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Vuelta Espana Stage 20 Roundup
 
By Podofdonny
Date: 9/27/2003
Vuelta Espana Stage 20 Roundup
 

Vuelta a España

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San Lorenzo de El Escorial-Alto de Abantos (C.R.I.) - Stage 20

27 September 2003

Roberto Heras' Gold Jersey at Abantos

by Osvaldo Menéndez

San Lorenzo del Escorial-- The rider from Bejar, Roberto Heras of US Postal Service became winner of the 20th stage of Vuelta a España 2003. It was a climb time trial that ended at Abantos. Heras offered a brilliant performance and snatched first position Overall from the hands of Isidro Nozal of Once-Eroski who was unable to follow the pace imposed by his rival and lost 2:23 seconds. Heras was the best at Abantos once again. He was better than Alejandro Valverde and Cárdenas by 14 seconds. Valverde has achieved third position Overall and Igor gonzález de Galdeano lost 2:19. Isidro Nozal, that was accompanied by Marino Lejarreta, gave his best during the first part of route but he could not keep this pace during the last four kilometres. When there is still one more stage to be covered, Heras, Nozal and Valverd are the three candidates for the podium in Madrid.

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Official Race Chronicle

Roberto Heras achieved Gold and Valverde Bronze at Abantos

The three positions Overall were decided today at the Abantos climb. Gold, Silver and Bronze were at disposal of those who deserved to fight for them. Finally, Roberto Heras managed to beat Isidro Nozal as well as he was able to achieve the stage win. The rider from Bejar, Lance Armstrong´s closest team mate, showed that every thing is possible if you have the necessary strength.

Eliminating nearly two minutes in just eleven kilometres seemed almost an impossible goal, but the ramps that go from San Lorenzo del Escorial to the top of Abantos are too hard, specially when the roads are cobbled. Roberto Heras travelled along these roads as easier as he did the last time he won here too. He did it so fast and brilliantly that the route did not seem a climb time trial but a very flat time trial. When he got to the sixth kilometre he had managed to gain one minute, so there were just 55 seconds between him and the Gold Jersey, then he suddenly realized that he can be winner of the Vuelta 2003 and that Isidro was getting all the exhaustion of having been the Leader Overall for so many days. While one was getting faster and faster, the other was getting slower every time. Not very sure of what was happening, Nozal was losing his Gold and tears came to his eyes. He did as much as he could but he was unable to beat his strongest rival dressed in blue, a rival who had just one aim: winning the Vuelta a España 2003.

Heras was also able to beat the young rider from Murcia, Alejandro Valverde, who had clocked the best time at the finish line together with the Colombian rider Félix Cárdenas. The rider form Bejar snatched the third stage win from the hands of Valverde, but he had to congratulate him anyway as the rider from Murcia managed to achieve the third position Overall.

Igor González de Galdeano was, inevitably, beaten by the rider who is said to become one of the most important stars within the international cycling. Valverde has in front of him two of the best cyclist in the world, Roberto Heras and Isidro Nozal, both have fought as hard as they could to be on the podium in Madrid.

La Vuelta 2003 has suffered such an amazing change that this edition will be remembered forever. In several year´s time this stage will be commented, people will talk about how Heras took the place of Nozal in the same way as the people remember how Eric Caritoux beat Alberto Fernández or how Greg Lemond snatched the triumph from the hands of Fignon.

"© Unipublic".

iBanesto.com, the new leader of the team classification

Eusebio Unzue’s iBanesto.com has taken the lead from ONCE-Eroski in the team classification following today’s hill climb stage. iBanesto.con will receive the award for the most regular team in this year’s edition during tomorrow’s ceremony in Madrid.

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"© Unipublic".

Roberto Heras

"Last year, I lost the Vuelta during the last time trial, this year it’s exactly the opposite. This is a fine example how in the world of cycling everything can change for the worst or the best. I’m a very happy man and can hardly believe what happened to me today. Practically no-one still believed in my chances, but together with director sportif Johan Bruyneel and his assistant Dirk Demol, I kept the faith. "Keep on going 100 percent", is what I kept telling myself today, just like I did over the past three weeks.

"This might sound like a cliché, but I rode a very good climb time trial today. Everything went exactly as planned, but of course I had to wait how Nozal would react. Yesterday, at the finish of the mountain stage in Collada Villalba I had noticed he had had a tough ride, and it was not the first time he showed signs of weakness. He not only suffered from the consequences of three difficult weeks of competition, but was clearly stressed by the burden of his golden jersey. I felt I still had a chance and therefore went for it immediately after the start.

