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Vuelta Espana Stage 18 Live Coverage
By Locutus
Date: 9/25/2003
Vuelta Espana Stage 18 Live Coverage

Hello and welcome to live coverage of the Vuelta Espana!

Today is a joyful 144km roll through some undulating hills for the riders between Las Rozas and Las Rozas. So it's a big loop. There are a few uncategorized climbs, and it may not be a day for the sprinters. But we'll just see, won't we.

Additional commentary by Jaime Nichols.

6:36 am PDT.So as we start our coverage, fifteen men are off the front: Bert Grabsch (Phonak), Francisco Cerezo Perales (Labarca 2 - Cafe Baques), and German Fernandez (Relax-Fuenlabrada) came 1-2-3 in the first intermediate sprint.

The group of fifteen has 2' 29". I'll give the full list in a second.

Millar (Cofidis), the winner of yesterday's stage with a brilliant break, is sitting near the back of the peloton taking it easy today. He keeps mumbling something about, "they can take our lives, but they can never take our freedom." Must be a Scottish thing.

Other men in the break: "Americano" Guido Trenti (Fassa Bortolo), Jose Luis Arrieta (, Carlos Garcia Quesada (Kelme-Costa Blanca), Pedro Diaz Lobato (Paternina-Costa de Almeria), Raphael Schweda (Bianchi), Thorsten Rund (Bianchi), Stephan Schreck (Telekom), Joan "Nudie" Horrach (Milaneza-MSS), Daniele Righi (Lampre), Constantino Zaballa (Kelme-Costa Blanca), Oscar Laguna (Relax-Fuenlabrada), Inaki Flores (Euskaltel-Euskadi), and Niki Aebersold (Phonak).

Francisco Mancebo has a flat, he's had a change, and is chasing back on. He's pacing himself back on behind the US Postal car.

Quickstep and Vini Caldirola are leading the chase...Domina Vacanze also lend a hand. They are all teams with sprinters who have missed the break.

Freddy Rodriguez and Tom Boonen have been close a few times during this Vuelta. Interesting that Postal has nobody in the break. They are just taking it easy protecting their leaders today.

Arrieta attacks the break on this small, uncategorized climb. He is being chased... Quesada attacks now. The break is splintering under the pressure.

6:59 am PDT. 52km left. The fifteen men are all together again. Phonak, Kelme, and Relax each have 2 riders in this break.

The riders are flying along, 49.8 km/h the last hour. Again, they must all have hot dates waiting at the finish line. They haven't been dallying at all in this Vuelta. Amazing.

Vini Caldirola, Domina Vacanze, and Quickstep are still driving it in the peloton. Lombardi must like his chances.

Today is the birthday of Michele Scarponi (Domina Vacanze-Elitron). The young man is only 24 years old. He'd like to celebrate with a victory by his teammate Lombardi.

Kelme's Manzano attacks the pack...

Is he bridging up to his teammate in the break? The Kermit man has a good gap. Of course, he could just be trying to improve the numbers of his team, who already have two men there. Or maybe to incite the field to chase...

7:08am PDT. 52 km to go. The big break only has about 1' 30" now.

Stephan "Ogre" Schreck had a go, attacking the break, but he's now been brought back.

7:12am PDT. 46km left. Quickstep has two men on the front driving the peloton. Domina Vacanze has two men helping. The break is not really driving it any more. Horrach tried to attack, but is now brought back. There is no cohesion up there any more, with lots of passengers. The group is just too big.

Meanwhile, Millar sits in the pack thinking about his chances in the world championships. He keeps referring to it as "the Gathering," and mumbling something about "there can only be one." Of course, after his ride yesterday, Millar has to be considered as a darkhorse favorite for the road race, as well as a hot favorite for the time trial.

7:18 am PDT. The peloton is strung out through the streets of a small, beautiful town on the route. The way that the teams of the sprinters are working, it may very well come down to a bunch bash. Telekom and Fassa Bortolo aren't working at the front because they have men in the break, but you can bet Petacchi and Zabel are already eyeing each other.

