47 Vuelta Ciclista al País Vasco Stage 2
From Urretxu to Karrantza over 191.5 km, with eight categorized climbs in
between. One for the tough ones, isn't it? Follow all the action. Live. Here.
Etapa 2: Urretxu - Karrantza - 191.55 km
Hello everyone and welcome to our live coverage of the second leg in the 2007
Tour of the Basque Country, going from Urretxu to Karrantza over 191.5 km. It's
the longest stage in the challenge, and a very tough one, with no less than
eight climbs standing in between the start line and the finish. The battle got
underway fifteen minutes before 0100 PM local time (CEST) with Juan Josè Cobo,
the man who "made the red bird sing" yesterday in the race opener that finished
into Urretxu, as proud (who wouldn't be in his place?) holder of the GC leader's
jersey, with Constantino "Tino" Zaballa and Oscar "El Niño" Sevilla as closest
GC threats, and with some not so good news for the fans of Cristopher Horner as
the Predictor-Lotto rider from the U.S. didn't take the start line today.
Attacks went basically since the flag got dropped, with a wild bunch of 25
guys on the move at km. two. Their attempt didn't last very long, but more and
more skirmishes followed. As much as more and more failures followed. Stealing
the show in this early kilometres were also the Finland-born Brit Charles
Wegelius (Liquigas) and a young gun like Morris Possoni, wearing the jersey of
another Italian Pro Tour team, Lampre-Fondital.
Aitor Hernández (Spa - Euskaltel- Euskadi) won the points as the race met the
first mountain prime of the day (Urdana, Cat. 3), with the other point-awarding
spots filled by Veneto veteran Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre-Fondital ) and
Javi Ramírez, a teammate of El Niño's in the Fuerteventura-Canarias crew. The
next climb to be climbed, the harder (Cat. 2 - km. 6.2; average gradient: 6.7 %)
Alto de Krutzeta, saw the former Discovery mountain goat Manolo Beltrán, now
making the Liquigas fans happy (well, sort of) as first rider over the top;
behind the popular "Triki" came fellow Spaniards José Antonio Redondo Ramos (a
very young prospect with the Astana outfit), David López Garcia (Caisse
d'Epargne) and Carlos Barredo (Quick Step). In the meantime, Brad McGee (Aus -
Francaise des Jeux) and Monsieur Samuel Dumoulin (Fra - AG2R) joined the list of
Triki, López, Barredo and Redondo made the gap for real though, and
along with them as members of the first successful breakaway attempt were
compatriots Egoi Martínez (Discovery Channel), Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
as well as the French pairing of Anthony Charteau (Crédit Agricole) and
Sebastien Joly (La Francaise des Jeux). The eight wonders rapidly built up an
advantage of 2 minutes and 11 seconds over the bunch. Such that the Red Alarm
started to ring soon for the Red Bird team; Juanjo Cobo's Saunier boys realized
there was no time to waste, and quickly got the chase going.
Next on today's mountain menu were the slopes of the second category Alto de
Bikotz Gaiñe, a tough thingy of 4.5 kilometres with 9.22% as average gradient.
Fans of uphill riding wouldn't complain there. Neither Triki would: Beltrán was
first at the summit, with Astarloza, Redondo and Barredo following. Despite some
efforts from Saunier Duval the eight-strong front group extended the gap to
three and a half minutes by km. 95 check. And to a good four minutes at km. 110,
after Triki took first also at the third category Alto de Garate.
More additions to the DNFers club: Sylvain Calzati (Fra - AG2R), his
teammate/fellow countryman Hubert Dupont and the Unibet duo of Víctor Hugo Peña
(Col) and Michal Golas the Pole dropped out of the race.
1547 CEST - Frontrunners Manolo Beltrán
(Liquigas), José Antonio Redondo Ramos (Astana), David López Garcia (Caisse
d'Epargne), Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Quick Step), Egoi Martínez (Discovery
Channel), Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Anthony Charteau (Crédit Agricole)
and Sebastien Joly (La Francaise des Jeux) are on the way to hit the fifth climb
of the day; their advantage over the peloton, currently driven by three "red
birds" of Saunier Duval, has gone further up to four and a half minutes.
