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Vuelta a Espana Stage 14 Roundup
 
By Janna Trevisanut
Date: 9/18/2004
Vuelta a Espana Stage 14 Roundup
 


Santiago Perez holds his locket to the sky. (c) Unipublic.

Santi Perez - an end to two black years...

With his victory today in Granada, Santi Perez has put an end to two “black” years. In the words of the rider himself: “I have had two black years in which absolutely everything has happened to me. Although I am very happy today, this stage win is no compensation for the situations I have had to live through recently. I would like to dedicate this triumph to my girlfriend and to her whole family. I have been two years looking for this victory. My girlfriend died in a traffic accident and the victory has been for her.

The consequences of the loss of his girlfriend were disastrous to the career of a rider who has suffered numerous injuries and who was signed by Alvaro Pino's Phonak as a possible team leader following a brilliant performance in the Giro d´Italia.

Following such a negative period, Perez is in condition to fight for a place on the podium, although the Asturian prefers to be cautious: “I am 5th overall at the moment and I feel in good form, although I imagine that today's efforts will effect me during tomorrow's mountain time trial. Additionally, I am some distance behind the leading three riders. At least I have won a stage.”

"My form is good and it has not changed, now what will change is my mental state. I am a little distant in the head, but I will continue fighting, although it will be difficult. I believe that there are people who are reserved [to win] the Sierra Nevada's crono." Further, the general classification is not Santi's objective. He says, "Heras is a fantastic rider and I believe that he, Mancebo and Valverde will fight tomorrow for the victory. Also, my objective is already fulfilled with today's stage and I'm not concerned about the general classification."

Perez said of today's tactics: "I attacked from down below today to capture the necessary distance from the summit to allow me to arrive at the finish alone. I attempted it when I saw that the group was selected. The ascent was narrow with good asphalt. We ran the minimum of risks. After two years I am well again and I thank Alvaro Pino for the trust he has had in me. I have tackled the important climbs with Heras and the rest of favorites and that has given me morale and strength. Having won a stage of the Turn is my biggest achievement."

"I have a contract with the Phonak until the season end and the negotiation are in hands of Tony Rominger because the team has interest in continuing. In the Vuelta ago two years old I fell when I was second in the general classification. I lost consciousness, but I have recovered.”


Perez and Saunier Duval's Zaballa. (c) Unipublic.

Santi Perez began his cycling career with the Barbot team, with which he won a stage in the Tour of Portugal. That victory led to his signing by Vicente Belda's Kelme, where he was soon to show signs of his quality in the Tour of Romandy and the Giro d´Italia, in which he was able to compete with the best until being forced to abandon. His signing to Phonak was not welcomed by Belda, who had harsh words for Pino at the time. Now, two years later, Perez finally sees the light at the end of the tunnel in Granada.

2004
1 Stage Vuelta a España
7th Tour of Aragon
10th Tour of Andalusia
29th Tour of Switzerland
49th Tour de France

2003
2nd Escalada Montjuic
6th Setmana Catalana
20th Vuelta País Vasco
44th Vuelta a España

2002
4th Tour of Romandia
28th Tour of Basque Country

2001
1st Stage 7 Tour of Portugal
13th Agostinho Trophy


The peloton on the road (and off) today. (c) Unipublic.

Sacchi Okay

The Fassa Bortolo rider Fabio Sacchi, who suffered a fall at kilometer 60 of the Málaga-Granada stage was given an all clear by doctor Lara after being examined in a hospital of Granada. Sacchi was transferred in ambulance after a spectacular fall. Examinations and imaging were done which have determined that Sacchi has not suffered any serious injuries, other than abrasions and bruises. He left the hospital under his own steam.

Thoughts on Today and Tomorrow

Alejandro Valverde: "The important thing today is that I have not lost time with regard to the best. It has surprised me to not see Landis and Beltrán among the front group. Tomorrow there will be big differences, I also hope to do well." The leader of Kelme didn't mince words - he will be fighting for the victory.

Isidro Nozal: "We [in the team] have been able to climb comfortably because there have not been important attacks until the end when Valverde came out, and for that we were able to climb with good rhythm."

The Cantabrian dreams of a podium place in Madrid, but says, "It is a little complicated, but tomorrow we will begin to see how it will shape up."

The Liberty Seguros warns, however, "I hope people don't decide that tomorrow's winner will be the overall winner - they are still so many days of mountains. Tomorrow is not the end of the Vuelta."

Tomorrow...

Uphill time trial on the Sierra Nevada. Just under 30 km, with a serious uptilt onto today's Alto de Monachil, then climbing on up the Sierra Nevada. It will be hot at the start - 32-33 degrees (over 90 degrees) - though up on the Sierra Nevada it will be significantly cooler (19C/66F) and perhaps a bit cloudy.

The bookies are perhaps not so convinced that some of the popular favorites - Mancebo, Nozal, Landis, Heras, etc. - are the deal of the day. Bookie consensus varies, and the most interesting we found was a stage winner tomorrow between Heras, Nozal, Valverde, Mancebo and Cunego. We must wait and see. Heras won last year's uphill time trial on the Alto de Abantos, of course, but comparisons may be few. Last year it was the penultimate stage, it was less than half the distance of tomorrow's contest, and as his teammate Nozal said today, Sunday is not the end of the Vuelta.

You can give your opinion about the stage on the new Daily Peloton Forums here, but in the meantime, here are tomorrow's odds over at MrBookmaker:

Heras 1.65
The Field (all other riders)  3.00
Mancebo  8.00
Nozal 8.00
Valverde 8.00
S. Perez  9.00
Sastre 12.00


Climbing the Alto de Manochil. (c) Unipublic.

 
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