Welcome to live coverage of the Vuelta Espana, today stage 16.
Today is a mostly uphill, 162 km stage with a 3rd category climb after about 40 km, a bit more elevation after that, then a downslope for about 50 km before the riders begin the Sierra Nevada Cat 1 climb. The Sierra Nevada reaches an elevation of over 2500 meters.
The riders had their second rest day yesterday, so legs and heads will be fresh and the challenges today serious. There are 19km of climbing ahead, so it's an important day.
6:46 am PDT. The situation on the road is this: Pedro Lobato Diaz (Paternina) and Antonio Tauler (Kelme) have a break of 7'47".
Felix Cardenas has his Labarca team on the front and the chase is gradual, but on. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano is back at the ONCE car having a few words with Manolo Saiz.
The peloton's pace is lower today than in past days, the first hour of racing was at 41.1 km/h, the second hour at 43.6 km/h.
Lobato and Tauler's break began with a much larger group who escaped with 100km to go. There were fifteen riders away - José Luis Rubiera, Daniel Atienza, Unai Etxebarria, José Luis Arrieta, Pablo Lastras, Aitor Osa, Carlos García Quezada, Antonio Tauler, Felix Cárdenas, Joan Horrach, Pedro Diaz, Santiago Pérez, Pedro Horrillo, Carlos Sastre and Mario Aerts. At the 80km mark the peloton was able to catch most of these men, but Tauler and Lobato stayed away.
Lobato and Tauler are in the streets of Granada, approaching the sprint point. The peloton is on the highway at the outskirts of the city. Rabobank has joined Labarca at the front, riding for their man, Rasmussen.
There's a sharp end of the peloton now... with more teams coming forward to make the pace.
Labarca still leads the effort for Cardenas. Behind them: Rabobank, and and a couple of ONCE men.
128 km mark. Petacchi and Zabel are dueling for the points jersey - Zabel gets the intermediate sprint on the line. Zabel led out... Petacchi tried to come around him, but Zabel held him off. This was for 1 sprint point.
Coming into today, Zabel led Petacchi by four points on the Points Classification. In this sprint, Petacchi actually threw his bike so hard that the front wheel came off the ground. These two are separated by only 3 points now, and the competition is hot. But Zabel is a tenacious little man.
The leaders are on the foot of the climb, as the peloton streams through the gorgeous city of Granada.
7:03 am PDT. Word is that Alejandro Valverde wants to work for his teammate Oscar Sevilla today...The lead is down to 6'47".
There are big crowds lining the course in Granada, in the city, and the peloton is streaming down a beautiful tree-lined avenue, with Rabobank heading up the front of the peloton en masse.
Michael Rasmussen has said he would like to finish this race on the podium. He is Rabobank's best GC man, currently in 7th place, 8'28" down, but they could also be setting something up for Levi Leipheimer, if he's gaining form and looking for redemption.
This final week of the Vuelta is extremely important for certain Spanish riders, who are being watched by the Spanish national selector for the Worlds Elite Road Race team. The selector has said that he wants to see who is willing to work hard and who is on top form.
The selector has chosen 15 riders, but must cut four for the final selection.
7:10 am PDT. The peloton is at the foot of the climb. Labarca is back on duty with the chase... Cardenas is chasing a stage win, and this is sure to be a hotly contested race.
Helmets are coming off, as they are on the start of the final climb of the day.
Tauler and Lobato are heading on, their lead is 6'02".
Cardenas, of course, leads the Mountains Classification, coming into today with 164 points, leading number two Aitor Osa who had 106 points.
Now Postal is coming to the front. Max Van Heeswik and Matt White are on the front behind Labarca looking to pick up the pace. This race has been relentless in its speed, and it now looks like today will be no exception, the nasty climb notwithstanding. In fact, the break is down to 5'38", and coming down as the leaders get into the meat of the climb.
David Millar gives a load of helmets to the team car...
Max Van Heeswijk is right on the front, leading out the Postal train. Behind him, Matt White, and behind them, Rabobank.
Postal has two men well-placed in the GC - Roberto Heras is in third spot 4.02 behind leader Nozal, and Manuel Beltran is behind Heras in fourth at 5.22. It will be interesting to see if Postal can close down any surprises today, which they didn't quite accomplish on Sunday. Floyd Landis is now pulling on the front of the bunch.
