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The orange wave gathers momentum

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Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi)

Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) (Image credit: AFP)
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Oscar Pereiro (Phonak)

Oscar Pereiro (Phonak) (Image credit: AFP)
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The peloton

The peloton (Image credit: AFP)
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Tom Steels (Davitamon-Lotto)

Tom Steels (Davitamon-Lotto) (Image credit: AFP)
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Oscar Pereiro (Phonak)

Oscar Pereiro (Phonak) (Image credit: AFP)
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Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi)

Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) (Image credit: AFP)
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Tom Steels (Davitamon-Lotto) lies unconscious on the ground.

Tom Steels (Davitamon-Lotto) lies unconscious on the ground. (Image credit: AFP)
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Tom Steels (Davitamon-Lotto) is immediately sent to hospital following his crash, where the prognosis thankfully revealed he is in a stable condition.

Tom Steels (Davitamon-Lotto) is immediately sent to hospital following his crash, where the prognosis thankfully revealed he is in a stable condition. (Image credit: AFP)
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Dariusz Baranowski (Liberty Seguros) clutches his face after coming down in a fall early in the race.

Dariusz Baranowski (Liberty Seguros) clutches his face after coming down in a fall early in the race. (Image credit: AFP)
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Dariusz Baranowski (Liberty Seguros) receives medical attention after getting back on his bike.

Dariusz Baranowski (Liberty Seguros) receives medical attention after getting back on his bike. (Image credit: AFP)
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Then it was the doctor's turn to examine Manuel Beltran (Discovery Channel).

Then it was the doctor's turn to examine Manuel Beltran (Discovery Channel). (Image credit: AFP)
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Race leader Denis Menchov (Rabobank) has been fortunate to avoid incident so far.

Race leader Denis Menchov (Rabobank) has been fortunate to avoid incident so far. (Image credit: AFP)
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Denis Menchov (Rabobank) knows Madrid is still some ways away.

Denis Menchov (Rabobank) knows Madrid is still some ways away. (Image credit: AFP)
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The peloton en route to La Bien Aparecida.

The peloton en route to La Bien Aparecida. (Image credit: AFP)
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The peloton splits...

The peloton splits... (Image credit: AFP)
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Oscar Pereiro (Phonak) leads the winning break.

Oscar Pereiro (Phonak) leads the winning break. (Image credit: AFP)
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Oscar Pereiro (Phonak) and Mauricio Alberto Ardila (Davitamon - Lotto) fly up the climb of Ampuero.

Oscar Pereiro (Phonak) and Mauricio Alberto Ardila (Davitamon - Lotto) fly up the climb of Ampuero. (Image credit: AFP)
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Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) blows a kiss to the God of Fortune.

Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) blows a kiss to the God of Fortune. (Image credit: AFP)
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Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) points to the heavens.

Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) points to the heavens. (Image credit: AFP)
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Three favourites - Menchov, Heras and Sastre - mark each other all the way to the line.

Three favourites - Menchov, Heras and Sastre - mark each other all the way to the line. (Image credit: AFP)
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Tom Boonen (Quick Step-Innergetic) signs a few autographs before the start in Burgos.

Tom Boonen (Quick Step-Innergetic) signs a few autographs before the start in Burgos. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Gilberto Simoni (Lampre-Cafitta), with new-look hairdo, does the same.

Gilberto Simoni (Lampre-Cafitta), with new-look hairdo, does the same. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Denis Menchov (Rabobank) has his eyes on the big picture - Madrid.

Denis Menchov (Rabobank) has his eyes on the big picture - Madrid. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) gingerly makes his way down the stairs after signing on for the day.

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) gingerly makes his way down the stairs after signing on for the day. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Oscar Pereiro (Phonak) leads Mauricio Alberto Ardila (Davitamon - Lotto) up to the finish.

Oscar Pereiro (Phonak) leads Mauricio Alberto Ardila (Davitamon - Lotto) up to the finish. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) in hot pursuit.

Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) in hot pursuit. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Joan Horrach (Illes Balears) leads Oscar Sevilla (T-Mobile Team) on the final climb.

Joan Horrach (Illes Balears) leads Oscar Sevilla (T-Mobile Team) on the final climb. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Oscar Sevilla (T-Mobile) sits on Horrach's wheel.

