What's Cool In Road Cycling

Vuelta Stage 14: Petacchi Saves Fassa Face With 4th Win Of Race

Over a rolling course in the 14th stage of the 58th Vuelta a Espaсa, Alessandro Petacchi scored his fourth victory of this years race and his 14th Grand Tour stage win. The irrepressible Italian triumphed over Fred Rodriguez and Erik Zabel following a long and powerful sprint to the line.

The Stage began in pleasantly warm temperatures of 29 C with a tailwind to help the peloton on their way. These favourable conditions coupled with a short lived 12 man break meant a blistering 51 km/hr average for the first hour of racing. In a second more successful escape, Giovanni Lombardi (Domina Vacanze), Fabrizio Guidi (Bianchi), Cristian Moreni (Alessio), Carlos Garcia Quesada (Kelme), Benoit Joachim (USPS) amassed a lead of 2’11” over the peloton with 117km remaining. Fassa Bortolo policed the peloton as the five riders powered ahead up the road.

After gaining a maximum advantage of 3 minutes, with 89km to the finish in Valdepeсas, Isidro Nozal’s ONCE Team began to work with the Fassa boys to bring back the escapees. The gap soon dropped to 2’42”

In a shock development with 72km remaining, last years Vuelta winner and former favourite for this years event, Aitor Gonzalez abandoned the race.

The peloton set a deceptively fast pace masked by the smooth changes at the front and bunched pack. The gap to the five leaders was mercilessly degraded to 1’34” with 69km left in the day. Finally, the leaders saw that their moment in the lime light was over and were immersed once again into the main field. Benoit Joachim of US Postal was the last to be caught.

As many riders sat up and took a moment to relax after the escape had been successfully neutralised, a myriad of spontaneous attacks flew up the road taking advantage of a lack of concentration. Many of these ultimately proved fruitless but a dangerous split formed in the peloton as the pace was driven above 61km/hr in fierce cross winds. The peloton eventually reformed though shortly after, Paternina’s Pedro Diax Lobato chased by a Relax’s Oscar Laguna launched a vicious attack. The duo soon gained 30” on the bunch. ONCE rode at a fast but conservative pace as the pair pulled out a further 20” with 35km remaining. Juan Fuentes (Saeco) made a counter attack and hung 27” ahead of the field in pursuit of the two leaders. The possibility of the breakaway succeeding though, looked unlikely.

A crash in the peloton disrupted the chase with 21km to go. A number of riders hit the road but thankfully all remounted appearing to be relatively unscathed. The duo’s lead now rested at 50” with Jaun Fuentes struggling to make headway at 25”. Soon after, the Saeco rider gave up his pursuit and Fassa Bortolo wound up the pace in the closing kilometres.

With 13km to go Laguna and Diaz Lobato were consumed by the rampaging peloton as they struggled alone up an energy sapping false flat. A counter attack launched as soon as they were caught, highlights the aggressive and exciting style of the racing that typifies the Vuelta a Espaсa. Francisco Cerezo (Labarca), German Nieto (Relax Fuenlabrada), Carlos Golbano (Paternina) and Ronald Mutsaars (Rabobank) had just 5” in hand with 9km to the finish as ONCE policed the pack. Within the next kilometre the peloton was once again together.

At the front, Telekom and Fassa Bortolo began to push the pace higher in preparation for their sprinters. With 3km to go the speed was over 60km/hr. A train of Fassa and Telekom riders caused the whole peloton to be strung out down the road with Zabel, Boonen and Petacchi hanging on to the back of the steaming locomotive.

In the final kilometre Petacchi sat menacingly in the third spot in the train. Zabel and Rodriguez clung to his wheel. Hincapie instigated the sprint followed by Boonen but yet again Alessandro’s speed was too much to deal with for his companions. The Italian soared ahead to his fourth victory of this year’s race salvaging something in stage wins for what was lost in the untimely abandon of Aitor Gonzalez.

Stage 14 Results

1.Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 3.43.16
2.Fred Rodriguez (USA) Saunier Duval-Vini Caldirola
3.Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom
4.Thomas Bruun (Den) Team CSC
5.Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon
6.Angelo Furlan (Ita) Alessio
7.Steven De Jongh (Ned) Rabobank
8.Gorka Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
9.Angel Edo (Spa) Milaneza-MSS
10.Alberto Vinale (Ita) Alessio

GC after Stage 14

1.Isidro Nozal (Spa) O.N.C.E._Eroski
2.Igor Gonzalez De Galdeano (Spa) ONCE-Eroski 3.03
3.Roberto Heras (Spa) US Postal 5.13
4.M Beltran (Spa) US Postal-Berry Floor 5.39
5.F Mancebo (Spa) iBanesto.com 7.12
6.A Valverde (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 7.50
7.M Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank 8.44
8.L Perez (Spa) Cofidis, Le Crйdit par Tйlйphone 8.49
9.D Frigo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 8.50
10.U Osa (Spa) iBanesto.com 10.10

Like PEZ? Why not subscribe to our weekly newsletter to receive updates and reminders on what's cool in road cycling?

Comments are closed.