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Vuelta a Espana Stage 10 Roundup
 
By Janna Trevisanut
Date: 9/13/2004
Vuelta a Espana Stage 10 Roundup
 


Click for larger image. (c) Unipublic.

Stage 10: Alcoi-Xorret de Catí 159 kms. - Read live coverage here.

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, very happy.

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 the
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) Unipublic.

Tomorrow...

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 transfer day.

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, 165,8 kms.

 
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