The Danish rider Michael Rasmussen was the strongest man today at Cauterets.
The stage covered 190 kilometres between Huesca and Cauterets-Cam Basque. Isidro
Nozal, of ONCE-Eroski, suffered a lot during the second half of the route and
lost 2:46, though he managed to keep his Gold Jersey. Roberto Heras was one of
the main protagonists today, attacking at Aubisque and trying to split the
peloton during the descent.
Nozal was working for Igor González de Galdeano, although at the end he used
up almost all his energy trying to follow Manuel Beltrán of US Postal and Luis
Pérez of Cofidis. The fierce Felix Cárdenas, of Labarca 2 - Café Baque, forcing
a strong presence until Aubisque, suffered a fall during the descent and had to
regain the group again; then he became a protagonist again in the climb to
Cauterets, finishing second. Ramussen was present in every relevant moment of
The Battle at Cauterets by Osvaldo Menéndez
The seventh stage of La Vuelta, between Huesca and Cauterets, made the hot
favourites use a lot of the energies in order to achieve the final triumph. One
of the ones to blame is Roberto Heras, who imposed a really fast pace at
Aubisque, who put a lot of pressure on the yellow ONCE-Eroski and who only
reduced his pace at ten kilometres to go. The main protagonist of the day was
the Danish rider Michael Rasmussen, of Rabobank, was took part in every single
breakaway and ended up achieving the stage win.
From the very first kilometre, the atmosphere was tense and the battle was
hard. They all left Huesca ready to fight and there was not a single moment of
peace in the day. At the Alto de Monrepós climb, the Colombian rider Felix
Cárdenas showed everybody that he wanted to become the best today. His easy
pedalling was praised by everyone at Portalet and Aubisque; he moves his legs so
easily at the tops. If he had not fallen down, it is possible that the race
would have had a different outcome.
Cárdenas was a clear reference point for everybody and Luis Pérez was
brilliant too; the Madrid-born rider of Cofidis is going through his best moment
as a professional rider and he showed it once again. He can stand a lot of
suffering and his strength is something to be taken into account. On his way to
Cauterets, he met Manuel Beltrán, who is living his sweetest moment as a rider.
He, who can be considered the US Postal second leader, put the finishing touches
to the job carried out by Roberto Heras. Beltrán behaved like a real star today
and he is already second overall.
The ONCE-Eroski riders had to work really hard, first to stop Heras and then
to do the same with Beltran. Isidro Nozal did it very well too; he was faithful
to Igor González de Galdeano, tried to catch up with Pérez and Beltrán on the
very last part of the race and he almost used up all his energy. But he did not
lose the Gold Jersey.
On the way to the finish line we could also be the witness of Sevilla´s
performance; early from the start he needed the doctors but at the end he tried
his luck. He attempted to break away although his adventure did not last long.
Aitor González placed himself among the best again; he showed his power today.
All of them were remarkable today; they used up all their energies. They
really deserved the applause of those enthusiasts who moved to France just to
Oscar Sevilla. © Unipublic
Rasmussen - A dream come true
Today's stage winner, Danish Michael Rasmussen of Rabobank, said the winning
the first Pyrenean stage of the Vuelta that it was his dream.
"It is the most important victory of my life. For my it is a dream made
reality because always I thought about someday gaining a mountain stage in one
of the great races," said the happy Dane.
According to Rasmussen, his strategy wasto follow Heras Robert in the ascent
of Cauterets, but when he saw that the peloton came near he chose to take off by
himself, and played it perfectly.
Now Rasmussen thinks about finishing in the top ten in Madrid", but he will
be hunting for more stage wins for his Dutch Rabobank team, that did not use him
in the Tour of France.
Rasmussen, winner of the last stage in the Lagunas de Neila at the Vuelta a
Burgos, said that his absence in the Tour had to do with "political reasons,
since the team had to take Dutch riders." (Todociclismo)
Michael Rasmussen on today's stage. © Unipublic
Michael Rasmussen Palmares
1st: Stage 7 Vuelta Espana 12/09/2003
4th: National Championships Road Race Denmark 29/06/2003
7th: Setmana Catalana 24/03/2003
7th: Vuelta Pais Vasco 07/04/2003
9th: Clasica San Sebastian 09/08/2003
18th: Championship of Zurich 17/08/2003
1st: Stage 4 Vuelta Burgos 12/08/2002
4th: Vuelta Burgos 12/08/2002
4th: Giro Friuli 31/08/2002
5th: Giro Veneto 24/08/2002
7th: Clasica Primavera 14/04/2002
7th: Copa Agostoni 21/08/2002
7th: Beneden-Maas 31/08/2002
9th: Copa Japon 27/10/2002
20th: Setmana Catalana 25/03/2002
45th: Giro Italia 11/05/2002
Michael Rasmussen. © Unipublic
UCI Sporting Safety and Condition Commission Official Notice
This morning 40 riders from the following teams undertook blood tests: Lampre,
Phonak Hearing Systems, Saeco - Macchine per caffe, Milaneza MSS, Paternina -
Costa de Almería. All were declared fit.
Abandons and Expulsions
Here are today's riders out - including, despite his best efforts, Julian
Dean, who fell outside the time cut - he finished just over 45 minutes outside
the winning time.
Ita Als Expelled
Glomser, Gerrit Aut Sae Expelled
Dean, Julian Nzl Csc Outside Time
Secchiari, Francesco Ita Dve Retired
Svorada, Jan Cze Lam Retired
Dessel, Cyril Fra Pho Retired
Vandenbroucke, Frank Bel Qsd Retired
Apollonio, Massimo Ita Vin Retired
Weather - Partially cloudy to mostly clear for the entire stage.
Winds: Light northerly to northeasterly winds, a headwind to the riders
until Lourdes before the Col d'Aspin, and changing to a side or tailwind later
in the stage.
Temperatures: Mild temperatures around 19ºC at the lower elevations,
but cooling from 12 to 8ºC or cooler in the mountain pass areas.
Tomorrow's eighth stage continues through France and then returns to Spain
for the finish at the Pla.de Beret. Second in the "trilogy" of mountain stages,
this stage covers 166.2 kilometers and the ascents to the Col d'Aspin,
Peyresourde and Portillón. The final ascent to Pla de Beret is more difficult
for its length (20 kilometers) that by its average climb (4 percent).