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Plaza takes Vuelta TT; Heras on track for fourth overall title

Ruben Plaza (Comunidad Valenciana) narrowly edged a surprisingly strong Roberto Heras to take the 20th stage of the Vuelta a España, a 38.9km individual time trial from Guadalajara to Alcalá de Henares. Plaza beat Liberty Seguros's Heras by a mere 0.9 seconds to win the stage, but Heras is now virtually assured the overall victory in the race, making him the only rider to win the Vuelta four times. Carlos Sastre (CSC) finished in third for the day and ensuring that he has the same spot on the final podium in Madrid tomorrow. One-time race leader Denis Menchov finished in fourth place on

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No. 4? Heras goes into Sunday's final stage with a huge lead

No. 4? Heras goes into Sunday’s final stage with a huge lead

Photo: Graham Watson

Ruben Plaza (Comunidad Valenciana) narrowly edged a surprisingly strong Roberto Heras to take the 20th stage of the Vuelta a España, a 38.9km individual time trial from Guadalajara to Alcalá de Henares. Plaza beat Liberty Seguros’s Heras by a mere 0.9 seconds to win the stage, but Heras is now virtually assured the overall victory in the race, making him the only rider to win the Vuelta four times. Carlos Sastre (CSC) finished in third for the day and ensuring that he has the same spot on the final podium in Madrid tomorrow. One-time race leader Denis Menchov finished in fourth place on the day, six seconds behind Plaza, and leaving him in second place overall.

Not a man with a strong reputation as a time trial specialist, Heras nonetheless powered his way through a remarkable performance on Saturday, steadily picking up speed after the day’s first time-check at 15.8 kilometers, where he came through with fourth-best time of the day. Heras trailed Menchov by eight seconds at that time-check, riding comfortably for a rider who started the day with more than four-and-one-half minutes’ advantage on the Russian.

But apparently not one to rest on his laurels, Heras picked up his tempo, blazing through the second time-check at 26km with the day’s best time leading Menchov by a second and Plaza by six.

Plaza gets a big win

Plaza gets a big win

Photo: Graham Watson

The tall, lanky Plaza, however made up the deficit and just a bit more as he finished the day with a strong 41:31. Remarkably, Menchov – winner of both of the Vuelta’s earlier time trials – lost momentum in the closing kilometers and finished with a 41:37.

Heras, the last rider to start and to finish, came powering toward the end of the time trial on a pace that appeared to have him on track not only to lock up an unprecedented fourth Vuelta victory, but to grab a prestigious time trial win to boot. But the clock nudged past the 41:31 mark by just 0.9 seconds, giving the 25-year-old Plaza the stage win.

“I would have liked to have won, but with specialists like Plaza out there it was always going to be tricky,” Heras said. “I took no risks, but I’m very satisfied I could come so close to winning. It’s a good sign for time trials in the future and a sign I’m improving at something I always found to be difficult in the past.”

CSC’s Carlos Sastre took third on the day, easily preserving his hold on third place in overall standings, but making little headway in his effort to erase the 20-second deficit he had on Menchov at the start of the day. For all of his efforts, Sastre now sits 18 seconds behind the Russian and nearly five minutes off of Heras’s pace.

One notable battle Saturday was American Tom Danielson’s effort to move up in the overall standings. Starting the day in ninth place overall, had just a three-second advantage on Colombian Mauricio Ardila (Davitamon-Lotto) and trailed QuickStep’s Juan Miguel Mercado by 22.

Danielson appeared relaxed and confident as he shot through the course, finishing ninth on the day, some 48 seconds behind Plaza, but more than a minute better than Ardila and more than two faster than Mercado. The Discovery rider will enter Madrid on Sunday now sitting in eighth place on General Classification, a remarkable feat for his first grand tour finish. Danielson started the Giro d’Italia earlier this year, but withdrew because of a knee injury.

Danielson has had a great Vuelta

Danielson has had a great Vuelta

Photo: Graham Watson

Barring major misfortune, Heras will win his fourth, record-breaking overall title on Sunday when the race finishes in Madrid.