Will these undulating hills take some of the sap out of Petacchi's legs? We'll see.

The riders are really struggling up a climb. There's a crash!

It was an Euskaltel man who went down near the front of the peloton. They were going slowly enough so that nobody else hit the deck. Nobody appears to have been hurt, and the Euskaltel man is back up and riding.

David Etxebarria (Euskaltel) is flying away on an attack.

This is really a nasty little climb! It has shelled a few men from the break, and now these men are being picked up by the peloton.

Etxebarria is only 30" behind the leaders, and closing rapidly. Horrach is attacking again from the group, and only a few men have held his wheel. Etxebarria looks like he is going to catch that lead group, which is now down to about five men! Geez, this little hill blew that break to bits. The peloton has swept up most of them now.

7:29 am PDT. 38km left. Etxebarria is now up to Trenti, who is holding onto his wheel trying to bridge back up to the few men off the front. Horrach, Arrieta, and Flores are the only ones left at the front of the race. Etxebarria and Trenti are now picking up Schreck.

The Horrach group has 57" on the peloton.

So it's Horrach, Arrieta, and Isasi Flores off the front. They are chased by a group of four with D. Etxebarria, Trenti, Schreck, and Cerezo Perales. Now Etxebarria drops the three others.

Etxebarria is out of the saddle, and really just flying down the road. The men ahead of him have been off the front since the 20km mark, so they won't have nearly as much in reserve as Etxebarria. If he can join that lead trio, then there will be two Euskaltels in that lead group.

7:36 am PDT. 28km left. That lead trio is still away, and Etxebarria has now been swept back up by the other men from the original break.

The three leaders are 54" ahead of that chase group, and the peloton is a bit further back. It will be hard for the peloton to make the chase on these twisting roads.

With Trenti and Schreck off the front still, Fassa and Telekom don't have to chase. The peloton is 2' 11" behind the lead trio. The chasers are 50" behind the leaders.

7:41 am PDT. 23km left. Now Jose Vincente Garcia Acosta (iBanesto) attacks. He was back up to the lead group, somehow, and is flying up the road solo at the front of the race. He has a good gap.

He has some cool shades on, and is grimacing in pain up another long, rolling hill as he hammers on his attack.

7:45 am PDT. 21km left. Garcia Acosta is still just ahead of a regrouped break of about ten men. Now Horrach bridges up to Garcia Acosta. The two men start to take turns to stay away from the many chasers.

Horrach gets chased down, with the chase led by Arrieta. Now Horrach flies off the front again! He has a gap, but that hasn't meant much today.

20km left. The chasers are looking at each other. They seem to want to attack rather than cooperate. Horrach only has 8" on the chasers.

Diaz Lobato is now the man at the front of the race. Horrach is chasing, followed by another group of about five men. The peloton is over 2' 30" behind! This break can now very well stay clear! The rolling hills have put the wood to the sprinters and their teams, it seems.

All seven men on the front of the race have now regrouped.

7:51 am PDT. This front group includes Horrach, Arrieta, Diaz Lobato, Isasi, wait, Diaz Lobato is off the front still. He calls for water from the neutral support car.

So Pedro Diaz Lobato (Paternina-Costa de Almeria) is solo off the front, being chased by an ever-changing group of six to seven riders.

7:55 am PDT. 14km left. Diaz Lobato has 15" on the chase group of seven men. That chase group is still sitting up looking at each other a bit. They don't want to work together! Horrach attacks again, and he is being chased by Isasi Flores. Arrieta is there, as is Schweda.

7:58 am PDT. 12km left. The gap is growing to over 20" now. Garcia Quesada (Kelme) is in this chase group, but now he attacks! Horrach chases him down, as the riders hit a small climb. That chase group is now down to five men. Meanwhile, Diaz Lobato continues to hammer away. A group of Etxebarria, Schreck, Trenti, and one other is a bit further back.

