
Last year's final sprint went to
Milram's Erik Zabel. The German would doubtless love to repeat that win today,
but equally doubtless he will be riding for Petacchi today.
Our birthday wishes today go to Martin
Elmiger of Ag2r, who is turning 29 and Roberto Traficante of Team LPR, who is
23. Also celebrating today is Michael Rich, Directeur Sportif at Team Gerolsteiner.
The former time trial ace, who rode up until 2005, turns 38 today.
15:25 CEST 16km/88.2km to go
Here's some action
at last! Jose Luis Carrasco Gamiz of Team Andalucia-Cayasur has flatted. He
gets right back to the slow-moving peloton without problem, though.
Madrid lies pretty much smack in
the middle of Spain. It has a population of over three million and is of course
the nation's capital and home of the government and the Spanish royal family.
Its roots go back to the time of the Arab Emir Mohamed I (852 - 886) who ordered
that a fortress be built on the left bank of the Manzanares River.
15:32 CEST 18km/86.2km to go
Saunier Duval has
tired of the slow pace. They have taken over at the head of the peloton and
picked up some speed. Perhaps they all checked their flight schedules home this
Unlike most of the riders, we will
not be flying home tonight but will park our Seat in front of a good restaurant
and scarf down some typical Madrid specialties, such as Sopa de Ajo (garlic
soup), Tortilla de patatas (potato omelet) or one of the delicious fish dishes.
We admit, though, that we will take a pass on the Caracoles (snails).
We will wash it all down with a glass of Spain's best red wine -- or maybe even
No doubt you have often wondered
how Madrid came by its name. Well, we are going to tell you (whether you have
ever wondered or not). There are any number of theories -- which is another
way of saying that nobody really knows why -- but the most commonly accepted
of these is that after the Islamic conquest of the Iberian Peninsula in the
7th century, the settlement known as "Matrice" became known as "Mayrit", which
referred to water as a mother or source of life. This eventually became "Matrit"
Madrid may be a modern, sophisticated
city, but it also includes beautiful nature and wildlife. Over the last few
days, the peloton may have noticed the large black vultures and Spanish Imperial
eagles which live in the area. We suspect that they were happy not to have noticed
the Iberian lynx, which is reported to have been sighted again.
We expect it to be a real quickie
today, as the course is only 104 km and there are no climbs at all. The peloton
may take its time on the first part of the stage, but once it starts on those
five rounds of the 6 km course in Madrid, we can expect the action to be fast
We can look forward to the "coronation"
today of Denis Menchov, who will take his second Vuelta title -- but the first
one which he will win in Madrid. We remember that he was awarded the title for
the 2005 Vuelta after winner Roberto Heras tested positive.
15:54 CEST 30km/74.2km to go
The good news is
that there is nothing really happening in the race. Saunier Duval has everything
nicely under control and the riders are enjoying their leisurely journey to
Madrid. The bad news is that this is not so very interesting to the fans and
those who are trying to write live reports.......
Menchov is far more than "just" the
overall winner! He will also win both the mountain and combination classifications.
He even leads the points classification going into today's stage, but we can
reasonably expect Sanchez, Petacchi and Bennati to have something to say about
that. The only category that the Russian hasn't been able to put his stamp on
is the team ranking. Caisse d'Epargne has that one pretty well sewed up.
Getting back to that point classification:
Menchov currently leads with 135 points, with Sanchez second with 127 points,
Bennati third with 118 and Petacchi fourth with 106. There are two intermediate
sprints in the stage, which give points, plus the 25 points which go to the
stage winner. We can expect some exciting battles today!
Bennati and Petacchi are, of course,
the hot favourites to win the mass sprint this afternoon, but they aren't the
only sprinters still in the race. Erik Zabel (Milram), Alexandre Usov (Ag2r),
Andre Greipel (T-Mobile), Magnus Backstedt (Liquigas), Leonardo Duque (Cofidis),
and Mark Renshaw (Credit Agricole), among others, might just take advantage
of their opportunity today.
16:10 CEST 37km/67.2km to go
The riders are enjoying
the blue skies and fluffy white clouds, as Caisse d'Epargne has moved to the
front of the peloton. Lots of laughs and smiles are to be seen today!
Five of the 22 teams are still here
with all nine riders. Two teams are down to only three: Discovery Channel and
As we earlier noted, Menchov is taking
home the mountain jersey as well as the golden jersey. He has 90 points, ahead
of Jurgen Van Goolen of Discovery Channel with 78 points and Carlos Sastre with
Luis Perez of Andalucia-Cayasur holds
up a hand-written sign, which we are unfortunately unable to translate.
The Russian will also take the combination
ranking, which he leads with 3 points over Sanchez (10 points) and Sastre (4
Meanwhile, Marc De Maar of Rabobank has his mobile phone
with him and is busy sending a text-message. We ask ourselves if that is really
such a good idea, while riding in the middle of the peloton?
The only classification that Menchov
wasn't able to do anything about was the team ranking, where Rabobank is lingering
all the way down in 13th. Caisse d'Epargne will be happy to take that honour
home with them. They are proud to boast of three riders in the top 15: Efimkin
(6th), Karpets (7th) and Lopez (14th).
The Russians are coming, the Russians
are coming! There are three Russians in the top seven. Menchov is first, Vladimir
Efimkin 6th and Vladimir Karpets 7th.