A flat 136.5-km stage is purely designed for the sprinters to show their class and should have no effect on the overall classification.

Two laps of a circuit virtually identical to the one to be used in the world road race championship a week later on September 25 will bring down the Tour curtain.

Results – Stage 20
1. Ruben Plaza (Sp), Comunidad Valenciana, 41:31
2. Roberto Heras (Sp), Liberty Seguros, same time
3. Carlos Sastre (Sp), CSC, at 0:04
4. Denis Menchov (Rus), Rabobank, at 0:06
5. Francisco Mancebo (Sp), Illes Balears, at 0:10
6. Victor Hugo PeÑa (Col), Phonak, at 0:23
7. Stijn Devolder (B), Discovery Channel, at 0:30
8. Oscar Pereiro (Sp), Phonak, at 0:33
9. Tom Danielson (USA), Discovery Channel, at 0:48
10. Christian Vandevelde (USA), CSC, 1:07

FullResults

Overall
1. Roberto Heras (Sp), Liberty Seguros, 78:48:10
2. Denis Menchov (Rus), Rabobank, 4:36
3. Carlos Sastre (Sp), CSC, 4:54
4. Francisco Mancebo (Sp), Illes Balears, 5:58
5. Carlos Garcia Quesada (Sp), Comunidad Valenciana, 8:06
6. Ruben Plaza (Sp), Comunidad Valenciana, 11:36
7. Oscar Sevilla (Sp), T-Mobile, 13:22
8. Tom Danielson (USA), Discovery Channel, 16:38
9. Mauricio Ardila (Col), Davitamon-Lotto, 18:19
10. Juan Miguel Mercado (Sp), Quickstep, 18:31

