Welcome to this afternoon's live coverage of the Vuelta Stage 9 - please remember to hit the F5 button to refresh the screen.
Stage 1 starts in Valencia, and during the first eight stages the race slowly progresses westward along the southern border of Spain. Cordoba, in the central part of southern Spain, hosts both Stage 9 and Stage 10. Stage 9 is a largely flat, 130.2 km figure eight around the city. The only serious difficulty on the stage is the Alto de San Jeronimo, which crests 17.2 km from the finish. Though the climb will throw a wrench into the train of the sprinters' teams, the 17.2 km descent to the finish should provide a good opportunity for a regrouping and a bunch sprint. At the same time, the climb will give the opportunists a good chance to break away and steal a stage. Whichever way it goes, this stage will be a filled with speed and attacks by those men out for a day of glory. The GC contenders will spend the day trying to stay out of trouble and conserve their energies for the following day's time trial.
The ninth stage of Vuelta a España is started with the signing-on. Today the riders will start and finish in the city of Córdoba and will cover 130.2 kilometres. The first riders to sign their name are the Alessio men.
The weather today will be sunny; there could be groups of clouds from time to time. The temperature at the starting line is 29 degrees and when the riders reach the finish line there will probably be 27 degrees. There will be wind blowing from the South.
Today we can expect a fast stage and a massive arrival.
The final sprint could only be avoided if a breakaway comes off. As 13 (CIPOLLINI Mario), abandoned the race yesterday, we are expecting 211 (ZABEL Erik), 141 (FREIRE GOMEZ Oscar), 84 (PETACCHI Alessandro), or 61 (BLIJLEVENS Jeroen), to go into action. If any breakaway comes off we have to wait and see who is going to take control and pull ahead of the group as the Acqua e Sapone had always been in charge of this task.
162 (GONZALEZ DE GALDEANO ARANZABAL Igor), has just signed his name. The rider from the Basque Country has admitted that his team is not in the same good form as they showed in Le Tour. 162 (GONZALEZ DE GALDEANO ARANZABAL Igor), is the winner of the fastest stage in the history of La Vuelta, the one between Logroño and Zaragoza in Vuelta 2001 when the average speed was 55 kilometers per hour.
Yesterday 12 riders decided to abandon La Vuelta; these were: 13 (CIPOLLINI Mario), 18 (SCIREA Mario), 22 (AUS Lauri), 23 (BERGES Stéphane), 27 (LODER Thierry), 32 (BROGNARA Andrea), 53 (CUESTA LOPEZ DE CASTRO Iñigo), 63 (DE WOLF Steve), 82 (BALDATO Fabio), 108 (SERINA Corrado), 147 (NOE' Andrea), and 196 (GALLETTI Alessio). AG2R and Index-Alexia were the teams with more abandons.
The signing time is over with the abandon of 165 (HRUSKA Jan). 223 (BARRY Michael), is likely to abandon as well due to the injuries he has because of the fall he suffered yesterday.
The ninth stage of Vuelta 2002 has started. 107 riders will cover the 130.2 kilometes as 223 (BARRY Michael), has confirmed his abandon.
The streets in Córdoba are crowded with people when the riders have covered the 5 kilometres of depart.
KM 1 - 182 (COLOM MAS Antonio), is the first rider who attempts to break away from the group.
KM 3 - There is a group of nine riders who have gained several metres of advantage on the peloton. The riders in this group are: 182 (COLOM MAS Antonio), 67 (MOERENHOUT Koos), 142 (AGGIANO Elio), 136 (PICCOLI Mariano), 12 (BENNATI Daniele), 5 (GARMENDIA ARBILLA Aitor), 83 (LODA Nicola), 158 (SILVA Joao), and 94 (GARCIA ACOSTA José Vicente).
KM 7 - The group of nine riders lead now by 32 seconds on the main group.
KM 11 - Telekom takes control of the peloton in pursuit of the riders of the break who lead now by 52 seconds.
KM 13 - The difference between the two groups now is 45 seconds. Kelme is helping Telekom in pulling ahead of the whole group. They all are riding at an average speed of 50 kilometres per hour.
KM 17 - 38 seconds for the group ahead. The are riding very fast.
KM 19 -There has been a split in the peloton.
