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A look at the school, the races and the future of this unique 'sport'
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La Vuelta continues with another mountain stage from Sarria to Ponferrada in Northwestern Spain. With five categorized climbs on the menu and the finish line located more than 40 kilometres after the last pass, this is a perfect day for long-range attacks. But it could also prove treacherous for the GC contenders...
Hello and welcome back to stage 13 from Sarria to Ponferrada. The stage has been raced fast and we currently have a 28-rider breakaway coming down the third climb of the day, the Cat. 1 Alto de Folgueiras de Aigas.
They have over three minutes on the bunch which includes overall leader Wiggins and the other GC contenders.
The group is led by mountain classification contender David Moncoutié (Cofidis), out to get the KOM leader Matteo Montaguti (AG2R), who missed this move.
There are also three Eusklatel riders, including Igor Anton, vying for the stage win.
Behind, Sky is controlling the peloton's pace.
Just to recap, this is what happened until now:
A group of about 30 riders build up some lead in the ascent of the first climb of the day, the Alto O'Pico Da Peña (Cat. 3). Amongst them, Matteo Montaguti (AG2R) and David Moncoutié (Cofidis), battling for the climbers jersey. The Frenchman had the support of his teammate Rein Taaramae, but in the end Montaguti pervailed and took the maximum points on the third category summit after 15 kilometres.
But then some real fun began. A new escape group of 34 men formed around the two climbers in the descent, including several high-profile riders such as Fabian Cancellara (Leopard), Sylvain Chavanel (Quickstep) but also GC contenders Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), Bradley Wiggins (Sky), Igor Anton (Euskaltel) and Carlos Sastre (Geox). The Italian took the intermediate sprint points at Becerrea - and six precious bonus seconds for GC, with the bunch following close at no more than 30 seconds.
This group included the following riders:
Matteo Montaguti, Dimitri Champion and Nicolas Roche (AG2R), Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho and Tiago Machado (Radioshack), Vincenzo Nibali, Eros Capecchi and Damiano Caruso (Liquigas), Bradley Wiggins (Sky), Fabian Cancellara, Maxime Monfort, Thomas Rohregger and Oliver Zaugg (Leopard), Carlos Sastre Candil and David De La Fuente Rasilla (Geox), Vladimir Karpets, Eduard Vorganov and Yury Trofimov (Katusha), Angel Madrazo Ruiz and Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Movistar), Enrico Gasparotto and Evgeny Petrov (Astana), Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Rabobank), Igor Anton Hernandez and Gorka Verdugo Marcotegui (Euskaltel), David Moncoutie and Rein Taaramae (Cofidis), Yukihiro Doi (Skil), Sylvain Chavanel, Kevin Seeldraeyers and Dario Cataldo (Quickstep), Stijn Devolder and Ruslan Pydgornyy (Vacansoleil).
After 31 kilometres of racing and at the foot of the next ascent, the Alto de O Lago (Cat. 3), this group broke up in two, with Nibali and Wiggins trapped in the second. The Liquigas leader set out in pursuit, and under the impressive driving of the Astana team in the peloton, the breakaway finally got caught just after the summit. Moncoutié again crossed the KOM line behind Montaguti, losing another point.
The average speed in the first hour of racing was 40,3 km/h - not bad considering the two Cat. 3 climbs!
In the long descent prior to the next climb, Cat 1. Alto de Folgueiras de Aigas, French team AG2R sent out David Le Lay, certainly in an attempt to help Montaguti later on in the climb. He was joined by another 18 riders, including teammate Nicolas Roche, Moncoutié, Sastre and Anton. The group extended its advantage to 1'20" at km 58.
Back to the present situation: The riders have passed the feed zone and now hit the bottom of the fourth climb today, the Cat. 1 Puerto de Ancares.
This is the stage's most difficult ascent, with 912 vertical metres to climb over a total of 11.8 kilometres.
