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Vuelta Stage 19 Roundup
By Podofdonny
Date: 9/26/2003
Vuelta Stage 19 Roundup

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.

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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 exhausted.

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 brilliant.

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Rumours of new sponsors

It has been commented that the Balearic Islands are to sponsor, 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.

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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.

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Roberto Heras

“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)

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Tomorrow's Stage

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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.

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