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Vuelta Stg 18: Dнaz Lobato Solo’s To Victory

Today’s stage began with a group of 16 riders racing off the front with another 4 chasing behind. The front group kept good tempo and grew their lead to 2’29 by the 60km mark.

As the race approached the 100km mark with the likes of Domina Vacanze and the Quick Step squad pulling the peleton close and closer to the lead group, the front pack began to splinter.

With 40km to go, David Etxebarria front Euskaltel-Euskadi moved up front the peleton, joining a pack of 4 others chasing a pack of 8 more ahead.

The last intermediate sprint at Valdemorillo was with 22 km to go and Lobato took it with the peleton now over 3 minutes behind, without much hope of catching him.

He rode strong to the finish, even increasing his lead (which had diminished to 2’03) in the last 10km.

This was the first win for both the rider and his team.

Isidro Nozal (ONCE-Eroski) remained in the gold jersey.

Vuelta Note From Osvaldo Menйndez
Perseverance is a virtue that a modest rider must never forget. Pedro Dнaz Lobato knows that among so many stars it is very difficult to shine. His life as a professional rider has also taught him not to stop ever and keep on trying as many times as possible. That is why, the rider from Madrid, gave it his best today, achieved the best prize at Las Rozas and made his team completely happy.

The eighteenth stage, that covered 143.8 kilometres along the streets of Madrid, was one of the quickest ones in this Vuelta 2003. These roads are covered many times by any kind of riders, professional or amateur and they are very suitable to ride alone and as fast as possible, therefore it was expected that the riders from Madrid wanted to be the protagonists today.

The attempts to break away were almost continuous all the time, just controlled by those teams that have the podium of Paseo del Prado in their minds. Today, a day that we could say again that the riders “flew” to the finish line, the last forty kilometres were decisive. The everyday protagonists had to face the exhaustion, lack of strength and pressure. Laguna, Isasi, Arrieta, Garcнa Acosta, Horrach, Schweda and specially Pedro Horrillo found a very good moment to go in search of the triumph.

What Dнaz Lobatoґs team mates did not know was that one girl-friend of the Paternina-Costa de Almerнa rider had come to visit him and to give him a pair of very powerful glasses at the start of the stage and that he wanted to arrive earlier than the rest to the finish line to see her again.

Even though Garcнa Acosta and Joan Horrach tried as hard as possible to avoid Miguel Morenoґs riderґs stage win at Las Rozas, the last twenty kilometres of the Madrid-born rider were amazing and brilliant and no one was able to catch him up. The first positions Overall did not have any problem to arrive very close to Isidro Nozal, who is still Leader Overall. Valverde was so unlucky as to suffer a puncture at the very last kilometre, but so lucky as to arrive to the end unharmed. Todayґs stage has not meant many changes but it made the survivors of this “battle” more tired even.
– Osvaldo Menйndez

1 Pedro Diaz Lobato (Spa) Paternina-Costa de Almeria 3.07.47 (45.94 km/h)
2 Constantino Zaballa (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 0.44
3 Josй Luis Arrieta (Spa) iBanesto.com
4 Raphael Schweda (Ger) Team Bianchi
5 Josй Garcia Acosta (Spa) iBanesto.com
6 Iсaki Isasi (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
7 Joan Horrach (Spa) Milaneza-MSS 0.47
8 Oscar Laguna (Spa) Colchon Relax-Fuenlabrada 0.52
9 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 0.56
10 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom 0.58
11 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
12 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Saunier Duval-Vini Caldirola
13 Alexandre Usov (Blr) Phonak Hearing Systems
14 Fabrizio Guidi (Ita) Team Bianchi
15 Thomas Bruun (Den) Team CSC
16 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Fassa Bortolo
17 Angel Edo (Spa) Milaneza-MSS
18 Miguel Martin Perdiguero (Spa) Domina Vacanze-Elitron
19 Unai Etxebarria (Ven) Euskaltel-Euskadi
20 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank

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