10km left. The gap for Diaz Lobato is 26" ahead of the five-man chase. The men in that chase are continuously attacking each other. The peloton is 2' 03" back, and accelerating. But it looks a bit late for the peloton, led by CSC, to bring back the break.

Horrach attacks again from the five-man chase. He is followed by Garcia Acosta, Isasi Flores, Garcia Quesada, and Schweda.

These five men are now back together. If they keep attacking each other instead of working, they will never catch Diaz Lobato!

6km left. Diaz Lobato is now 43" ahead of the five-man chase, which is completely disorganized.

The peloton is out of it. No way they will catch back on now. 5 km to go.

Pedro Diaz Lobato is hammering solo. He looks like he is going to win the stage. That chase behind is 55" in arrears, and still monkeying around instead of chasing.

3km left. The status is the same. This will be a great victory for the Paternina Costa de Almeria team! They are one of the little teams in the race, but this is a big attack.

Hmmm... in the peloton, a crosswind is threatening to split the group. There are a lot of US Postal jerseys up near the front of the peloton.

2km left for Pedro Diaz Lobato. The peloton is now split about 2' behind, as someone has put the hammer down.

Final Kilometer. Pedro Diaz Lobato will win. He has a lead of over 1' on his chasers. He is now in the final straight. He is talking to his team manager, and he still looking over his shoulder. He can't believe it!

He celebrates as he crosses the line. The fans go crazy as Pedro Diaz Lobato wins the stage.

Here comes the sprint for 2nd. A Kelme man takes 2nd. Here comes the field sprint. Zabel takes Petacchi!

The Kelme man thought he won the stage! He was pumping the air as he finished, celebrating, but he must not have known that Diaz Lobato was up the road! He's in for a rude greeting from the judges.

Alejandro Valverde (Kelme) was dropped by the peloton! He has lost time as the peloton split!

It will be interesting to see what other kind of damage that split in the peloton caused. The cameras were with the break, so it was hard to tell what was going on back there.

1. Diaz Lobato, 2. Zaballa, 3. Arrieta, 4. Schweda, 5. Garcia Acosta, 6. Isasi, 7. Horrach, 8. Laguna, 9. Garcia Quesada, 10. Zabel, 11. Petacchi, 12. Rodriguez.

Zaballa had bridged up to the chase group, and so he didn't know that a man had gotten free. When he caught that chase, he thought he was then racing for the win.

It looks like Valverde had a puncture in the final kilometer, and the judges are giving him the same time as the peloton at this point.

The split in the peloton wasn't as severe as we thought. Some men were trailed off, but it mostly came back together before they crossed the finish line.

The GC remains the same. Diaz Lobato is now on the podium, smootching some girls with large green tube tops and stylish handbags. He looks very happy.

Please join us again tomorrow for more "leg-busting" as the riders face two Category 3 and two Category 1 climbs on the way from La Vega de Alcobendas to Collado Villalba. Thanks for reading today!