1550 CEST - The eight wonders made it to
the Alto de San Cosme (Cat. 3) slopes. Their advantage over the field still
hovering around 04'30"-04'35". The escapees are working well to each other's
advantage. Now it's Astarloza and the young Redondo taking turns as pace
1600 CEST - Their lead over the "Tropela"
(that's "peloton" in the Euskera/Basque Language), is a good 04'40" now. The
breakaway made it to Zalla town, home to a mid-stage sprint that wasn't really
contested at all. Anthony Charteau of Credit Agricole just drove the group of
tough guys across the line there.
Triki Beltran was first at the summit of the San Cosme climb too, by the way.
Astarloza (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Redondo (Astana) were in the other top three
1606 CEST - The "Tropela" made it to
Zalla too, but four minutes and thirty seconds behind the breakaway. The gap
started to come down anyway, albeit very slowly.
Just "interviewed" on the road, Astana's manager Adriano Baffi sounded
pleased with what their prospect Redondo is doing today: "He's a young rider,
and he's doing what a young rider has to do. We don't know how things will pan
out later in the stage, but in any case his move today was a good thing, and
will help him gain experience in the bunch. He's still very young, and even if
he should falter today, he has got time on his side".
1612 CEST - The "Lasterketa Burua " (yes,
that's "breakaway group" in Euskera!) got back to their uphill ways, with
Charteau as platoon leader, and Egoi taking over on the front soon later.
The whole "Red Bird Army" of Saunier drive
the chase back in the pack. Their efforts are starting to bear some fruit as the
gap went down to slightly over four minutes with slightly over 48 kilometres yet
to be covered.
But overall we're in a "quiet" part of the stage. The quiet before the storm?
We'll just waaaaaaait and seeeeeee ...
1624 CEST - Nothing really worthy of
mention took place over the past few minutes/miles. The gap is still about four
mins with the finish line now 43 kms away. By the way, there are three Basques
in the front group: David Lopez, Mikel Astarloza and Egoi Martinez. Martinez is
at his second year with Discovery.
1628 CEST - Another rider that used to
wear the jersey of Americas number one cycling time, e.g. Manolo Beltran, chats
with a guy in his team car, who at his turn is having a look at the stage
profile. Is Triki planning some kind of move? Sure he has shown great climbing
legs all thru his career, and today's course perfectly suits the skills of the
tough veteran from Jaen, Andalusia. The (now) Liquigas athlete also made the news
today by winning nearly all KOM primes so far in the stage. Whether this was a
sign of great condition or such efforts will took toll on his legs is one thing
we'll get to know soon.
1631 CEST - Escapees and chasers alike
are taking in the second category Alto de Escrita (average gradient: 5.7 %).
1632 CEST - 37 km to go Again, the eight
members of the breakaway group are Manolo Beltrán (Liquigas), José Antonio
Redondo Ramos (Astana), David López Garcia (Caisse d'Epargne), Carlos Barredo
Llamazales (Quick Step), Egoi Martínez (Discovery Channel), Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel-Euskadi),
Anthony Charteau (Crédit Agricole) and Sebastien Joly (La Francaise des Jeux).
Their lead on the Saunier-led field fell under four minutes.
1636 CEST - The ascent is currently
taking toll on Saunier Duval. The Red Bird Army lost one of their best-known
members as Iban Mayo got dropped on the Escrita slopes. The guy is VEEERY far
from the winning form he showed at L'Alpe de Huez and several other occasions
years ago. Another man that used to delight us with good climbing performances
in past years, Paco Mancebo, had a flat on the climb. Team-mate Elias helped him
change the wheel and the Relax guy got quickly back in the saddle.
1639 CEST - Gap update: 34 Km. to go, and
the gap was down to 03 minutes and 15 seconds. Beltran, Redondo, Joly and
Astarloza are the best-placed riders overall in the front group.
1643 CEST - The Saunier-driven field also
made it to the top of the Escrita ascent, cutting the gap further down to 02
minutes and 43 seconds. 31 km to go for the eight fugitives (Beltrán, Redondo,
López, Barredo, Martínez, Astarloza, Charteau and Joly). The pace set by Saunier
on the Escrita had some impact also on the peloton, that was thinned down to about 50 riders only.
1646 CEST - Uh! One of the main suspects to win this race, and soldiers of the Red Bird Army, Koldo Gil, punctured on the
descent. He's lost some time to the group. Hopefully (and likely) he'll
regain the peloton's wheels soon. Damiano Cunego and a teammate of his sit in
third and fourth wheel just behind the Saunier tempo-makers. With the Giro
kickoff just about one month away, the "Little Prince" from Verona could well use the
Vuelta al Pais Vasco to send a strong message to his Tour of Italy rivals.