Now it's all the climbers...Beltran is on the front with Heras. Beltran, by the way, is one of those pre-selected for the Worlds RR team, so he must show himself well. This might explain why he is working so hard - he is drilling it hard, and they do have to attack and attack hard to make a difference today.
7:22 am PDT. Guys are getting dropped. Aitor Osa is off! He has attacked.
The peloton has exploded... but Nozal is still in it.
Oscar Sevilla is there, Heras on his wheel. Cardenas is also in the wheels, waiting. Kelme's Gutierrez is bridgiing up to Osa with Milaneza's Jeker and Carlos Sastre of CSC.
The peloton is straggling and the attacks are constant... the road is steeper now. Heras is driving hard, and it looks like there is a gap to Nozal.
Sevilla is now leading the main pack, and it looks like there's a brief truce... the time gap is now inside 4 minutes.
7:30 am PDT. Beltran is fading, he sacrificed himself for Heras today. Oscar Sevilla has attacked with Heras on his wheel!
Heras and Sevilla have already caught the leaders, and they are distancing the ONCE boys. Sevilla and Heras are drilling it hard.
Sevilla and Heras are ahead and if looks like Fabian Jeker is with them. Nozal has caught up! The group is back together a bit. No, Tauler and Lobato are still ahead - they have 2' 50" still.
The riders are under 30 km left. The average speed for the third hour has been 43.7 km/h. Aitor Osa leads a new chase - Alejandro Valverde and Sevilla are having a chat after Sevilla drops back to him...
Oscarlito puts his arm around his teammate - probably checking how he's feeling.
Kelme wants to blow this race apart, but they don't want to sacrifice Valverde's position.
Now Sevilla is going again! Leonardo Piepoli and Felix Cardenas are on his wheel! No response from ONCE, no Heras!
Sevilla is riding like he wants this stage.
Now Heras is coming in. Heras is zooming up, and Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano is chasing him. Nozal has been gapped again! Rasmussen is chasing hard again!
Now Valverde has a sudden surge of strength and follows and Nozal is in trouble. And Sevilla has turned off the gas...Everyone in the top ten is in the group....except Nozal.
Sevilla attacks AGAIN!
Nozal is back on the back of this group! Tauler and Lobato still lead...2'37".
7:38 am PDT. iBanesto attacks! 19 kilometers to go to the summit, and these boys are hammering each other to absolute PIECES!
The main pack is back together, and Lobato and Tauler's lead is inside 2 minutes - 1'22" - Tony Tauler has cracked.
He is turning over the pedals in pure pain.
Sevilla, Cardenas, Mercado and a fourth man are off the front...there has been a headwind to the riders in the last kms.
Gutierrez leads the field; behind him, Heras, and behind Heras, the indefatigable Isidro Nozal! The gap is now 57" from the Sevilla group to Lobato. Sevilla is on fire today!
The fourth man in his group is Cofidis' Atienza.
So, Lobato is still ahead by just under a minute, behind him, Sevilla, Cardenas, Mercado and Atienza...not far back on them are the heads of state - Nozal, IGG, Heras, Rasmussen, etc.
Kelme has Gutierrez and Valverde in that group as well, and it looks like the Kermits are on a tear today.
7:49 am PDT. 15 km to go.The gap is 34" to Lobato. Sevilla is motioning to his breakaway companions to pull through, goddamit! Mercado has attacked the Sevilla group...
The field is now 1'45" behind the lone leader, the Sevilla group in between. Lobato... Mercado... Sevilla's group... then the pack with Nozal. Cardenas is following wheels again, and his companions are frustrated.
Leonardo Piepoli is with the Sevilla group now, and attacking! Valverde out of nowhere!
He's after Piepoli, working for Sevilla today, chasing breaks. Kelme has great numbers, and Kelme is riding smart right now.
ONCE men lead the main pack, and Nozal is still there. Levi Leipheimer is right there as well. Del Olmo has joined Valverde and Piepoli.
Beltran has returned to the group! He is fighting so hard...
The speed of this chasing group has shaken it up and it's not staying together well. The speed keeps fluctuating, with Sevilla and Valverde doing most of the work. 12 km to go.
Sevilla, Atienza and Cardenas are now joined by Valverde, Piepoli... Lobato is close to being caught, as this is a strong breakaway.
8:00 am PDT. The pack is single file now. The gap from the Sevilla group to the pack is 52". ONCE still has four men in the main pack, so they are looking strong.
Beltran and Heras are back together, which is an incredible performance from Beltran, who sacrificed himself earlier.
