Hello and welcome to live coverage of the Vuelta Espana!
So today is the final road stage through the mountains of this year's Vuelta. The 164km course from La Vega de Alcobendas to Collado Villalba includes two Cat 1 climbs and two Cat 3 climbs.
The big battle will likely happen on the Cat 1 Alto de Navacerrada, which starts at 127.5km and peaks at 141.6km. Then there is a 22.5km descent to the finish.
6:35 am PDT. There was a big break early that included several riders. Some of the names: Angel Edo (Milaneza-MSS), "Pretty Boy" Floyd Landis (US Postal), Mariano Piccoli (Lampre), Oscar Pereiro (Phonak), Angel Vicioso (ONCE-Eroski), Constantino Zaballa and Jesus Manzano (Kelme-Costa Blanca), Beat Zberg (Rabobank), Michael Sandstod (CSC), Juan Jose De Los Angeles (Fassa Bortolo), and a few others.
Their lead has grown to over 7'. ONCE leads the peloton. However, Heras and others have started to attack and blow the peloton to pieces. Heras (US Postal) has just dropped Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE) on the climb of the first Cat 1, the Alto de Los Leones, which has some very steep sections that suit Heras.
80km left. The field is split to pieces. Nozal (ONCE) is with Heras, however, defending his Gold Jersey perfectly.
Oh, the biggest name that I left out of that early break was Klaus Moller (Milaneza-MSS), who is driving the group that has a now 5' lead on the Gold Jersey group. The gap came down quite a bit on that Cat 1 climb as Heras attacked.
Gonzalez de Galdeano has two teammates on the front of his group trying to help him bridge back up to the group with Heras and Nozal.
6:42 am PDT. 68km left. The peloton is regrouping a bit. Gonzalez de Galdeano has finally bridged back up to the Gold Jersey group. Now Valverde (Kelme-Costa Blanca) attacks the Gold Jersey group!
That lead group is down to about eight men. Landis and Moller are still there, as is Zaballa. They are working well together, about 5' ahead of the Gold Jersey group.
Valverde is in the second group on the road. The peloton, which includes Heras, Nozal, and Gonzalez de Galdeano, is the third group on the road.
The break has a gap of 4' 29" now. They are on the Cat 3 Alto Los Angeles de San Rafael.
That gap is to the second group on the road. That second group has about 30" on the peloton.
ONCE has to be a bit nervous. The final climb of the day suits their talents, but they look to be a bit burnt after all their work in this race.
Valverde's group is about to get swallowed up by the pack.
6:54 am PDT. 61km left. ONCE is en masse at the front of the pack, and they have swept by the remains of that chase group. ONCE has seven men on the front of the peloton.
The peloton is through the Cat 3 climb of the Los Angeles de San Rafael, and now they have a long section with a slight downhill before the final climb, the Cat 1 Alto de Navacerrada.
The Navacerrada's steepest point is 8.1%, not as steep as the earlier Cat 1 where Heras attacked. Also, there's that 22.5km downhill section to the finish. It will be hard for Heras to hold a lead and take time all the way to the finish today. But he'll sure try, if that earlier climb was any indication.
6:59 am PDT 54km left. The peloton is very large, with ONCE still leading. They are flying on the way to the base of the final climb, but they have a ways to go still. The break up the road is regrouping a bit too. They have a lead of 4' 14" still.
Rabobank boys Beat Zberg and Karsten Kroon have regained that lead group, as has the ONCE rider Vicioso.
Oscar Pereiro (Phonak) drives the lead group.
Now Kroon has attacked the lead group on the final flat section leading up to the final climb. The gap is 4' 30".
7:08 am PDT. 47km left. Jose Gutierrez (Kelme) attacks the peloton.
They are all on the ramp up to the final climb. There is a bit of a false flat incline leading up to the base of the actual climb. That will make it seem like a very long climb.
The peloton is all strung out. The hammer is down. It's a single file line of ONCE, followed by a long blue train.
Gutierrez is in sight of the front of the pack. They are serious now.
The Kermits have been attack-crazy in this Vuelta. It's been great to see those Kelme boys get their mojo back.
The lead group is now 4' 18" ahead of the peloton.
The break is on a the ramp up, and the mountains are looming ahead of them. Landis is well positioned in that group, and if Heras can bridge on the climb, Landis is capable of helping him quite a bit. He's taking it easy up there - not working too hard.
7:17 am PDT. 38km left. Moller is the big danger man in that front group.
