Soria-Zaragoza: 167.5 kms - read the live report
Petacchi makes it 2 out of 4. (c) Unipublic.
Erik Zabel and Oscar Freire Close, but Petacchi is
Still the Man!
Alessandro Petacchi is usually catapulted into the leading position by his
great “silverteam.” This time, however, in the fourth stage of the Vuelta a
España, it was not clear who was going to win, even when crossing the
finishing line at Zaragoza. On this occasion, the Italian idol only beat
Erik Zabel and Oscar Freire by a few centimetres and may not have taken the
victory if the race had gone on for another ten metres.
There were worries as to whether the race would be able to go ahead as
yesterday night there was a storm that flooded a large part of Navarra and
Aragon. This morning, the roads were under water and the cyclists feared the
weather more than the route itself, but luckily for them the rain held off
throughout the race and the wind was not strong enough to be of danger. In
fact, the race was able to go ahead quite normally in spite of the
threatening sky above.
As usual, four riders attempted the attack alone, these being Julián
Laidou of AG2R Prevoyance, Iñaki Isasi of Euskaltel-Euskadi, David
Fernández of Costa Almería-Paternina and Xavier Florencio of
Relax-Bodysol. They never, however, had a lead of more than three minutes
and had to struggle against a very strong frontal wind, both of which
stopped them from reaching the glory that they so wanted.
The end of the stage also saw numerous falls and pile ups but none of which
were of much importance. The only cyclists who had a slightly harder time
were the Italian, Damiano Cunego, Astarloa and Menchov who at one point
looked as though they might abandon.
When the majority of the cyclists had reached the impressive basilica of La
Virgen del Pilar, the stronger ones were already battling out the final
victory in the last sprint. The protagonists, who fought out the final
battle in front of huge crowds in Zaragoza, were Rabobank, Fassa Bortolo
and T-Mobile. Petacchi had to work harder than usual to grab the stage off
Zabel and Freire, who came close to dethroning the king of sprints, but close
is not good enough. Johan Bruyneel continues to control the race as Benoit
Joachim has managed to hold on to the Gold Jersey for another day of this
Vuelta a España.
Golden Boy Benoit Joachim. (c) Unipublic.
Petacchi, a Second Victory: "They all wanted to follow Trenti´s
Alessandro Petacchi achieved a second victory today in the Vuelta a España
2004. At the end of the stage, the rider said, "It was a difficult victory
as the wind was coming straight at us, which made it difficult for my
teammates to attack before three kilometres before the end of the race.
They have worked very hard. All our rivals wanted to follow the back of
Trenti´s wheel. When there were only fifty metres left, I turned around and
I couldnt see Zabel, but then I realised that he was in fact behind me. I
pedalled hard and I won."
As for the rest of the season he said, "Everyone knows that the route
around Verona is very difficult and I don’t think it suits my style of
riding and therefore the Championships are not on my list of plans. I will,
however, do the ParisTours. I am a bit tired, I am not as fit as last
year, but I am picking up the pace little by little. I hope to get to Madrid."
Julián Laidou (AG2R Prevoyance), Iñaki Isasi (Euskaltel-Euskadi), David
Fernández (Costa Almería-Paternina), Xavier Florencio (Relax-Bodysol). (c) Unipublic.
Various Cyclists Bruised During the Stage Ending in Zaragoza
According to the doctor Irigoyen, the riders, Hamilton, Spezialetti, Horillo
and Arteche were attended to by the doctors of the Vuelta during the stage
of Soria to Zaragoza. At the end of the stage, the rider Mikel Arteche of
Euskaltel-Euskadi was transferred to the hospital of Zaragoza to have some
X-rays done as he had seriously hit one of the bones in his thumb. The
doctors have been busy treating cyclists with grazes and bruises.
Tyler Hamilton – in the wars again. (c) Unipublic.
Yates to Discovery
Vuelta a España will be Sean Yates' last race as sports director for Team
CSC. Following two seasons at CSC, Yates has signed with American team
"I've had a great time at Team CSC, and I'm happy to have been part of the
fantastic team Bjarne Riis has created. I'm also very grateful to Bjarne for
taking me on as sports director two years ago. I'm leaving one of the best
teams in the World, and I'd like to thank the whole team for the time, we've
spent together. At Team CSC I've learned a lot, which I hope to be able to
use for the rest of my career, and I'm looking forward to finishing my time
at CSC with a great Vuelta,” says Sean Yates.
"Sean has been a skilled and very popular sports director on our team. We
would've liked to keep him on board, but I fully respect him seeking new
challenges at Lance Armstrong's team. We're known as a team of strong
leaders, and obviously that makes our employees attractive to other teams.
I'll allow myself to be proud of the fact, that Sean will now be working for
another top team after having been a part of ours,” says Bjarne Riis.
No bloody noses between Riis and Yates. (c) Unipublic.
Ete Takes the Jersey
For Erik Zabel, who outsprinted Oscar Freire (Rabobank), his second place
was worth the effort. The Berlin-born sprinter is back into the best
sprinter's jersey again: "I wanted to hold the jersey in my hands again,
after I had lost it yesterday due to my defect," he explained.
At 22 km, the magenta pro laid the foundation for the new jersey: In Aldealpolzo he secured the first of three sprint bonuses.
In the magenta-clad team everybody was happy: "Erik's claiming the jersey
compensates for the hard work we had to deliver today," said Torsten Hiekmann
who, like his team mates, was in the wind almost permanently especially during
the last phase. "That really takes it out of you, but we got rewarded by Erik's jersey." Steffen Wesemann put it concisely: “The sweating was
Zabel in the best sprinter's jersey. (c) Unipublic.
The FROM with the Little Ones
Every day, the sponsor of the prize of the Vuelta Junior '04, FROM (Funds for
the market of fish products and marine cultivation) is organising a time
trial of three minutes for the brave children. The sponsor has a trailer at
the Show of the Vuelta Junior´04 which owns four bikes for the future riders
to prove their abilities. The winner gets a bag for the start of the school
year and the rest of the participants get a T-shirt or a cap advertising
Grateful acknowledgement to Unipublic.