There are about 20 riders in this group. Lobato is caught by the Sevilla group. Lobato was away for over 60 km, what a great ride for his team sponsors, Paternina.
He latches onto the back of that group, and the pack is behind by 52". If it keeps on like this, Valverde could move up to fourth place. Nozal looks like he is starting to push.
Sevilla and Valverde lead this group. Lobato is dropped, he couldn't hang on.
9km to go. ONCE and Milaneza MSS on the front of the pack, 59" behind.
8 km to go. The lead may have increased just a little, to just over a minute.
There's an attack off Sevilla's group....Cardenas is being forced into the chase as a Banesto riders attacks. Gap is 51". Valverde having trouble hanging on while Sevilla continues to do the work.
The attacks are starting from the Sevilla group, they are all testing each other. A Euskaltel rider attacking from the bunch.
Beltran has attacked the pack, forcing ONCE to chase, but he is caught pretty quickly.
Beltran looks tired. Heras moves up. ONCE leads the pack, Heras is in a sea of yellow and gold.
8:12 am PDT. 5 km to go. Juan Mercado on the attack ahead of the Sevilla group.
Heras and Rasmussen move!
Serrano is with them. 4km to the finish! Where is Nozal? Nozal and ONCE are not joining him. Heras is DRILLING IT.
Nozal is out of the saddle, and the strain is showing on his face, but he is a fighter. Gonzalez de Galdeano is right there with him.
ONCE's Marco Serrano leads the chase. Atienza is spit out the back of the front group.
Nozal has no need to panic, and he is riding tempo set by his teammate Serrano. Mercado is caught by the Sevilla group.
Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano is no longer in this other chasing group. He risks losing his second place to a hard charging Heras!
Heras is 31" behind the leaders, and 15" ahead of the gold jersey group.
Nozal is fighting! Serrano is shouting encouragement to his teammate.
Heras is gaining, but not as much as he wanted to...Cardenas is trying to close the gap to Mercado. Valverde and Sevilla are chasing them.
The leaders are under the flamme rouge. Mercado in front, has only 1km to go.
Mercado is still clear.
Cardenas is after him. Cardenas has him now, and Mercado is pouring on the gas! Cardenas has attacked Mercado, and is dashing flat out for the finish!
Cardenas has it... he is in the final meters.
He has plenty of time to celebrate, CARDENAS wins.
Mercado is second. Sevilla is third, ahead of Valverde and then Piepoli.
Piepoli, Aitor Osa, then Heras. The golden jersey has not yet come over the line. Beltran is over the line...
Nozal is there. He concedes almost a minute - 53 or 55".
1º Felix Cárdenas - La Barca 4.09:33
2º Juan Miguel Mercado - Banesto a 5"
3º Oscar Sevilla - Kelme a 16"
'' Alejandro Valverde - Kelme mt.
5º Leonardo Piepoli - Banesto a 21
6º Txema Del Olmo - Milaneza a 31
7º Unai Osa - Banesto a 58
8º Roberto Heras - US Postal a 1:02
'' Michael Rasmussen - Rabobank mt.
24º NOZAL, Isidro - ONCE a 1:55
1º Nozal, Isidro ESP ONE 54:13:10
2º Gonzalez Galdeano, Igor ESP ONE a 3:03
3º Heras, Roberto ESP USP a 3:09
4º Valverde, Alejandro ESP KEL a 5:00
5º Beltran, Manuel ESP USP a 5:16
Thanks for reading today. Look for more Vuelta news later, and join us tomorrow for more live coverage as we begin the final countdown.
There are five stages left in this tour - tomorrow is Granada to Cordoba, with three intermediate sprint opportunities, and a Cat 2 climb near the stage conclusion that gies a very steep downhill to the finish. Venga! Today's results and classifications below.
Stage 16 Results
1º Cardenas, Felix Col L2c 4:09:35
2º Mercado, Juan Miguel Esp Ban a 5
3º Sevilla, Oscar Esp Kel a 18
4º Valverde, Alejandro Esp Kel a 18
5º Piepoli, Leonardo Ita Ban a 21
6º Del Olmo, Txema Esp Mil a 31
7º Osa, Unai Esp Ban a 58
8º Heras, Roberto Esp Usp a 1:02
9º Rasmussen, Michael Den Rab a 1:02
10º Mancebo, Francisco Esp Ban a 1:11
11º Jufre, José Esp Crf a 1:32
12º Garcia Casas, Félix Esp Tbi a 1:32
13º Scarponi, Michele Ita Dve a 1:32
14º Gutierrez , José Esp Kel a 1:35
15º Rebollo, Jose Luis Esp Crf a 1:35
16º Gonzalez, Santos Esp Dve a 1:37
17º Leipheimer, Levy Usa Rab a 1:38
18º Pereiro, Oscar Esp Pho a 1:46
19º Serrano, Marcos Esp One a 1:49
20º Beltran, Manuel Esp Usp m.t.
