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47th Vuelta al Pais Vasco - Stage Six Live Coverage
By Fabio
Date: 4/14/2007
47th Vuelta al Pais Vasco - Stage Six Live Coverage

47th Vuelta al Pais Vasco - Stage Six Live Coverage
Strange but true. The Mountain Men Festival comes down to to a mainly flat battle against the clock of 14 kilometres to decide the overall. With just one little, tiny second between the top two guys in the GC even after all those climbs were climbed.

Etapa 6: Oiartzun ITT, 14 km

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the sixth and final stage in the 47th Tour of the Basque Country. Quite paradoxically the winner of such a Mountain Men Festival, with epic rides featuring about half a dozen climbs basically going every day, will be determined by a short and predominantly flat effort, an ITT of 14 kilometres whose start/finish line is located at Oyartzun town. And after so much going up and down the tough and rough hills of Euzkadi and Navarra, the top two players in the closing act are separated by just one mere, little, tiny second

 Also strange is the fact that neither of the two guys figured amongst the main suspects to take the win - and perhaps even hit the eventual podium - in pre-race predictions by many pundits. But it's the road that has the last word in the end, and the road told us that Juan José Cobo and Angel Vicioso have got many a good chances to score one of the greatest victories (if not the greatest) of their respective careers today. Sam Sanchez, trailing the GC leader by 01'20" as well as Koldo Gil, sitting in fourth place 01 minute and 53 seconds behind his yellow-jerseyed team-mate Cobo, also may have something to say however. And don't write off some surprise from guys like Joaquin Rodriguez either.

Neither Cobo nor Vicioso can be regarded to as ITT specialists these days, but both guys are not that bad when it comes to racing against the clock either. Vicioso perhaps showed better skills in this sense when in the professional ranks, but Cobo was a good TTist in younger classes, such that he even clinched one Spanish national title in the so-called "race of the truth", and took fourth at the European Championships. Moreover, he is confident that the (small) uphill section and the following descent in today's final leg may play into his hands. And the "red bird" team manager Jozean Matxin also sounded confident that his J.J. pupil may bring home the overall title, a few weeks after he climbed the eventual podium at the Tour of Castilla and León.

Samuel Sánchez came close to compete for stage victory and take the yellow jersey on Friday, but he bonked in the last few kilometres of the stage and basically lost all of his chances to give the Euskaltel aficionados an overall victory to celebrate on their home roads. Nevertheless Sam sounded well-determined to go for the line honours today, and give the final podium some orange flavour.

1455 CEST - The first rider to start his last effort in this 47th edition of the race is going to be Sebastian Schwager (Ger - Team Milram). Julien Mazet (Fra - Astana) and the South African Ian McLeod (Française des Jeux) will follow. The Aussie Scott Davis is going to be the sixth one to take the start line today.

1520 CEST - Sebastien Schwager is off and running, and so are many more athletes. The first thirty riders are sent away at one minute intervals, but starting with rider #31 such "gap" is going up to two minutes.

1515 CEST - First time updates coming: Julien Mazet of France has set the best time (13'55") at the mid-stage check, with Vicente Ballester (Fuerteventura-Canarias) in second at 08".

1530 CEST - The first few riders have managed to cross the line already. The best time at the finish so far belongs to Axel Merckx (Bel - T-Mobile); the son of the best bike racer of all time covered the route in 23 minutes and 12 seconds. Mazet finished the race in a decent 23'54".

1535 CEST - The last four riders at the start line (aka the top four guys on the GC) are set to be Koldo Gil (starting at 05:34 PM), Samuel Sánchez (05:36 PM), Angel Vicioso (05:38 PM) and Juan José Cobo as the very final starter at 05:40 PM CEST. Aitor Hernández (Euskaltel) clocked a good 13'10" at the halfway point time check.

1550 CEST - Aitor Hernández (Spa - Euskaltel-Euskadi) made it to the finish and demolished all previous times: the Basque covered the parcours in 22 minutes and 31 seconds. He's firmly in the lead now; but how long will the man prove able to stay atop the stage classification?

