Click for larger image. (c) Unipublic.
Stage 10: Alcoi-Xorret de Catí 159 kms. - Read live coverage
Jiménez a favourite name on the Xorret de Catí
Cycling, like all sports is fanciful and appreciative. Fanciful because it
wanted the surname of Jiménez to win in Xorret de Catí for the third consecutive
time, but it is appreciative because it has prized a rider who has suffered so
much that he was about to give up cycling. Instead he has been able to taste the
glory again reaching the podium for a second time.
In the first ascent to Xorret de Catí, José María “Chava” Jiménez left his
name engraved in one of the mountains adored by the people of Alicante. His
victory has gone down in history. “Chava” won in a manner only he knew how, with
class, talent and spectacle. In the year 2000 the baton was passed on to Eladio
Jiménez, a good climber of Ciudad Rodrigo (Salamanca). This year, the same man
has taken a second victory. Eladio Jiménez launched an attack early on in the
race and was the first to reach the finish line, in spite of the effort put in
by some of the greats such as Oscar Freire and Stuart O´Grady who tried every
position on the bike. Eladio Jiménez has made his team, Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme,
Thanks to the support of his family and friends he was able to recover and
keep the cycling up at a professional level, demonstrating that determination
can supercede any injury.
The "other" blue train - Liberty Seguros, which has animated
past two stages of this race. Click for larger image. (c) Unipublic.
The first part of the race was led by Eladio Jiménez, Ruslan Ivanov, Stuart
O´Grady, Oscar Freire, José Miguel Elías, Juan Fuentes and Erik Zabel, who all
managed to escape the peloton and obtain an advantage of thirteen minutes right
up until the final climb to Catí.
The favourites, those who were fighting for the gold jersey, waited to put
the maximum effort in. Liberty Seguros were the first to pick up the pace, which
gave Roberto Heras an advantage. Along with the rider from Bejar were the riders
Alejandro Valverde and Leonardo Piepoli, who together formed a trio. They all
tried to maintain the differences and keep the overall standings the same. Even
Floyd Landis himself had to give it his absolute best to keep the gold jersey,
which he achieved by nine seconds, but the standings are a lot closer now than
they were, especially the first six who are, as is said in Spain, in a “tissue.”
Eladio wins again.(c) Unipublic.
Eladio: "To win this stage again gives me pride and
I find it incredible"
Eladio Jimenez is a man who thought he might never ride again. In 2002 he was
hit by a car: "A car ran over me and then I fell and I fractured the femur in
four different places. I have a leg full of nails and I ended up thinking that I
would never ride a bicycle at this level again. It has been very hard."
But today the Team of the Paw rider repeated his 2000 win on the Xorret de Catí.
After being in the break all day, which gained sufficient time on the peloton to
make him one of seven vying for the stage win, he attacked in the middle of the
ascent. But when he looked over, he saw that Oscar Freire was near him -
"another attack was necessary so I gave it my all."
"It has taken me four years to win it again, I didn't think I could race at
this level again. We all dream of winning a stage of the Tour of France, but I
am very satisfied with this victory."
In 2000, his victory was quite different - he said that Chava let him jump at
5 km to go, whereas today he escaped from "km 0" with six other riders, and went
all the way.
To his family he dedicated his victory: "They have given me the desire to
continue when I have thought of giving it all up." He also dedicated it to his
fallen comrade Chava Jimenez. A special victory indeed...
Two-dollar pistol but the gun won't shoot, I'm on the corner in
the pouring rain - Lyric by Tom Waits. Photo (c) Unipublic.
The day's escapados. (c) Unipublic.
Reflections on the Day
Erik Zabel, T-Mobile, one of the riders in the break: "Today was a
very important day in the battle for the points jersey and I'm still right up
there in contention. I can hardly believe that I managed to finish a tough
mountain stage ahead of all the climbing specialists and GC riders." Zabel
trails O'Grady by four points in the jersey competition - O'Grady has 114 points
to Zabel's 110.
Alejandro Valverde, Jimenez's teammate and 5th on GC: "I am much
better. I have had the strength to put up with the attacks of Roberto Heras. The
ascent was very tough. As well as the pleasure of only being eight seconds away
from the leader, I am very happy for the victory of my friend and teammate. I´m
feeling well. The ascent to Calar Alto is very hard and there will be more
attacks. Tomorrow there will be another battle".
Adri van Houwelingen, of Rabobank, about Oscar Freire, one of the
riders in today's break: "Freire is always classified as a sprinter. But he is
much more an allrounder. This has been proven. The rider made an impression
during the five cols, and especially during the last, very steep climb. Already
he had gone on that long escape, then he wanted to get into a sprint."
Landis on today's stage - he continues in the Golden Jersey. (c)
The word of the day for Tuesday is upslope - Stage 11 is
a course that continues up and up to its finish in Caravac de la Cruz. The stage
undulates a bit until the final 40 kilometers or so, which are a continual rise
to the finish line. Luckily it is the last stage before the Vuelta's first
Not so luckily, when the riders return on Thursday, they face
another uphill finish after two category 1 climbs in the middle of the stage.
They will be pleased the following day, Friday, with a long, flat sprinters'
day, which brings them to Saturday with...you guessed it...more climbing. Then
Sunday is the dreaded Sierra Nevada uphill time trial.
There are three sets of sprint points on offer Tuesday, so we
may see O'Grady and Zabel continue their "who wears the jersey today" contest.
Oscar Freire is close on the two, just 6 points down from leader O'Grady. So if
they did not use too much of their legs in today's breakaway, we could see the
three in a like contest tomorrow.
The weather will more favorable than today in that no rain is
forecast, but on the other hand it will be quite warm with light breezes, and
cloudiness at the final summit. However, Vuelta organizers again warn of "hot
sensations" - riders beware!
Stage 11: San Vicente del Raspeig - Caravaca de la Cruz,