Sabadell, 15 September 2003 --The leader of Team Telekom, Eric Zabel, took
the victory in the tenth stage between Andorra and Sabadell covering a total of
194 kilometres. In the last few metres of the race, Zabel managed to overtake
Alessandro Petacchi of Fassa Bortolo who himself had had to work very hard to
overtake a group of riders with a ten second advantage in the last hundred
metres. The race got off to a very quick start and maintained that pace until
the end. There was one break away followed by another and even Oscar Sevilla
managed to escape. The group of sprinters had wanted to arrive together and,
although it was by no means easy, they did it. At the finish line Zabel overtook
Petacchi, Guidi, Rodríguez, Boonen, Valverde and Angel Edo. Isidro Nozal of
ONCE-Eroski keeps the Gold Jersey of the Leader.
Stage Report by Osvaldo Menéndez
In every sport it is fundamental to know the terrain on which you are going
to compete. The good mountain riders tend to visit the important mountain passes
before a big race. Almost always they go accompanied by representatives of the
press who test the hardness of the ramps and measure its slopes. The sprinters,
however, on their own account, visit the streets, on which they compete for the
final victory. They also tend to prepare well for the smaller races.
Eric Zabel was very familiar with the pretty straight of Sabadell, and
because of it, he won the tenth stage which started in Andorra and finished
before the predicted time, covering a total of 194 kilometres. The day turned
out to be as exciting and swift as was expected. From the first kilometre, the
breaks were consistent and although the escapists continued to get ahead of the
peloton, in the end it was the sprinters who prevailed. Moreni, Lopeboselli,
Flores, García Acosta, Mercado, Sevilla, Jeker, Guidi and Gorka all tried very
hard but could not get an advantage of three minutes.
Today, we also watched with pleasure how Oscar Sevilla got lucky and managed
to break away, though not for long. Sevilla is an idol for many cycling fans and
throughout the last few days, in particular, at Ossa de Montiel they have
suffered and today for the first time, they saw him succeed.
However, the conclusion of the stage had to be played in the final straight
in Sabadell. Although Astarloa and Luis Pérez dominated the last few kilometres
again, the pressure imposed by the team Fassa Bortolo was too much to cope with.
The last kilometre was certainly worthy of praise as it has been a long time
since there was such a complicated finish. With eight or ten riders leading by
only a small margain, the riders of Petacchi pinned their hopes on victory the
whole way through the race.
Petacchi wanted to win but Zabel was far more familiar with the terrain and
he took advantage of the Italian´s hard work to take the final victory. The
riders of Telekom showed that miracles can happen. The fact that Zabel beat
Petacchi and Isidro Nozal of ONCE-Eroski is still the Leader is good news. The
Cantabrian rider has won himself the Golden Jersey.
Comments from the Peloton
Erik Zabel, Team Telekom, Stage 10 winner: "I came to the Vuelta
for three reasons: to beat Petacchi, to prepare Worlds of Hamilton and to give
joy to all my friends of Majorca, where I know that racing is life."
"It is a good feeling to clearly beat the best sprinter of the season. It is
a miracle, but I came for this, and now that I have obtained it, I feel very
happy. It is one of the things that drives me to spend two years more in the
team. I want to continue my work and to teach the profession to younger
Zabel explained that the wind played a very important role in sprint of
Sabadell and that his strategy was based on letting to Petacchi mount the attack
to surpass him in the end. "I noticed that Alessandro was early, perhaps a
little in the wind. In this way I was able to come around him. I have been all
year trying it and I am very happy it for having achieved it. But I have to
recognize that I had an advantage because I knew the finish from the Setmana
Mario Kummer, Sports Director Team Telekom: "A good day for team
Telekom. The team has worked together in an exemplary way."
Aitor Gonzalez, Fassa Bortolo: "Until the Vuelta is over there are
always options, but others have more than I and now it's necessary to hope that
they fail. We will have to see how the time trial goes, but the important thing
is to remain consistent and to wait for the failure of others.
Regarding the race leader: "Four minutes it is a lot of time and Nozal goes
fortísimo [strongly] in the mountains and in the time trials; it is difficult to
take time out of him, but we hope that he fails and that we have strength to
attack him. He has shown that he tolerates the mountains better than Igor and in
the time time we saw the exhibition."
Angel Casero of Bianchi: "When it's not going your way, you can't do
anything else, you just have to try to recover and have morale, because there
are a lot of days left in the race. When you have an injury, you can't do
anything else but hold on and recuperate. It would be easy to go home, but I
believe you can do other important things, even if it's for a day, or two or
Miguel Martin Perdiguero, Domina Vacanze: Who could imagine that after
the Pyrenees we would have two days of rest. Because of course, yesterday's
little stage [Stage 10] was a transition stage. Four hours of racing doesn't
much tire people like us. While some teams were forcing things, the rest of us
were eating well on wheels and chatting to our buddies, for which we haven't had
much time in the past few days. An average of 47 km/h is silly. So I hope that
in the next few days things take off much faster, and once and for all they
finish pulling our eyes out. And the best of all is Zabel's joyful face: not
even in his wildest dreams did he think he could beat Petacchi."
Erik Zabel. © Unipublic.
Rest Day Tuesday. Next stop: Utiel and Cuenca
Cuenca, Spain. Please visit Gigi Oddone's wonderful photography
Thanks to Team Telekom, Todociclismo, Marca, AS.com, Rolando
de la Maza.