Oscar Sevilla (T-Mobile) sits on Horrach's wheel. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Pablo Lastras (Illes Balears) en route to sixth place.

Pablo Lastras (Illes Balears) en route to sixth place. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Carlos Garcia Quesada (Comunidad Valenciana) riding to a top-10 finish.

Carlos Garcia Quesada (Comunidad Valenciana) riding to a top-10 finish. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Joseba Beloki (Liberty Seguros) brings home the group maillot oro.

Joseba Beloki (Liberty Seguros) brings home the group maillot oro. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears) grits his teeth.

Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears) grits his teeth. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Denis Menchov (Rabobank) looking one cool customer.

Denis Menchov (Rabobank) looking one cool customer. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Tom Danielson (Discovery Channel) suffers on the final climb.

Tom Danielson (Discovery Channel) suffers on the final climb. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Mountains leader Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Saunier Duval) finished almost four and a half minutes down today.

Mountains leader Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Saunier Duval) finished almost four and a half minutes down today. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) looks to see how far he's got to go.

Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) looks to see how far he's got to go. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Erik Zabel (T-Mobile) knows the battle for the points competition isn't over.

Erik Zabel (T-Mobile) knows the battle for the points competition isn't over. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The Fassa boys get a day off.

The Fassa boys get a day off. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) is looking like a good bet come the road world championships.

Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) is looking like a good bet come the road world championships. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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But not for the overall title at the Vuelta!

But not for the overall title at the Vuelta! (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Here comes the autobus.

Here comes the autobus. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) took advantage of Mauricio Alberto Ardila's mistimed sprint to win the day.

Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) took advantage of Mauricio Alberto Ardila's mistimed sprint to win the day. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Mauricio Alberto Ardila (Davitamon - Lotto, R) isn't a happy camper as he crosses the line with Oscar Sevilla (T-Mobile, L).

Mauricio Alberto Ardila (Davitamon - Lotto, R) isn't a happy camper as he crosses the line with Oscar Sevilla (T-Mobile, L). (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Carlos Garcia Quesada (Comunidad Valenciana) leads home the golden jersey group.

Carlos Garcia Quesada (Comunidad Valenciana) leads home the golden jersey group. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Tom Danielson (Discovery Channel) was in a spot of bother today, finishing 1'33 down on the winner in 25th place.

Tom Danielson (Discovery Channel) was in a spot of bother today, finishing 1'33 down on the winner in 25th place. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Michele Scarponi (Liberty Seguros) downs an ice-cold drink.

Michele Scarponi (Liberty Seguros) downs an ice-cold drink. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Joseba Beloki (Liberty Seguros) looks like he might have a toothache.

Joseba Beloki (Liberty Seguros) looks like he might have a toothache. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Tom Boonen (Quick Step-Innergetic) comes home in the grupetto.

Tom Boonen (Quick Step-Innergetic) comes home in the grupetto. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) a delighted stage winner.

Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) a delighted stage winner. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) thanks the man above.

Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) thanks the man above. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Denis Menchov (Rabobank) looking a little nervous about tomorrow.

Denis Menchov (Rabobank) looking a little nervous about tomorrow. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Spanish legend Miguel Indurain hands over a prize to mountains leader Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Saunier Duval).

Spanish legend Miguel Indurain hands over a prize to mountains leader Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Saunier Duval). (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)

Sanchez takes first pro win in strange finale

What a strange finale. Thinking he had won the stage, Mauricio Ardila (Davitamon-Lotto) raised his arms in celebration - except the finish line was still 100 metres ahead of him! Capitalising on the confusion was Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), who flew past Sanchez and outsprinted Oscar Pereiro (Phonak) to earn his first professional career victory and the team's second win this week.

Despite yesterday's crash, most notably affecting Roberto Heras (Liberty-Würth), the top positions on GC didn't change as Denis Menchov (Rabobank) continued to lead the Vuelta over Heras and Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears).

It was a super fast stage with a speed average of 49.5 km/h, and it was the first time in the race that a breakaway succeeded, attempts that were sullied by Fassa Bortolo's Silver Train on previous occasions. Sanchez was naturally happy with his triumph, despite the strange finale: "Sometimes cycling is not fair and these kind of things happen," said the Basque rider, dedicating the victory to his mother. "This is my first victory in a Grand Tour," said a proud Sanchez.

