26 September 2003
Isidro Nozal saved the Vuelta and Simeóni wins at Collado Villalba
by Osvaldo Menéndez
Isidro Nozal of Once-Eroski went through the most difficult moment in this
edition of Vuelta a España 2003 along the climb to Navacerrada but he managed to
finish the day wearing the Gold Jersey of Leader Overall and with quite a good
advantage for the climb time trial of tomorrow in Abantos. Roberto Heras of US
Postal moved to second position Overall. The stage that covered 164 kilometres
between La Vega de Alcobendas and Collado Villalba ended with the victory of the
Italian rider Filippo Simeoni, of Domina Vacanze, who managed to beat his mate
in the break Klaus Moller, of Milaneza, at the very last second.
The stage was really exciting and pressure and tension were protagonists at
the Siete Revueltas in Navacerrada. Roberto Heras attacked on Isidro Nozal and
took the place of Igor González de Galdeano in the Overall Standings. The leader
was able to defend himself and now he leads by 1:55 Overall. Alejandro Valverde
came closer to the third position Overall; he just needs 1:03 seconds more.
Official Race Chronicle
Nozal saves the Vuelta a España that Roberto wanted to win at Navacerrada
One of the most exciting moments of this Vuelta a España 2003 happened today
at the Siete Revueltas in Navacerrada, it was also the day when the General
Director of La Vuelta was celebrating his 70th birthday. Roberto Heras tried as
hard as he could to take the place of Isidro Nozal or at least to shorten the
distance with him as much as possible. The Bejar-born rider used all his skills,
power and strength to snatch the glory from the hands of the leader but once
again he met a rider who, in spite of being exhausted, he still has his most
powerful weapon to keep on fighting for that Gold Jersey: his heart and he made
use of it today too.
Nozal did not lose control at Nvacerrada. He just tried to be himself and
received at Collado Villalba a precious Gold Jersey that he will have to defend
tomorrow at Abantos again.
As exciting was the defence of the Gold Jersey on the side of Isidro as it
was the performance showed by Roberto Heras to reduce the distance with him at
Los Leones and Navacerrada. The US Postal leader has reached the last stages of
the race with quite an important amount of extra strength. He was the main
protagonist of the day and the one who made the race more exciting. Both Heras
and Nozal showed that with such amazing performances cycling will never die.
In front of these two survivors, Simeoni, of Domiza Vacanze and Klaus Moller
of Milanezza MSS, had managed to gain those metres that allowed them to get to
the home stretch together and alone; finally it was the Italian rider the one
who received the prize and the first applause.
Then, sixteen seconds later, the second applause of the day was for Heras,
Valverde, Mancebo and fifteen more riders who got to the finish line completely
Ninety seconds later, the third round of applause was for Nozal, Igor
González and all those who gave their best for a good stage. From the first
rider to the last one who ended this 19th stage showed they are the best.
This stage that covered the roads of Madrid and Segovia could not have had a
different outcome. These roads are full of beautiful and spectacular stories.
This time, Isidro and his mates defended the Gold Jersey as hard as they could,
US Postal riders tried to achieved as many seconds as possible, Valverde´s team
were up controlling the race, the Portuguese of Milaneza played to win as well
as those of Domina Vacanze but the latter achieved the prize. Simply, It was
Rumours of new sponsors
It has been commented that the Balearic Islands are to sponsor ibanesto.com,
with team manager José Miguel Echavarri having held a meeting with the Spanish
Autonomous Region’s Head of Sports Josep Ballester. Press reports yesterday
suggested that the meeting was highly positive. It is also rumoured that the
project may include German rider Jan Ullrich for tourist and publicity motives.
An Italian household electrical appliance company has been rumoured as
wishing to create a team, either with Echavarri or with ONCE-Eroski manager
Pablo Antón. This possibility also includes the theoretical inclusion of Ullrich.
It has been confirmed that Saunier Duval is to take over the Vini Caldirola
team in order to run a Spanish team during the coming two season. Signings are
to include Stefano Garzelli and various top Spanish amateurs.
Guriezo to turn out in force to support Nozal in Madrid
Isidro Nozal's Cantabrian hometown of Guriezo is preparing a mass display of
support this Sunday in order to cheer on the race leader during his victorious
entry into Madrid, informs "El Diario Montañes".
The town council is to sponsor coaches that will take more than 300 people to
the Spanish capital. The local Mayor, Adolfo Izaguire, hopes to fill another bus
today, "because the townsfolk are very excited".
In addition to the coaches, many cycling fans from Cantabria will travel to
Madrid by car, with large crowds of local supporters being accepted for
tomorrow's hill climb in Abantos.
Nozal's fans aim to get as close as possible to the final podium in order to
celebrate the moment in which their kinsman receives his definitive Golden
Jersey. The race organisation also expects the presence of numerous Cantabrian
politicians and members of the Cantabrian cycling federation.
“On the one hand, I’m satisfied, on the other I must admit I’m a little
disappointed following today’s stage. I think, taking into account this stage
was not that tough, I took out of the race everything that was in it, but I’m
afraid 1’55” is too big a gap with Nozal to bridge during tomorrow’s climb time
trial. Today, Nozal didn’t give a very strong impression, but he has a very good
team supporting him. Even during the first climb, I noticed he was in trouble,
but the man didn’t give in and showed character. You know how it goes: when
you’re in the golden leader’s jersey, you always have a little extra…” “Our team
tactics were once again perfect. Floyd Landis was immediately in front and the
rest of the guys stayed close to me in order to eliminate all possible
surprises. In short, our team was excellent. Once I saw I only had 1’30” advance
on top of the Alto de Navacerrada, I realised it would be difficult to threaten
Nozal in the g.c.. Floyd waited for me after the climb of that last col to help
me, but all our efforts were in vain. Nozal made up for some of his time lost
and from now on may dream about final victory in Madrid. I’m in second place
now, which is far from bad, but still hope for first place in the g.c. on
Sunday. You never know….” (US Postal Site)
San Lorenzo de El Escorial - Alto de Abantos Individual Time Trial 11 kms
Abantos has become a reference point for the Vuelta. In 2001 it was climbed
twice and the strongest riders that time were Simoni, Jiménez and Rubiera.
In 2000 the best rider was Roberto Heras and in 1999 Roberto Laiseka. These
12 kilometres will be completely decisive for everyone. In 1993 there was a time
trial from Dyc Distillery and the Alto de Navacerrada. After covering 24,1
kilometres the best riders were Zülle (41:59), Rominger and Cubino.
The climb time trials were famous in Valdezcaray, starting in Ezcaray and
after 24 kilometres the winners were Fabio Parra, Jean François Bernard and
Perico Delgado. The favourite and best riders of the Vuelta 2003 will win or
lose the podium in Abantos.