La Vuelta Stg 10: Lightning Strikes Twice!
It was one of those weird stages today, where the sprinters decided to get their retaliation in first on a stage with a distinctly jagged profile. Three third-category climbs, one second-category effort and a beastly 1st category ascent up the ridiculously steep slope of Alto Xorret de Catн.
First man out of the blocks today was Oscar Friere joined by Kelme’s Eladio Jimenez, and after they fled through the first sprint they were caught by a counter move featuring O’ Grady, Zabel, Ivanov, Elias and Fuentes.
I guess with 3 sprinters that good and a handful of fine climbers the break qualified as a magnificent 7. Off they rode (sorry) into the showery rain that fell on and off through the stage.
The bunch couldn’t be bothered chasing too hard and let them go. Zabel took the sprint points along the way, as Liberty, Kelme and USPS gradually got their guys to the front.
Liberty Seguros, much like yesterday, drove things along in the peloton, but the fireworks began on the final vicious ascent up Alto Xorret de Catн. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano and Jan Hruska had done major work and dropped off with Heras in a good position.
After Fuentes had made a dig for home, O’ Grady chased and caught him before being jumped by Jimenez who ground his way up the slopes, then pinged down the descent to take his second career win on the Alto de Catн. The rest of the breakaways held off the chasers and meandered in over the next couple of minutes.
Further back, Valverde did a fine job pulling himself, Heras and Pieploi clear of Landis. Floyd hung onto the Golden Fleece, but now by only 8 seconds from Valverde, with a squad of Spaniards poised within a minute of the lead.
Maybe Nozal in 4th might sneak under the radar with his TT skills to steal the overall from Heras? Stay tuned to Pez to find out.
Vuelta Stage 10 Result: Alcoi – Xorret de Catн 174kms
1 Eladio Jimenez (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme 4hrs 31’ 57”
2 Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Cofidis + 32”
3 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank + 48”
4 Ruslan Ivanov (Mda) Alessio-Bianchi same
5 Juan Fuentes (Spa) Saeco + 1’04”
6 Josй Miguel Elias (Spa) Relax-Bergasol + 1’ 10”
7 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile Team + 1’ 50”
8 Jorge Ferrio (Spa) Paternina-Costa De Almeria + 4’ 06”
9 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme + 4’ 18”
10 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros same
Vuelta Overall After Stage 10
1 Floyd Landis (USA) US Postal-Berry Floor 36hrs 23’ 52”
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme + 08”
3 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Banesto + 28”
4 Isidro Nozal (Spa) Liberty Seguros + 41”
5 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros + 46”
6 Manuel Beltran (Spa) US Postal-Berry Floor + 59”
7 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC + 1’ 34”
8 Denis Menchov (Rus) Illes Balears-Banesto + 2’ 41”
9 Aitor Gonzalez (Spa) Fassa Bortolo + 2’ 49”
10 Angel Gomez (Spa) Paternina + 4’ 15”
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