21º Möller, Klaus Den Mil m.t.
22º Blanco, Santiago Esp Crf a 1:55
23º Glez. Galdeano, Igor Esp One m.t.
24º Nozal, Isidro Esp One m.t.
25º Laiseka, Roberto Esp Eus a 2:01
26º Flores, Iker Esp Eus a 2:03
27º Cuesta, Iñigo Esp Cof a 2:14
28º Perez, Luis Esp Cof m.t.
29º Atienza, Daniel Esp Cof m.t.
30º Jeker, Fabian Sui Mil a 2:29
31º Calvente, Manuel Esp Csc a 2:48
32º Perez, Santiago Esp Pho a 2:54
33º Horrach, Joan Esp Mil a 3:44
34º Osa, Aitor Esp Ban a 3:58
35º Martinez, Alberto Esp Eus a 4:12
36º Etxebarria, David Esp Eus a 4:44
37º Diaz Lobato, Pedro Esp Alm a 5:14
38º Cañada, David Esp Qsd a 5:23
39º Martin Perdiguero, Miguel Esp Dve m.t.
40º Werner, Christian Ger Tel m.t.
41º Trentin, Guido Ita Cof m.t.
42º Rodriguez, Joaquin Esp One m.t.
43º Martinez, José Luis Esp Alm a 5:38
44º Sastre, Carlos Esp Csc a 6:01
45º Van Goolen, Jurgen Bel Qsd a 6:18
46º Gonzalez, Gorka Esp Eus a 6:29
47º Noval, Benjamín Esp Crf a 7:53
48º Burgos, Nacor Esp Crf a 7:53
49º Navas, David Esp Crf m.t.
50º Torrent, Carlos Esp Alm m.t
52º Lopeboselli, Angelo Ita Cof m.t
56º Pospyeyev, Kyryl Ukr Dve m.t
59º Frigo, Dario Ita Fas a 7:58
60º Millar, David Gbr Cof m.t
68º Aerts, Mario Bel Tel a 12:04
71º Tauler, Antonio Esp Kel a 13:39
78º Garate, Juan Manuel Esp Lam a 20:54
79º Piccoli, Mariano Ita Lam m.t
80º Edo, Angel Esp Mil m.t
81º Zabel, Erik Ger Tel m.t
90º Grabsch, Bert Ger Pho m.t
92º Barry, Michael Can Usp m.t
99º Fofonov, Dmitri Kaz Cof m.t
100º Fernandez, Bingen Esp Cof m.t
103º Sorensen, Nicki Den Csc m.t
109º Moreni, Cristian Ita Als m.t
110º Kroon, Karsten Ned Rab m.t
111º Joachim, Benoit Lux Usp m.t
115º Vicioso, Angel Esp One a 21:48
118º Boonen, Tom Bel Qsd a 25:34
119º Casagranda, Stefano Ita Als m.t
122º Julich, Bobby Usa Tel m.t
123º Petacchi, Alessandro Ita Fas m.t
131º Rodriguez, Fred Usa Vin m.t
132º Landis, Floyd Usa Usp m.t
139º Bertogliati, Rubens Sui Lam m.t
140º Horrillo, Pedro Esp Qsd m.t
141º Sandstod, Michael Den Csc m.t
143º Jaksche, Jörg Ger One m.t
144º Rubiera, José Luis Esp Usp m.t
148º Van Heeswijk, Max Ned Usp m.t
150º Lastras, Pablo Esp Ban m.t
158º Laguna, Oscar Esp Crf m.t
George Hincapie US Postal - Did not start
Vladimir Belli Lampre - Did not start
General Classification after Stage 16
1º Nozal, Isidro Esp One 54:13:10
2º Glez. Galdeano, Igor Esp One a 3:03
3º Heras, Roberto Esp Usp a 3:09
4º Valverde, Alejandro Esp Kel a 5:00
5º Beltran, Manuel Esp Usp a 5:16
6º Mancebo, Francisco Esp Ban a 6:27
7º Rasmussen, Michael Den Rab a 7:34
8º Perez, Luis Esp Cof a 8:51
9º Osa, Unai Esp Ban a 9:02
10º Cardenas, Felix Col L2c a 9:28
11º Gonzalez, Santos Esp Dve a 10:41
