Vuelta a España
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Las Rozas-Las Rozas - Stage 18
25 September 2003
Díaz Lobato wins at Las Rozas
by Osvaldo Menéndez
The Paternina-Costa de Almería rider, Pedro Díaz Lobato achieved the 18th
stage win of the Vuelta 2003. The stage started and ended at Las Rozas and
covered 143.8 kilometres. Díaz Lobato has been working really hard all the time
during this edition of La Vuelta for the stage win.
Pedro Díaz Lobato (Paternina-Costa de Almería) won the 18th stage after a
long solo break at an extremely high average speed: 45.9 kilometres per hour.
The Spanish rider thus registered his third win in the professional category.
Since turning pro in 1999, Lobato has remained in the same modest team: Relax-Fuenlabrada
This time he was the protagonist of a break away where there were very
important riders such as Chente García Acosta and Joan Horrach; at the end he
showed who was the strongest rider during the last 20 kilometres. The pace was
frantic again and Isidro Nozal, of Once-Eroski, is Leader Overall once again.
Alejandro Valverde suffered a puncture in the very last kilometre..
Official Race Chronicle
Díaz Lobato achieved his deserved prize on the streets of Las Rozas
Perseverance is a virtue that a modest rider must never forget. Pedro Díaz
Lobato knows that among so many stars it is very difficult to shine. His life as
a professional rider has also taught him not to stop ever and keep on trying as
many times as possible. That is why, the rider from Madrid, gave it his best
today, achieved the best prize at Las Rozas and made his team completely happy.
The eighteenth stage, that covered 143.8 kilometres along the streets of
Madrid, was one of the quickest ones in this Vuelta 2003. These roads are
covered many times by any kind of riders, professional or amateur and they are
very suitable to ride alone and as fast as possible, therefore it was expected
that the riders from Madrid wanted to be the protagonists today.
The attempts to break away were almost continuous all the time, just
controlled by those teams that have the podium of Paseo del Prado in their
minds. Today, a day that we could say again that the riders "flew" to the finish
line, the last forty kilometres were decisive. The everyday protagonists had to
face the exhaustion, lack of strength and pressure. Laguna, Isasi, Arrieta,
García Acosta, Horrach, Schweda and specially Pedro Horrillo found a very good
moment to go in search of the triumph.
What Díaz Lobato´s team mates did not know was that one girl-friend of the
Paternina-Costa de Almería rider had come to visit him and to give him a pair of
very powerful glasses at the start of the stage and that he wanted to arrive
earlier than the rest to the finish line to see her again.
Even though García Acosta and Joan Horrach tried as hard as possible to avoid
Miguel Moreno´s rider´s stage win at Las Rozas, the last twenty kilometres of
the Madrid-born rider were amazing and brilliant and no one was able to catch
him up. The first positions Overall did not have any problem to arrive very
close to Isidro Nozal, who is still Leader Overall. Valverde was so unlucky as
to suffer a puncture at the very last kilometre, but so lucky as to arrive to
the end unharmed. Today´s stage has not meant many changes but it made the
survivors of this "battle" more tired even.
Díaz Lobato: “I’ve been trying for a win stage for various days”
The winner of 18th stage of the Vuelta commented before the cameras of
Spanish national television: “(I have been trying for a stage win for various
days”, in reference to his numerous attempts to enter breaks.
“I spoke with my team manager, Martínez Oliver about a stage win, and I’ve
been lucky enough to win in my home territory. I’m in a good moment of form and
I feel very strong”.
His victory came after having worked hard during the entire stage: “It was a
very hard day today, and more so given the fact that we are all very tired. This
made it very hard to win. There were a lot of people in the break, but once we
were down to, I think, five riders it became a question of strength and not
Fortunately, in addition to strength, Lobato was also accompanied by large
doses of good fortune: “Olivia, a good friend of mine, gave me various good luck
charms and they have obviously helped me”.
Valverde punctures and Nozal maintains the leadership
No major changes were produced in the General Classification following
today’s stage, although Alejandro Valverde (Kelme-Costa Blanca) suffered a shock
on route to the finish in Las Rozas (Madrid). Valverde, 5th in the General
Classification, suffered a puncture during the final kilometre, although at the
finish he was accredited with the same time as that of the main group, headed by
Erik Zabel (Telekom).
Isidro Nozal (ONCE-Eroski) was able to hold on to his yellow jersey without
difficulty. The coming two stages (tomorrow’s stage includes the climb of
Navacerrada, whilst Saturday’s stage is a hill climb in Abantos) present the
final opportunities for those riders wishing to occupy a position on the final
podium. Nozal is currently accompanied by second placed team mate Igor González
de Galdeano and Roberto Heras (US Postal Service) at the head of the General
Maestre, the Lanterne Rouge
José Manuel Maestre currently occupies last place in the General
Classification, far removed from the battle for the leader’s Golden Jersey.
The Relax-Fuenlabrada rider has held the position of red lantern since the
3rd stage, having previously occupied the penultimate position as a result of a
crash during the 1st stage team time trial.
Maestre has an ample “advantage” of 35 minutes over Francisco Gutiérrez (Labarca
2-Café Baqué), who is lying in penultimate position. Sven Teutenberg was the
last rider in the General Classification of the Vuelta 2002.
“When looking back, the stage in and around Las Rozas was rather treacherous.
There were hardly any flat parts, there was a lot of wind and the pace was very
high, which meant I had to keep a sharp look-out. There were no team-mates among
the sixteen that got away, but in the peloton they still had to work hard to
keep the group together. You never know the main bunch splits up into several
parts. Therefore, everyone in the team rode in front almost all of the race.”
“Tomorrow, it’s double or nothing for me. In this 162 km long stage with two
cols of first category there’s still hope for me to take back time. Dirk told me
a number of years ago the leader’s jersey changed shoulders after exactly the
same stage. Then, Pedro Delgado took over first place at the expense of Robert
Millar, once everyone thought he had won the Vuelta.”
“If I can take back some time to Nozal, Saturday’s climb time trial could
become very exciting. Anyway, I still feel very good and how little my chances
may be, I will still try my best to make things turn for the best.” (U S Postal
La Vega de Alcobendas - Collado Villalba 164 kms
This surely will be a very interesting stage. The narrow road of the natural
park that leads to Hoyo and Torrelodones will make things interesting but much
more will be the climbs to San Lorenzo del Escorial, Alto de Los Leones, Angeles
de San Rafael and specially the seven narrow bends of the Navacerrada climb.
Last year the rain was the main protagonist during the first half of a very
similar stage but then the fight was constant. The triumph was finally achieved
by Pablo Lastras followed by Zubeldia and Möller.
The favourite riders had hard problems to follow their wheels and lost nine
seconds and there was a group of riders who arrived in Collado Villalba more
than two minutes behind the leader.
This year the fight will be similar and very few riders will have time to
think of Abantos.