Costa del Sol. (c) Unipublic.
Petacchi makes it four, but will there
The Italian rider, Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) won the stage from El Ejido-Málaga, making this his fourth victory
at this year's Vuelta. These were
his words at the end of the stage: "My teammates have worked during the whole
stage and in the end have won. Cofidis pushed hard particularly in the last
three kilometres, for O´Grady to win, but they couldn´t. It is true that Erik
Zabel moves better than I do on the mountain stages but when I feel good, I am
the fastest. We are all tired. I did not have anyone by me in the sprint, meaning
that I am strong. It is hard to beat last year´s Vuelta where I achieved five
stage wins. I could have won in Caravaca, but as a result of Valverde´s fall,
the peloton decided to wait and we could not hold back the breakaway rider. I
was very strong that day. If one looks at the route, I could only win in Cáceres
and Madrid. It is important to reach Madrid but I am very tired and I want to
prepare the Paris-Tours, so I don´t know if I will be able to finish. The Vuelta
is very tough. Someone said I would not be able to reach the end because of all
the mountain climbs. If I don´t reach Madrid, it's because I don´t want to."
Cat and Mouse
After the stormy and tense stage in Calar Alto across the desert like land of
Almería, the riders were able to relax a bit more today as they cruised along
the coast passing beaches and white villages on either side. There were also
games going on throughout the race, as the peloton played cat and mouse with the
four-man break who were not able to get the final victory.
The break. (c) Unipublic.
Gutierre (Cafés Baque), Hulsmans (Quick Step), De Weert (Rabobank) and Jufre
(Relax-Bodysol) were the mice of the day who from El Ejido managed to escape the
greats and rode in front of the peloton with a minimal lead but never far from
the “cat,” who on this occasion was the great Alessandro Petacchi.
In spite of the departure from Almería being very quick, the race slowed down in
Malaga. It was not easy avoiding the stunning views that the riders had to their
left. The Mediterranean sea offered a calm and peaceful view that perhaps
reflected the lack of variation in the stage.
Petacchi suffered too much during the last few mountain stages to squander a
glorious arrival in the streets of Malaga. The sprinters had to endure the
climbs of Aitana, Xorret and Calar and this time no one was going to ruin their
moment on the Paseo de los Curas.
On the great avenue leading to the port, the Vuelta entered Malaga at a speed
like none before. The end had been foreseen. Alessandro Petacchi could not help
but win on a stage like this which finished with a sprint on a lovely hot day
and in front of thousands of fans. Petacchi arrived at the finish line the first
putting up four fingers as he crossed. One for each stage win of the Vuelta. He
still has Cáceres to win and then he will have, what in football they call: “una
manita” (a hand).
Heras, the golden man another day. (c) Unipublic.
Valverde: "I rode more comfortably in the stage from Almería"
The rider of Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme, Alejandro Valverde finished today´s
stage from El Ejido to Málaga without difficulties. These were his words: "I
feel better than yesterday. my knee hurts, but I will continue. I rode more comfortably in the stage from Almería.
This stage was not decisive. Yesterday, I was at the front. I have no reason to
fear the stages to come in the next few days."
Valverde with el doctor. (c) Unipublic.
Stage 14: Málaga - Granada 167 km
Hot weather will greet the riders Saturday, with little respite
in the higher elevations where they will traverse three climbs.The sun will
shine even hotter before the dastardly Alto de Monachil and at the finish in
Granada. The Alto de Monachil is also part of Sunday's individual Time Trial,
where it comes at just about the halfway point.
The first portion of the stage will be flat, but then the
elevation increases as the rider hit the climbs. There are three intermediate
sprints (the second just past an uncategorized climb at the 65 km point) and
three mountain contests on offer. Petacchi is probably not the only tired rider,
and they have the uphill time trial Sunday, so the next two days will require a
high volume of sheer guts - agallas.
Paco Mancebo pointed out today not to discount that Nozal, who
could deliver surprises the next few days: "Isidro is very strong, he
demonstrated it while ascending and in the time trial, if he has a good day, he
can gain a lot of time, as he demonstrated last year."
A quiet moment. (c) Unipublic.
Oscar Sevilla and Joaquín Rodríguez pose with Paco Cerezo and
Fernando Romay of Castilla-La Mancha. (c) Unipublic.