Stage 8: Gonzбlez Snatches Victory
Today’s report comes from Osvaldo Menйndez of the Spainsh press.
Malaga – Ubrique: 173.6 km
The city famous for its leather and the well-known “torero” welcomed the eighth stage of La Vuelta 2002. There were so many people in the streets that the end of the stage was really amazing. It was amazing thanks to the great amount of people gathered in the streets as well as to the tremendous show offered by a rider from Madrid, called Luis Pйrez, who was the one who really deserved the kisses, the flowers and the glory. But cycling wanted that just twenty metres before the finish line, Luis ran out of strength and Aitor Gonzбlez crossed the line in the first position and snatched him the final success.
The 193.6-kilometre-long stage between Mбlaga and Ubrique did not disappoint anyone. In 1990, the last time La Vuelta got to Ubrique, the stage fright seized the riders. They all knew that there could be breakaways similar to the one that give Giovanetti the triumph in Vuelta 1990. That is why the attempts to break away started as soon as they crossed the kilometre 0 banner.
The Grazalema mountain range was an invitation to fight. Even though the leaderґs team was trying to control the race, there were moments when the peloton was divided in so many parts that the race was very confusing.
The speed was the one to blame for the many splits as well as Las Abejas and El Viento mountain passes. But, the final result was decided on the Las Palomas mountain pass and during the descent from it where we all could see a remarkable performance by Luis Pйrez. He risked his life all the way to Ubrique, in every bend of the road.
The rider from Madrid really tried to become the final winner today, but the real favourite riders insisted so much in bridging him up that they snatched his prize just twenty metres away from the finish line. Aitor Gonzбlez and David Etxebarrнa risked their lives as much as the rider from Madrid did.
Oscar Sevilla was not extremely brilliant today but he was another member in the team defending the Gold Jersey. Gilberto Simoni was brilliant as well and he has become an official candidate to the final triumph in Madrid.
The ONCE-Eroski riders, who know this area very well, forgot about their brakes and flew to Ubrique as well. Those who lost some seconds, like Roberto Heras, can blame the high speed Luis Pйrez used in his descent. There were many riders today who did not want to finish the stage in Ubrique and abandoned the race, one of them was Cipollini.
Results – Stage 8
1є GONZALEZ, Aitor ESP KEL 4:18:36
2є ETXEBARRIA, David ESP EUS m.t.
3є PEREZ, Luis ESP COA m.t.
4є DI LUCA, Danilo ITA SAE m.t.
5є CASAGRANDE, Francesco ITA FAS m.t.
6є LASTRAS, Pablo ESP BAN m.t.
7є MANCEBO, Francisco ESP BAN m.t.
8є MILLAR, David GBR COF m.t.
9є MAYO, Iban ESP EUS m.t.
10є VINOKOUROV, Alexandre KAZ TEL m.t.
Overall – Stage 8
1є SEVILLA, Oscar ESP KEL 29:43:40
2є VINOKOUROV, Alexandre KAZ TEL a 14
3є GONZALEZ, Aitor ESP KEL a 41
4є HERAS, Roberto ESP USP a 48
5є GARCIA CASAS, Fйlix ESP BIG a 1:01
6є ZUBELDIA, Haimar ESP EUS a 1:09
7є MAYO, Iban ESP EUS a 1:14
8є ZARRABEITIA, Mikel ESP ONE a 1:34
9є BELOKI, Joseba ESP ONE a 1:43
10є JAKSCHE, Jцrg GER ONE a 1:44