He's not a GC threat any more, but he is a tough climber who can take the stage. Now CSC is helping ONCE lead the peloton. Sastre must be feeling frisky.
So reports indicate that Stuart O'Grady will be signing with Cofidis for next year. Millar will like that.
7:22 am PDT. 36km left. The break is now on the final climb, the Cat 1 Alto de Navacerrada. Floyd Landis will likely be waiting for Heras on this climb, and not attacking. That's something of a shame, because "Pretty Boy" Floyd is capable of taking out his mountain banjo and whacking people with it on occasion.
Zaballa has attacked the break. He is probably still pissed about coming in 2nd yesterday... he thought he'd won it, and started to celebrate, not knowing that Diaz Lobato had crossed the finish some 45" before. D'OH!
7:26 am PDT. 34km left. The peloton is 3' 45" behind the leaders. They are now on the final climb.
Landis and Vicioso are actually helping the break chase down Zaballa. Interesting. The gap is down to 3'45".
Zaballa has a very small lead over the break, but they have him in their sights. The first few kilometers of this climb are only about 3% or easier. Soon, the steeper sections of 6.8-8.1% will hit. Kroon counters from the break.
But he's fired up the others, and now Lara and Moreni attack.
That break is now getting all jumpy. Meanwhile, the attacks have started on the front of the climb, and Domina Vacanze have joined the pacemaking.
Zaballa is sitting up now. He's been nailed back. Landis is right there at the front of that break. Moller and Vicioso take a dig. Lara bridges, with Landis on his wheel.
Since Postal have Landis up the road, so they aren't going to lead out on the climb. They'll just save it for attacking. And with Domina Vacanze working for them, there's no need.
Domina Vacanze had a couple of men in that earlier attack with Valverde. They clearly have a plan for today.
Leipheimer is driving the peloton! The Rabos are active on the front, and Leipheimer is really showing some legs. There are some Posties lingering near the front.
Heras attacks! He has dropped the peloton!
Perez (Cofidis) is leading the chase. The peloton is blowing to pieces!
Perez nails him back, but Heras accelerates again. Nozal is in trouble! Heras keeps looking back for the Golden Jersey, he is really planning to put the screws to 'em today. Gonzalez de Galdeano is dropped! Beltran is glued to his wheel.
Heras is off, with Felix Cardenas. Heras is putting the big hurt on the peloton! The Spanish fly has taken out his mountain stick, and is whacking his rivals with it.
Piepoli (iBanesto.com) bridges to Cardenas and Heras. Not surprisingly, Cardenas is just sitting on the wheel of Heras. This is an all or nothing attack by Heras. The peloton is going to pieces, and Heras is fighting for it. Heras has Cardenas working!
Valverde and Sevilla are in the group of about fifteen with Nozal in it. Heras doesn't have much of a gap yet. The pack is decimated.
Valverde is nailing back the Heras break.
Sevilla attacks! Heras is caught, but Nozal is isolated. Sevilla takes over the pace-making, with Cardenas on his wheel. Nozal is the last ONCE man in the front of the race, and he is hanging on.
Scarponi (Domina Vacanze) and Fabian Jeker (Milaneza-MSS) get swept up by Sevilla.
They tried an attack, but it couldn't withstand the onslaught of Oscarlito "The Flying Elf" Sevilla! The mountain smurfs are really starting to have their way on this climb.
Beltran will have to try to drop Gonzalez de Galdeano and bridge up to this Gold Jersey group if he wants to maintain his GC position... Valverde is taking time on him right now.
7:47 am PDT. 27km left. Nozal has been dropped! Heras is putting the hammer down, and Nozal has been shed! But Nozal has a teammate with him, now. It's Marcos Serano, pacing his man, but Nozal is in trouble.
Up the road, there is a group of four remaining from that break. Nozal's teammate Vicioso is in that group of four...does he know about Nozal's problems?
The Postal Team car zips past Nozal. That is a sure sign that Heras has opened up a bit of a gap. Serrano is now pacing Nozal.
Santos Gonzalez (Domina Vacanze) is with Nozal as well. Manolo Saiz is screaming at the camera motorbikes. Saiz is very angry with the camera motorbike.
Simeoni (Domina Vacanze) is at the front of the race right now. Moller is chasing him. The original breakaway is shattered.
It is chaos on this climb. There are too many groups for all the camera motorbikes to cover. All hell has broken loose, for sure. Gonzalez is now pacing Nozal! Weird, they are on different teams.
