The young and new leader of Kelme-Costa Blanca, Alejandro Valverde, won the
ninth stage of the Vuelta a España 2003 today, between Vielha and Port
d´Envalira over 174.8 kilometres.
Valverde was the strongest man today and won at the finish line, beating the
great favourites of the race. On the home stretch he managed to beat Frigo, Unai
Osa, Piepoli, Mancebo, Cárdenas and Nozal. Aitor González and Roberto Heras put
pressure on ONCE-Eroski. Igor González de Galdeano lost some time. Manuel
Beltrán suffered to be among the best. The teams that want to win La Vuelta
controlled all the breakaways and the ascents to Bonaigua, Cantó and Envalira
climbs. The Colombian rider Félix Cárdenas, of Labarca 2 - Café Baqué was the
one who fought the hardest for the triumph. Isidro Nozal keeps his Gold Jersey
for another day.
The approach to the first climb of the day, the Port de la
Bonaigua. © Unipublic.
Stage Report by Osvaldo Menéndez
This Stage Number Nine of the edition 58th of Vuelta a España had a certain
similarity with the previous ones: a really hard fight for the final triumph. In
a day in which the riders had to ascend three different climbs: Bonaigua, Cantó
and Envalira, the outcome was unclear until the very last minute. The ninth
stage between Vielha and Port d´Envalira was decided at the very last kilometre
with all the protagonists on the stage.
The main actor was the very young rider Alejandro Valverde Belmonte of
Kelme-Costa Blanca in front of Frigo, Unai Osa, Piepoli, Mancebo and the
Colombian rider Félix Cárdenas, no doubt the one who fought harder. This young
boy of 23, born in Murcia, is having an excellent year and some think that he is
very likely to become a new Spanish star within international cycling. Valverde
has also become the new leader of Kelme-Costa Blanca as Oscar Sevilla is
suffering too much from his injuries, and Valverde has done it really well; he
is brave and sure. At Envalira the rider from Puerto Lumbreras managed to leave
behind the favourite and best riders in the world. His victory can make us keep
on betting on cycling, specially in Spain, where the teams are short of
The day was remarkable. The modest riders of Labarca2 - Café Baqué were
great; they fought hard to take the Colombian Cárdenas to the final victory and
they almost got it. Isidro Nozal and the yellow team did not let them achieve
their aim; those of ONCE-Eroski never stop behaving like real heroes. Cárdenas
also had to face attacks from riders such as Aitor González, Roberto Heras,
Beltrán, Rasmusen and some other riders of iBanesto.com such as Unai Osa,
Leonardo Piepoli and Francisco Mancebo. The race was so complicated and the
strength so similar that those who survived the Pyrenees were able to reach the
two thousand metres at Envalira. Isidro Nozal suffered more than enough for one
day. He watched Heras and he managed to keep his Gold Jersey for another day.
The kisses and flowers were for Alejandro Valverde. The future of Spanish
cycling does not seem so dark after all. The brilliant performances will
Golden Jersey Isidro Nozal during the stage. He retains
the leader's jersey for the 6th day. © Unipublic.
Heras attacks and Nozal responds. Courtesy ONCE-Eroski.
Alejandro Valverde. © Unipublic.
Alejandro Valverde Palmares
A pro since 2002 and in his second season with Kelme, this young man has a
nice string of victories this year. The 23 year old Valverde plans to marry his
fiancee of six years soon, and has a renewed three-year contract with his only
1st: 9th Stage Vuelta a España - Spain 14/09/2003
1st: Stage 3 Vuelta Pais Vasco - Spain 07/04/2003
1st: Clasica Primavera - Spain 13/04/2003
1st: Stage 3 Vuelta Aragon - Spain 16/04/2003
1st: Stage 4a Vuelta Aragon - Spain
1st: Trofeo Joaquin Agostinho - Portugal 09/07/2003
1st: Stage 5 Trofeo Joaquin Agostinho - Portugal 09/07/2003
1st: Prueba Villafranca de Ordizia - Spain 27/07/2003
1st: Challenge Illes Balears - Spain 06/02/2003
3rd: Vuelta Andalucia - Spain 16/02/2003
3rd: Trofeo Luis Puig - Spain 23/02/2003
3rd: Trofeo Joaquin Agostinho - Portugal 09/07/2003
5th: Vuelta Pais Vasco - Spain 07/04/2003
19th: Criterium Internacional - France 29/03/2003
24th: Vuelta Burgos - Spain 11/08/2003
7 Circuito Getxo - Spain 31/07/2002
8 Clasica Almeria - Spain 03/03/2002
9 Clasica Alcobendas - Spain 11/05/2002
19 Vuelta Burgos - Spain 12/08/2002
24 Vuelta Romandia - Swizterland 30/04/2002
Alejandro Valverde of Kelme-Costa Blanca today. © Unipublic.
From the Peloton
One of the animators of today's race, Benjamin Noval of Relax
Fuenlabrada, is apparently confirmed to ride for US Postal/Berry Floor for next
Roberto Heras, from his diary at the USPS/Berry Floor
"Today, I did everything that was in my power. I tried to get away several
times, even during the final kms when Director Sportif Johan Bruyneel gave me
carte blance to attack. The final climb turned out to be not steep enough, while
the headwind was in the advantage of my main rivals. Too bad.
"That Nozal is extremely strong and withstands all attacks. This much is
clear, if he can keep this up, he’s a potential candidate for final victory. De
Galdeano turns out to be vulnerable and today loses terrain again. Anyway, we’ll
see what happens during the days to come. I will keep on trying, this Tour of
Spain is far from finished!"
Joaquin Rodriguez, ONCE-Eroski, winner of yesterday's stage: "The
leader of the team continues being Igor, but Isidro Nozal is this strong and the
important thing is to win. The leader is Igor and he is the one who has more
options, but in any case Isidro is fortísimo [strong] and it will be necessary for him to maintain everything he can."
Alejandro Valverde, Kelme-Costa Blanca: "It did not surprise me that
so many of us arrived at the finish, because there are 20 riders in great form
and the ascent was very hard with the rare air. To attack was very difficult. I
am content and if something more comes, I welcome it, but already I am in
agreement with my participation in this Vuelta."
Race leader Isidro Nozal had the pleasure of meeting Miss Andorra
today. Courtesy ONCE-Eroski.
Perez, Sergio Esp L2c Expelled for holding onto car
Virenque, Richard Fra Qsd Expelled for holding onto car
Zuelle, Alex Sui Pho Abandoned during the stage
Weather: Sunny again for the entire stage. Winds: Easterly and southeasterly
the entire way. Headwind until Bellver de Cerdanya, then head and/or side wind
from the left nearer the finish.
Temperatures: A mild day with temperatures around 24ºC in the lower stage areas
in the arrival; around 16ºC in the higher mountainous stage areas.
The race travels down near the coast tomorrow, out of the Pyrenees. It's a
basically downhill course, with one Cat 3 climb 40 km from the finish, but it's
also long at 194 km. So it should be a day for the sprinters, should they have
any legs left, to give them a different kind of day. Certainly Tuesday's
transfer/rest day will be high on everyone's mind as well...
Thanks to Unipublic, USPS/Berry Floor, ONCE-Eroski, Todociclismo,
Contrareloj, Velo Club du Net.