FullResults


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Results

Results – Stage 20
1. Ruben Plaza (Sp), Comunidad Valenciana, 41:31

2. Roberto Heras (Sp), Liberty Seguros, same time

3. Carlos Sastre (Sp), CSC, at 0:04

4. Denis Menchov (Rus), Rabobank, at 0:06

5. Francisco Mancebo (Sp), Illes Balears, at 0:10

6. Victor Hugo PeÑa (Col), Phonak, at 0:23

7. Stijn Devolder (B), Discovery Channel, at 0:30

8. Oscar Pereiro (Sp), Phonak, at 0:33

9. Tom Danielson (USA), Discovery Channel, at 0:48

10. Christian Vandevelde (USA), CSC, 1:07

11. Iñigo Cuesta (Sp), Saunier Duval, 1:32

12. Angel Vicioso (Sp), Liberty Seguros, 1:35

13. Koos Moerenhout (Nl), Davitamon-Lotto, 1:41

14. Carlos Garcia Quesada (Sp), Comunidad Valenciana, 1:44

15. Rik Verbrugghe (B), Quickstep, 1:45

16. Marcos Serrano (Sp), Liberty Seguros, 1:47

17. Magnus Backstedt (Swe), Liquigas-Bianchi, 2:02

18. David Blanco (Sp), Comunidad Valenciana, 2:02

19. Mario Aerts (B), Davitamon-Lotto, 2:07

20. Nicki Sorensen (Dk), CSC, 2:09

21. Andrea Peron (I), CSC, 2:09

22. Oscar Sevilla (Sp), T-Mobile, 2:09

23. Michele Scarponi (I), Liberty Seguros, 2:12

24. Uwe Peschel (G), Gerolsteiner, 2:15

25. Sylvester Szmyd (Pol), Lampre, 2:15

26. Pablo Lastras (Sp), Illes Balears, 2:16

27. Luis Pasamontes (Sp), Relax Fuenlabrada, 2:17

28. Igor Gonzalez De Galdeano (Sp), Liberty Seguros, 2:21

29. Francisco PÉrez (Sp), Illes Balears, 2:26

30. Mauricio Ardila (Col), Davitamon-Lotto, 2:26

31. Benoît Vaugrenard (F), Francaise des Jeux, 2:26

32. Linus Gerdemann (G), CSC, 2:30

33. Benjamin Noval (Sp), Discovery Channel, 2:39

34. Joan Horrach (Sp), Illes Balears, 2:45

35. Joseba Beloki (Sp), Liberty Seguros, 2:45

36. Leon Van Bon (Nl), Davitamon-Lotto, 2:45

37. Josep Jufre (Sp), Relax Fuenlabrada, 2:47

38. David Bernabeu (Sp), Comunidad Valenciana, 2:48

39. Michael Barry (CAN), Discovery Channel, 2:54

40. Samuel Sanchez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 2:56

41. Juan Miguel Mercado (Sp), Quickstep, 3:03

42. Alessandro Cortinovis (I), Domina Vacanze, 3:12

43. Rolf Aldag (G), T-Mobile, 3:14

44. Alexandre Botcharov (Rus), Credit Agricole, 3:16

45. Pedro Horrillo (Sp), Rabobank, 3:20

46. Staf Scheirlinckx (B), Cofidis, 3:22

47. Bram De Groot (Nl), Rabobank, 3:36

48. Kevin De Weert (B), Quickstep, 3:38

