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Vuelta Stage 7 Roundup
By Janna Trevisanut
Date: 9/12/2003
Vuelta Stage 7 Roundup

Stage Highlights

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 day.

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 encourage them.

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.

Frattini, Davide 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 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).

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