Phonak makes Gonzalez take a break
Swiss team Phonak has taken out Spaniard Santos Gonzalez from the Vuelta a España. He failed an internal test carried out within the team, which showed that his blood levels exceeded the team's self-imposed tolerance level, which has been announced to be lower than the one used by the UCI. Director John Lelangue told reporters at the start of stage 18 in Avila that the rider wasn't suspended, only stopped from racing for his own safety. Gonzalez was placed 8th on General Classification until today, and finished third in Stage 17.
Petacchi continues, Perdiguero quits
By Hernan Alvarez Macias
The men's road race of the World Championships will be raced in exactly ten days: September 25. Italy’s Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) is one of the candidates for the victory in the capital of Spain. 'Ale-Jet' remains in the Vuelta a España, even though the courses taken by the race these last few days are not the ones that he likes most: small mountains, medium mountains, big mountains. Petacchi is still among the 129 riders who finished stage 18 in Avila.
The great sprinter has scored four victories in the current Vuelta: Puertollano (stage 3), Argamasilla de Alba (stage 4), Lloret de Mar (stage 8) and Burgos (stage 12). A few days ago, he told to Cyclingnews that he wanted to stay at least two weeks in the Vuelta and he is currently up to the challenge. He also said that there was a chance to quit ten days before the World’s, but so far Petacchi has kept on racing. It wouldn’t be surprising at all if the Fassa Bortolo rider doesn’t sign in tomorrow for stage 19.
On the other hand, Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Phonak) decided to abandon the Vuelta. He told the media that a toeail was disturbing him very much, which was why he quit. Perdiguero is probably also thinking of the World’s that will take place in his home town, considering he is one of the most important riders for the local victory.
Mancebo pushed hard in his homeland
By Hernan Alvarez Macias
Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears) really gave it all to join the leading riders before the finish in Avila today. He couldn’t get in the right breakaway with stage winner Nicki Sørensen (CSC), second-placed Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Comunidad Valenciana) and third José Vicente Garcia Acosta (Illes Balears, but Mancebo tried to get rid of Heras, Menchov and company with much effort to win here. In the end, 'Paco' finished tenth, just three seconds ahead of the Vuelta leader.
The race passed through his native town, Navaluenga, at kilometre 41 of today’s stage. His fellow countrymen saluted him there, as well as the fans who gathered in Avila city looking for an autograph signed by their local hero.
When the peloton crossed Navaluenga, many of Mancebo's teammates started chanting 'Paco, Paco, Paco'. "We were calm in the peloton," said Garcia Acosta. "So we started singing his name - not only us as his teammates but also other friends from other teams."
Besides Mancebo, other two riders are from Avila and the race also crossed their native towns. Carlos Sastre (CSC) is from El Barraco and Nacor Burgos (Relax Fuenlabrada) from Navarrevisca. Sastre saw his village greeting him at kilometre 22 of the stage, with Burgos celebrating at kilometre 145.