Heras is by himself flying up the mountain now. He is trying to bridge with some of the attackers from the break. Where is his man Landis?
Heras is really pounding this climb into submission. But he will have to find some men to help him on that 22.5km descent if he wants to take some time today.
Heras goes over the top of the climb only 1' 10" behind the leaders.
7:53 am PDT. 22km left. The gap to Nozal is growing. Beltran and Gonzalez de Galdeano are now back up to the Nozal group. Heras has put over 1' on Nozal.
Heras has put 1' 30" on Nozal, as the Gold Jersey goes over the top of the climb. Nozal has crested the climb! Landis and Heras are together, flying down the descent.
You gotta hand it to Johan Bruyneel... he's good with the planning.
The Johan plan develops into its final phase: can Heras and Landis keep this gap to the finish line? Cardenas and Sevilla and Valverde have joined their group! This is now a very strong, dangerous, powerful group! These guys are going insane down the descent!
Whatever happens today, Nozal looks to be running out of gas in this race. That doesn't bode well for him for tomorrow. The gap is 1' 19" between the Gold Jersey group and the group with Heras and Valverde.
The Heras group is swallowing up the men who were off the front of the race. There are a lot of men driving it.
What a dual! Kelme and Postal vs. ONCE. The Kelme boys and the US Postal boys are working together in the break, but ONCE is looking strong back in the pack. Nozal is taking back some time, but not a lot. Is it enough?
The gap is now 1' 22"! The gap is going back up. Nozal is even taking pulls in that ONCE chase now.
8:03 am PDT. 10km left. The Heras group is being driven by Kelme and Heras and Landis. Valverde and Sevilla keep pulling through. Valverde is gunning for the podium now. ONCE is looking scary up there. They are positively drilling it.
Nozal looks like it's killing him, but he's still with us. At the 10km mark, that gap is 1' 20". The gap is staying about the same.
Moller and Simeoni are still off the front of the race, but the Heras/Valverde group looks to be pulling them back.
Whew. This is exciting. Tomorrow is going to be absolutely thrilling. This race is going to go down to the final time trial.
6km left. The gap is still 1' 18".
Felix Cardinas is now working with Valverde and Heras. He is trying to climb up the GC too. The gap is only 29" between Moller/Simeoni and the Heras group. There are some motivated guys on the roads of Spain today. The gap between the Heras group and Nozal is 1'15".
3km left. Moller and Simeoni are dying up there, trying to hold on until the finish. Zberg is in that Heras group. He has a mean sprint.
The gap still 1' 15"...
2km left. The Heras group is now only 17" behind Moller and Simeoni!
Luis Perez (Cofidis) somehow found his way into the Heras group. ONCE is still drilling it hard. This is a desperate chase! Crash! A Kelme down. Zaballa and some others crashed in that Heras group, it looks like.
But the big guns look intact.
Final kilometer. Moller and Simeoni are close! Simeoni is now in the lead. Simeoni is driving it! He wins!
Scarponi (Domina Vacanze) takes 3rd. Now the clock is ticking.... So how much time has the Heras group gained?
Heras takes 1' 14" from Nozal. That will make tomorrow very, very close. Stick around while we size up the damage, bike fans. There was a lot of movement on GC today.
1 Filippo Simeoni DVE 3:51:18
2 Klaus Möller MIL mt.
3 Miguel Martin Perdiguero DVE a 16
4 Cristian Moreni ALS mt.
5 Beat Zberg RAB mt.
6 Felix Cardenas L2C mt.
7 Unai Osa BAN mt.
8 Michael Rasmussen RAB mt.
9 Alejandro Valverde KEL mt.
10 Oscar Sevilla KEL mt.
11 Roberto Heras USP mt.
So the Heras/Valverde/Cardenas/Perez group came in 16" behind Simeoni, and 1' 14" ahead of Nozal and Gonzalez de Galdeano and Beltran.
The way that Heras and Valverde climbed today, and the way that Nozal and Gonzalez de Galdeano and Beltran bonked, could be a good indicator of how things will go in that uphill time trial tomorrow.
Heras is now in 2nd at 1' 55" behind Nozal. Valverde is up to 4th, and he is only just about 1' behind Gonzalez de Galdeano now. Mancebo is up into 5th on GC.
So it was a 1st and 3rd for the Zebras today, and that was a brilliant ride by Simeoni today for the victory.
