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Museo de Jamon Awards: Stage 9
By Manny Samaniego
Date: 9/15/2002
Museo de Jamon Awards: Stage 9

Is there a team on this year's Vuelta who has taken full control of the race? After one week of racing, the answer is NO! In the sprints, so far, Telekom has been overpowered by the Zebra Herd (aka. Acqua & Sapone). ONCE showed some strength during the first few days, but as is customary, Manolo Saiz wants to win the race (just like at the Tour) on the first week and not the last one, therefore, he fries his riders by having them ride harder than they have to to defend their lead. Kelme has shown that Sevilla is ready to battle and has a few guys around him, but don't count on Botero to do anything big; well, hopefully tomorrow he can. iBanesto is lost in limbo, and without a true leader. USPS seems to be getting weaker (not Heras though) as the races gets harder. No other team seems to be strong enough to impose itself on the roads.

And today the mercenarios were out again in force, trying to score a victory. Whoever said that this stage was going to be "flatter" than yesterday had a little too much sangria in their blood. But hey, not that we are complaining, because so far, the organizers of the Vuelta are getting their money's worth. And so are we.

Ham Gazers of the day

Danilo Di Luca: The Italian was having a good Vuelta, until today when he lost a good chunk of time and pretty much kissed a top 10 spot goodbye or adios.

Francisco Mancebo: Joined the Vamonos a Mi Casa bus today after not making the lead group on the road just like his other award winning pal, Di Luca.

Golden Hams of the Day

Pablo Lastras: After working hard for the team, it was his day and he knew it from the start. After a daredevil descend where he got rid of his breakaway companions, the Spaniard won in the best way possible, solo.

Luis Perez: Just 24 hours after almost winning a stage, the Coast rider gave it a second go today, but was yet again denied. Hopefully he will give it another go soon. "La tercera es la vencida."

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