The Day Off Helped Them Recover Their Strength And Zabel Was The Best In Luis Ocaсaґs Home Land
There is nothing better than a day off to impose the fastest of the paces between Utiel and Cuenca. The eleventh stage, of 162 kilometres, was used by the 167 riders to show the most beautiful of the performances. It was such a fast stage that the riders will only be able to remember the high speed from the beginning to the end of the route.
To round off the day, the home sprint was one of those to be remembered. The fight between Eric Zabel, of Telekom, and Tom Boonen, of Cofidis was only sorted out at the finish line and for less than just a second. These two were the last protagonists, but Angel Edo, Valverde, Mancebo, Gorka Gonzбlez, Stefano Casagranda, George Hincapiй, Jufre and Rasmussen gave it their best until the very last minute fully aware of the different surprises that can happen in situations like these.
From the very beginning, in Utiel, where the well-known World Championship, Ramуn Sбez, was paid tribute, to the finish line in Cuenca, the only protagonist was the high speed. The riders had recovered their strength and they all wanted to become protagonists today. The attempts to break away were continuous from the very first moment. But this was not a day to achieve a victory without sacrifice. First US Postal, then ibanesto.com and then Kelme-Costa Blanca did their best from the beginning to the end. Those of Kelme wanted Alejandro Valverde to win and worked hard to place him in the middle of the sprint.
Telekom worked for Zabel and, of course, achieved their aim. Something similar happened to Once-Eroski. The yellow riders just wanted to keep Isidro Nozalґs Gold Jersey. They did not have problems in achieving their goal but they had to ride as fast as the rest. Luis Pйrez and Manuel Beltrбn were the only riders who paid the consequences of a day like this and suffered a very unlucky fall. No doubt, the unforgettable Luis Ocaсa deserved such a beautiful arrival and such a frantic average speed.
Osvaldo Menйndez/Prensa La Vuelta.