49. Sergio Ghisalberti (I), Domina Vacanze, 3:38

50. Mikel Pradera (Sp), Illes Balears, 3:38

51. José Vicent Garcia Acosta (Sp), Illes Balears, 3:41

52. Charles Wegelius (GB), Liquigas-Bianchi, 3:47

53. Eladio Jimenez (Sp), Comunidad Valenciana, 3:49

54. Roberto Laiseka (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 3:49

55. Daniele Nardello (I), T-Mobile, 3:49

56. Manuel Calvente (Sp), CSC, 3:50

57. Bart Dockx (B), Davitamon-Lotto, 3:50

58. Gert Steegmans (B), Davitamon-Lotto, 3:50

59. Daniel Atienza (Sp), Cofidis, 3:51

60. Patrick Calcagni (Swi), Liquigas-Bianchi, 3:56

61. Matej Mugerli (SLO), Liquigas-Bianchi, 4:00

62. Marcus Ljungqvist (Swe), Liquigas-Bianchi, 4:02

63. Alessandro Petacchi (I), Fassa Bortolo, 4:05

64. Juan Fuentes (Sp), Lampre, 4:09

65. Bingen Fernandez (Sp), Cofidis, 4:10

66. Lorenzo Bernucci (I), Fassa Bortolo, 4:12

67. Jurgen Van Goolen (B), Quickstep, 4:14

68. Unai Osa (Sp), Illes Balears, 4:17

69. Thomas Ziegler (G), Gerolsteiner, 4:17

70. Arnaud Coyot (F), Cofidis, 4:17

71. Rafael Nuritdinov (UZB), Domina Vacanze, 4:18

72. Jose Miguel Elias (Sp), Relax Fuenlabrada, 4:19

73. Gorka Gonzalez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 4:22

74. Sven Montgomery (Swi), Gerolsteiner, 4:23

75. Martin Elmiger (Swi), Phonak, 4:24

76. Frédéric Finot (F), Francaise des Jeux, 4:26

77. Dariusz Baranowski (Pol), Liberty Seguros, 4:27

78. Egoi Martinez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 4:28

79. Moises DueÑas (Sp), Relax Fuenlabrada, 4:29

80. Giovanni Lombardi (I), CSC, 4:30

81. Julian Sanchez Pimienta (Sp), Fassa Bortolo, 4:35

82. Constantino Zaballa (Sp), Saunier Duval, 4:36

83. Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus), Rabobank, 4:36

84. Giampaolo Caruso (I), Liberty Seguros, 4:37

85. Anthony Charteau (F), Bouygues Telecom, 4:39

86. Jérémy Roy (F), Francaise des Jeux, 4:46

87. Rafael Casero (Sp), Saunier Duval, 4:47

88. Erik Zabel (G), T-Mobile, 4:48

89. Heinrich Haussler (G), Gerolsteiner, 4:50

90. Marcus Burghardt (G), T-Mobile, 4:51

91. Aketza PeÑa (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 4:55

92. Mauro Gerosa (I), Liquigas-Bianchi, 4:58

93. Preben Van Hecke (B), Davitamon-Lotto, 5:01

94. Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Sp), Comunidad Valenciana, 5:04

