Vuelta a España
Please visit the official site
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.
Official Race Chronicle
Roberto Heras wins Vuelta 2003 that ended with the fifth victory of
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.
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.
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
This year’s winner, Roberto Heras, will take the start of the 2004 Vuelta
wearing dorsal number one.
"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
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.
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.
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
Ibanesto.com had a final triumph in this great race, winning the team
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
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.