1555 CEST - Mads Kaggestad of Norway and the Crédit Agricole team got to the halfway point of the stage and set a decent time, losing to flying Aitor only by 33 seconds. David de la Fuente (Saunier Duval-Prodir) had a similar time at the halfway point check, but his time at the finish was worse than Mazet's by two seconds (and Aitor's by 01'25").

1610 CEST - With Rubén Pérez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) now in the saddle, half of the peloton have started their last challenge already. Amongst them was also Thursday's stage winner Jens Voigt, who set the second best time at the halfway point check, doing worse than current leader Aitor Hernández by 20 seconds. Next at the start line is Dimitri Fofonov of Kazakhstan.

1620 CEST - Voigt finished the race and set the seocnd best time, 35" behind Aittor hernández. But he was kicked down to spot number three as Gustav Erik Larsson (Swe - also crossed the line. The Swede finished 22" down on the current leader in the stage. Angel Vallejo (Relax-Gam) set a better time than Larsson's at the halfway point check. No rider is looking like a real threat to Aitor's supremacy though; well, thus far of course, we all know that things are likely to take a different turn once the top players get their legs going.

1635 CEST - Aitor Hernández maintains the lead in the stage, with another skilled ITT specialist such as Gustav Erik Larsson having the second best time at the finishing line. Even if it's not raining at the moment, the skies over the race are cloudy, and the roads quite wet and slippery. The top overall contenders are going to take the start line in about one hour anyway.

1640 CEST - Egoi Martínez of Discovery started his own battle against the clock about five mins ago, and is currently struggling on an uphill section. In the meantime Angel Vallejo made it to the finishing line, but he lost many a good seconds in half two of the stage; the Spaniard set the fourth time only, 44 seconds down on Aitor Hernández, and 22" down on Larsson the Swede. Axel Merckx DID NOT establish the best time early into the stage, sorry; in fact the Belgian clocked a not so good 24'44".

1645 CEST - Patxi Vila of Lampre was the last rider to take the start about one minute ago. Bobby Julich (23'23") has the sixth best time at the finish for the moment. Tschopp of Bouygues Telecom comes in with the 21st time at the finish so far. Sorry, in fact Bobby Julich has got the fifth best time thus far, beating Paco Mancebo of Relax-Gam by four seconds.

1650 CEST - Discovery are starting to have an impact on the stage: first it was Chechu Rubiera that got to the halfway point and scored the second best time; but he was down to spot number three soon later as Egoi Martínez demolished all other previous records: the Basque scored a great 13'03" at the mid-stage check, that was 7 seconds better than Aitor Hernández's time. In the meantime also Tino Zaballa started his own ride against the clock.

1655 CEST - Egoi Martinez is on the way to the finish. We'll get to know his closing time in the space of a couple mins. The 1978-born athlete from Etxarri (Basque Country of Spain) showed some great TTing legs as he took second on the Tour of Castilla prologue, won by Russia's Karpets, a few weeks ago.

1658 CEST - And now he takes the (provisional) lead! Egoi crossed the line in a time of 22'23"7. That's better than Aitor's by about 8 seconds! Speaking of Karpets, yesterday in the Volta ao Alentejo in Portugal, the Russian rider of the team Caisse d’Epargne, Vladimir Karpets, won second part of the third stage of the Volta ao Alentejo, Salvada-Beja, an individual time trial of 12.5 kilometres. So once more both guys showcased their excellent condition.

The stage roads are getting less and less wet as the start time of the top riders are getting closer.

1708 CEST - Iker Camaño set the best time at the very first (unofficial) time check: 05'30", that was about 02.16 km into the race. Alberto Contador is the next one at the startline ... Ready,. Set, GO!

1711 CEST - Mikel Astarloza gets to the 2.16 km check too. But his time is quite worse than Camaño's: 02'40". The Euskaltel rider now takes in the first, tricky downhill portion.