Stage 18 Results

1 Diaz Lobato, Pedro Esp Alm 3:07:47
2 Zaballa, Constantino Esp Kel a 44
3 Arrieta, Jos Luis Esp Ban m.t.
4 Schweda, Raphael Ger Tbi m.t.
5 Garcia Acosta, Jos Esp Ban m.t.
6 Isasi, Iaki Esp Eus m.t.
7 Horrach, Joan Esp Mil a 47
8 Laguna, Oscar Esp Crf a 52
9 Garcia Quesada, Carlos Esp Kel a 56
10 Zabel, Erik Ger Tel a 58
11 Petacchi, Alessandro Ita Fas m.t.
12 Rodriguez, Fred Usa Vin m.t.
13 Usov, Alexandre Blr Pho m.t.
14 Guidi, Fabrizio Ita Tbi m.t.
15 Bruun, Thomas Den Csc m.t.
16 Ivanov, Serguei Rus Fas m.t.
17 Edo, Angel Esp Mil m.t.
18 Martin Perdiguero, Miguel Esp Dve m.t.
19 Etxebarria, Unai Ven Eus m.t.
20 Rasmussen, Michael Den Rab m.t.
21 Gonzalez, Gorka Esp Eus m.t.
22 Torrent, Carlos Esp Alm m.t.
23 Lombardi, Giovanni Ita Dve a 1:02
24 Jufre, Jos Esp Crf m.t.
25 Osa, Unai Esp Ban m.t.
26 Sastre, Carlos Esp Csc m.t.
27 Osa, Aitor Esp Ban m.t.
28 Martinez, Alberto Esp Eus m.t.
29 Lara, Francisco Jos Esp Tbi m.t.
30 Lopez, David Esp L2c m.t.
31 Beltran, Manuel Esp Usp m.t.
32 Sevilla, Oscar Esp Kel m.t.
33 Landis, Floyd Usa Usp m.t.
34 Perez, Santiago Esp Pho m.t.
35 Nozal, Isidro Esp One m.t.
36 Heras, Roberto Esp Usp m.t.
37 Engels, Addy Ned Rab m.t.
38 Cardenas, Felix Col L2c m.t.
39 Glez. Galdeano, Igor Esp One m.t.
40 De Los Angeles, Juan Jos Esp Fas m.t.
41 Werner, Christian Ger Tel m.t.
42 Calvente, Manuel Esp Csc m.t.
43 Mancebo, Francisco Esp Ban m.t.
44 Burgos, Nacor Esp Crf m.t.
45 Lastras, Pablo Esp Ban m.t.
46 Noval, Benjamn Esp Crf m.t.
47 Rebollo, Jose Luis Esp Crf m.t.
48 Vicioso, Angel Esp One m.t.
49 Pradera, Mikel Esp One m.t.
50 Del Olmo, Txema Esp Mil m.t.
53 Garcia Casas, Flix Esp Tbi m.t.
55 Perez, Luis Esp Cof m.t.
56 Etxebarria, David Esp Eus m.t.
65 Cardoso, Pedro Por Mil m.t.
66 Atienza, Daniel Esp Cof m.t.
67 Julich, Bobby Usa Tel m.t.
68 Rodriguez, Joaquin Esp One m.t.
73 Barry ,Michael Can Usp a 2:21
74 Amorim, Gonalo Por Mil a 2:21
76 Fuentes, Juan Esp Sae a 2:50
86 Navas, David Esp Crf a 3:51
96 Piccoli, Mariano Ita Lam m.t.
104 Frigo, Dario Ita Fas m.t.
108 Boonen, Tom Bel Qsd m.t.
112 Van Heeswijk, Max Ned Usp m.t.
113 Piepoli, Leonardo Ita Ban m.t.
120 Schreck, Stephan Ger Tel m.t.
124 Laiseka, Roberto Esp Eus m.t.
130 Latasa, David Esp Kel m.t.
135 Mercado, Juan Miguel Esp Ban m.t.
136 Rubiera, Jos Luis Esp Usp m.t.
138 Leipheimer, Levy Usa Rab m.t.
144 Nieto, Germn Esp Crf m.t.
146 Fernandez, Bingen Esp Cof m.t.
151 Kroon, Karsten Ned Rab m.t.
153 Millar, David Gbr Cof m.t.

General Classification after Stage 18

1 Nozal, Isidro Esp One 61:20:42
2 Glez. Galdeano, Igor Esp One a 3:03
3 Heras, Roberto Esp Usp a 3:09
4 Beltran, Manuel Esp Usp a 5:16
5 Valverde, Alejandro Esp Kel a 5:20
6 Mancebo, Francisco Esp Ban a 6:27
7 Rasmussen, Michael Den Rab a 7:25
8 Perez, Luis Esp Cof a 8:51
9 Osa, Unai Esp Ban a 8:57
10 Cardenas, Felix Col L2c a 9:28
11 Gonzalez, Santos Esp Dve a 10:41
12 Scarponi, Michele Ita Dve a 11:25
13 Sevilla, Oscar Esp Kel a 12:03
14 Serrano, Marcos Esp One a 13:30
15 Garcia Casas, Flix Esp Tbi a 14:57
16 Del Olmo, Txema Esp Mil a 15:28
17 Flores, Iker Esp Eus a 17:44
18 Pereiro, Oscar Esp Pho a 18:13
19 Trentin, Guido Ita Cof a 29:15
20 Jufre, Jos Esp Crf a 33:07
21 Frigo, Dario Ita Fas a 40:49
22 Cuesta, Iigo Esp Cof a 40:59
23 Calvente, Manuel Esp Csc a 48:01
24 Piepoli, Leonardo Ita Ban a 48:45
25 Osa, Aitor Esp Ban a 51:38