95. Marco Marzano (I), Lampre, 5:07

96. Christophe Le Mevel (F), Credit Agricole, 5:07

97. Xavier Florencio (Sp), Relax Fuenlabrada, 5:08

98. Jorge Garcia (Sp), Relax Fuenlabrada, 5:10

99. André Korff (G), T-Mobile, 5:13

100. Alberto Ongarato (I), Fassa Bortolo, 5:13

101. Joaquin Rodriguez (Sp), Saunier Duval, 5:14

102. Fabio Baldato (I), Fassa Bortolo, 5:20

103. Nicolas Vogondy (F), Credit Agricole, 5:21

104. David Latasa (Sp), Comunidad Valenciana, 5:27

105. Thomas Voeckler (F), Bouygues Telecom, 5:32

106. Gilberto Simoni (I), Lampre, 5:32

107. Adolfo Garcia Quesada (Sp), Comunidad Valenciana, 5:36

108. Angel Gomez (Sp), Saunier Duval, 5:50

109. Hervé Duclos-Lassalle (F), Cofidis, 5:52

110. Yohann Gene (F), Bouygues Telecom, 5:52

111. Thorwald Veneberg (Nl), Rabobank, 5:56

112. Francisco José Ventoso (Sp), Saunier Duval, 5:57

113. Volker Ordowski (G), Gerolsteiner, 5:58

114. David Lopez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 6:00

115. Andreas Klier (G), T-Mobile, 6:06

116. Allan Johansen (Dk), CSC, 6:07

117. Andreas Matzbacher (A), Lampre, 6:14

118. Jimmy Casper (F), Cofidis, 6:15

119. Ignacio Gutierrez (Sp), Phonak, 6:16

120. Marco Zanotti (I), Liquigas-Bianchi, 6:17

121. Nacor Burgos (Sp), Relax Fuenlabrada, 6:23

122. Leonardo Piepoli (I), Saunier Duval, 6:44

123. Ian Mcleod (RSA), Francaise des Jeux, 6:50

124. Bernhard Kohl (A), T-Mobile, 6:55

125. René Haselbacher (A), Gerolsteiner, 7:04

126. Devis Miorin (I), Liquigas-Bianchi, 7:15

127. Nick Gates (Aus), Davitamon-Lotto, 7:31

Overall
1. Roberto Heras (Sp), Liberty Seguros, 78:48:10

2. Denis Menchov (Rus), Rabobank, 4:36

3. Carlos Sastre (Sp), CSC, 4:54

4. Francisco Mancebo (Sp), Illes Balears, 5:58

5. Carlos Garcia Quesada (Sp), Comunidad Valenciana, 8:06

6. Ruben Plaza (Sp), Comunidad Valenciana, 11:36

7. Oscar Sevilla (Sp), T-Mobile, 13:22

8. Tom Danielson (USA), Discovery Channel, 16:38

9. Mauricio Ardila (Col), Davitamon-Lotto, 18:19

10. Juan Miguel Mercado (Sp), Quickstep, 18:31

11. Samuel Sanchez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 20:16

12. Michele Scarponi (I), Liberty Seguros, 31:44

13. David Blanco (Sp), Comunidad Valenciana, 34:57

14. Koos Moerenhout (Nl), Davitamon-Lotto, 35:07

15. Josep Jufre (Sp), Relax Fuenlabrada, 35:33

16. Mario Aerts (B), Davitamon-Lotto, 36:18

17. Daniel Atienza (Sp), Cofidis, 36:23

18. Unai Osa (Sp), Illes Balears, 37:14

19. Marcos Serrano (Sp), Liberty Seguros, 38:13

20. Pablo Lastras (Sp), Illes Balears, 40:49

21. Alexandre Botcharov (Rus), Credit Agricole, 42:14

22. Roberto Laiseka (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 47:46

23. Victor Hugo PeÑa (Col), Phonak, 47:54

24. Manuel Calvente (Sp), CSC, 50:35

25. Sylvester Szmyd (Pol), Lampre, 50:50

26. Stijn Devolder (B), Discovery Channel, 50:50

27. Oscar Pereiro (Sp), Phonak, 51:54

28. Joan Horrach (Sp), Illes Balears, 52:44

29. Luis Pasamontes (Sp), Relax Fuenlabrada, 59:08

30. Iñigo Cuesta (Sp), Saunier Duval, 1:05:05

31. Jose Miguel Elias (Sp), Relax Fuenlabrada, 1:10:27

32. Christian Vandevelde (USA), CSC, 1:12:11

33. Julian Sanchez Pimienta (Sp), Fassa Bortolo, 1:16:19

34. Bingen Fernandez (Sp), Cofidis, 1:17:07

35. Adolfo Garcia Quesada (Sp), Comunidad Valenciana, 1:18:10

36. Leonardo Piepoli (I), Saunier Duval, 1:19:40

37. Eladio Jimenez (Sp), Comunidad Valenciana, 1:23:58

38. Joaquin Rodriguez (Sp), Saunier Duval, 1:25:35

39. Nicki Sorensen (Dk), CSC, 1:26:55

40. Joseba Beloki (Sp), Liberty Seguros, 1:27:19

41. Patrick Calcagni (Swi), Liquigas-Bianchi, 1:29:02

42. Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Sp), Comunidad Valenciana, 1:29:53

