What's Cool In Road Cycling

Vuelta ’05 Stage 18: Sцrensen Nicks The Stage

Another tricky stage out and back from the walled city of Бvila, just short of 200 kilometers with three 2nd Cat and one each of 3rd and 1st Cat climbs, this is where Aitor Gonzalez won the 2002 Vuelta with an attack on his team leader, Sevilla. This won’t happen this year, but there could be a surprise.

Two nonstarters today, Paolo Bettini and Santi Gonzalez, Gonzalez ‘s team withdrew him after a medical test and I guess Bettini is resting for the Worlds.

A group of 17 went away on the first climb and had 10 minutes in hand by the time they got over the Mijares (1st Cat), but the group was whittled back to just over 5 minutes at the top of the Serranillos with only 11 riders up front. Elado Jimenez (C.V.) was collecting more mountain points, but not as many as Rodriguez who is still in the lead in that jersey.

Of the front group Garcia Acosta (Illes Balears) got a lead of 1 minute 15 seconds over the 10 chasers with Sorensen (CSC) and Javier Rodriguez (C.V.) trying to get to him at the start of the last climb of the Puerto de Navalmoral with about 25 kilometers to the finish. In the main bunch Liberty as usual were doing the riding to bring them back.

On the climb Garcia Acosta wasn’t looking as strong, 45 seconds lead and the chasers were down to seven, Periero (Phonak), Nardello (T-Mobile), Lastras (Illes Balears), Sorensen (CSC), Rodriguez (C.V.), Aerts (Lotto) and Gonzalez (Euskaltel) and the bunch at 5 minutes. Mancebo (Illes Ballears) gave it a bit of a kick over the top to try shaking things up, although it was not hard enough to make a difference and all the stars were still together.

On the descent the situation was Rodrigues and Sorensen in front after passing Garcia Acosta on the way up, the other five in-between and the peloton still at 5 minutes. They looked like they could stay away, but still had the cobbled climb up to the castle and the finish to tackle.

Garcia Acosta was not giving up and was closing on the two leaders and had 12 seconds to cross with 4 kilometers to do it in.

Garcia Acosta gets up to them, takes a rest and then attacks 1 and a half kilometers to the line, to be pulled back, then Sorensen goes and Rodriguez closes, Sorensen sprints as Rodrigues cracks, Garcia Acosta struggles at third, the others in the break straggle in and in the main bunch Mancebo attacks to put some time into Sastre, but not much.

A lot of action again, but not much change overall.

Stage 18 Result:

1st Nicki Sшrensen (CSC) in 5:05:34
2nd Javier Pascual Rodriguez (C.V.) same time.
3rd Josй Vicente Garcia Acosta (Illes Balears) at 22 secs.
4th Daniele Nardello (T-Mobile) at 1:06.
5th Oscar Pereiro (Phonak) same time.
6th Mario Aerts (Davitamon) at 1:10.
7th Pablo Lastras (Illes Balears) same time.
8th Gorka Gonzalez (Euskaltel) at 1:25.
9th Moises Dueсas (Relax) at 2:32.
10th Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears) at 3:55.

Overall After Stage 18:

1st Roberto Heras (Liberty) in 74:30:48.
2nd Denis Menchov (Rabobank) at 4:30.
3rd Carlos Sastre (CSC) at 4:50.
4th Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears)at 5:48.
5th Carlos Garcia Quesada (C.V.) at 6:22.
6th Oscar Sevilla (T-Mobile) at 11:13.
7th Ruben Plaza (C.V.) at 11:36.
8th Juan Miguel Mercado (Quick Step) at 15:28.
9th Tom Danielson (Discovery Channel) at 15:50.
10th Mauricio Alberto Ardila (Davitamon) at 15:53.

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