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Vuelta Espana – Analysis of Stages 1-5, Latest Team News
By Podofdonny
Date: 8/26/2004
Vuelta Espana – Analysis of Stages 1-5, Latest Team News

Team time trials, flat lands, KoM points, wind, windy roads - and that's just stage 1! By Stage 5 it starts to get really tricky....

Saturday, 4th September
1st stage: León – León (T.T.T.) 27,7 Kilometres

Courtesy Unipublic.

Once again the Vuelta Espana will open with a team time trial, following the exciting formula that worked in Valencia and Gijón in the previous two years. The riders will face, in the beautiful city of León, a team time trial over a basically flat course with one soft climb hardly 500 metres high. The climb, however, will count to the King of the Mountains competition so by the end of the day we will know the race leader, the best placed team and the King of the Mountains. Last year ONCE took the honours ahead of US Postal and iBanesto.

Courtesy Unipublic.

However, the Team Time Trial can also spell disaster for teams suffering from first day nerves or bad luck. Pecharroman was dropped by his team last year and his race was over before it started, Fassa Bortolo got themselves in a tangle on the last kilometre and Colchon Relax – Fuenlabrada crashed on the climb, leaving Santi Blanco nursing a broken cheek bone for the rest of the race.

Courtesy Unipublic.

Daily Peloton Teams to Watch – Liberty Seguros, US Postal, Illes Balears-Banesto, Quickstep and Phonak - but the bells will probably ring for Liberty.

Sunday, 5th September
2nd stage: León – Burgos,  207,0 Kilometres

Courtesy Unipublic.

The first time Burgos welcomed Vuelta a España was in 1966 when Nijdam was the winner, and since then riders like Lammertink, Dejonckheere, Masciarelli and Johan Bruyneel have all won in the city. A basically flat parcours and a stage where the sprinters will be wanting to keep the race together for a fast finish. However, the teams will be aware of the winds of the Castilla y León and it might be an opportunity for the northern teams to try to split the peloton into echelons – so expect frantic action en route to the Flamme Rouge and early race nerves may see some crashes.

Moreni of Alessio crashes in Vuelta 2003. Courtesy Unipublic.

Daily Peloton Riders to Watch - Angelo Furlan, Stuart O’Grady, Luca Paolini, Alejandro Valverde, Oscar Freire and in form “He’s quick” Max Van Heeswijk will be all trying to make their mark, but King of the Sprints Alessandro Petacchi is our bet for this stage.

Monday, 6th September
3rd stage: Burgos – Soria, 157,1 Kilometres

Courtesy Unipublic.

A difficult day to control and one that should end in a sprint – however on the way to Soria, expect to see a lot of attacks, especially from the smaller local teams.

Labarca-2-Cafe Baqué make an early attack in Vuelta 2003 - here we see
Cesar García Calvo, the rider from León make a typical early move.
Courtesy Unipublic.

It's worth mentioning that both Valverde, last year's blue jersey winner and Cunego, this year's Giro winner, are both very quick in the sprint. Even so this will probably be one for the pure fast men again.

Daily Peloton Man to Watch - Max Heeswijk seems back at his early season best form – he has won in the Vuelta before and there is no reason why not again.

Tuesday, 7th September
4th stage: Soria – Zaragoza, 167,5 Kilometres

Courtesy Unipublic.

For Zaragoza read “SUPER FAST.”  Traditionally the run into Zaragoza is a breathtaking fast stage. In 2001 the fastest stage in the history of the Vuelta a España ended in Zaragoza with Igor González de Galdeano winning the stage and setting a record speed of 55.176 kilometres per hour. However, this year a more winding route and possible winds may have an effect. Narrow roads, high speeds and winds could also mean crashes.

Matt White – seen here in last year's race for US Postal; he will ride for Cofidis this year. A bizarre accident with a TV cable put him out of the Tour de France before it had started. Courtesy Unipublic.

Daily Peloton Man to Watch – Stuart O’Grady. Having a great season and his Golden Madison legs might be adjusted to Zaragoza.

Wednesday, 8th September
5th stage: Zaragoza – Morella, 186,5 Kilometres

Courtesy Unipublic.

So after 4 days of speed, the riders find themselves confronted by a stage that has a Classic race feel to it. It could also be a day when anyone of the favourites could lose a little time if not feeling 100%. Towards the end of the stage the riders face the second category climb, Torremiró, and then an uphill finish into Morella which is a category three climb. A few years ago any one looking at this stage would have backed Jalabert.

Valverde on the attack in Vuelta 2003. Courtesy Unipublic.

Daily Peloton Man to Watch – Valverde, has a killer sprint at the end of a short sharp climb.

Team News - Saeco and Saunier Duval

Team Saeco for the Vuelta a Espana - Cunego and Di Luca captains of the “Red Guard”

Team Saeco have finalized the team for the 59th edition of the Vuelta a Espana that starts in Leon on Saturday September 4. The team will be directed by Giuseppe Martinelli and Guido Bontempi and will have two impressive leaders: the winner of the Giro d’Italia Damiano Cunego and Danilo Di Luca looking for an important result in the final part of the season.

They will be backed up by Eddy Mazzoleni, Paolo Fornaciari, Alessandro Spezialetti and Sylvester Szmyd who helped win the pink jersey at the Giro in May, with Giosuè Bonomi, Juan Fuentes and Marius Sabaliauskas making up the rest of the team.

For Cunego the race will serve above all as vital final preparation for the world road race championships in Verona on October 3. However, his incredible determination to win every race he rides will surely see him in the action in Spain.

Danilo Di Luca’s objective will be to win important stages while also looking for a place on the final podium. After being excluded from the Tour de France in July, Di Luca is very determined to do well.

The team will leave for Spain on September 1 so that they can check out the course of the team time trial that will start the Vuelta

Saunier Duval - Sad News for Bertogliati

He fractured his pelvis yesterday in the Tour of Holland and will be out for the rest of the season. Best wishes for a speedy recovery, Bert!

Related Articles
Vuelta a España Start List
Vuelta Espana – Race Notes

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