1650 CEST - Koldo Gil showed some
Savoldellish skills and got back into the pack in the descent. And at the same
time ... there was an attack in the front group: Carlos Barredo of Quick Step
rode away from his breakaway companions as the race reached Karrantza town.
1654 CEST - It's the mighty David de la
Fuente driving the peloton charge at Karrantza. The gap strangely got back to
its growing antics: its 02 minutes and 55 secs now. Well, not that strangely
after all: the new gap must have something to do with Saunier slowing down in
order to wait for Koldo Gil.
24 km to go now. Barredo was caught. But
two other guys attacked the breakaway: surprising Redondo and much less
surprising Triki Beltran. The Liquigas boy is flying today. The race just hit
the toughest climb of the day: the first category
Puerto de Ubal (6.5 km / gradient 6.8 %).
1657 CEST - Beltran and Astana's Redondo
hold on to a tiny lead on the other remainders of the eight strong breakaway;
Astarloza is the one trying to regain the wheels of the front duo. Iker Camaño
is doing a helluva job back in the chasing pack, that was further down to about
40 members. Carlos Sastre, another guy far from his best form, is not having a
easy time in the saddle.
1700 CEST - GAP UPDATE, folks! Triki and
Redondo lead Astarloza by 15 secs, with the other closest chasers a further
seven seconds down, with twenty kilometres left. The pace set by Saunier's
Camaño is splitting (what's left of) the field, with more and more riders unable to
follow. Another gap we've not mentioned yet is the "age gap" between the two
current leaders, Beltran being older than Redondo by a dozen years. The Astana
rider was just ten when Triki became a professional cyclist.
1704 CEST - Besides breaking the field
apart, the pace set by Camaño brought the gap down to 02'10". That's the gap to the lead ... trio,
as Redondo and Beltran were joined by Mikel Astarloza. Those are the only three
riders from the previous breakaway group that are still clear. The five other
escapees have been swallowed up by the chase bunch of about 25/30 guys.
Well, not ALL of them. Martinez, Barredo and Joly are 48 seconds down on the
lead trio. But they are going to be caught by the bunch very soon anyway, thats
1709 CEST - Beltran didn't give a warm
welcome to Astarloza into the front group. Triki forced the pace to try and drop
the "orange warrior" of Euskaltel, and did it twice, but without much success.
The Liquigas rider was more successful as he took first also atop the Ubal climb.
Redondo and Astarloza were with him. Joly took fourth at some 50 secs. Egoi
Martinez is about to be caught by the field, while David Lopez already was.
1712 CEST - The peloton also made it to
the summit, and had splintered even more on the way to the top of the Ubal. Only one
(easier, buy crucial) climb to be tackled. The bunch broke into pieces on this past difficult
1714 CEST - 16k to go as many contenders
are taking in the Ubal descent into Karrantza. Still Beltran, Astarloza and
"stage revelation" Redondo in the lead. And still Iker Camaño doing the lion's
share of the chase job for Saunier Duval and Cobo, trailing the front trio by
about two minutes.
1717 CEST - José Antonio Redondo (20th on
GC at the stage start) is current race leader on the road. Beltran and Astarloza
have the same GC time as the Astana boy. The trio keeps a two minute advantage on
Cobo with under ten kilometres to go. And with only Camaño working for Saunier,
the trio has many a good chances to make it to the line.
1719 CEST - Redondo, Astarloza (possibly
the fastest guy in the lead trio) and Beltran are still flying with the line
just seven and something kilometres away. Euskaltel's Astarloza also has the advantage of knowing the
stage course quite well.
1720 CEST - Seven km to go folks. They
are at the foot of the final climb (of about 4.3 kilometres). Martinez and
Barredo were caught by the pack. Lampre realized that Camaño couldn't help them
bring the gap down any more, and took over the job up front. The advantage
stays a good 01'40" with 5k to go. Is it a bit too much of an advantage for Damiano Cunego to keep harbouring
hopes of a stage victory?
1723 CEST - The front trio got to the
first slopes of the Pozalagua climb (4.3 km / gradient 7.8 %). The gap is coming
down, but maybe not enough.