1º 26 NOZAL, Isidro ESP ONE 65:13:30
2º 11 HERAS, Roberto ESP USP a 1:55
3º 21 GLEZ. GALDEANO, Igor ESP ONE a 3:03
4º 98 VALVERDE, Alejandro ESP KEL a 4:06
5º 85 MANCEBO, Francisco ESP BAN a 5:13
6º 13 BELTRAN, Manuel ESP USP a 5:16
7º 167 RASMUSSEN, Michael DEN RAB a 6:11
8º 48 PEREZ, Luis ESP COF a 7:37
9º 87 OSA, Unai ESP BAN a 7:43
10º 102 CARDENAS, Felix COL L2C a 8:14
Thanks for joining us today. After today's results, tomorrow's uphill Time Trial is an even bigger spectre for the riders at the top of the GC today, so please join us again tomorrow.
Stage 19 Results
1º Simeoni, Filippo Ita Dve 3:51:18
2º Möller, Klaus Den Mil m.t.
3º Martin Perdiguero, Miguel Esp Dve a 16
4º Moreni, Cristian Ita Als m.t.
5º Zberg, Beat Sui Rab m.t.
6º Cardenas, Felix Col L2c m.t.
7º Osa, Unai Esp Ban m.t.
8º Rasmussen, Michael Den Rab m.t.
9º Valverde, Alejandro Esp Kel m.t.
10º Sevilla, Oscar Esp Kel m.t.
11º Heras, Roberto Esp Usp m.t.
12º Pereiro, Oscar Esp Pho m.t.
13º Mancebo, Francisco Esp Ban m.t.
14º Jeker, Fabian Sui Mil m.t.
15º Lara, Francisco José Esp Tbi m.t.
16º Perez, Luis Esp Cof m.t.
17º Scarponi, Michele Ita Dve m.t.
18º Del Olmo, Txema Esp Mil m.t.
19º Osa, Aitor Esp Ban m.t.
20º Piepoli, Leonardo Ita Ban m.t.
21º Laiseka, Roberto Esp Eus m.t.
22º Landis, Floyd Usa Usp a 23
23º Zaballa, Constantino Esp Kel a 58
24º Jufre, José Esp Crf a 1:30
25º Guidi, Fabrizio Ita Tbi m.t.
26º Fofonov, Dmitri Kaz Cof m.t.
27º Rebollo, Jose Luis Esp Crf m.t.
28º Werner, Christian Ger Tel m.t.
29º Vicioso, Angel Esp One m.t.
30º Beltran, Manuel Esp Usp m.t.
31º Nozal, Isidro Esp One m.t.
32º Perez, Santiago Esp Pho m.t.
33º Gonzalez, Santos Esp Dve m.t.
34º Sastre, Carlos Esp Csc m.t.
35º Ferrio, Jorge Esp Alm m.t.
36º Glez. Galdeano, Igor Esp One m.t.
37º Trentin, Guido Ita Cof m.t.
38º Serrano, Marcos Esp One m.t.
39º Garcia Casas, Félix Esp Tbi m.t.
40º Etxebarria, David Esp Eus m.t.
41º Horrach, Joan Esp Mil m.t.
42º De Los Angeles, Juan José Esp Fas m.t.
43º Calvente, Manuel Esp Csc m.t.
44º Gutierrez , José Esp Kel m.t.
45º Blanco, Santiago Esp Crf m.t.
46º Cuesta, Iñigo Esp Cof m.t.
47º Atienza, Daniel Esp Cof m.t.
48º Flores, Iker Esp Eus m.t.
49º Rodriguez, Joaquin Esp One a 1:37
50º Frigo, Dario Ita Fas m.t
55º Lastras, Pablo Esp Ban a 4:36
61º Tauler, Antonio Esp Kel m.t.
62º Julich, Bobby Usa Tel m.t.
67º Leipheimer, Levy Usa Rab m.t.
68º Kroon, Karsten Ned Rab m.t.
77º Zabel, Erik Ger Tel a 8:14
84º Rubiera, José Luis Esp Usp a 18:30
94º Petacchi, Alessandro Ita Fas a 18:35
103º Tosatto, Matteo Ita Fas m.t.
120º Horrillo, Pedro Esp Qsd m.t.
126º Jaksche, Jörg Ger One m.t.
131º Sorensen, Nicki Den Csc m.t.
143º Garate, Juan Manuel Esp Lam m.t.
148º Lopeboselli, Angelo Ita Cof m.t.
153º Fernandez, Bingen Esp Cof m.t.
157º Rodriguez, Fred Usa Vin m.t.