This is the complete list of riders in this breakaway:
Jan Bakelandts (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Marc De Maar and Kevin Seeldraeyers (Quickstep), Dominik Nerz (Liquigas), Igor Anton Hernandez, Mikel Nieve, Amets Txurruka and Gorka Verdugo Marcotegui (Euskaltel), Adrian Palomares Villaplana (Andalucia-Caja Granada), Yohan Bagot (Cofidis), Filipe Oliviera Nelson (RadioShack), Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Katusha), Chris Sörensen (Saxo Bank-SunGard), Alberto Losada Alguacil (Katusha), Michael Albasini (HTC-Highroad), Carlos Sastre Candil, David De La Fuente Rasilla and David Blanco Rodriguez (Geox), Olivier Kaisen (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Nicolas Roche and David Le Lay (AG2R), Oliver Zaugg (Leopard Trek), David Moncoutie (Cofidis), Evgeny Petrov (Astana), David Lopez Garcia (Movistar), Angel Madrazo Ruiz (Movistar), Eros Cappechi (Liquigas).
The climb is on a narrow road through the forest. It's not very hot today, actually overcast.
Moncoutié now leads the KOM standings in front of Montaguti after taking six points at the last summit.
The gradients at this point of the climb are around 7 percent. The bunch is now 2'38" back on the leaders.
Best-placed rider on GC in the break is Dani Moreno of Katusha, he is 16th at 3'39" of Bradley Wiggins.
Today, the Vuelta orgainsers have welcomed a special guest in the directors' car: Alberto Contador. The Spaniard is watching the race from another point of view, sitting comfortably in an airconditioned vehicle.
Euskaltel actually has four riders in this group: Txurruka, Verdugo, Nieve and Anton. One of them has been pushing the pace hard for the last ten minutes.
Three kilometres to to summit.
Euskaltel is extending the gap to the bunch to 3'14.
Three riders have now come out of the bunch, trying to bridge up: Guillaume Bonnafond (AG2R), Sergio Pardilla (Movistar) and Martin Kohler (BMC).
Ouch, the riders hit 14 percent-ramps right now...
Zaugg is sitting behind the leading Euskaltel rider - we think it's Txurruka - followed by Moncoutié.
Joaquin Rodriguez has made a move out of the bunch! Mollema, Nibali mark him.
But more riders have jumped with this split and while there is a small gap to the bunch, the attack seems neutralised.
The leaders have crossed the summit.
Cobo, in the group of favourites, is putting on a fierce tempo for Geox, making may riders suffer. They have reached the summit now, 3'08" behind the leaders.
Taylor Phinney (BMC) has dropped out of the race, race radio says. The American landed a strong fifht place in the time trial, but was sitting in third to last position on GC.
At the KOM point, Moreno was first and Moncoutié second. The Frenchman, who is going for his fourth mountains title, scored another six points and now leads the classification by nine points ahead of Montaguti (AG2R).
Like the ascent, the descent of the Ancares is a narrow road. The three Euskaltel riders left in the break are leading the group out.
There is another attack on GC: Nibali, Mollema and Kessiakoff have opened up a gap. Wiggins is talking to his team directors through the radio...
Antoher Astana rider has bridged up and is pacing Kessiakoff. Sky is riding hard in what is now a chase group including the overall leader.
Some expected fireworks on the climb - but it happened in the descent!
The gap is 2'32 to the breakaway, and there are 24 seconds already between the Nibali group and Wiggins.
Three Sky riders strung out to bring the Brit back.
They are making up time already, the gap is reduced to 17 seconds.
Solid team effort by Sky, bearing fruit. They will catch the Nibali/Mollema group soon.
They are caught.
This bit of a hurry has brought down the gap to the leading breakaway to 2'04.
There is still one categorized climb to go, the Cat. 3 Puerto de Lumeras - the race has reached the beginning of the ascent.
Capecchi, Roche and Moncoutié cross the summit in that order. The Frenchman adds another point to his tally.
Seems like the AIGCP and the UCI have reached a truce.... More to come soon. Need to go get my ulcer treated first.
@Vaughters Fri, 2nd Sep 2011 15:34:30
The riders are speeding down a wider descent now. The lead group still has more than two and a half minutes over the bunch with 35 clicks to go.
There will be yet another uphill with 27 kilometres to go with the un-categorized Puerto de Orcero breaking up this fast race rythm yet again. But after that, it should be a very fast run into the finish in Ponferrada.