1725 CEST - 4 to go for Beltran, Redondo
and Mikel Astarloza. Their lead just fell to a minute and fifteen seconds. The
Lampres are chasing damn hard there in the pack.
1726 CEST - Oh, Redondo attacks! And it
looks only Triki can counter his move. Astarloza just cannot follow any longer.
Redondo attacks again. Even Triki has to give up! Redondo is away solo now. But
the Lampres and Caisse d'Epargnes riding tempo are flyiiing too. The gap went
down under the minute.
1728 CEST - Never say give up when Mr. Manuel
Beltran is around! Triki is trying hard to regain Redondo's wheels. The bunch
stays one minute back with under three kms to go. Beltran is just a few minutes
down on Redondo, but he has a damn hard time closing down on the young gun of
1760 CEST - Skirmishes come in the chase group
too, as they see the "two km to go" sign. Lampres and Sauniers still very active.
It looks like Damiano Cunego is having a go at breaking away, with Koldo Gil
trying to counter his move.
1732 CEST - Redondo hangs on. The young
gun went down the red pennant of the last km. Astarloza is thirty seconds down
on him. But Beltran is still a threat. Back in the pack it's the turn of 2006
race winner Gomez Marchante to try and make his move. Next on the attack are
Cobo and Cunego (again).
1734 CEST - UH, DID REDONDO BONK??? YES,
HE DID. He just can't go ahead! BELTRAN PASSED HIM. Triki is on the way to stage
victory (maybe). Redondo paid the price of his young age and lack of experience.
He asked for too much from his legs and was left without any more gasoline in
the last thousand metres.
1736 CEST - So here goes Triki the
Veteran. He's going to win the stage ... AND HE WON! 04h51'55" was his winning
MANOLOOOOO TRIKIIIIII BELTRAAAAAN WINS!!
Yes, Redondo kept his second place at least!! He still had some gasoline in
his legs. 22 year old Young Gun Redondo from Alcazar de San Juan, Spain
came in second at 15 seconds saving his runner-up spot by a mere four seconds
on Gomez Marchante (that finished 19 seconds down on Beltran)
Gomez Marchante takes third place.
Samuel Sanchez was fourth at 24 seconds.
Koldo Gil and Angel Vicioso followed in the same time.
Mikel Astarloza crossed the line 57 seconds behind the winner.
1742 CEST - The top places on General
Classification after stage two are as follows:
1. Juan Josè Cobo (SPA - SAUNIER)
2. José Angel Gomez Marchante (SPA - SAUNIER) at 06"
3. Manuel Beltran (SPA - LIQUIGAS) at 06"
4. Koldo Gil (SPA - SAUNIER) at 15"
5. Tadej Valjavec (SLO - LAMPRE) at 15"
6. Samuel Sanchez (SPA - EUSKALTEL) at 17"
7. Davide Rebellin (Ita - Gerolsteiner) at 17"
8. Joaquin Rodriguez (SPA - CAISSE D'EPARGNE) at 17"
9. Franck Schleck (LUX - T-MOBILE) at 19"
10. José Antonio Redondo (SPA - ASTANA) at 21"
Manolo Beltran missed taking the GC lead,
but captured the top spot both in the mountains and points classification.
Needless to say, Saunier Duval continue to dominate the team standings.
Damiano Cunego finished twelfth in the
stage, 26 seconds behind winner Beltran, and showed that his condition is
getting better by the day. All you wannabe Tour of Italy winners are warned!
Alberto Contador had a bad day instead and lost
over four minutes.
Stage 2 Results
1. Manuel Beltran (SPA - LIQUIGAS) 04h51'55"
2. José Antonio Redondo (SPA - ASTANA) at 15"
3. José Angel Gomez Marchante (SPA - SAUNIER) at 19"
4. Samuel Sanchez (SPA - EUSKALTEL) at 24"
5. Koldo Gil (SPA - SAUNIER) at 24"
6. Angel Vicioso (SPA - ASTANA) at 24"
7. Juan Josè Cobo (SPA - SAUNIER) at 26"
8. Franck Schleck (LUX - T-MOBILE) at 26"
9. Tadej Valjavec (SLO - LAMPRE) at 26"
10. Davide Rebellin (Ita - Gerolsteiner) at 26"
al Pais Vasco - Stage One
47th Vuelta al
Pais Vasco - Preview