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Vuelta Espana 2003 Final Wrapup Updated
By Podofdonny
Date: 9/28/2003
Vuelta Espana 2003 Final Wrapup Updated

Vuelta a España

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Madrid-Madrid - Stage 21

28 September 2003

Petacchi hands out another lesson in Madrid

by Osvaldo Menéndez

Italian Alessandro Petacchi was responsible for obtaining the Fassa Bortolo team’s fifth victory in this year’s Vuelta by crossing the line in first place at the finish of today’s 21st stage in Paseo de La Castellana in Madrid.

Petacchi won another anthological sprint by leaving his rivals with option at the finish line. Eric Zabel (Telekom) and Fred Rodriguez (Vini Caldirola-Saunier Duval) were second and third, respectively.

Roberto Heras, in turn, has won his second Vuelta.

"© Unipublic".

Official Race Chronicle

Roberto Heras wins Vuelta 2003 that ended with the fifth victory of Petacchi

The streets of Madrid were full of people to welcome the 159 survivors that made this race brilliant and spectacular. Roberto Heras was given a prize, next to Cibeles Fountain, that was very difficult for him to get. He needed many hours of sacrifice and uncertainty. The Bejar-born rider had to wait until Abantos to take the place of Isidro Nozal, who was not among the favourites at the beginning, made things very difficult for the US Postal leader and closest team mate to Lance Armstrong. La Vuelta 2003 ended with a remarkable podium. First the elegance of Heras, then the heart of Nozal and third place for the youth and future of Alejandro Valverde.

The last stage of 152.2 kilometres was a triumphant race with seven laps along the heart of Madrid that was full of enthusiasts encouraging these brave men. To round off a very exciting race, Erik Zabel and Alessandro Petacchi gave their best to offer a beautiful performance at the home stretch. Petacchi showed once again that he is an absolute star and achieved his fifth victory today. Many years will have to go by before any other rider manages to achieve six victories at the Giro, fourth at the Tour and five more at the Vuelta in the same year. Petacchi has done it.

All the riders that took part in this edition 58th of the Vuelta a España deserve the best praises, though history will remind us that a boy from Bejar who lives in Barcelona was the number one.

Roberto Heras has always been faithful to La Vuelta. Already in 1997, he managed to achieve his first stage win in La Vuelta; it was at the top of Morredero. That victory was the first sign that Roberto Heras was becoming a first-class rider with excellent skills. That year he was fifth Overall and made clear to everyone that want he likes is to "fly" high at the tops. The following year he was the best at Segovia, he offered an excellent race and ended third Overall on the podium in Madrid. Several months before, he had won the Special stage of the Mortirolo that ended at Aprica.

In the year 2000, he achieved the fifth position Overall in France confirming that he was a star. It was there, in Joux Plane, where he showed Lance Armstrong what he was able to do. Then, he came to La Vuelta and won at Morella and Abantos. He achieved his first Gold Jersey and the entire world learnt his name. The following year his life changed a little. Although his "boss" was winning in France, he was not. Last year he won at La Pandera and Angliru, in Asturias, but he could not win the Gold in the Bernabeu Stadium.

This year he has been the best and we are sure he will dedicate his victory to his first daughter, who was born just one week before his father, the person who encouraged him to become a cyclist, died.

"© Unipublic".

Heras and Nozal, the two faces of an epic battle

The final outcome of the Vuelta has been full of emotion practically up until the last metres of the race.

The 1st stage team time trial through the streets of Gijón was followed by interesting stages and strategic battles between the two most outstanding riders in the race: Roberto Heras (US Postal Service) and Isidro Nozal (ONCE-Eroski).

Nozal made good use of the time trial stages in order to establish an ample advantage. He was able to maintenance his superiority during the first mountain stages, but Heras was to go from strength to strength during the final week before finally taking the lead after the Abantos hillclimb.

"© Unipublic".

The countdown to Leon 2004

With the termination of the 58th edition of the Vuelta, the countdown begins for next year's race. The 59th edition is to begin in Leon with a team time trial. The start of the race will take place during the first week of September, following the termination of the Athens Olympic Games.

This year’s Vuelta has represented the 25th edition of the race to be managed by Unipublic. Outgoing race director Enrique Franco has bid farewell to all of those involved in the race, aware he will now experience the Vuelta from a very different perspective.

This year’s winner, Roberto Heras, will take the start of the 2004 Vuelta wearing dorsal number one.

"© Unipublic".

Roberto Heras

"I told it more than one hundred times yesterday and I keep repeating it: it’s hard to believe I managed to take the leader’s jersey during the last but one stage. I hadn’t given up hope, but somewhere in the back of my head the doubt remained Isidro Nozal would prove to be too strong after all. The moral support from both Johan and Dirk and the wonderful work of my team-mates strengthened me in my belief final victory was still within reach."

"It’s a cliché, but the Vuelta is three weeks long and only ends in Madrid. How many times I told myself that, I can’t recall, but it certainly helped. My second victory in this Vuelta tastes very sweet and can certainly match my first from 2000. During the past days, I said and wrote the same thing over and over again and now I want to repeat it one last time: this victory would not have been possible without the help of all our riders, the team management and all the other guys who work for the team. From the start three weeks ago until now they worked extremely hard in order to make it possible for me to win. This makes my victory their victory as well."

"Tonight, we’re eating out with most of the guys of US Postal-Berry Floor. There’s going to be a little celebration for my second Vuelta win. My season ends here and tomorrow I return to my family who had to miss me for such a long time. Most of the team-mates end their season here, only the guys who ride Paris-Tours and those who are selected for the world championships carry on a little longer. Via my final diary, I wish them all the best of luck." (US Postal Site)

"© Unipublic".

Cárdenas has won the mountain classification by a comfortable margin, having established his victory during the Pyrenees stages before increasing his lead with his win in the Sierra Nevada 16th stage.

"© Unipublic".

Zabel, in turn, had to fight until the last moment in order to establish victory as the most regular of the sprinters. He first had to overcome the opposition of Alessandro Petacchi and then that of Alejandro Valverde. The German also won the 10th and 11th stages.

"© Unipublic".

Valverde is the outstanding all-round winner. His third place in the General Classification is accompanied by wins in the 9th and 15th stages, 2nd place in the points classification and overall victory in the combined classification.

"© Unipublic". had a final triumph in this great race, winning the team competition

"© Unipublic".

This Vuelta poem was submitted by Daily Peloton reader Lord Carruthers of Arusha VC DCM (retired). Why not enter our Vuelta writing contest for a chance at a Cofidis jersey signed by the Cofidis Vuelta team? More information is here.

Nozal - Domestique

Each race produces a Champion,
A winner true and strong
but no-one could ever guess the tale
that started in Gijón.

The fans that lined the streets that day,
talked of the race mystique,
but no one ever mentioned
Nozal, ONCE, domestique.

The Mighty ONCE and Postal teams,
battled ‘cross northern Spain,
but when the teams reached Burgos,
Nozal had the golden gain.

The experts said he was a distraction,
of little style or physique,
but the pride and toast of Zaragoza
Was Nozal the domestique.

But the Postal boys were determined,
and battled all the way,
with vultures gathering on the hill,
Heras had won the day!

So as Madrid salutes Heras
A champion pure, unique
But remember fans, to tip your glass
to Nozal, domestique.

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