43. Gorka Gonzalez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 1:31:32

44. Rolf Aldag (G), T-Mobile, 1:32:00

45. Daniele Nardello (I), T-Mobile, 1:33:00

46. Egoi Martinez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 1:33:55

47. Moises DueÑas (Sp), Relax Fuenlabrada, 1:35:20

48. Angel Vicioso (Sp), Liberty Seguros, 1:35:31

49. Jurgen Van Goolen (B), Quickstep, 1:36:18

50. David Bernabeu (Sp), Comunidad Valenciana, 1:41:58

51. Gilberto Simoni (I), Lampre, 1:42:11

52. Rafael Casero (Sp), Saunier Duval, 1:42:40

53. Francisco PÉrez (Sp), Illes Balears, 1:43:06

54. Heinrich Haussler (G), Gerolsteiner, 1:46:55

55. Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus), Rabobank, 1:48:27

56. Juan Fuentes (Sp), Lampre, 1:48:59

57. Benjamin Noval (Sp), Discovery Channel, 1:50:15

58. Michael Barry (CAN), Discovery Channel, 1:50:18

59. Constantino Zaballa (Sp), Saunier Duval, 1:50:27

60. Charles Wegelius (GB), Liquigas-Bianchi, 1:53:47

61. Giampaolo Caruso (I), Liberty Seguros, 1:54:50

62. Jorge Garcia (Sp), Relax Fuenlabrada, 2:00:47

63. Erik Zabel (G), T-Mobile, 2:03:11

64. Nicolas Vogondy (F), Credit Agricole, 2:04:33

65. Andrea Peron (I), CSC, 2:07:57

66. Thomas Ziegler (G), Gerolsteiner, 2:08:16

67. Christophe Le Mevel (F), Credit Agricole, 2:09:16

68. Bram De Groot (Nl), Rabobank, 2:12:15

69. Angel Gomez (Sp), Saunier Duval, 2:14:42

70. David Latasa (Sp), Comunidad Valenciana, 2:15:24

71. Nacor Burgos (Sp), Relax Fuenlabrada, 2:15:25

72. José Vicente Garcia Acosta (Sp), Illes Balears, 2:15:30

73. Linus Gerdemann (G), CSC, 2:21:39

74. Mikel Pradera (Sp), Illes Balears, 2:22:04

75. Anthony Charteau (F), Bouygues Telecom, 2:25:24

76. Marcus Burghardt (G), T-Mobile, 2:28:12

77. David Lopez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 2:29:41

78. Ignacio Gutierrez (Sp), Phonak, 2:30:22

79. Alberto Ongarato (I), Fassa Bortolo, 2:30:45

80. Rik Verbrugghe (B), Quickstep, 2:34:15

81. Dariusz Baranowski (Pol), Liberty Seguros, 2:34:51

82. Jérémy Roy (F), Francaise des Jeux, 2:38:14

83. Preben Van Hecke (B), Davitamon-Lotto, 2:39:16

84. Alessandro Cortinovis (I), Domina Vacanze, 2:39:25

85. Lorenzo Bernucci (I), Fassa Bortolo, 2:42:57

86. Staf Scheirlinckx (B), Cofidis, 2:43:15

87. Martin Elmiger (Swi), Phonak, 2:44:01

88. Sven Montgomery (Swi), Gerolsteiner, 2:45:12

89. Igor Gonzalez De Galdeano (Sp), Liberty Seguros, 2:48:00

90. Alessandro Petacchi (I), Fassa Bortolo, 2:48:14

91. Andreas Matzbacher (A), Lampre, 2:48:31

92. Thorwald Veneberg (Nl), Rabobank, 2:50:15

93. Sergio Ghisalberti (I), Domina Vacanze, 2:51:35

94. Francisco José Ventoso (Sp), Saunier Duval, 2:54:37

95. Kevin De Weert (B), Quickstep, 2:55:03

96. Bart Dockx (B), Davitamon-Lotto, 2:55:33

97. Aketza PeÑa (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 2:57:53

98. Leon Van Bon (Nl), Davitamon-Lotto, 3:02:13

99. Xavier Florencio (Sp), Relax Fuenlabrada, 3:04:01

100. Matej Mugerli (SLO), Liquigas-Bianchi, 3:04:11

101. Uwe Peschel (G), Gerolsteiner, 3:05:17

102. Marco Marzano (I), Lampre, 3:05:32

103. Thomas Voeckler (F), Bouygues Telecom, 3:07:11

104. Mauro Gerosa (I), Liquigas-Bianchi, 3:08:46

105. Gert Steegmans (B), Davitamon-Lotto, 3:10:09

106. Bernhard Kohl (A), T-Mobile, 3:12:09

107. Pedro Horrillo (Sp), Rabobank, 3:12:15

108. Volker Ordowski (G), Gerolsteiner, 3:14:14

109. Andreas Klier (G), T-Mobile, 3:14:29

110. Devis Miorin (I), Liquigas-Bianchi, 3:18:43

111. Ian Mcleod (RSA), Francaise des Jeux, 3:19:11

112. Magnus Backstedt (Swe), Liquigas-Bianchi, 3:24:00

113. Fabio Baldato (I), Fassa Bortolo, 3:25:31

114. Arnaud Coyot (F), Cofidis, 3:26:32

115. Marcus Ljungqvist (Swe), Liquigas-Bianchi, 3:26:44

116. Giovanni Lombardi (I), CSC, 3:26:52

117. André Korff (G), T-Mobile, 3:27:28

118. Marco Zanotti (I), Liquigas-Bianchi, 3:29:06

119. Hervé Duclos-Lassalle (F), Cofidis, 3:32:30

120. Rafael Nuritdinov (UZB), Domina Vacanze, 3:33:18

121. Nick Gates (Aus), Davitamon-Lotto, 3:44:53

122. René Haselbacher (A), Gerolsteiner, 3:47:14

123. Frédéric Finot (F), Francaise des Jeux, 3:49:07

124. Allan Johansen (Dk), CSC, 3:55:12

125. Benoît Vaugrenard (F), Francaise des Jeux, 4:00:41

126. Jimmy Casper (F), Cofidis, 4:00:46

127. Yohann Gene (F), Bouygues Telecom, 4:15:19