KM 20 - Intermediate sprint of Almodóvar del Río: 142 (AGGIANO Elio), 12 (BENNATI Daniele) and 182 (COLOM MAS Antonio).
KM 21 - The group ahead has been bridged up and now there is one man riding solo at the very head: 136 (PICCOLI Mariano), leading by 15 seconds on the first group.
KM 25 - The man ahead has been bridged up and now there are two groups with a difference of 35 seconds between them.
KM 29 - Between the two groups there is a difference of 45 seconds. The iBanesto.com riders are riding more slowly now so as to help 97 (MANCEBO PEREZ Francisco), who was left behind.
KM 31 - The iBanesto riders will have to work hard to get 97 (MANCEBO PEREZ Francisco), and come back to the first group who leads now by 1:03 on the second group. Telekom and Kelme are pulling ahead of the first group. There is a cross wind coming from the right.
KM 35 - The wind and the echelons are too much for 141 (FREIRE GOMEZ Oscar), has abandoned the race. The difference between the two groups is 58 seconds.
KM 39 - The group ahead leads by 1:12 on the second one. Milaneza riders is helping pulling ahead of the first group.
KM 42 - there are now three groups on the road There has been a split in the second group.
KM 43 - The first and second group have joined and now there are two groups again separated by a difference of 1:28 seconds.
KM 45 - iBanesto.com is pulling ahead of the second group in order to gain the 1:38 seconds that their leader, 97 (MANCEBO PEREZ Francisco), loses behind the leader - it is dramatic times for the iBanesto team.
KM 46 - ONCE-Eroski are doing their old rivals no favours they are pulling ahead of the first group now and the difference increases to 1:44.
KM 49 - The average speed for this first hour has been 49.200 kilometres per hour.
KM 51 - The difference of the group ahead increases up to 2:15 on the second group.
KM 52 - 2:25 now the gap Kelme lead the front group while the Banesto boys are pulling desperately at the front of the second group. Freire, is sitting in the team car out of the action for this race.
KM 54 - Valdez has crashed and is being attended to by the medics - looks like a collar bone or possibly even a hip which is causing the problem - certainly he is in great pain - he is stretchered off - so the end of the race for the Jazztell rider who was in 26th position @ 4.38 and was one of the main protagnists yesterday.
KM 60 - the gap is up to 2.56 - Di Luca is also stranded in the second group with Mancebo - the Banesto boys are digging deep but the gap increases all the time it is now up up 3 minutes.
KM 62 - The gap is up to 3.52 on the first and second group - while at the front the Once are putting huge pressure on what is left of the main peloton.
KM 65 - The attacks are constant on the front group - the race is splintering up on the long flat roads - it is an aggressive day's racing.
KM 67 - 4'25'' the gap between the lead group and group Mancebo/Di Luca - the main peloton is back together with the Kelme boys back at the front.
KM 68 - It has just been confirmed poor Valdez has a broken hip - Daily Peloton wishes him a speedy recovery.
KM 69 - 4.49 the gap now and it looks as if Pavel Tonkov is in great difficulties - he has sat up and seems likely to abandon.
KM 75 - 4'.41'' the gap - the Kelme still lead the peloton - the team members are: 121. Oscar Sevilla, 122. Santiago Botero, 123. Juan Jose De Los Angeles, 124. Carlos Garcia, 125. Aitor Gonzalez, 126. Jose Gutierrez, 127. Jesus Manzano, 128. Antonio Tauler, 129. Alejandro Valverde - it is rumoured that Botero is in the back group.
KM 77 - US Postal send two men to the front of the peloton. Matthew White and David Zabriskie mix with the Kelme lead peloton - the skies are overcast and grey - as the Postal take up the pace.
KM 80 - 4'26'' the gap - Kelme lead the first group, the iBanesto are still digging deep at the front of the second group trying to crawl their Captain, Mancebo, back into contention.
KM 85 - Long straight road across the plains of Spain with the wheat fields stretching into the distance - MSS pick up the pace at the front of the race - they will be hoping to get Edo into a good position - he must be considered one of the favourites for this stage.
KM - 86 - 97 (MANCEBO PEREZ Francisco) abandons the race. While an attack happens at the front of the race.
