Skip to main content

Sorensen wins an emotional stage

Image 1 of 39

Nicki Sorensen (CSC)

Nicki Sorensen (CSC) (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 2 of 39

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros)

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 3 of 39

Avila

Avila (Image credit: AFP)
Image 4 of 39

Jimenez and Sorensen

Jimenez and Sorensen (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 5 of 39

Jose Vicente Garcia Acosta (Illes Balears)

Jose Vicente Garcia Acosta (Illes Balears) (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 6 of 39

Nicki Sorensen (CSC)

Nicki Sorensen (CSC) (Image credit: AFP)
Image 7 of 39

Avila the start/finish town of the 18th stage

Avila the start/finish town of the 18th stage (Image credit: AFP)
Image 8 of 39

Menchov and Mancebo close to each other

Menchov and Mancebo close to each other (Image credit: AFP)
Image 9 of 39

Liberty Seguros in command

Liberty Seguros in command (Image credit: AFP)
Image 10 of 39

Bridges were a feature of today's stage

Bridges were a feature of today's stage (Image credit: AFP)
Image 11 of 39

Nicki Sorensen (CSC) and Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Comunidad Valenciana) racing for the stage win

Nicki Sorensen (CSC) and Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Comunidad Valenciana) racing for the stage win (Image credit: AFP)
Image 12 of 39

Nicki Sorensen (CSC) on the podium as stage winner

Nicki Sorensen (CSC) on the podium as stage winner (Image credit: AFP)
Image 13 of 39

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) is ready for the battle

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) is ready for the battle (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 14 of 39

Heras lines up for the start in Avila

Heras lines up for the start in Avila (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 15 of 39

The bunch rides during the early part of stage 18

The bunch rides during the early part of stage 18 (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 16 of 39

Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Comunidad Valenciana) distracted by a possible bovine element?

Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Comunidad Valenciana) distracted by a possible bovine element? (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 17 of 39

The peloton crosses a bridge near Avila

The peloton crosses a bridge near Avila (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 18 of 39

The pressure is on in the break

The pressure is on in the break (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 19 of 39

Jimenez and Sorensen driving the break

Jimenez and Sorensen driving the break (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 20 of 39

Working on the tan

Working on the tan (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 21 of 39

Illes Balears stirring things up

Illes Balears stirring things up (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 22 of 39

Riding hard in the peloton

Riding hard in the peloton (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 23 of 39

Igor Gonzalez De Galdeano (Liberty Seguros) leads the bunch

Igor Gonzalez De Galdeano (Liberty Seguros) leads the bunch (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 24 of 39

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) goes downhill fast

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) goes downhill fast (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 25 of 39

Denis Menchov (Rabobank) in the combination jersey

Denis Menchov (Rabobank) in the combination jersey (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 26 of 39

Jimmy Casper (Cofidis) looks for the bunch on a descent

Jimmy Casper (Cofidis) looks for the bunch on a descent (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 27 of 39

Illes Balears keeping the pressure on for Mancebo

Illes Balears keeping the pressure on for Mancebo (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 28 of 39

A breakaway rider is pursued by the peloton on a climb

A breakaway rider is pursued by the peloton on a climb (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 29 of 39

The peloton on a descent

The peloton on a descent (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 30 of 39

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) receives the points jersey

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) receives the points jersey (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 31 of 39

Ascending in stage 18

Ascending in stage 18 (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 32 of 39

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) ringed by teammates

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) ringed by teammates (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 33 of 39

I think we outnumber them: The Liberty boys have the upper hand.

I think we outnumber them: The Liberty boys have the upper hand. (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 34 of 39

The best seat in the house to watch the race

The best seat in the house to watch the race (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 35 of 39

Jose Vicente Garcia Acosta (Illes Balears) on his own in front

Jose Vicente Garcia Acosta (Illes Balears) on his own in front (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 36 of 39

The peloton races up the cobbles into the walled city of Avila

The peloton races up the cobbles into the walled city of Avila (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 37 of 39

Nicki Sorensen (CSC) wins the 18th stage in Avila from a nonplussed Javier Pascual Rodriguez

Nicki Sorensen (CSC) wins the 18th stage in Avila from a nonplussed Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 38 of 39

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) golden jersey wearer

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) golden jersey wearer (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 39 of 39

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) gets some help with his combination jersey

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) gets some help with his combination jersey (Image credit: Unipublic)

Mancebo tries to gain more time

Denmark's Nicki Sorensen (CSC) gave his team its first Vuelta a España stage win today in the historical walled city of Avila, beating Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Comunidad Valenciana) on a two-man sprint. Jose Vicente Garcia Acosta (Illes Balears), who fought for the victory with the duo, ended third. Roberto Heras (Liberty-Würth) kept the leader's golden jersey for another day.

"I had a good day," said Nicki Sorensen at the press conference post-stage. "From the start I felt good and I was able to get in the breakaway, and then to catch Javier Pascual and to resist at the end the attacks from Garcia Acosta and Pascual."

Sorensen added that in the beginning, he got into the leader's group just in case Carlos Sastre needed help, but then he realized he could win in Avila. "I didn't know Avila's pavé was so hard in a very hard and complicated finale. This is my first victory in my career in a race like the Vuelta that I've always liked. I feel happy."

