Vuelta Stg 21: A Happy Ending For Heras!
Some of you will still be chilling out for the last few hours of your weekend when you read this. Some of you might even have dragged your asses back into the office for the start of another week of pretending to work when the boss is in. Right now, though, one lucky rider will be putting his gold jersey on to go partying ….
And despite the best efforts of Phonak’s Santiago Perez who produced a blistering TT to win his third stage of this year’s Vuelta, it is Roberto Heras from Liberty Seguros who has notched his own very special hat-trick. Alongside Tony Rominger, he’s the only man to have scored three overall Vuelta titles.
Perez just didn’t have enough road today. He was fastest at all check points, but Heras kept things under control and came home 4th on the day, just 13 seconds down, fist clenched in victory as he coasted over the Madrid finish line. Francisco Mancebo produced a surprisingly good TT performance (2nd on the stage) to cement the third podium spot, increasing his gap on Alejandro Valverde.
In fact, it just wasn’t a good day for the CV-Kelme star who will now aim for the Worlds, and hope he doesn’t have any more falls like the one last week that may have cost him a top finish here. He could have edged the ever-consistent Erik Zabel for the Points title if he’d made the top 5, but he didn’t even make the top 10 (14th today).
Heras rode a great race and deserved his win. He had the strongest team who controlled things pretty tightly and looked good in the climbs – does that sound kind of familiar to anyone? Heras was even chilled out enough to tell BBC Sport: “This time I even managed to enjoy the ride during the final 8 kms.” A reference to his demolition in the final TT at the hands of Aitor Gonzalez 2 years ago.
Perez enjoyed his Vuelta, putting 2 years of personal trauma behind him to reach the podium and win 3 stages, but he might be a little bittersweet when he wakes up tomorrow knowing he arrived with no ambition and came so close to winning overall. And you know I almost forgot that Petacchi took 4 stage wins!
In the other categories, Felix Cardenas took the Mountains prize, Heras got the Combination prize while CV-Kelme was the top Team.
Vuelta Stg 21 Result: Madrid ITT 28.2 kms
1 Santiago Perez (Spa) Phonak 35’ 05” (48.2 km/h)
2 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Banesto + 07”
3 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC + 08”
4 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros + 13”
5 David Blanco (Spa) CV-Kelme + 18”
6 Bert Grabsch (Ger) Phonak + 34”
7 Victor Hugo Peсa (Col) US Postal-Berry Floor + 36”
8 Luis Perez (Spa) Cofidis + 52”
9 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Team CSC + 55”
10 Jцrg Jaksche (Ger) Team CSC + 58”
Vuelta Final Overall General Classification
1 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros + 77hrs 42’ 46”
2 Santiago Perez (Spa) Phonak + 30”
3 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Banesto + 2’ 13”
4 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) CV-Kelme + 3’ 30”
5 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) CV-Kelme + 7’ 44”
6 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC + 8’ 11”
7 Isidro Nozal (Spa) Liberty Seguros + 8’ 32”
8 Angel Gomez (Spa) Paternina + 13’ 08”
9 Luis Perez (Spa) Cofidis + 13’ 24”
10 David Blanco (Spa) CV-Kelme + 15’ 15”