|Today we have another battle between the breakaway men and the sprinters. The 162km route between Utiel and Cuenca has a Cat 3 climb 13km from the finish line. This will surely see many opportunists launching themselves in pursuit of stage glory.
Isidro Nozal (ONCE) should have no problem keeping himself in the Golden Fleece on a day like today.
6:38 am PDT. 76km left. Well, as we start coverage today, the "Big Rig," George Hincapie (US Postal), is on the attack with a few other riders.
Igor Astarloa (Saeco) abandoned the race. In the chase for the Hincapie group, Angel Casero (Bianchi) actually got shelled out the back for awhile.
Who's with George? Glad you asked. Unai Etxebarria (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Aitor Osa (iBanesto.com), Niki Aebersold (Phonak), Jurgen Van Goolen (Quickstep-Davitamon), Benjamin Noval (Colchon-Relax), Denis Lunghi (Alessio), Fabrizio Guidi (Bianchi), and Cesar Garcia (Labarca 2-Cafe Baque) are away with George.
Kelme is leading the chase in the main group. The lead of the Hincapie group is not much, only around 30".
So the jig is up... the George Hincapie group has been nailed back. Now Michael Sanstod (CSC) takes a flyer, but he is now getting nailed back. There are a lot of Posties and Kelmes on the front chasing. Not sure why. The pace is brutally high.
42km left. Well, Sanstod is still dangling off the front. Don't know why. Dude, they are right on your tail! Sit up and draft already!
The peloton split into pieces while chasing the Hincapie group, and a small group of a dozen men still dangles 1' behind the peloton. Angel Casero is in that group.
So now there is a small flurry of attacks and counters. We'll see if it amounts to anything.
6:56 am PDT. 39km left. So there is now a group of three men off the front. Oscar Sevilla (Kelme-Costa Blanca) is one of them!
Santiago Blanco (Relax-Fuenlabrada) and Bert Grabsch (Phonak) are with Oscarlito. Nice move...they have a good gap.
At the back of the peloton, Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) takes a run at the King of the Bushes competition, answering the call of nature while flying along at speed. Fortunately, he is facing away from the camera.
The Sevilla group is trying to bridge up to another group, actually (sorry I didn't mention that before). The cameras are sticking on Sevilla because he's such a favorite in Spain.
Floyd Landis (US Postal) is in the group of about ten men that Sevilla is trying to reach. ONCE-Eroski now comes to the front of the peloton to set the pace.
The Sevilla trio finally bridges up the the lead group, who has started playing games a bit.
This group has 35" on the peloton. Riders keep attacking this group of now about 15 men, feeling that it is too big to work hard.
Thomas Bruun and Michael Sandstod (CSC) are taking a flyer trying to bridge to the lead group now. Karsten Kroon (Rabobank) and David Etxebarria (Euskaltel-Euskadi) are in the lead group.
7:05 am PDT. 26km left. The CSC boys have been swept up by the ONCE train.
Santos Gonzalez is in this break. The break has about 30" still. They will hit the climb of the Cat 3 Alto del Castillo soon. That will blow things up a bit, for sure.
The gap is now up to 50". Constantino Zaballa (Kelme) also seems to be in this group. Oscar is on the attack!
7:16 am PDT. 20km to go. The gap is 51". The ONCE boys are by themselves trying to chase down about fifteen men. It looks like the break has a good chance to stay away.
Crash! An Euskaltel, a Cofidis, and a Domina Vacanze man went down in a roundabout. All seem to be back up, and trying to get back on.
The break still has 53". They are now starting the climb of the Alto del Castillo. Scarponi (Domina Vacanze) is in the break. There are a couple of Milaneza-MSS men in the mix. Hard to tell their numbers.
The breakaway is exploding! Men are attacking each other left and right. The climb is twisting, and the riders almost overcook it a few times into the corners, but manage to stay up. Santos Gonzalez (Domina Vacanze) has attacked and has a gap on the break. He twists through the very narrow streets over cobbles and between brick buildings. Gonzalez has 49" on the peloton. Lots of men are in between.
David Etxebarria has bridged up to Gonzalez, then attacks and drops him! Gonzalez is fighting back near the summit.
