US Postal: Vuelta Wrap
– Reported by Dan Osipow For Tailwind Sports –
The United States Postal Service Pro Cycling Team’s Roberto Heras was no match for Kelme’s Aitor Gonzalez today at the Tour of Spain in Madrid as Gonzalez stormed to victory in the 21st and final stage to win the Vuelta. Heras, the race leader since last Sunday, finished 14th in the stage and second overall for his fifth top-five finish at his home country’s top event the last six years, including his victory in 2000.
Heras brought a lead of 1:08 over Gonzalez into the 41.2 kilometer time trial to Santiago Bernabeu stadium, home of the legendary Real Madrid soccer team. Gonzalez, the winner of the stage 10 time trial in Cordoba 13 days ago, turned in the fastest time at each check point with only Coast’s Angel Casero, the 2001 Tour of Spain champion, able to finish within 90 seconds of the Spaniard. Heras eventually finished the stage 3:22 back and 2:14 behind Gonzalez for the overall. Heras did claim the Vuelta’s white jersey for the most consistent rider.
Today’s dramatic finish was the second consecutive year in which the Tour of Spain was decided on the final day. Last year, Casero made up a 25 second deficit on Kelme’s Oscar Sevilla in a 38 km time trial to win the Vuelta by 47 seconds.
The USPS’ Dave Zabriskie concluded his first Grand Tour with a solid 15th in the stage, one second back of Heras, while teammate Christian Vande Velde, Heras’ main support in the difficult mountain stages, finished 21st in the stage and 25th overall.
STAGE 21, TOUR OF SPAIN
1. Aitor Gonzalez, Kelme-Costa Blanca; 41.2 kms in 47:54
2. Angel Casero, Coast; at 1:23
3. David Plaza, Coast; at 1:45
4. Santiago Botero, Kelme-Costa Blanca; at 1:55
5. Joseba Beloki, ONCE-Eroski; at 2:10
14. Roberto Heras, U.S. Postal Service; at 3:22
15. Dave Zabriskie, U.S. Postal Service; at 3:23
21. Christian Vande Velde, U.S. Postal Service; at 3:40
110. Matt White, U.S. Postal Service; at 7:21
123. Antonio Cruz, U.S. Postal Service; at 8:16
128. Josй Luis Rubiera, U.S. Postal Service; at 9:12
FINAL GC, TOUR OF SPAIN
1. Gonzalez; 75:13:52
2. Heras; at 2:14
3. Beloki; at 3:11
4. Sevilla; at 3:26
5. Iban Mayo, Euskaltel-Euskadi; at 5:42
25. Vande Velde; at 52:50
51. Rubiera; at 1:34:35
118. Cruz; at 3:19:07
120. Zabriskie; at 3:22:29
129. White; at 3:36:57
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