Stage 13: Burgos - Santuario de la Bien Aparecida (Ampuero), 196.0 km
Welcome to Stage 13 of the Vuelta a España! Today a change of route: A truck has
broken down on the road near the Cat 1 Alto de la Sía climb. Therefore, at the
102 km point today the race will go instead over the Category 2 Puerto de los
Tornos. Then the peloton will race through Ramales de la Victoria and then on to
Arredondo, where they will continue with the rest of the stage, as planned. This
will add 5 km to today's stage.
Definitely not a day for the sprinters today. Want proof? Gilberto Simoni (Lampre-Caffita) was on the attack for a long time. His group just got reeled in by the peloton. Currently, 4 men are off the front.
David Latasa (Comunidad Valenciana), Oscar Pereiro (Phonak), Constantino Zaballa (Saunier Duval-Prodir), and Mauricio Ardilla (Davitamon-Lotto) have a narrow lead over the field.
The four leaders have 32" over the bunch, but they are being chased by four men as well who are only a few seconds back. The four chasers are Oscar Sevilla (T-Mobile), Pablo Lastras and Joan Horrach (Illes Balears), and Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi).
The big race development yesterday was the injury to Roberto Heras. Number two on the General Classification, he had fifteen stitches in his left knee yesterday after being gashed with his chainring. He commented last night: "It´s okay, I'm in good spirits and if the wounds allow me to do so, I will carry on. It has been a change of plans but you have to count on that because that's cycling".
He also said, "The important thing now is to see whether it is going to be swollen and how I am going to feel tomorrow".
Asked what occurred, Heras said, "I don't know how the fall happened. I was in the first ten when some riders got caught at the front. At the beginning it was very painful and I couldn't continue, but then the doctors gave me 3 stitches to stop the bleeding and I was able to continue until the end."
Another crash today sent Tom Steels (Davitamon-Lotto) home early. Reports are that he took a hard blow to the head and was a bit woozy, but not seriously injured. Mancebo (Illes Balears) also went down in that fall, but was unharmed.
Hard to give distance left markers today because there are conflicting reports as to how long today's revised route actually is. Some say 5k longer, some 3k shorter. The two lead groups have fused, and there have been more counter-attacks from the peloton. The lead of the eight men off the front is 1' 15".
There have been other abandons today as well - Credit Agricole's Francesco Bellotti, Discovery Channel's Manual Beltran, and Lampre's Francisco Vila. Beltran was apparently involved in the crash yesterday. He was going well in the mountains a few days ago. That's a big loss for Discovery Channel.
1609 CEST - 13 km left, we think. A group with Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) counter-attacked, but was brought back. It is still the lead eight riders with an advantage of about 1' 15". The course finishes with an uphill Cat 3 jaunt for the final 5 km.
We are just past the halfway point in this Vuelta, but there are only four teams left intact - Relax-Fuenlabrada (however, that team only started with eight men), Davitamon Lotto, Saunier Duval and T-Mobile.
Now it's down to Sevilla, Pereiro, Ardilla, and Sanchez attacking off the front. The peloton has exploded on this final climb... the main GC men are sticking together, it looks like.
Wow, this race is all over the place. Some men from the break have been caught, some are still up the road. Men are spread everywhere.
In the final kilometer, Zaballa and Sanchez are playing a game with Pereiro, Sevilla, and a couple of others. Pereiro tries to go, Zaballa counters, but here come Sanchez! Sanchez is going to win it! Sanchez takes stage win number two for Euskaltel-Euskadi, pointing up and kissing the sky.
Here comes a group of the leaders... Sastre, Heras, Mancebo, and Menchov are the only GC men who survived in here! This will shake up the top ten a bit.
2. Pereiro @ 4"
3. Ardila @ 8"
4. Sevilla @ 8"
5. Horrach @ 25"
6. Lastras @ 31"
7. Latasa @ 46"
8. Perdiguero (Phonak) @ 47"
9. Carlos Garcia Quesada (Comunidad Valenciana) @ 49"
10. Sastre (CSC) @ 49"
11. Heras (Liberty Seguros) @ 49"
12. Mancebo (Illes Balears) @ 49"
13. Menchov (Rabobank) @ 49"
14. Santos Gonzalez (Phonak) @ 49"
15. Ruben Plaza (Comunidad Valenciana) @ 51"
16. Blanco (Comunidad Valenciana) @ 58"
Other finishers: 19. Mercado (Quick Step) @ 1' 23", 25. Danielson (Discovery Channel) @ 1' 33".
So Carlos Garcia Quesada also had a good day. Zaballa wasn't in that finishing dash for the line, but was one of the men swept past by the GC leaders. A great day for Sanchez, and a rough day for Danielson. Perhaps he was feeling the absence of Beltran a bit.
Sevilla managed to pull himself up into the top ten on GC.
Here's the GC now:
2. Heras @ 47"
3. Mancebo @ 1' 53"
4. Sastre @ 1' 57"
5. Garcia Quesada @ 3' 31"
6. Danielson @ 5' 47"
7. Plaza @ 6' 00"
8. Mercado @ 6' 19"
9. Santos Gonzalez @ 6' 47"
10. Sevilla @ 6' 51"
So the top five was unchanged, but the next five spots saw some changes. Danielson lost time to the men chasing him on GC. Not good for a stage with such short climbs.
Tomorrow will be some bigger climbs, which Danielson tends to do well on. It is 172km with three Cat 2 climbs, a Cat 3 climb, and then a long Above Category finish up the Lagos de Covadonga.
The Lagos de Covadonga is quite steep... the profile is here:http://www.salite.ch/covadong.htm.
It starts easy enough, but has several sections that are 10% or more, and one section in the middle that averages over 12.5% for a kilometer. That's steep, folks. If his knee isn't bothering him, this is the kind of climb where Heras can really shine and distance himself from his rivals. We'll see.
At the finish today, Ardilla raised his arms and thought he had won at the banner marking the top of the climb, but there were 100 meters left. Pereiro also thought that was the finish line. Sanchez knew better, went around them, and picked up the win. Pays to pay attention, though it is hard to think well when you have that much racing in your legs.
Sunday is the Pajares climb - Menchov will be hard put to hold the lead this weekend. With climbs that get up to 17% in spots, he'll be on the terrain of Heras.
Though it all depends how well Heras' knee is treated from here on - that's a pretty serious injury. "Only" four hours of racing today, and Heras seemed to show no ill effects of his injury, but the climbs this weekend will really put that to the test.
Well, we hope from here on out there are no more stalled lorries on the road that change the course of a major race (though the riders may have appreciated coming in an hour ahead of schedule today). Thanks for being with us today, and remember that there are two major mountain stages the next two days. So please join us then! Adios!