"Tomorrow, there’s still the final stage in Madrid, but now the leader’s jersey should remain mine, even though I will still have to pay attention. We will have to be attentive and watch Nozal and his team-mates. I trust the guys in US Postal-Berry Floor completely, as they have worked excellent in my service over the past weeks. When I cross the finish-line as winner of the Vuelta 2003 tomorrow, I’m certainly indebted to them…" (US Postal Site)

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Roberto Heras, the virtual winner of the Vuelta 2003, turned pro with the Kelme team during mid-1995. He was to stay with the team until 2001, when he signed for North American Lance Armstrong’s US Postal Service. Among his most noteworthy triumphs figure his victory today in the 20th stage of the Vuelta 2003, his overall victory in the Vuelta 2000, two stages of the Vuelta 2002 (in which he finished second after holding the leadership for 6 days), two stages in the Vuelta 2000 and one stage in the Vuelta 1997.

The Salamanca rider’s most notable placings include:

2003 (US Postal Service)

34 Tour de Francia FRA USP

2002 (US Postal Service)

1 Volta Catalunya SPA USP
1 – Stage 6 Vuelta a España SPA USP
1 – Stage 15 Vuelta a España SPA USP
2 Vuelta a España SPA USP
8 Tour of Burgos SPA USP
9 Tour de France FRA USP
14 Tour of Aragon SPA USP
14 Tour of La Rioja SPA USP
23 GP Midi Libre FRA USP

2001 (US Postal Service)

2 Tour of Aragon SPA USP
4 Vuelta a España SPA USP
15 Tour de France FRA USP
22 Volta Catalunya SPA USP

2000 (Kelme)

1 Vuelta a España SPA KEL
1 – Stage 7 section 1 Vuelta a España SPA KEL
1 – Stage 20 section 1 Vuelta a España SPA KEL
1 – Stage 5 BICICLETA VASCA SPA KEL
3 GP PRIMAVERA SPA KEL
3 Tour of La Rioja SPA KEL
3 CLASICA PUERTOS SPA KEL
5 Tour de France FRA KEL
5 Tour of Galicia SPA KEL
6 Tour of Asturias SPA KEL
11 Volta Catalunya SPA KEL
13 BICICLETA VASCA SPA KEL
13 CLASICA ALPES FRA KEL

1999 (Kelme)

1 GP PRIMAVERA SPA KEL
1 – Stage 21 Giro d’Italia ITA KEL
1 – Stage 6 Volta Catalunya SPA KEL
2 Volta Catalunya SPA KEL
2 Spanish Championship SPA KEL
2 GP Llodio SPA KEL
3 Vuelta a España SPA KEL
4 Tour of the Ports SPA KEL
5 Giro d’Italia ITA KEL
5 Tour of Galicia SPA KEL
7 Montjuic Hillclimb SPA KEL
15 Tour of Castille-Leon SPA KEL

1998 (Kelme)

1 GP PRIMAVERA SPA KEL
1 – Stage 19 section 1 Vuelta a España SPA KEL
2 Naranco Hillclimb SPA KEL
3 CLASICA PUERTOS SPA KEL
4 Navarre Trophy SPA KEL
5 Tour of La Rioja SPA KEL
6 Tour of Asturias SPA KEL
6 Vuelta a España SPA KEL
7 Alcobendas Classic SPA KEL
8 Tour of Aragon SPA KEL
10 Paris-Nice FRA KEL
10 SETMANA CATALANA SPA KEL
10 Montjuic Hillclimb SPA KEL
11 Tour of the Basque Country SPA KEL

1997 (Kelme)

1 – Stage 12 Vuelta a España SPA KEL
1 Naranco Hillclimb SPA KEL
3 Tour of the Ports SPA KEL
5 Tour of Majorca SPA KEL
5 Pollensa-Alcudia Trophy SPA KEL
5 Vuelta a España SPA KEL
8 Tour of Murcia SPA KEL
9 SETMANA CATALANA SPA KEL
14 Tour of Galicia SPA KEL
52 World Road Championship SPA KEL

1996 (Kelme)

5 Navarre Trophy SPA KEL
10 GP PRIMAVERA SPA KEL
1995 (Kelme)
(Heras joined the team mid-season.)

Tomorrow's Stage

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Madrid - Madrid 130 kms

The Vuelta 2003 will write its last page in the streets of Madrid, in the famous San Isidro track. The people in Madrid will be cheering the last survivors of this edition of the Vuelta a España. Like in every major race, the riders will try to do their best in this last day because the one who achieves the stage win that day will climb to the podium as well.

Brilliant sprinters such as Abdoujaparov, Raab, Van Poppel, Steels or Blijlevens know what winning in Madrid means and history reminds us that the last adventurers could be lucky too.

Nobody can forget when Jaume Vilamajó won the last day of the Vuelta 1987, beating just for a few metres great riders such as Manuel Jorge Dominguez or Alfonso Gutiérrez. Many have said that a triumph in Madrid tastes better.

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