Javier Pascual Rodriguez wasn't very content after the sprint. "The stage was very similar to the one we raced last year here," said Pascual post-stage. "It had almost 200 kilometres, many climbs and it was very hot on the road. I didn't have much strength at the end. We were all tired, me, Chente [Garcia Acosta], Sorensen, everyone." Referring to his Vuelta, he said, "I start working for my teammates thinking of the overall classification. But as days go by, I marked two stages: Pajares [stage 15] and here. I wanted to dedicate this stage to a rider who left a great memory: 'Chava' Jimenez."

"We all like to win in Avila," explained third placed Garcia Acosta. "In order to win here, for a rider like me, I had to attack early in the stage, but I was very tired when we arrived on the pavé. I had very little strength at the last meters."

How it unfolded

The city of Avila is a classic place for the Vuelta a España. Like the Pyrenees or the mountainous stages in Cantabria and Asturias, Avila is always among the cities where the Spanish tour passes. The big absence today was Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) who quit the race, but also Santos Gonzalez (Phonak) who finished third yesterday but was pulled out by his team after an internal health control, Guido Trenti (Quick Step), Matteo Tosatto (Fassa Bortolo) and Anthony Geslin (Bouygues Telecom) also abandoned the Vuelta. Therefore, there were 133 survivors of the 197 who began in Granada in stage 1.

The attacks didn't take long and at km 12, 16 men broke clear of the peloton. Among them: Oscar Pereiro (Phonak), mountains leader Joaquin Rodriguez (Saunier Duval), Eladio Jimenez (Comunidad Valenciana) and Miguel Martin Perdiguero (Phonak). The breakaway went quickly and at the second intermediate sprint in Navaluenga (km 41) the gap was more than seven minutes to the peloton. The breakaways' advantage kept growing and at km 55 it was 10'03.

The peloton increased the tempo and at km 100, the gap was reduced up to 6'02. 13 kilometres later, three riders attacked the break: Pablo Lastras (Illes Balears), Eladio Jimenez (Comunidad Valenciana) and Gorka Gonzalez (Euskaltel). The trio led the race for some kilometres until the rest of the breakaways caught them.

It seemed to be very hard to stay in front group. At km 121, the leaders were down to 11: Oscar Pereiro (Phonak), Jose Vicente Garcia Acosta (Illes Balears), Pablo Lastras (Illes Balears), David Blanco (Comunidad Valenciana), Eladio Jimenez (Comunidad Valenciana), Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Comunidad Valenciana), Mario Aerts (Davitamon-Lotto), Gorka Gonzalez (Euskaltel), Moises Dueñas (Relax Fuenlabrada), Nicki Sorensen (CSC) and Daniele Nardello (T-Mobile). Meanwhile, the competition lost a fighting rider in Miguel Martin Perdiguero, who got off his bike at km 128. "Perdi" might be thinking of the World's that he will race in ten days in Madrid.

On the Puerto de Serranillos (km 135) there were many attacks. Roberto Heras and the top riders on GC: Denis Menchov (Rabobank), Carlos Sastre (CSC), Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears), Carlos Garcia Quesada (Comunidad Valenciana) and others separated from the peloton and reduced the advantage the 11 breakaways had (more than 3 minutes). Meanwhile, "Chente" Garcia Acosta attacked the break alone and get a little gap over the others.

The chasers of Garcia Acosta at km 165 (32.5 km to go) were seven, as the other four couldn't keep up: Pascual Rodriguez, Pereiro, Nardello, Aerts, Lastras, Sorensen and Gorka Gonzalez. The Comunidad Valenciana rider led by almost a minute over his chasers and four minutes over the favourites' group. Some kilometres later, the seven became just four as Pascual Rodriguez, Sorensen, Aerts and Gorka Gonzalez got rid of Pereiro, Nardello and Lastras. The last challenge for Garcia Acosta was to climb the last mountain, Puerto de Navalmoral, with its summit at 23 km to go, at a good speed. Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Comunidad Valenciana) found the perfect occasion to go after "Chente" in Navalmoral. Pascual passed Garcia Acosta easily while Nicki Sorensen (CSC) was third. Behind, Francisco Mancebo wanted to win in his native province, and tried to get rid of Heras, Menchov, Sastre and Carlos Garcia Quesada (Comunidad Valenciana), without success.

The stage was very aggressive right until the end. In the last kilometres, Sorensen was able to catch Pascual Rodriguez, and both led with 10 km to go. Behind them followed a combative Garcia Acosta, who didn't give up. With 7 km to go, Pascual and the CSC rider led by 18 seconds over "Chente" and 1'17 ahead of the survivors from the original breakaway.

Surprises kept coming as Garcia Acosta caught Sorensen and Pascual Rodriguez with less than 2 km to the end. The three kept together for some meters until "Chente" attacked, but his surge wasn't good enough as the Danish rider was faster, and won the sprint in Avila ahead of Pascual Rodriguez. In the end, after an emotional sprint, Nicki Sorensen laughed at last and achieved the stage win.

In the favourites' group, Paco Mancebo managed to attack on the pavé in the final kilometres to take a handful of seconds out of Heras, Menchov, Sastre, and Garcia Quesada, but not enough to make any major difference on GC.

Stage 19 - September 16: San Martin de Valdeiglesias-Alcobendas, 142.9 km

This is a short stage that certainly won't change the positions in the final standings. It will be an opportunity for some brave rider to go for glory. The stage has two climbs: Alto de Santa Maria (Category 2, 1450 m, km 51.7) and Alto de Robledondo (Cat. 3, 1400 m, km 62). The three intermediate sprints will be located in: El Hoyo de Pinares (km 13.8), Las Navas del Marques (km 41.3) and Colmenar Viejo (km 114.7).

Latest on Cyclingnews