Etxebarria and Gonzalez are together now over the top of the climb. Men in ones and twos straggle over the top of the climb. Everything has hit the fan. Many riders have now been swallowed back up by the peloton.
7:29 am PDT. 8km left. Race radio says that Heras was caught up in that fall earlier, but I didn't see him down or in trouble.
The peloton is flying now on the descent. Lots of men have been swallowed by the ONCE drivetrain. Gonzalez and Etxebarria have 39", and a few men are off the front of the peloton chasing. Valverde (Kelme) is one of the men on the attack.
6km left. Sheesh, these are some narrow, winding, sketchy roads on this descent. Who would expect that in Spain? A Telekom rider now leads the peloton down the descent. Zabel must be in the peloton and feeling good. The twisting descent favors Gonzalez and Etxebarria. The gap is now still 31".
5km left. Man, they are just eating up the kilometers. Five men are in between the peloton and the lead duo. Two Telekoms are now on the front of the pack.
The five chasers are now getting nailed back by the peloton. Landis was one of the five men still off the front, but now he's back in the peloton. The gap to the lead duo is only 13".
4km left. Gonzalez and Etxebarria are still dangling off the front, but Zabel's boys are trying to set things up for "The Big E-Z".
Kelme is now helping Telekom to chase. Go figure.
3km left. The gap is very very small. They are now flying in the corners of the finishing city. Looks like it is over for the breakaways. Etxebarria is flying away in defiance. Gonzalez bridges back up!
Final Kilometer. Geez, these two are still holding off the peloton! They are now caught!
Here comes a sprint. Fassa men are now visible, so Petacchi must be here. Hincapie is in the mix. He comes the sprint! Looks like Zabel, but it was close! Zabel takes it by a tire over a Quickstep rider.
The German Champion is now spanking the bottoms of his rivals. He wins his second straight sprint, and may very well have taken the Points Jersey, as Petacchi wasn't in the top placings.
Provisional: 1. Zabel, 2. Boonen, 3. Edo. 4. Valverde, 5. Mancebo, 6. G. Gonzalez, 7. S. Casagrande, 8. Hincapie.
So it was a crazy stage, but Zabel's men managed to set him up perfectly and "The Big E-Z" takes his second straight stage and the Points Jersey. Despite word that he went down in a crash, Heras finished with the main field and lost no time.
Manuel Beltran, however, lost 1' as he finished in the 2nd group. That will hurt his chances for a podium finish. Perhaps it was Beltran who was in the crash.
Petacchi was also in that group that got trailed off on the final climb.
Thanks for joining us today! Tomorrow on Stage 12, the riders tackle a Cat 3 climb right off the line, and then it's downhill all the way to Albacete. We will see you then!
Stage 11 Results
1º Zabel, Erik Ger Tel 3:14:59
2º Boonen, Tom Bel Qsd m.t.
3º Edo, Angel Esp Mil m.t.
4º Valverde, Alejandro Esp Kel m.t.
5º Mancebo, Francisco Esp Ban m.t.
6º Gonzalez, Gorka Esp Eus m.t.
7º Casagranda, Stefano Ita Als m.t.
8º Hincapie, George Usa Usp m.t.
9º Jufre, José Esp Crf m.t.
10º Rasmussen, Michael Den Rab m.t.
11º Diaz Lobato, Pedro Esp Alm m.t.
12º Etxebarria, Unai Ven Eus m.t.
13º Nozal, Isidro Esp One m.t.
14º Gonzalez, Aitor Esp Fas m.t.
15º Silva, Renato Por Mil m.t.
16º Osa, Unai Esp Ban m.t.
17º Zaballa, Constantino Esp Kel m.t.
18º Grabsch, Bert Ger Pho m.t.
19º Sevilla, Oscar Esp Kel m.t.
20º Kroon, Karsten Ned Rab m.t.
21º Lopeboselli, Angelo Ita Cof m.t.
22º Pereiro, Oscar Esp Pho m.t.
23º Frigo, Dario Ita Fas m.t.
24º Heras, Roberto Esp Usp m.t.
25º Glez. Galdeano, Igor Esp One m.t.
26º Del Olmo, Txema Esp Mil m.t.
27º Flores, Iker Esp Eus m.t.
28º Serrano, Marcos Esp One m.t.