1713 CEST - Five, four, three, two, one ... and Cadel Evans is in the saddle too! Cadel is in 14th place and just over 5 minutes down. Tino Zaballa of Caisse d'Epargne makes it to the line, but just with the 19th time to date - 22'42".

1705 CEST - Iker Camaño lost some significant time to Egoi on the way to the halfway stage check; the Saunier Duval athlete had just the fourth time there, over seven secs down on the Discovery TTing machine.

Hrvoje Miholjevic of Croatia (Liquigas) set the eighth time to the finish. He's not going to be a factor in this stage (sorry, Liquigas fans ...)  Manolo "Triki" Beltran is underway too.

1720 CEST - 5k to go for Astarloza. He's doing fine, but not as fine as Alberto Contador, who's riding like a motorbike today. The Discovery man from Madrid is about to make it to the halfway point of the stage, we're going to see his time there ...

1721 CEST - Alberto Contador's time is sensational, to say the least: it is 12'29" at the halfway point check. He bettered Egoi's by over half a minute!

1723 CEST - Damiano Cunego is underway too. (9. Cunego, Damiano Ita Lam @ 2:16 ) We tend to think the Italian is not going to do better than Contador though ...
Iker Camaño got to the line at last. The Saunier Duval rider scored 22'43"3, that's the fourth time to the line thus far, 20 seconds down on current leader at the finish Egoi Martinez. Aitor Hernandez and Tino Zaballa sit in between Egoi and Iker.

1726 CEST - Alejandro Valverde clocked 05'22" at the very first check, while Contador is going fast also in the downhill section on the way to the finish. (10th Valverde, Alejandro @ 2:24)

1728 CEST - Mikel Astarloza got time number three at the finish: 22'37"8, that's 14 seconds worse than Egoi's. And José Angel Gomez Marchante scored a good 12"37 at the halfway stage check, that was the second best time so far at that point of the stage. Egoi Martinez still has the best time amongst those who crossed the line already, Aitor Hernandez and Mikel Astarloza folllow at 08 and 14 seconds respectively.

1730 CEST - Oscar Sevilla Set time #9 at the finish. But here comes Contador ... and demolishes all previous records! 21 minutes 38 seconds he clocked. It is 45 seconds better than the time scored by teammate Egoi Martinez. 53 seconds better than Aitor Hernandez's.

1732 CET - Toni Colom of Astana has the seventh best time at the halfway point time check, 12 minutes and 10 seconds.

 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 ... Koldo Gil kicked off his last challenge here! Koldo Gil is in 4th on the G.C. at 1:53. Just two riders to go: Vicioso and Cobo!

1734 CEST - Alejandro Valverde is doing fine too: 12'46" at the halfway stage check. Just 17 seconds down on Contador. Well, just two riders to go .... now that also Samuel Sanchez has started his own ITT too!

1735 CEST - Cadel Evans scored the third time at the finish: 22'31"4;: the Aussie's just behind the Discovery duo of Contador and Martinez, but ahead of Aitor Hernandez.

1737 CET - Wow ! Angel Gomez Marchante smashed all previous times to the line. But Contador's of course - He clocked 22'17", and sits 39 secs down on Contador.  Franck Schleck not much of a factor in the stage, his time being seventh at the half stage check: 13 minutes and 07 seconds he set!

1739 CEST - Vicioso and Cobo are also in the saddle now. We DO have a race, folks!

Davide Rebellin comes to the halfway point, and scores a good fifth time: 12'49"9.

1741 CEST - Angel Vicioso looks like he's struggling A LOT in the first uphill section of the race. That's good news for the red bird team. Manolo Beltran takes 32nd time at the finish.

1742 CEST - Vicioso gets to the very first check (km. 2 and something): his time is NOT that bad anyway: 05'17", that's the third best time at this early point, he lost nine seconds to Contador. Cobo is the only rider that still has to get there. Alejandro Valverde sets the second best time at the line: 21'58". that's 20 secs worse than Contador's, but better than Gomez Marchante, whom he kicked down to spot number three.