KM 87 - 6 men off the front of the race 117 (PECHARROMAN FABIAN José Antonio), 62 (BRUYLANDTS Dave), 38 (VINALE Alberto), 135 (VERSTREPEN Johan), 21 (ASTARLOZA Mikel), 142 (AGGIANO Elio), it is an interesting attack.
KM 94 - the 6 men are now 4: 117 (PECHARROMAN FABIAN José Antonio), 62 (BRUYLANDTS Dave), 21 (ASTARLOZA Mikel), and 142 (AGGIANO Elio),they have a small lead on the peloton.
KM 97 - The average speed for the second hour has been 47.500 kilometres per hour.
KM 99 - Intermediate sprint of Córdoba: 142 (AGGIANO Elio), 21 (ASTARLOZA Mikel), and 117 (PECHARROMAN FABIAN José Antonio). The gap to the 3rd group is now up to 7.37''.
KM 105 - 145 (CIONI Dario David) breaks away from the first group and 31 (CAUCCHIOLI Pietro), and 182 (COLOM MAS Antonio), follow him.
KM 109 - 182 (COLOM MAS Antonio) riding alone in the head. Colom has 17'' on the peloton as they tackle the Alto de San Jeronimo - with MSS leading the peloton.
KM 111 - 182 (COLOM MAS Antonio) leads by 9 seconds on 145 (CIONI Dario David), and 31 (CAUCCHIOLI Pietro), and 18 seconds of the peloton. While Casagrande puts the pessure on the peloton.
KM 112 - Colom is brought back into the peloton - Sevilla is always near the front while Felix Garcia Casas, is at the head of affairs.
KM 113 - The skies are darkening - it looks like it may be a wet finish as the riders sweep down the descent over the top of the Alto de San Jerónimo: 182 (COLOM MAS Antonio), 151 (MOLLER Claus Michael), 41 (GARCIA CASAS Felix M.), 191 (SIMONI Gilberto), 121 (SEVILLA RIBERA Oscar), and 189 (VAZQUEZ PALOMO José Manuel).
KM 115 - 115 Luis Perez Coast, 155. Fabian Jeker have launched an attack.
Lastras (Banesto) tries to catch the two leaders - he joins them - three men now have a small lead on the peloton; Lastras goes right past them.
7 KM TO GO - The three leaders have just 25 seconds.
Lastras has the advantage of local knowledge on this fast tricky descent.
6 KM TO GO - Lastras has 11 seconds on his fellow escapees.
4KM TO GO - Lastras (Banesto) is still leading the two escapees 18 seconds behind.
2 KM TO GO - Lastras is burying himself - he is under the Flamme Rouge!
Lastras is going to make it - 500m to go, he is bound to win! He crosses the line in triumph!
So a mixed day for Banesto - Mancebo abandons but Lastras gains a memorable victory!
Official Stage Results:
1º 96 LASTRAS, Pablo ESP BAN 2:48:52
2º 8 PEREZ, Luis ESP COA a 13
3º 155 JEKER, Fabian SUI MIL a 13
4º 129 VALVERDE, Alejandro ESP KEL a 21
5º 211 ZABEL, Erik GER TEL a 21
6º 197 GLOMSER, Gerrit AUT SAE a 21
7º 152 EDO, Angel ESP MIL a 21
8º 171 CAMENZIND, Oscar SUI PHO a 21
9º 125 GONZALEZ, Aitor ESP KEL a 21
10º 62 BRUYLANDTS, Dave BEL DFF a 21
11º 35 MIHOLJEVIC, Vladimir CRO ALS a 21
12º 51 MILLAR, David GBR COF a 21
13º 41 GARCIA CASAS, Félix ESP BIG a 21
14º 121 SEVILLA, Oscar ESP KEL a 21