Points Classification after Stage 18

1 Zabel, Erik Ger Tel 151
2 Petacchi, Alessandro Ita Fas 135
3 Valverde, Alejandro Esp Kel 125
4 Cardenas, Felix Col L2c 97
5 Nozal, Isidro Esp One 92
6 Rasmussen, Michael Den Rab 91
7 Edo, Angel Esp Mil 70
8 Boonen, Tom Bel Qsd 68
9 Etxebarria, Unai Ven Eus 67
10 Osa, Unai Esp Ban 66
11 Perez, Luis Esp Cof 65
12 Millar, David Gbr Cof 65
13 Rodriguez, Fred Usa Vin 64
14 Glez. Galdeano, Igor Esp One 61
15 Zaballa, Constantino Esp Kel 60
16 Rodriguez, Joaquin Esp One 57
17 Heras, Roberto Esp Usp 53
18 Mancebo, Francisco Esp Ban 53
19 Diaz Lobato, Pedro Esp Alm 52
20 Sevilla, Oscar Esp Kel 52

Mountains Classification after Stage 18

1 Cardenas, Felix Col L2c 194
2 Osa, Aitor Esp Ban 112
3 Horrach, Joan Esp Mil 101
4 Valverde, Alejandro Esp Kel 88
5 Perez, Luis Esp Cof 72
6 Jufre, Jos Esp Crf 57
7 Rasmussen, Michael Den Rab 56
8 Osa, Unai Esp Ban 52
9 Sevilla, Oscar Esp Kel 49
10 Rodriguez, Joaquin Esp One 49
11 Heras, Roberto Esp Usp 47
12 Zaballa, Constantino Esp Kel 40
13 Piepoli, Leonardo Ita Ban 39
14 Etxebarria, Unai Ven Eus 31
15 Nozal, Isidro Esp One 31
16 Mercado, Juan Miguel Esp Ban 31
17 Jeker, Fabian Sui Mil 30
18 Frigo, Dario Ita Fas 29
19 Etxebarria, David Esp Eus 23
20 Mancebo, Francisco Esp Ban 23

Teams Classification after Stage 18

1 Once - Eroski ONE 184:10:27
2 BAN a 5:13
3 Kelme - Costa Blanca KEL a 22:24
4 Cofidis, le credit par telephone COF a 31:08
5 Euskaltel - Euskadi EUS a 39:21
6 Milaneza - MSS MIL a 42:20
7 Domina Vacanze-Elitron-RDZ DVE a 1:01:45
8 US Postal Service Berry Floor USP a 1:34:23
9 Fassa Bortolo FAS a 1:54:01
10 Colchon Relax - Fuenlabrada CRF a 2:34:33
11 Team CSC CSC a 2:44:17
12 Paternina - Costa de Almeria ALM a 2:52:08
13 Quick Step - Davitamon QSD a 3:00:47
14 Labarca-2 Cafe Baque L2C a 3:02:23
15 Rabobank RAB a 3:07:48
16 Team Bianchi TBI a 3:35:56
17 Phonak Hearing Systems PHO a 3:53:49
18 Team Telekom TEL a 4:03:55
19 Lampre LAM a 4:49:28
20 Alessio ALS a 5:47:26
21 Saunier Duval - Vini Caldirola VIN a 7:02:20
22 Saeco - Longoni Sport SAE a 8:04:2

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