Search the news archive:
Vuelta a España Stage 3 Roundup
By Podofdonny
Date: 9/6/2004
Vuelta a España Stage 3 Roundup

Vuelta - passion. (c) Unipublic.

Stage 3 - Burgos-Soria 156 kms - live coverage and results here.

From the Storm in Soria Emerged the “Hurricane” Valverde

“Like a Hurricane, there is calm in his eyes” – Valverde. Click for larger image. (c) Unipublic.

The third stage of the Vuelta from Burgos to Soria will no doubt be discussed in the tapa bars of Spain for many years to come. It is hard to remember when a four-man break with a nine minute lead had been caught up in such a short space of time or in such a drastic manner. The storm in the middle of the race was dramatic, but not as dramatic as the way the “Hurricane” from Murcia, known as Alejandro Valverde, once again demonstrated his sheer class.

Thanks to the work and patience of his teammates for three quarters of the race, Benoit Joachim was able to become the super-leader of the Vuelta 2004 and Johan Bruyneel, the manager of the US Postal team could remain calm as he awaited the prize in Soria. Against all the predictions, Joachim enjoyed a lead of nine minutes during his break with the riders, Andy Flickinger, Kevin Hulsmans and Thorwald Veneberg. There were so many moments of uncertainty that it looked as though everyone was going for the jersey at one stage. The situation changed, however, when the sky turned from blue to dark grey.

It was the riders of the team Saeco, led by Damiano Cunego, who brought on the first major turning point of the race. The “Red Train” emerged to start reeling the foursome back. Then Cofidis, then the “boys” from Belda, Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme, and to finish off, the Germans from T-Mobile led by Eric Zabel, who was looking for a win but had a puncture two kilometres from the finish line. This third stage was as tense as the darkening skies. The race went from being fairly easygoing in the first one hundred kilometres to a pretty heavy-going and dangerous one in the last fifty-six kilometres.The race had almost a “classic” feel to it, and when Paolini made the early jump one could be forgiven for thinking we were watching Bettini in Liege.

The final stretch was extraordinary. Alejandro Valverde appeared like a “hurricane” and won the stage as a true star but surrounded also by other fantastic cyclists such as O'Grady, Menchov, Freire, Heras, Garzelli, Mancebo, Aitor González, Damiano Cunego, Evans, Vinokourov and Nozal. However, at the end of such excitement, US Postal still lead with the Golden Fleece on the shoulders of yet another of Bruyneel’s “Argonauts.” In short, this stage has been a great one full of excitement and the jersey has passed on to a new leader.

Benoit Joachim did well to hang on after being caught in the break to take the Golden jersey. (c) Unipublic.

Benoit Joachim

Benoit Joachim is the third rider of the US Postal Service to wear the leader jersey in the Vuelta a España in its first three days. After he crossed the finish line, he said, “I am very happy because it is the first time I have been leader of a big tour like the Vuelta a España. The team tactic was to break and as I had gained the bonus points, I got to be leader. We won the time trials, the philosophy being to remain concentrated in order to keep the title of leader for as many days as possible. We have not come to the Vuelta with a clear idea of a leader and I hope one of my teammates can achieve the jersey too. I was somewhat disillusioned when I was not picked by the team for the Tour, but being in Spain has made up for that. I am not planning on changing teams. My contract goes on for another two years and the new sponsor (Discovery Channel) is planning on remaining in the peloton for another six years. I hope to continue performing well in the Vuelta as a very competitive team has come."

The fab four - Veneberg, Flickinger, Joachim and Hulsmans. Once caught by the peloton, Kevin Hulsmans the Quickstep rider, suffered badly and finished last man, 4’05’’ down. (c) Unipublic.

Valverde – On the Move?

The stage three victor gave a neat summing up of the race and his position for the future after the race: “One has to take this Vuelta day by day."

"Belda told me that it would be a hard stage and asked if I could fight it out at the end which is what I did with Freire and Vinokourov. I have only been riding during the cycling calender, although I may have missed the odd classic but I was never going to race in the Tour or in the Giro. I have come to fight for the overall standings but if there are hard stages, I'll fight for them too just in case I don’t get to the Overall Standings. When asked about next year, he said, “The team has lost its Pro Tour. My contract goes on for another three years. If they don’t give us the licence for the Pro Tour, I will have to go. I think it is very important to do the Vuelta and the World Championships. I think there are enemies in this race such as Valverde. I think it is an open race with many contenders such as Vinokourov, Hamilton, Heras and Beloki, among others."

Bruyneel Happy with US Postal Service Strategy

US Postal Service team director Johan Bruyneel is happy with the strategy employed by his team during today's 3rd stage, in which Max Van Heeswijk handed over the Golden Jersey to Benoit Joachim. “Things are working out for us at the moment and I could not be more satisfied with these first three days. I have told the riders that we are not going carry the weight of the race. We have a group of cyclists sharing the same overall time as the leader and which have the obligation to catch the best breaks, thus enabling the rest of the team of work less whilst maintaining the Golden Jersey.”

Floyd Landis, Max Van Heeswijk and Benoit Joachim have already held the race leadership, although the team leadership was decided prior to the start of the Vuelta. “Landis and Beltrán are the riders that are out for overall placings in the General Classification,” said Bruyneel.

Manuel Beltrán, talking to former team mate the Cofidis rider, Matthew White. (c) Unipublic

Valverde: 15 wins and counting...

So how good is Valverde? Is this his best career win so far? Judge for yourself by looking at his palmares…

1st Trofeo Manacor
1st General Classification Vuelta Comunidad Valenciana
1st 2nd Stage Vuelta Comunidad Valenciana
1st 3rd Stage Classification Vuelta Comunidad Valenciana
1st General Classification Vuelta a Murcia
1st 1st Stage Vuelta al Pais Vasco
1st Klasika Primavera
1st 3rd Stage Vuelta a Castilla y León
1st 4th Stage Vuelta a Castilla y León
1st 5th Stage Vuelta a Castilla y León
1st General Classification Vuelta Burgos
1st 1st Stage Vuelta Burgos
1st 2nd Stage Vuelta Burgos
1st 3rd Stage Vuelta Burgos
1st 3rd Stage Vuelta España
2nd Trofeo Luis Puig
2nd Spanish Road Race Championship
4th Trofeo Calvia
4th Vuelta a Castilla y León
6th Vuelta al País Vasco 
10th Gran Premio Miguel Indurain 
20th Setmana Catalana ESP
47th Olympic Games Road Race 

1st 3rd Stage Vuelta País Vasco
1st Clásica Primavera
1st 3rd Stage Vuelta Aragón
1st 4th Stage Sector 1 Trofeo Joaquin Agostinho
1st 5th Stage Trofeo Joaquin Agostinho
1st Prueba Villafranca de Ordizia
1st 9th Stage Vuelta a España
1st 15th Stage Vuelta a España
2nd World Road Race Championship
3rd Vuelta Andalucia
3rd Trofeo Luis Puig
3rd Trofeo Joaquin Agostinho
3rd Vuelta a España
5th Vuelta País Vasco
8th Escalada Montjuic
19th Criterium International
24th Vuelta Burgos

7th Circuito Getxo
8th Clasica Almeria
9th Clasica Alcobendas
19th Vuelta Burgos
24th Tour of Romandia

The peloton in full bloom. (c) Unipublic

Grateful acknowledgement to Unipublic.

Related Articles
Vuelta a Espana Stage 3 Live Coverage

Copyright © 2002-2011 by Daily Peloton.
| contact us |