12º Scarponi, Michele Ita Dve a 11:25
13º Sevilla, Oscar Esp Kel a 12:08
14º Serrano, Marcos Esp One a 13:30
15º Garcia Casas, Félix Esp Tbi a 14:57
16º Del Olmo, Txema Esp Mil a 15:08
17º Flores, Iker Esp Eus a 17:44
18º Pereiro, Oscar Esp Pho a 18:13
19º Frigo, Dario Ita Fas a 24:30
20º Trentin, Guido Ita Cof a 29:15
21º Jufre, José Esp Crf a 33:07
22º Cuesta, Iñigo Esp Cof a 40:59
23º Piepoli, Leonardo Ita Ban a 45:56
24º Calvente, Manuel Esp Csc a 48:01
25º Osa, Aitor Esp Ban a 51:38
Points Classification after Stage 16
1º Zabel, Erik Ger Tel 135
2º Petacchi, Alessandro Ita Fas 130
3º Valverde, Alejandro Esp Kel 123
4º Cardenas, Felix Col L2c 96
5º Nozal, Isidro Esp One 92
6º Rasmussen, Michael Den Rab 79
7º Etxebarria, Unai Ven Eus 65
8º Perez, Luis Esp Cof 65
9º Edo, Angel Esp Mil 62
10º Glez. Galdeano, Igor Esp One 61
11º Boonen, Tom Bel Qsd 61
12º Rodriguez, Joaquin Esp One 57
13º Heras, Roberto Esp Usp 53
14º Mancebo, Francisco Esp Ban 53
15º Osa, Unai Esp Ban 52
16º Rodriguez, Fred Usa Vin 51
17º Beltran, Manuel Esp Usp 47
18º Frigo, Dario Ita Fas 44
19º Etxebarria, David Esp Eus 42
20º Zaballa, Constantino Esp Kel 40
21º Millar, David Gbr Cof 40
Mountains Classification after Stage 16
1º Cardenas, Felix Col L2c 194
2º Osa, Aitor Esp Ban 112
3º Horrach, Joan Esp Mil 101
4º Valverde, Alejandro Esp Kel 88
5º Perez, Luis Esp Cof 72
6º Jufre, José Esp Crf 57
7º Rasmussen, Michael Den Rab 49
8º Rodriguez, Joaquin Esp One 49
9º Heras, Roberto Esp Usp 47
10º Osa, Unai Esp Ban 47
11º Sevilla, Oscar Esp Kel 46
12º Zaballa, Constantino Esp Kel 40
13º Piepoli, Leonardo Ita Ban 39
14º Etxebarria, Unai Ven Eus 31
15º Nozal, Isidro Esp One 31
16º Mercado, Juan Miguel Esp Ban 30
17º Jeker, Fabian Sui Mil 30
18º Frigo, Dario Ita Fas 29
19º Etxebarria, David Esp Eus 23
20º Mancebo, Francisco Esp Ban 23
Teams Classification after Stage 16
1º Once - Eroski ONE 162:47:51
2º IBanesto.com BAN a 5:54
3º Kelme - Costa Blanca KEL a 22:33
4º Cofidis, le credit par telephone COF a 31:49
5º Euskaltel - Euskadi EUS a 39:52
6º Milaneza - MSS MIL a 42:19
7º Domina Vacanze-Elitron-RDZ DVE a 1:01:49
8º US Postal Service Berry Floor USP a 1:30:30
9º Fassa Bortolo FAS a 1:48:13
10º Colchon Relax - Fuenlabrada CRF a 2:34:43
11º Team CSC CSC a 2:42:18
12º Quick Step - Davitamon QSD a 2:44:44
13º Paternina - Costa de Almeria ALM a 2:45:38
14º Labarca-2 Cafe Baque L2C a 2:55:46
15º Rabobank RAB a 3:03:07
16º Team Bianchi TBI a 3:28:27
17º Phonak Hearing Systems PHO a 3:46:02
18º Team Telekom TEL a 4:00:11
19º Lampre LAM a 4:28:44
20º Alessio ALS a 5:31:29
21º Saunier Duval - Vini Caldirola VIN a 6:37:51
22º Saeco - Longoni Sport SAE a 7:41:43