160º Millar, David Gbr Cof a 18:55
Domingo Sanchez - Paternina
(taken to hospital for elbow dislocation after crash at ~26 km in today's stage)
General Classification after Stage 19
1º Nozal, Isidro Esp One 65:13:30
2º Heras, Roberto Esp Usp a 1:55
3º Glez. Galdeano, Igor Esp One a 3:03
4º Valverde, Alejandro Esp Kel a 4:06
5º Mancebo, Francisco Esp Ban a 5:13
6º Beltran, Manuel Esp Usp a 5:16
7º Rasmussen, Michael Den Rab a 6:11
8º Perez, Luis Esp Cof a 7:37
9º Osa, Unai Esp Ban a 7:43
10º Cardenas, Felix Col L2c a 8:14
11º Scarponi, Michele Ita Dve a 10:11
12º Gonzalez, Santos Esp Dve a 10:41
13º Sevilla, Oscar Esp Kel a 10:49
14º Serrano, Marcos Esp One a 13:30
15º Del Olmo, Txema Esp Mil a 14:14
16º Garcia Casas, Félix Esp Tbi a 14:57
17º Pereiro, Oscar Esp Pho a 16:59
18º Flores, Iker Esp Eus a 17:44
19º Trentin, Guido Ita Cof a 29:15
20º Jufre, José Esp Crf a 33:07
Points Classification after Stage 19
1º Zabel, Erik Ger Tel 151
2º Petacchi, Alessandro Ita Fas 135
3º Valverde, Alejandro Esp Kel 132
4º Cardenas, Felix Col L2c 107
5º Rasmussen, Michael Den Rab 99
6º Nozal, Isidro Esp One 92
7º Osa, Unai Esp Ban 75
8º Edo, Angel Esp Mil 70
9º Boonen, Tom Bel Qsd 68
10º Etxebarria, Unai Ven Eus 67
11º Perez, Luis Esp Cof 65
12º Millar, David Gbr Cof 65
13º Zaballa, Constantino Esp Kel 64
14º Rodriguez, Fred Usa Vin 64
15º Glez. Galdeano, Igor Esp One 61
16º Heras, Roberto Esp Usp 58
17º Sevilla, Oscar Esp Kel 58
18º Rodriguez, Joaquin Esp One 57
19º Mancebo, Francisco Esp Ban 56
20º Möller, Klaus Den Mil 55
Mountains Classification after Stage 19
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 Zaballa, Constantino Esp Kel 58
7º Jufre, José Esp Crf 57
8º Rasmussen, Michael Den Rab 56
9º Osa, Unai Esp Ban 52
10º Sevilla, Oscar Esp Kel 49
11º Rodriguez, Joaquin Esp One 49
12º Heras, Roberto Esp Usp 48
13º Piepoli, Leonardo Ita Ban 39
14º Möller, Klaus Den Mil 38
15º Pereiro, Oscar Esp Pho 33
16º Etxebarria, Unai Ven Eus 31
17º Nozal, Isidro Esp One 31
18º Mercado, Juan Miguel Esp Ban 31
19º Jeker, Fabian Sui Mil 30
20º Frigo, Dario Ita Fas 29
Teams Classification after Stage 19
1º Once - Eroski ONE 195:48:51
2º IBanesto.com BAN a 1:31
3º Kelme - Costa Blanca KEL a 19:24
4º Cofidis, le credit par telephone COF a 29:54
5º Euskaltel - Euskadi EUS a 38:07
6º Milaneza - MSS MIL a 38:22
7º Domina Vacanze-Elitron-RDZ DVE a 57:47
8º US Postal Service Berry Floor USP a 1:32:02
9º Fassa Bortolo FAS a 2:00:52
10º Colchon Relax - Fuenlabrada CRF a 2:34:33
11º Team CSC CSC a 2:56:44
12º Rabobank RAB a 3:08:26
13º Paternina - Costa de Almeria ALM a 3:18:04
14º Labarca-2 Cafe Baque L2C a 3:21:20
15º Quick Step - Davitamon QSD a 3:24:04
16º Team Bianchi TBI a 3:34:42
17º Phonak Hearing Systems PHO a 4:09:40
18º Team Telekom TEL a 4:10:07
19º Lampre LAM a 5:18:30
20º Alessio ALS a 6:06:23
21º Saunier Duval - Vini Caldirola VIN a 7:39:36
22º Saeco - Longoni Sport SAE a 8:45:14