What's Cool In Road Cycling

Vuelta Stage 18: It’s Long Break Blanco

With a fast start 19 riders were away and working well together from the 28 kilometre mark. Amongst them were Zabel & Petacchi looking for more points, Svorada (Lampre) got the first with Petacchi 2nd. and Zabel 3rd. At the second it was Petacchi 1st. and Zabel 2nd.

From then on over the next climbs the group got smaller and smaller until Santi Blanco (ibanesto.com) was on his own, chased by two groups of three riders, the first was Caucchioli (Alessio), Flecha (ibanesto.com) & Gutiйrrez (Kelme), followed by Horrach (Milaneza), Guerra (Alexia) & Garmendia (Coast). With the bunch 6 minutes behind Blanco with 16 kilometres to the mountain top finish at the ski station of La Covatilla it looked like he could hold on for a much needed win by ibanesto.com. The main group were being towed along by Saeco for over 2 hours as they had missed the break, then US Postal took over, when they had all blown up the two Spanish riders from Aqua & Sapone, Perdiguero & Santos Gonzбlez set a blistering pace to set Heras a perfect launching pad for an attack.

Aitor Gonzбlez (Kelme) coolly worked his way back up to Heras as did Beloki, Sevilla and just as Garcia Casas made it Heras went again. This time Beloki was the first to react, but was not strong enough and Gonzбlez soon left the others to pass Beloki and try to limit his losses on Heras, who by this time had Flecha as a shadow to the finish. It was the local boys, Blanco & Heras who were the heros of the day, finishing first and second, all the stars came in spread over the next 2 minutes.

The big question: has Heras put enough time between him and his rivals? Tomorrow is another hard day with 3 climbs, also US Postal don’t look too strong, but it’s only one more hard day then they will have to rely on Roberto Heras’s time trialing, which is not the best. Most people agree he needs 1 minute 30 seconds in hand to be safe.

Heras has now got three jerseys, he already had overall and regularity, now he has added the mountains.

Jorge Jaksche of ONCE called it a day at 113 kilometres, lets hope he’s not gone home to play with his old mate Ullrich!

Stage 18 Result:

1st. S.Blanco BAN 5.04.17.
2nd. R.Heras USP at 39 secs.
3rd. J.Flecha BAN at 47 secs.
4th. J.Beloki ONC at 51 secs.
5th. P.Caucchioli ALS at 1.09.
6th. F.Garcia Casas BIG at 1.10.
7th. O.Savilla KEL at 1.16.
8th. A.Gonzбlez KEL at 1.16.
9th. A.Casero COA at 1.26.
10th. F.Casagrande FAS at 1.31.
11th. D.Plaza COA at 1.31.
12th. G.Simoni SAE at 1.48.
13th. D.De Luca SAE at 1.53.
14th. F.Jeker MIL at 2.10.

Overall After Stage 18:

1st. R.Heras USP 66.58.09.
2nd. AGonzбlez KEL at 1.12.
3rd O.Savilla KEL at 1.45.
4th. J.Beloki ONC at 2.09.
5th. I.Mayo EUS at 4.15.
6th. F.Garcia Casas BIG at 4.35.
7th. F.Casagrande FAS at 4.48.
8th. G.Simoni SAE at 6.04.
9th. A.Casero COA at 6.18.
10th. M.Beltran COA at 7.00.

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