Vuelta a España
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Stage Eight 13/09/2003
Cauterets- Pla de Beret (Val d'Aran) (Mountain top finish) 166kms
The Val d´Aran is one of the many wonders existing in our country. The performance we are going to see from Cauterets to Pla de Beret will probably be amazing, the riders will climb the Col D´Aspin, the Peyresourde, the Portillón before reaching the 1.920-metre- high top in Beret.
This is going to be a hard but full of incentives stage. In the Vuelta 1992 it was not possible to get to the top because of the snow but anyway the winner was Jon Unzaga in front of Farfán and Zülle and in the edition of 1995, Zülle was first followed by Jalabert and Bartoli. In 1999, the Vuelta arrived in Beret from Huesca and the main protagonists that day were Nardello, Peña, García Casas and Coque Uría with Olano wearing the Gold Jersey but under the pressure imposed by the final winner of that edition, Jan Ullrich.
Another big day in the mountains …………
Stage Nine 14/09/2003
Valle de Aran - Andorra (Mountain Top finish) Onís 175kms
This is going to be a "high" stage as the riders will be over two thousands metres twice along this stage. Just at the beginning they will have to climb to the Bonaigua climb that is 2.070 metres high, place that is usually covered with snow, at the end they will have to face the 2.410 metres of the Port d´Envalira and in the middle they will find the Cantó climb.
Nice incentives for the climbers.
The three climbs are strategically placed so as not to reduce the interest and the tension during the whole day. Spanish riders such as Mercado or Sevilla or even the ex - riders Escartín or Jiménez will probably have very good memories of Andorra as they got some triumphs in this land. From the frontier with Andorra the road starts to ascend, although already at the Seu dÚrgel we can guess the 29-kilometre-long climb to Envalira.
We all still remember the edition of 2001 when Joseba Beloki climbed this mountain crying and wearing the Gold Jersey; he lost more than twenty minutes after one of the hardest stages that led him to abandon the race.
Stage Ten 15/09/2003
Andorra - Sabadell. 179kms
Many cycling lovers come from Sabadell, a city located very close to San Quirze del Vallés, place where many important and unforgettable chapters of the history of cycling have been written. In the edition of 2000 and 2001 La Vuelta travelled to La Molina ski resort with Beloki wearing the Gold Jersey.
This time the sprinters who had overcome the Pyrenees will have the chance to fight again for the victory in a descending stage. The main protagonist this day will be the speed as well as the many attempts to break away by those riders who had been saving their strength for these days.
Sabadell could mean the place for the recovery of the sprints and the attempts to break away.
16/09/2003 - REST DAY
Stage Eleven 17/09/2003
Utiel - Cuenca - 160kms
Utiel will be a new starting spot in the Vuelta; this stage will cover all the way to the beautiful city of Cuenca. The route of this stage will not be easy and we also have to take into account the obligation of some teams of getting to the finish line together.
In 2001 we arrived in Cuenca from Albacete after having covered 154 kilometres with Oscar Sevilla wearing the Gold Jersey and with the stage win achieved by Simeoni leaving just behind him Verheyen and Díaz Justo.
In 1996 the Vuelta a España started in Valencia and the second stage took us to Cuenca; along the streets of this city the sprinters offered a brilliant performance and Minali got the stage win in front of Jalabert and Baldato.
Two team managers, former riders, will remember the triumphs they achieved in this city; Juan Fernández won here in 1983 and Domingo Perurena did the same in 1978.
Stage Twelve 18/09/2003
Cuenca - Albacete. 167 kms
Since 1942, the year when Berrendero won in Albacete, La Vuelta has visited this city in many occasions. In the history of the city there are many names of riders to be remembered, names such as Poblet or Pérez Francés.
The well-known rider Sean Kelly the Golden Irishman, won in this street in 1985 and 1987. This is going to be a stage to fight against the wind and the speed. The massive arrivals are very popular in Albacete and the riders know it.
Sprinters such as Hermans, Raab, Abdoujaparov, Van Poppel or Jalabert got the stage win in the famous avenue of this city. In 1996, Jalabert was able to win and leave behind him two brilliant sprinters like Lombardi and Baldato.
In 1999, Marcel Wust won in front of Zanini and Lombardi and in 2000, in a stage that had started in Valdepeñas the best rider was Oscar Freire beating the Italian riders Lombardi and Moreni
Stage Thirteen 19/09/2003
Albacete - Albacete Individual Time Trial 53 kms
The favourite riders, those who want to reach the podium in Madrid can not waist a single second in the time trial, the stage of Zaragoza will serve as a reference point, though this time they will have 13 kilometres more. The route is flat and very suitable to set the differences among the riders.
The testers will have to think that they still have many climbs ahead and so they must take advantage in Albacete to climb more easily when they get to La Pandera or Sierra Nevada.
This will be the moment to watch those who are in the first positions in the Overall Standings. Last year the reference in the time trials was Aitor González but we can not forget the strength of testers such as Angel Luis Casero and David Millar .
Stage Fourteen 20/09/2003
Albacete - Valdepeñas 168 kms
Difficult stage as the speed will be the protagonist of the day once again. The first half of the route is not very complicated but the second half becomes a very difficult road to Valdepeñas.
Already in 1948 the city of the wine welcomed La Vuelta. It was the eighth edition and the second stage of a Vuelta that had started with time trial in Madrid. That day, the riders covered 198 kilometres from Madrid and the Belgian rider Gielen won in front of Dalmacio and Lesage.
In the edition of 2000, Valdepeñas was the finish line of the third stage that had started in Montoro. That day the stage win was achieved by Koets in front of Petacchi and Svorada. Zülle was wearing the Gold Jersey that he lost in Tarragona and that was finally won by Roberto Heras.