What's Cool In Road Cycling

Vuelta’07 St.15: Faster Than A Speeding Bullet!

Twelve months ago, Alejandro Valverde had the race lead torn from his grasp on the descent of the final climb of today’s stage. That meant that anyone with podium aspirations had to concentrate and anticipate all eventualities for 2007’s visit to the Monachil climb. Ahead of another rest day, the peloton didn’t let us down with a humdinger of a race.

Victory honours today went to Basque hero Samuel Sanchez, who may not be in a position to win overall, but is now in a position to hurt others and cause havoc. Hopefully not exactly like Vinokourov last year, Sanchez won largely as the result of a nerveless descent on the category one Alto de Monachil.

Some guys just know how to corner at speed, and others ….. have more of a built-in self-preservation system. People laughed at Ulrich’s lack of panache going downhill, while Ivan Basso is reputed to descend more slowly than newly poured concrete.

Today, Sammy Sanchez added his name to the speed-demon list along with Paolo Savoldelli, Sean Yates and those other lunatics for whom the risk of falling seems just a trifling inconvenience!

Things exploded just as this climb topped out 20 kms from the finish. Damiano Cunego had been setting the pace before Manuel Beltran jumped out of the chase group to hunt him down.

Beltran descended alone and lost Cunego, while Sanchez did his best Savoldelli impression and barely touched the brakes on the way down. Once the road flattened, Sanchez clawed his way up to Beltran, as Cunego tried to stay on terms.

Seven kilometres from the line, Sanchez got up to Beltran, and like the Danielson/Vinokourov tandem last year, the two Spaniards set to working together to make sure Cunego was out of the picture.

As Sanchez and Beltran traded pulls, Cunego was looking over his shoulder – a sure signal that he was out of gas, and wondering where the chasing heads of state were. The orange-clad Euskaltel leader knows how to win in the big time, after his Zurich GP triumph last year; today, he led from the front, and opened out the sprint.

Beltran had no answer as Sanchez stormed to the line for the stage win, and a crucial time advantage as he looks to climb the overall top ten. So, two Vuelta career stages for Sanchez, and he moves up to fifth overall.

Also a super win for Euskaltel, and they deserved it after a blistering performance which chased down the remnants of the early escape, especially when they slashed into the lead held by the leaders between the Puerto de Blancares and the Monachil.

The pace was rampant – over 25 mph, and it saw off a few more tired legs, including Friday’s winner Andreas Klier. Lampre were heavily involved in the moves today with Smzyd, Bennati and Marzano working to get Cunego into good position, but the ‘Kid’ has suffered in the Vuelta and couldn’t quite nail it today – maybe he will at the World’s though?

Overall, no massive changes as the top guys finished together and Menchov hangs onto the golden fleece for another stage. But what will transpire next week? You’ll need to stay tuned to Pez for all the action on the road and behind the scenes!

Vuelta Stage 15 results Villacarrillo – Granada, 205 kms

1 Samuel Sбnchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 4hrs 45’ 59”
2 Manuel Beltrбn (Spa) Liquigas same time
3 Carlos Barredo (Spa) QuickStep + 24”
4 Igor Antуn (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi same time
5 Daniel Moreno (Spa) Relax-GAM + 41”
6 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
7 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) Caisse d’Epargne
8 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor-Lotto
9 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank
10 Luis Pйrez Rodriguez (Spa) Andalucia-Cayasur all same time

Vuelta Overall Classification After Stage 15

1 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 62hrs 32’ 27”
2 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) Caisse d’Epargne + 2’01””
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor-Lotto + 2’27
4 Carlos Sastre (Spa) CSC + 3’02”
5 Samuel Sбnchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi + 4’01”
6 Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Karpin-Galicia + 4’35”
7 Manuel Beltran (Spa) Liquigas + 5’15””
8 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d’Epargne + 6’17”
9 Carlos Barredo (Spa) QuickStep + 6’22”
10 Igor Anton (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi + 7’41”

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