29º Sastre, Carlos Esp Csc m.t.
30º Calvente, Manuel Esp Csc m.t.
31º Gonzalez, Santos Esp Dve m.t.
32º Werner, Christian Ger Tel m.t.
33º Aerts, Mario Bel Tel m.t.
34º Garcia Acosta, José Esp Ban m.t.
35º Landis, Floyd Usa Usp m.t.
36º Leipheimer, Levy Usa Rab m.t.
37º Cardenas, Felix Col L2c m.t.
38º Atienza, Daniel Esp Cof m.t.
39º Piepoli, Leonardo Ita Ban m.t.
40º Blanco, Santiago Esp Crf m.t.
41º Etxebarria, David Esp Eus m.t.
42º Hiekmann, Torsten Ger Tel a 21
43º Cuesta, Iñigo Esp Cof a 1:02
44º Martin Perdiguero, Miguel Esp Dve a 1:02
45º Trentin, Guido Ita Cof a 1:02
46º Farazjin, Peter Bel Cof m.t.
47º Perez, Luis Esp Cof m.t.
48º Torrent, Carlos Esp Alm m.t.
49º Rebollo, Jose Luis Esp Crf m.t.
50º Barry, Michael Can Usp m.t.
54º Osa, Aitor Esp Ban m.t.
55º Julich, Bobby Usa Tel m.t.
57º Beltran, Manuel Esp Usp m.t.
58º Petacchi, Alessandro Ita Fas m.t.
59º Lastras, Pablo Esp Ban m.t.
64º Rodriguez, Fred Usa Vin m.t.
74º Vicioso, Angel Esp One m.t.
84º Möller, Klaus Den Mil m.t.
85º Cerezo, Francisco Esp L2c m.t.
103º Rodriguez, Joaquin Esp One a 3:41
104º Garate, Juan Manuel Esp Lam m.t.
111º Rubiera, José Luis Esp Usp m.t.
115º Casero, Angel Esp Tbi m.t.
117º Lunghi, Denis Ita Als a 6:53
129º Van Heeswijk, Max Ned Usp a 9:37
131º Millar, David Gbr Cof m.t.
142º Fernandez, Bingen Esp Cof a 10:56
143º Jaksche, Jörg Ger One m.t.
149º Zberg, Beat Sui Rab a 12:03
161º Lara, Francisco José Esp Tbi m.t.
162º Furlan, Angelo Ita Als m.t.
166º Laiseka, Roberto Esp Eus a 14:17
General Classification after Stage 11
1º Nozal, Isidro Esp One 37:12:40
2º Glez. Galdeano, Igor Esp One a 1:48
3º Beltran, Manuel Esp Usp a 3:03
4º Frigo, Dario Ita Fas a 3:05
5º Heras, Roberto Esp Usp a 3:28
6º Mancebo, Francisco Esp Ban a 3:40
7º Valverde, Alejandro Esp Kel a 3:57
8º Gonzalez, Aitor Esp Fas a 4:00
9º Rasmussen, Michael Den Rab a 4:04
10º Osa, Unai Esp Ban a 4:14
11º Perez, Luis Esp Cof a 5:27
12º Cardenas, Felix Col L2c a 6:21
13º Scarponi, Michele Ita Dve a 6:54
14º Gonzalez, Santos Esp Dve a 8:56
15º Serrano, Marcos Esp One a 9:10
16º Del Olmo, Txema Esp Mil a 9:18
17º Flores, Iker Esp Eus a 10:02
18º Garcia Casas, Félix Esp Tbi a 10:20
19º Sevilla, Oscar Esp Kel a 10:40
20º Pereiro, Oscar Esp Pho a 13:00
28º Sastre, Carlos Esp Csc a 34:29
34º Osa, Aitor Esp Ban a 40:43
44º Martin Perdiguero, Miguel Esp Dve a 55:53
45º Möller, Klaus Den Mil a 56:47
46º Garate, Juan Manuel Esp Lam a 1:00:08
47º Latasa, David Esp Kel a 1:03:26
63º Noval, Benjamín Esp Crf a 1:19:23
67º Barry ,Michael Can Usp a 1:21:41
69º Hincapie, George Usa Usp a 1:22:20
72º Aerts, Mario Bel Tel a 1:25:21