15º 1 CASERO, Angel ESP COA a 21
16º 3 BELTRAN, Manuel ESP COA a 21
17º 126 GUTIERREZ, José ESP KEL a 21
18º 151 MÖLLER, Klaus DEN MIL a 21
19º 166 JAKSCHE, Jörg GER ONE a 21
20º 78 MAYO, Iban ESP EUS a 21
21º 218 VINOKOUROV, Alexandre KAZ TEL a 21
22º 81 CASAGRANDE, Francesco ITA FAS a 21
23º 159 SOUSA, Rui Miguel POR MIL a 21
24º 169 ZARRABEITIA, Mikel ESP ONE a 21
25º 128 TAULER, Antonio ESP KEL a 21
26º 79 ZUBELDIA, Haimar ESP EUS a 21
27º 59 TRENTIN, Guido ITA COF a 21
28º 191 SIMONI, Gilberto ITA SAE a 21
29º 87 VALJAVEC, Tadej SLO FAS a 21
30º 228 VANDEVELDE, Christian USA USP a 21
31º 124 GARCIA, Carlos ESP KEL a 21
32º 161 BELOKI, Joseba ESP ONE a 21
33º 4 ESCARTIN, Fernando ESP COA a 21
34º 221 HERAS, Roberto ESP USP a 21
35º 9 PLAZA, David ESP COA a 21
36º 162 GLEZ. GALDEANO, Igor ESP ONE a 21
37º 214 KESSLER, Matthias GER TEL a 21
38º 188 REBOLLO, Jose Luis ESP REL a 1:01
39º 184 LAGUNA, Oscar ESP REL a 2:35
40º 158 SILVA, Joao POR MIL a 3:05
41º 109 REISS, Andries LAT INA a 3:35
1º 121 SEVILLA, Oscar ESP KEL 32:32:53
2º 218 VINOKOUROV, Alexandre KAZ TEL a 14
3º 125 GONZALEZ, Aitor ESP KEL a 41
4º 221 HERAS, Roberto ESP USP a 48
5º 41 GARCIA CASAS, Félix ESP BIG a 1:01
6º 79 ZUBELDIA, Haimar ESP EUS a 1:09
7º 78 MAYO, Iban ESP EUS a 1:14
8º 169 ZARRABEITIA, Mikel ESP ONE a 1:34
9º 161 BELOKI, Joseba ESP ONE a 1:43
10º 166 JAKSCHE, Jörg GER ONE a 1:44
11º 81 CASAGRANDE, Francesco ITA FAS a 1:45
12º 191 SIMONI, Gilberto ITA SAE a 1:49
13º 96 LASTRAS, Pablo ESP BAN a 2:08
14º 59 TRENTIN, Guido ITA COF a 2:13
15º 171 CAMENZIND, Oscar SUI PHO a 2:22
16º 3 BELTRAN, Manuel ESP COA a 2:45
17º 151 MÖLLER, Klaus DEN MIL a 2:57
18º 1 CASERO, Angel ESP COA a 2:58
19º 51 MILLAR, David GBR COF a 3:16
20º 4 ESCARTIN, Fernando ESP COA a 3:16
21º 87 VALJAVEC, Tadej SLO FAS a 3:44
22º 155 JEKER, Fabian SUI MIL a 4:18
23º 124 GARCIA, Carlos ESP KEL a 7:40
24º 159 SOUSA, Rui Miguel POR MIL a 9:30
25º 62 BRUYLANDTS, Dave BEL DFF a 9:44
26º 9 PLAZA, David ESP COA a 11:06
27º 8 PEREZ, Luis ESP COA a 11:23
28º 228 VANDEVELDE, Christian USA USP a 12:16
29º 197 GLOMSER, Gerrit AUT SAE a 14:12
30º 162 GLEZ. GALDEANO, Igor ESP ONE a 15:53
31º 31 CAUCCHIOLI, Pietro ITA ALS a 18:10
32º 194 DI LUCA, Danilo ITA SAE a 19:32
33º 117 PECHARROMAN, J.Antonio ESP JAZ a 19:54
34º 72 ETXEBARRIA, David ESP EUS a 21:46
35º 176 PEREIRO, Oscar ESP PHO a 23:14
36º 35 MIHOLJEVIC, Vladimir CRO ALS a 23:53
37º 188 REBOLLO, Jose Luis ESP REL a 25:02
38º 93 FLECHA, J.Antonio ESP BAN a 25:14
39º 56 LELLI, Massimiliano ITA COF a 26:43
40º 163 AZEVEDO, José POR ONE a 27:14
Please join us tomorrow for Stage 10, the Individual Time Trial, with special guest commentator Chuck Coyle of Team 7UP (also known as "ccrider" on the Daily Peloton message board). Chuck will be calling the race from the Daily Peloton Chatroom, so please join us there, and thanks for reading today!