1744 CEST - Lampre Times in Spain: Cunego BEAT VALVERDE! His time was 21'50"9. WOW! And Valjavec has the sixth time so far at the halfway point: 12'50"8.

So, it's Alberto Contador currently atop the stage ranking, leading Damiano Cunego by 17 seconds with Alejandro Valverde in third place a further three seconds back.

1748 CEST - Angel Vicioso is nearing the halfway point check. But first comes Samuel Sanchez, that clocked the second best time there: 12'35"9.

1750 CEST - Vicioso set time number six at the half stage check: 12'46"8. And Davide Rebellin has the sixth best time thus far at the finish: 22'23"8

Juan José Cobo is flyyyiiinggg!! HE JUST GOT TO THE TIME CHECK and clocked a great 12'33". He leads Vicioso by 13 seconds now!

1752 CEST - Tadej Valjavec of Lampre got to the the line too. His time (22'32") was faaaaaar from Contador's. And so was his placing: the Slovene is just ninth, and would be likely thrown out of the top spots as soon as more riders complete the route.

1755 CEST - Cobo extended his stage advantage over Vicioso to 20 seconds. The overall gap is just one second bigger of course.

1756 CEST - Kold Gil is putting an end to a poor performance: he crossed the line in a time of 23'28"7 , that's the 27th time. That turned 28th as SAMUEL SANCHEZ CROSSED THE LINE WITH THE BEST TIME: 21'36"2. Sam stole the stage lead from Contador!

Vicioso finishes 40 behind Samuel Sánchez in 22'16"4

Juanjo Cobo moving very fast finishes in 21'40"2 for third in the stage and excellent defense of his leaders jersey and the win of the 47th Tour of the Basque Country!!!

Damiano Cunego moves up to 4th on the G.C. with Alejandro Valverde making the jump to 5th. Davide Rebellin rides an excellent and consistent effort to finish sixth in the overall.

Top Ten Stage 6
1. 151 SÁNCHEZ, Samuel ESP EUS 21:36
2. 41 CONTADOR, Alberto ESP DSC 2
3. 4 COBO, Juan José ESP SDV 4

4. 51 CUNEGO, Damiano ITA LAM 14
5. 21 VALVERDE, Alejandro ESP GCE 22

6. 204 VICIOSO, Ángel ESP REG 40
8. 42 MARTINEZ, Egoi ESP DSC 47
9. 61 REBELLIN, Davide ITA GST 47
10. 141 EVANS, Cadel AUS PRL 55

General Classification Final
1. 4 COBO, Juan José ESP SDV 21:56:38
2. 204 VICIOSO, Ángel ESP REG 37
3. 151 SÁNCHEZ, Samuel ESP EUS 1:16

4. 51 CUNEGO, Damiano ITA LAM 2:26
5. 21 VALVERDE, Alejandro ESP GCE 2:42

6. 61 REBELLIN, Davide ITA GST 2:50
7. 55 VALJAVEC, Tadej SLO LAM 2:57
8. 13 SCHLECK, Frank LUX CSC 3:13
9. 22 RODRIGUEZ, Joaquin ESP GCE 3:21
10. 3 GIL, Koldo ESP SDV 3:41

47th Vuelta al Pais Vasco - Stage Five Results
47th Vuelta al Pais Vasco - Stage Five Live Coverage
47th Vuelta al Pais Vasco - Stage Four Results
47th Vuelta al Pais Vasco - Stage Four Live Coverage
47th Vuelta al Pais Vasco - Stage Three Results
47th Vuelta al Pais Vasco - Stage Three Live Coverage
47th Vuelta al Pais Vasco - Stage Two Results
47th Vuelta al Pais Vasco - Stage Two Live Coverage
47th Vuelta al Pais Vasco - Stage One
47th Vuelta al Pais Vasco - Preview

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