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Vuelta a España: Museo del Jamon Report - Stage 4
 
By Locutus
Date: 9/7/2004
Vuelta a España: Museo del Jamon Report - Stage 4
 
Golden Hams of the Day
  • Alessandro "The Italian Stallion" Petacchi and his amazing Fassa Bortolo leadout train. While Fassa was helping chase the breaks a bit, they saved their best (as usual) for the last three kilometers. Then they hit the front in force, giving their big man a clear shot at the line. It wasn't easy, but Petacchi was able to hold off the hard-charging Zabel and Freire to take his second stage victory. The fact that everybody knows that they are going to do this, and that they still manage to pull it off and win so often, is a testament to just how dominant this team is in the big sprint finishes. Now Petacchi's talking about making it to Madrid; if he can actually make it through the mountains (big if), he will give Zabel a run for his money in the race for the Points Jersey.
  • "The Big E-Z" Erik Zabel (T-Mobile). Once again the amazing German came up just short, taking second behind Petacchi in that big sprint. However, the fact that he won the first intermediate sprint of the day put him in the lead over Petacchi in the Points competition. Zabel now leads the Italian by two points, and will be looking to extend that lead tomorrow as the road goes up a bit before the intermediate sprints. Tomorrow could also indicate whether Petacchi really has the legs to make it the full three weeks.
  • Benoit "Joker" Joachim and "Pretty Boy" Floyd Landis (United States Postal Service presented by Berry Floor). The BlueBerry Boys had a fairly quiet day, working a bit at the front of the pack but not having to extend much energy to keep their men in those fancy jerseys. Joachim actually took third at the first intermediate sprint, and he now leads the GC by 18" over his teammate Van Heeswijk. The nearest non-Postie is Vinokourov at 40" away. Joachim will have his hands full trying to keep the Gold Jersey away from Vinokourov, but stranger things have happened this season. Landis also gets to wear the Mountains Jersey for another day, and if he's on form, he could well keep it on his shoulder after tomorrow's climbs.
Ham-Gazers of the Day
  • Alejandro Valverde (Comunidad Valenciana – Kelme). Yesterday's stage winner (and my fantasy team leader) was nowhere to be seen in today's sprint. His GC aspirations are probably keeping him from taking too many risks on the flat days like today. Tomorrow's stage, which finishes atop a Cat 3 climb, should see a sprint from a small group. The climbs won't be that selective, but they should eliminate most of the sprinters. This should suit Valverde's talents perfectly, and I would be very surprised if he didn't win tomorrow.
  • Max Van Heeswijk (United States Postal Service presented by Berry Floor). He wore the Gold Jersey for a day, but he really hasn't had it in the bunch sprints so far. Today was no exception, as he came across in 14th behind his leadout man, Antonio Cruz. He was in good position, but he's really got to have a good day now. Perhaps after tomorrow he'll be able to sort out a stage win before the big mountains hit.
Grazed Hams of the Day
  • Tyler "Nails" Hamilton (Phonak). Dammit. Yeah, Tyler hit the deck today. The guy has the worst luck. Did he break a mirror under a ladder using a black cat or something? Or maybe club baby seals with nuclear waste in a previous life so that he's still working off the Karma? The official report says that he only got some minor scrapes and bruises, but Tyler is still on the mend from that major spill that wrecked his back during the Tour. Tyler is a tough guy, but if he's aggravated that back injury, he won't have any legs on the climbs. Tomorrow we'll see how Tyler is really feeling, and learn if he can push on to be a threat in this race.
 
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Vuelta a España: Museo de Jamon Report, Stage 1
Vuelta a España: Museo del Jamon Report - Stage 3
Vuelta a Espana Stage 4 Live Report

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