The Spaniards have done even
better: they have three riders in the top five: Sastre 2d, Sanchez 3d, and Mosquera
16:31 CEST 50km/54.2km to go
Carlos Sastre of
CSC finished only 15th in yesterday's time trial, but he cemented his second
In an interview with El Mundo, he said that he was "very
happy" with his Vuelta, and noted that "If not for the work that all my teammates
have done, I would not have been able to be second."
finished fourth in this year's Tour de France, as he did last year. However,
with Floyd Landis' recent disqualification, he has now moved on to the 2006
Third place overall will go to Samuel
Sanchez of Euskaltel-Euskadi. "The objective before the Vuelta was the podium,"
he said. "I have already won two stage -- difficult to do better!" He also praised
his countryman Sastre, saying, "I'm very happy for Carlos because he deserves
to be second."
Menchov was still only "95 percent
sure" after Friday's mountain stage that he would hold on to his overall lead
and win the Vuelta. He would have liked to have won the time trial yesterday,
but ended up having to ride much of it in the rain, so that he ended up second,
11 seconds behind Sanchez.
"Whether second place is a disappointment
or a success?" Directeur Sportif Erik Breukink asked rhetorically. "It simply
does not matter. We are going to win this race. Additionally, we were victorious
in four stages, which is great in itself."
This is a familiar Vuelta picture:
the peloton on the highway, in a brown landscape. No fans on the side of the
road, but lots of cars over on the other side of the highway.
16:41 CEST 65.2km/39km to go
We suspect that
there has been an intermediate sprint somewhere along the way, but so far the
race organizers haven't seen fit to tell us the results.
There was indeed a sprint held, and
Daniele Bennati won it, picking up 4 valuable points. Gustavo Cesar of Karpin-Galicia
was second and Bennati's teammate Morris Possoni picked up the final points.
T-Mobile's Adam Hansen is hanging
around the back of the peloton, which is where we didn't expect to see him today.
We thought that if the pace was slow, he would be up front trying to hustle
them along. Why? "The race should finish about 5:10 p.m., and my plane out of
here is at 6:15 p.m. It's 20 minutes to the airport -- it's not looking good!"
he told us yesterday. "So I hope I can make it to the flight. Maybe I might
sit on the front and keep the pace high, to come in earlier!"
16:49 CEST 60km/44.2km to go
Now here's big news!
The guys are so slow underway today, that the organizers have eliminated the
last lap of the closing round course, in order to meet the TV schedules. That
means they only to ride 98 km today.
Carlos Sastre just pulled a baby
pacifier out of his pocket and showed it around. We remember when he did that
when he won a Tour stage and crossed the line with the pacifier in his mouth.
Has he perhaps become a father again? Or what is he trying to tell us?
16:57 CEST 71km/33.2km to go
The rides enter
Madrid. We expect to see some action soon! At least, we hope we see some!
The first attack! Raul Garciade Mateos
of Relax shoots out. He is quickly joined by a Predictor-Lotto rider and they
have a few seconds lead over the peloton.
It's not a Predictor rider, but Gomez
Marchante. The peloton has overtaken them anyway, as they race around the round
17:02 CEST 72km/32.2km to go
try to get away but the sprinter teams are ruthlessly tracking them down.
Liquigas and Milram are both represented
at the head of the fast-moving peloton.
Speaking of Erik Zabel -- which we
did sometime today -- the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung a German newspaper
better known as the "FAZ", reports today that the sprinter will be returning
to T-Mobile Team next season. There he will serve as mentor and teacher to young
sprinters Gerald Ciolek and Mark Cavendish, according to the theory. No confirmation
on this from anywhere.......
17:06 CEST 86km/18.2km to go
A group of seven
riders has a slight lead over the peloton. Hard to tell who is in the escape
group, but we could identify a Milram and a T-Mobile jersey.
Patrick Calcagni takes off. He is
quickly reabsorbed, as two others take flight.
All together again as the peloton
goes around the hair-needle curve towards the finish line. They still have two
more laps to go, though.
A Liquigas rider is trying his luck
as an escapee. But also he is quickly caught.
Addy Engels and a few others are
starting to drop off the back. The Liquigas rider hasn't been caught, he is
still in front and it is Alessandro Vanotti.
17:13 CEST 86km/18.2km to go
We were too optimistic
about the kilometres before, but now it should really be only 12 more to go.
Vanotti is back in the pack as they cross the finish line, and three more riders
have shot out to look for their luck. Milram and Lampre are leading the chase
and determined to hold everyone together.
All the riders get around that hair-needle
curve safely again. That's about halfway though the lap.
A Gerolsteiner and a Caisse rider
try it this time, but have the same luck as all other escapees.
Predictor Lotto is leading the way
17:19 CEST 92km/12.2km to go
There was another
intermediate sprint in there somewhere, from which we hope to get the results
at some point.
The peloton tears over he finish line again, for the
start of the last lap. And another Gerolsteiner rider has a slight advantage.
It's Marcus Fothen, who has to be
disappointed with his season this year. This is practically the first time he
had drawn attention to himself in the Vuelta.
Milram and Lampre aren't going to
have any of that, thank you very much, and haul him back in.
Once more around the bend and another
Liquigas rider shoots out to try for an upset.
It's Vanotti again, but now he has
17:22 CEST 65.2km/39km to go
Time for the sprinter
teams to start getting serious......
17:23 CEST 102.2km/2km to go
Lampre and Milram
in the lead. Zabel will pull the sprint for Petacchi.
17:24 CEST 103.2km/1km to go
Zabel leads the
way and looks back to see what is happening behind him.
A Saunier Duval rider shoots out
but can't do anything.
Zabel pulls out and turns it over
But it's not Milram' day -- it's
another win for Daniele Bennati!
Bennati wins it by a hair over Petacchi,
with Usov third. That gives Bennati the win in the points classification, too.
We congratulate Denis Menchov on
his second victory in the Vuelta a España, Daniele Bennati to his further stage
win, and all the riders who crossed the finish line today. Now it's on to the
Adios and gracias for staying with
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