Three riders especially will be happy if this group can stay way from the bunch: Moreno, Sörensen and Roche. Their stadings on GC are the following:
16 Moreno (Katusha) +3:39
17 C. Sörensen (Saxo Bank) +3:47
18 Roche (AG2R) +3:50
Nieve of Euskaltel sits in 24th position at 4'46 on GC. certainly, he orange squad will want to grab the red leader's jersey before the race hits the Basque country...
Txurruka is completely sacrificing himself for his teammate today, he has been pulling the escape for ages now.
Radioshack, Liquigas, Astana and Leopard Trek have taken over the chase from Sky riders.
In front at the intermediate sprint at the top of the last climb, Dani Moreno took all six bonus seconds.
2'32" is the current gap. As of now, it is all downhill - will the break take its advantage to the finish or will we see another sprint to the line?
At the moment, the gap is not coming down - instead, it has grown to 2'43"!
It's Verdugo now doing the work for Euskaltel and Nieve. They are doing a great job, having been in the break the whole day, too.
Seeldrayers of Qucikstep also does a turn - it's also in his interest to move up on GC.
The whole lead group is strung out single file, with about half of the riders actively pushing it on.
The bunch is also going hard, but their work is not paying off. A bunch sprint finish is now highly unlikely.
The race reaches the outskirts of Ponferrada. One of the leading 20 riders will take the stage win today.
The gap has descreased to 2'18.
Of course, the bunch is a little faster in these last few kilometres raced on long, flat and wide roads. Still the three Euskaltels in front continue to dirve it impressively.
65 km/h are being done here on this run into Ponferrada.
The gap has come down to 1'57" under the ten km banner.
Sörensen and Roche are also helping Euskaltel in the lead.
What a tough day: three Cat 3 and two Cat 1 climbs and now a time trial into the finish. These riders will be finished this evening.
Zaugg (Leopard) attacks!
But De Maar of Qucikstep is closig down the gap...
Attacks will be launched now as the lead group is breaking up.
Albasini and Madrazo have a gap now. The Movistar rider is yelling at Albasini to take a turn
Moncoutié (??) comes out of nowhere, De Maar in tow
Bakelats goes down on some road furniture, seems relatively unhurt though
They're all back together again. Moncoutié tries again.
One km to go. All back together.
S^rensen leads out, Albasini in tow.
Albasini starts from afar, but holds on in front and takes the victory!
Wout Poels (Vacansoleil) takes off from the bunch in the finale and makes up a few seconds. The bunch comes in at 1'32".
Capecchi got second, and Moreno third - he takes a few more bonus seconds for GC.
The top ten of the stage are:
1 Albasini (THR)
2 Capecchi (LIQ)
3 Moreno (KAT)
4 De La Fuente (GEO)
5 Roche (ALM)
6 Zaugg (LEO)
7 Madrazo (MOV)
8 Blanco (GEO)
9 Nieve (EUS)
10 De Maar (QST)
Moncoutié is the new mountains leader. Let's see what consequences this stage has on GC - Moreno now sits in ninth position we think.
1 Michael Albasini (Swi) HTC-Highroad 4:19:39
2 Eros Capecchi (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
3 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team
4 David De La Fuente Rasilla (Spa) Geox-TMC
5 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale
6 Oliver Zaugg (Swi) Leopard Trek
7 Angel Madrazo Ruiz (Spa) Movistar Team
8 David Blanco Rodriguez (Spa) Geox-TMC
9 Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
10 Marc De Maar (AHo) Quickstep Cycling Team
General classification after stage 13
1 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 1/2/1900 3:14
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:07
3 Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Pro Team Astana 0:00:09
4 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard Trek 0:00:19
5 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:24
6 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:36
7 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Leopard Trek 0:01:04
8 Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Spa) Geox-TMC 0:01:27
9 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team 0:01:52
10 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) Team RadioShack 0:01:53
Thanks for reading and join us again tomorrow for stage 14, hopefully an epic battle between GC contenders on the summit finish of Lagos de Somiedo.