La Vuelta Stage 12:That Man Petacchi Again
Another stage win for Alessandro Petacchi of Fassa Bortolo, sounds simple enough, Petacchi out sprints Erik Zabel and Fred Rodriguez, but that’s not half the story. In a strong cross wind 27 riders split from the main peloton, and one hell of a chase took place.
A fast start set the scene for the twelfth stage from Cuenca, 168.8 kilometers, a first climb of the Puerto de Tуrdiga of 1,200 meters and then mostly all downhill to Albacete. The problem for to day was not going to be mountains but the wind.
Over the climb a group of four had a gap of 2 minutes 10 seconds over the bunch, Zaballa (Kelme), Diaz Lobato (Paternina), Barroso (Milaneza) and Perdiguero (Domina Vacanze), they eventually have 5 minutes 28 seconds advantage at 51 kilometers from the start, from then on there move was pulled back until they were caught with 59 kilometers to go.
The bunch splits in two groups with 40 kilometers to the line, the front group had 7 U.S. Postal riders, including Heras and Beltran, so they put the hammer down as Frigo, Aitor Gonzбlez and Valverde had all missed the bus. The leader Nozal and teammate Gonzбlez de Galdeano had made it, as had Sevilla, Perez, Rasmussen and Mancebo. Along for the ride was sprinters Petacchi, Zabel, Rodriguez and Vicioso, but it was mostly down to the Postals to push it.
With the time trial tomorrow, this chase was the last thing Frigo and Gonzбlez needed, but for Nozal, Gonzбlez de Galdeano and David Millar it was just the easy day they needed. Millar finished 10 minutes 30 seconds down so should be rested for tomorrow.
The gap between the groups went from 12 seconds and then with the cross wind it went to 45 seconds, by the finish it was 1 minute 8 seconds to the second group and the third group had stopped for a cup of tea and a piece of cake.
At the front, Unai Etxebarria jumped early, Lombardi chased him down doing a great lead-out job for the man he’ll be working for next season, Petacchi. Zabel tried his hardest to get round him, but failed by half a wheel.
Big time trial tomorrow could be decisive over the 53.3 kilometers.
Stage 12 Results:
1єPETACCHI, Alessandro ITA FAS 3:41:49
2єZABEL, Erik GER TEL all same time.
3єRODRIGUEZ, Fred USA VIN
4єBERTOLINI, Alessandro ITA ALS
5єSCHWEDA, Raphael GER TBI
6єVICIOSO, Angel ESP ONE
7єMANCEBO, Francisco ESP BAN
8єBARRY ,Michael CAN USP
9єRASMUSSEN, Michael DEN RAB
10єSEVILLA, Oscar ESP KEL
Overall after Stage 12:
1єNOZAL, Isidro ESP ONE 40:54:29
2єGLEZ. GALDEANO, Igor ESP ONE at 1:48
3єBELTRAN, Manuel ESP USP at 3:03
4єHERAS, Roberto ESP USP at 3:28
5єMANCEBO, Francisco ESP BAN at 3:40
6єRASMUSSEN, Michael DEN RAB at 4:04
7єFRIGO, Dario ITA FAS at 4:14
8єVALVERDE, Alejandro ESP KEL at 5:06
9єGONZALEZ, Aitor ESP FAS at 5:09
10єOSA, Unai ESP BAN at 5:23