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Vuelta a España - Museo de Jamon Report: Stage 19
 
By Locutus
Date: 9/26/2003
Vuelta a España - Museo de Jamon Report: Stage 19
 
Golden Hams of the Day
  • Filippo Simeoni (Domina Vacanze-Elitron) and Klaus Möller (Milaneza-MSS). These two men got away in the first ten kilometers with a large group, and hung tough until the final climb. There, they attacked and worked together until the final kilometer. With two large groups bombing down the mountain after them, they still managed to stay away and take the top two spots. Simeoni's victory and Miguel Martin Perdiguero's 3rd gave the zebra-men something to shout about, and served as an "up-yours" to those who still think the team is just about Cipollini. Möller's 2nd must be frustrating, but he put in a brilliant ride leading up most of the climbs.
  • Roberto "Spanish Fly" Heras and "Pretty Boy" Floyd Landis (United States Postal Service presented by Berry Floor). Heras put the hurt on his rivals up both Cat 1 climbs today. He attacked on the Alto de los Leones and dropped Gonzalez de Galdeano. When he attacked again on the Alto de Navacerrado, he dropped everyone else in the peloton. Landis was in that initial break with Simeoni and Möller, and when Heras attacked on the final climb, he managed to bridge up to his teammate and bomb the descent. They picked up a few more men and managed to take 1' 14" out of Gold Jersey wearer Nozal and Gonzalez de Galdeano by the finish. This put Heras in 2nd on GC at 1' 55".

    Here's some food for thought: today, Heras attacked up the 11km climb of the Navacerrado, and by the top he had managed to take 1' 30" out of Nozal. Heras was on the front or riding solo for a large part of the climb, while Nozal followed wheels the whole way up. The time trial tomorrow climbs up the 11.2km, Cat 1 climb of the Alto de Abantos. The climb has some spots as steep as 17%, perfect for the talents of Heras. If Heras could take 1' 30" out of Nozal on an 11km climb today, it stands to reason that he could take 1' 55" out of Nozal tomorrow up a climb that is slightly longer and steeper, a climb where Nozal will have nobody to help him. With the continued good form of Heras and the struggles of the ONCE men, it is quite within the realm of possibility that the "Spanish Fly" could still take the Gold Jersey in Madrid.

  • Alejandro Valverde (Kelme-Costa Blanca), Francisco Mancebo (iBanesto.com), and Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank). Most of the men in the top ten of the GC were able to bridge to the Heras group, but these three men really benefited the most. Valverde moved over Beltran into 4th on GC at 4' 06", and he is now only 1' 03" behind Gonzalez de Galdeano for the lowest spot on the final podium. With his solid time trialing and climbing, Valverde can still pick up a top three finish in Madrid. Mancebo also leapfrogged over Beltran, and is now 5th on GC at 5' 13". Rasmussen stayed in the same position on GC (7th), but he now is less than a minute from the top 5. For these climbers, tomorrow's uphill time trial will be a battle royale. The final GC hierarchy is still wide open.
Ham-Gazers of the Day
  • Isidro "Nitro" Nozal and Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE-Eroski). Once again, Marcus Serrano did much to save the hash of these two men. They both suffered like beaten orphans over the climbs today, and lost valuable time to their rivals. Nozal, the erstwhile domestique, must have a very strong time trial tomorrow to ensure his victory. He has ridden bravely in defense of the Gold Jersey for two weeks, and it would be a shame for him to lose it on the last day after showing such courage. Gonzalez de Galdeano had to ride himself inside out to bridge back up to Nozal on the final climb, but he managed to do it. He slipped a GC spot, but if he can recover he can still hold down his podium spot tomorrow.
  • Manuel Beltran (United States Postal Service presented by Berry Floor). Beltran was on Gonzalez de Galdeano's wheel for the final climb, and it was unclear whether that was for tactical reasons or because he was suffering. Whichever is the case, Beltran lost 1' 14" to some key rivals and slipped to 6th on GC at 5' 16". With a solid time trial tomorrow, Beltran can still salvage a top five finish (he is only 3" behind Mancebo) and cement what has been a brilliant Vuelta for him.
 
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