85º Zabel, Erik Ger Tel a 1:32:19
86º Edo, Angel Esp Mil a 1:33:24
87º Casero, Angel Esp Tbi a 1:33:37
88º Boonen, Tom Bel Qsd a 1:33:42
93º Navas, David Esp Crf a 1:37:38
96º Leipheimer, Levy Usa Rab a 1:39:38
102º Blanco, Santiago Esp Crf a 1:41:55
110º De Los Angeles, Juan José Esp Fas a 1:46:00
116º Petacchi, Alessandro Ita Fas a 1:48:21
124º Garmendia, Aitor Esp Tbi a 1:53:03
131º Rodriguez, Fred Usa Vin a 1:55:40
148º Casagranda, Stefano Ita Als a 2:02:52
157º Millar, David Gbr Cof a 2:11:14
162º Bayarri, Gonzalo Esp Pho a 2:12:36
Points after Stage 11
1º Zabel, Erik Ger Tel 92
2º Valverde, Alejandro Esp Kel 81
3º Etacchi, Alessandro Ita Fas 76
4º Nozal, Isidro Esp One 62
5º Etxebarria, Unai Ven Eus 57
6º Rodriguez, Joaquin Esp One 57
7º Perez, Luis Esp Cof 55
8º Edo, Angel Esp Mil 55
9º Rasmussen, Michael Den Rab 52
10º Cardenas, Felix Col L2c 51
11º Glez. Galdeano, Igor Esp One 49
12º Boonen, Tom Bel Qsd 49
13º Frigo, Dario Ita Fas 44
14º Etxebarria, David Esp Eus 40
15º Zaballa, Constantino Esp Kel 38
16º Osa, Unai Esp Ban 37
17º Beltran, Manuel Esp Usp 34
18º Mancebo, Francisco Esp Ban 33
19º Hruska, Jan Cze One 32
20º Jufre, José Esp Crf 25
KOM after Stage 11
1º Cardenas, Felix Col L2c 132
2º Osa, Aitor Esp Ban 106
3º Horrach, Joan Esp Mil 97
4º Perez, Luis Esp Cof 62
5º Jufre, José Esp Crf 55
6º Rodriguez, Joaquin Esp One 49
7º Valverde, Alejandro Esp Kel 42
8º Rasmussen, Michael Den Rab 37
9º Osa, Unai Esp Ban 36
10º Zaballa, Constantino Esp Kel 34
11º Etxebarria, Unai Ven Eus 31
12º Nozal, Isidro Esp One 31
13º Jeker, Fabian Sui Mil 30
14º Frigo, Dario Ita Fas 29
15º Piepoli, Leonardo Ita Ban 27
16º Etxebarria, David Esp Eus 23
17º Jimenez, Eladio Esp Ban 22
18º Heras, Roberto Esp Usp 21
19º Mancebo, Francisco Esp Ban 18
20º Lunghi, Denis Ita Als 17
Teams Classification after Stage 11
1º Once - Eroski ONE 111:41:55
2º IBanesto.com BAN a 3:01
3º Kelme - Costa Blanca KEL a 16:14
4º Euskaltel - Euskadi EUS a 20:39
5º Cofidis, le credit par telephone COF a 25:23
6º Milaneza - MSS MIL a 34:18
7º Fassa Bortolo FAS a 43:38
8º Domina Vacanze-Elitron-RDZ DVE a 51:06
9º US Postal Service Berry Floor USP a 1:01:57
10º Quick Step - Davitamon QSD a 1:42:47
11º Team CSC CSC a 1:55:29
12º Labarca-2 Cafe Baque L2C a 2:03:17
13º Paternina - Costa de Almeria ALM a 2:05:16
14º Colchon Relax - Fuenlabrada CRF a 2:14:10
15º Team Bianchi TBI a 2:15:01
16º Rabobank RAB a 2:28:56
17º Lampre LAM a 2:41:55
18º Phonak Hearing Systems PHO a 2:52:08
19º Team Telekom TEL a 3:03:57
20º Alessio ALS a 4:00:37
21º Saunier Duval - Vini Caldirola VIN a 4:58:27
22º Saeco - Longoni Sport SAE a 5:07:04