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Vuelta Stage 14 Roundup
By Janna Trevisanut
Date: 9/20/2003
Vuelta Stage 14 Roundup

In Brief

Valdepeñas, 20 September 2003--The Italian rider, Alessandro Petacchi, of Fassa Bortolo, achieved the fourth stage win in Vuelta 2003, equaling his number of Tour wins this year. The best sprinter nowadays won at Valdepeñas after having covered 167.4 kilometres. Petacchi was the main protagonist of a very long home sprint and managed to beat Fred Rodriguez of Saunier Duval-Vini Caldirola and Eric Zabel of Telekom at the finish line. All throughout the day there were several breakaways, but the strongest teams imposed their power. Isidro Nozal, of Once-Eroski, did not have any problem holding onto the Golden Fleece.

Today is a very mixed one for the Fassa team - while Petacchi was winning at the Vuelta, his teammate Michele Bartoli took the day's honors at the 1.1 Giro del Lazio, but Aitor González, dorsal number one, abandoned the Vuelta at the 91st kilometre.

Stage Report by Osvaldo Menéndez

Petacchi is a name to be remembered; apart from the four victories he has achieved so far in this edition of Vuelta a España, he had already achieved four more at the Tour de France and six at the Giro d´Italia. He has set the record of victories in the three major tours by so much that it is likely to remain unbeaten for many years. This time it was the 14th stage between Albacete and Valdepeñas.

He became a real champion in the land of the wine, in Castilla-La Mancha. It would not be a bad idea if his name were used for a wine. This time Petacchi had to face a very long sprint, where Fred Rodríguez, Eric Zabel, Thomas Bruun and Tom Bonen made things really difficult for him.

As his quality as a rider and sprinter is incomparable in this moment, his fourth victory in La Vuelta could have been even simpler; but it was not because there was such a mixture of riders fighting for the stage win that no favourite could be helped by any of his team mates.

[Click for much larger image] © Unipublic

Fassa Bortolo´s happiness has been overshadowed by Aitor González´s abandon in this beautiful Saturday of September; he had to abandon the race after having covered 91 kilometres of the route. Aitor González, the rider who surprised everyone in last year´s edition, finished near Valdepeñas a very unlucky season. His life has, no doubt, improved but his progress as a professional rider has not, and that is the only important thing here. He could not recover his old strength and power at any moment and he has to withdraw with many questions unanswered. Most of the prestige he achieved last year has been lost during this season 2003 with the Fassa Bortolo.

[Click for much larger image] © Unipublic

Today the pace was frantic, nearly fifty kilometres per hour during the first part of the stage. The bravest riders attempted to break away, but only Guidi, García Quesada, Lombardi, Moreni and Joachim managed to achieve an advantage of nearly three minutes. They were happy all the time the leader´s group wanted and finally they had to fight the home sprint.

[Click for much larger image] © Unipublic

There were sad moments today but some others very happy. All the riders enjoyed the moment when they reached Ossa de Montiel. The people at Oscar Sevilla´s home town did their utmost to encourage him. It was exciting to see Sevilla´s fans shouting and clapping, it should always be like that everywhere. At La Pandera the atmosphere will be very similar thanks to Manolo Beltrán and Roberto Heras.

Isidro Nozal managed to keep his Gold Jersey of Leader Overall for another day and Petacchi climbed to the podium in Valdepeñas wearing the orange dot Jersey of the Allround Standings.

Nozal on the podium again. Surely the podium
girl is not that unattractive...
© Unipublic

From the Peloton

Cofidis' Peter Farazjin did not take the start today after breaking his collarbone in yesterday's time trial. We wish him a speedy recovery.

The Kelme team has renewed sponsorship until at least 2007.

Nerves? Carlos Golbano, of Paternina Costa Almeria, complained to the race jury that Alessandro Petacchi hit him in the face during the sprint. The technical jury summoned both riders and heard both's stories,  Golbano citing incorrect behavior. Petacchi explained that it was inadvertent and heat of the moment, and apologized to the Paternina rider. While the Almerian rider did not agree, he did not want to harm the Italian's overall chances in the race and accepted the explanation. The jury decided on a 200 franc fine for Petacchi.

Alessandro Petacchi, Fassa Bortolo, after dedicating his victory to his Spanish companion Gonzalez: "This streak is incredible and will be very difficult to repeat in the next seasons. Now I am going to try to arrive at Madrid with the points jersey, but Zabel is a great champion and it will be difficult."

Aitor Gonzalez, Fassa Bortolo, on his abandonment: "Once again I have to abandon a big race due to health problems; for some days I had throat problems, I could not eat and I rested poorly at night. Every day I had to force myself."

The hope of Isidro Nozal, ONCE-Eroski, race leader: "To be able to arrive in Madrid with the maillot", although “it would not be a surprise if something happens and I don't get it. Nozal is that he will make an effort “for all those that trust me."

Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, ONCE-Eroski: "It is more not to lose, rather than winning. We have gotten attentive, wrapping up the leader to see if we win the Vuelta."

Courtesy ONCE-Eroski.


Weather --Sunny tomorrow until about the 120 km mark, just before the start of the mountains, where clouds are expected. Light winds throughout the stage, from the south and southeast, coming either at the riders or from their right. It will be hot for the riders (32ºC) in the lower elevations, cooling to a pleasant 20ºC once the riders climb toward the Sierra de la Pandera.

Thanks to Todociclismo, ONCE-Eroski, Velo Club, La Vuelta,

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