Surprisingly, Ardila took out his frustrations in his stride, calming saying: "That's cycling."

"I made a mistake, but I have to learn from this. It was a shame because today I was going pretty strong and I was really ready to win. I had the chance, but you know... these things happen. There will be another day."

Said second-placed Oscar Pereiro after the stage: "I couldn't do it, but there was a very good chance of winning. I was really confused at the end and when Samuel passed me I was baffled. Well, tomorrow will be another day."

How it unfolded

There were now just 152 survivors remaining in the 2005 Vuelta. Jakob Piil (CSC) abandoned yesterday, Jose Antonio Pecharroman (Quick Step) reached Burgos but finished outside the time limit, and Benoit Joachim, Jose Azevedo (Discovery Channel) and Niels Scheuneman (Rabobank) didn't take the start in Burgos today.

Many riders were on the lookout for the early breakaway, but this didn't happen. On the contrary, the peloton rode together at speeds reaching 80 km/h until, like yesterday, a crash happened at km 22. Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears) was among those involved and also Tom Steels (Davitamon-Lotto), the latter rider leaving the race in an unconscious state but was later reported to be in a stable condition in hospital. Pedro Horrillo, Thorwald Veneberg (Rabobank) and Dariusz Baranowski (Liberty-Würth) were also injured, but kept on racing.

Some kilometres later, a very large group left the peloton, comprised of 32 riders including Paolo Bettini (Quick Step), Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo), Joaquin Rodriguez, Constantino Zaballa (Saunier Duval) and Magnus Backstedt (Liquigas-Bianchi), among others. At the first intermediate sprint in Moneo (km 83.7), the gap to the peloton was 1'50.

Due to a truck stuck on the road heading to the climb of Alto de la Sia, a late course change had to be made, which saw the riders tackle a different climb, to Puerto de Los Tornos. Consequently, the stage was shortened by three kilometres, 193 instead of 196.

At km 101, three riders attacked the break: David Latasa (Comunidad Valenciana), Mauricio Ardila (Davitamon-Lotto) and Constantino Zaballa (Saunier Duval). 36 kilometres later, the trio extended their lead to the peloton to 2 minutes and 30 seconds, with Oscar Pereiro (Phonak) in hot pursuit.

The Phonak rider caught the three breakaways some miles later. But at km 167 (26 km to go) the gap was very slim, just 32 seconds between themselves and the peloton, which saw another four riders join shortly thereafter: Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel), Oscar Sevilla (T-Mobile), Joan Horrach and Pablo Lastras (Illes Balears). Still, the tempo within the bunch was very fast indeed, and it seemed the peloton would catch the eight leaders.

However, for the first time in the race, a breakaway ended at the finish line. As the octet rode up the climb of Santuario de la Bien Aparecida, the attacks began. Ardila, Pereiro, Sevilla and Horrach attacked the other four and got some advantage. With one kilometre to go, Pereiro and Ardila looked the best, with the Spaniard leading the race by a few seconds before the Colombian took over inside the last kilometre. But to both their surprise, Samuel Sanchez came from behind to join the duo.

With 100 metres to go, Ardila gapped them, thinking a billboard very near the finish marked the line - but he was wrong. The finish line was 100 meters ahead! At that moment, Sanchez made the most of the Colombian's misfortune and crossed the line ahead of Pereiro, with Ardila a sour third, banging his bars in frustration.

Stage 14 - September 10: La Penilla-Lagos de Covadonga, 172.3 km

This is one of the key stages of the Vuelta, with the climb of Lagos de Covadonga is famous for its toughness. The stage will commence in La Penilla and will end at the aforementioned mountain, but there are four other climbs along the way: Alto de Carmona (Category 2, 600 m. above sea level, km 42.4), Collada de Ozalba (Cat. 2, 560 m., km 66.3), Collada de la Hoz (Cat. 2, 670 m., km 80.2) and Alto de Ortiguero (Cat. 3, 440 m., km 136.4). The stage will certainly be decided in Lagos (Cat. Special, 1110 m., stage finish) where the big favourites will give it their all. Lagos de Covadonga is 14.3 km. long mountain with an average gradient of 6.5% and sections up to 13%, so it will pose a challenge for all riders, especially those who aren't climbers.

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