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Vuelta a Espana

2008 Vuelta a España: Live Updates – Stage 11

12:27 PM: Good day and welcometo VeloNews.comcom's Live Coverage of the 11th stage of the 2008 Vuelta a España, a 178-kilometer race from Calahorra to Burgos.

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  • 12:27 PM: Good day and welcome

    to VeloNews.comcom’s Live Coverage of the 11th stage of the 2008 Vuelta a España, a 178-kilometer race from Calahorra to Burgos.

    Today’s is another transition stage, a relatively short route over moderately rolling terrain. The day starts at 380 meters above seal level and gradually climbs to 940 meters to the base of the stage’s one rated climb, the Category 3 Alto de Valmala, a short and moderate climb that summits at 141.8km, some 36 kilometers from the finish. Those final kilometers drop from an altitude of 1190 meters to 870 at the finish.

    The Vuelta’s current leader – Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) – won a stage in Burgos in 2006, capping off a successful solo break. We suspect that he will not be allowed to repeat that feat while wearing the gold leader’s jersey.

    Today’s stage is expected to start at 1:25 p.m., after the peloton leaves the starting village at 1:10 and works its way through today’s 4.9-kilometer neutral zone.

    Riders and teams are now arriving at the start village.

    We have not a report of anyone planning to skip today’s sign-in.

    Here’s a list of the riders who have dropped out of the Vuelta thus far:

    Stage 10 – Sabañánigo – Zaragoza, 151,3km
    Daniele Bennati (ITA) Liquigas
    Anthony Geslin (FRA) Bouygues Telecom
    Alexandre Pichot (FRA) Bouygues Telecom

    Stage 9 – Vielha / Mijaran – Sabañánigo, 200,8km
    Matthew Lloyd (AUS) Silence-Lotto

    Stage 8 – Andorra (Escaldes-Engordany)-Salardú/Naut Aran/Pla de Beret, 151,0km
    Jean Marc Marino (FRA) Credit Agricole

    Stage 7 – Barbastro-Andorra (Naturlandia – La Rabassa), 223,2km
    Carlos Barredo (ESP) Quick Step
    Nikolay Trusov (RUS) Tinkoff
    Stef Clement (NED) Bouygues Telecom
    Volodymyr Diudia (UKR) Milram

    Stage 5 – Ciudad Real – Ciudad Real (C.R.I.), 42,5km
    Aurélien Clerc (SUI) Bouygues Telecom
    Maryan Hary (FRA) Cofidis

    Stage 4 – Córdoba – Puerto LLano, 170km
    Ricardo Serrano (ESP) Tinkoff

    Stage 1 – Granada – Granada (Parque Tec. Ciencias de la Salud) (C.R.E.), 7,7km
    Staf Scheirlinckx (BEL) Cofidis

    So we’re down to 158 riders.

  • 12:32 PM: Drop us a line

    If you have a question, a comment or even a complaint, feel free to hit the Contact our editors link below the Live Update Window.

    We promise to read them all, answer as many as possible and even post a few during today’s coverage.

  • 12:58 PM: Astana

    the Astana team has signed in for today’s stage. The team has two riders in the top-three and remains favored to win the overall title.

    Alberto Contador is the subject of a great deal of attention today, as reporters have been swarming him to see if he has a reaction to the news that Lance Armstrong is returning to the sport. Contador has declined to comment, though, saying he’d like to concentrate on matters at hand… namely the 2008 Vuelta.

  • 01:16 PM: Rolling

    The peloton is working its way through the neutral zone. It’s a 4.9km route through the streets of Calahorra, before the race starts at the outskirts of town.

  • 01:28 PM: Today’s weather

    It’s a nice day in Calahorra, with temperatures in the mid-20s (C) and clear skies.

    The peloton is approaching the start. We may see early attacks form up today. Let’s wait and see.

  • 01:37 PM: Reader comment

    Larry writes in to say

    I love your coverage, but feel like today you will be reporting with an “elephant in the room” with you. That is Lance’s announcement. It has created such a buzz in the cycling world, and in me, that the Vuelta and Missouri races will be hard to follow without thinking about next year’s racing season. Keep up the good work.
    Yeah, true … but we are working to report on events that are actually happening now and for us, it’s the Vuelta. The Armstrong story has certainly caused a lot of buzz out there, but it’s still a developing story. He’s not at the Vuelta. It should make for an interesting year, eh?

  • 01:38 PM: 11km

    into the race, there have been a few digs, but no one has managed to get a significant gap.

  • 01:41 PM: The Armstrong story

    According to AFP today, Lance Armstrong will be able to compete in next year’s Tour de France as long as he fully submits to the latest anti-doping controls, the race’s director Christian Prudhomme said this morning.

    Armstrong has voiced fears that the race organisers, the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) could bar him from competing again as part of their crackdown on doping.

    Prudhomme, however, indicated that provided he played by the rules, he would be allowed to compete in next year’s race which starts in Monaco.

    “As long as his team, which we don’t know for the moment, and he himself abide by the rules concerning doping and anti-doping which have considerably evolved in the last few years, we will accept him,” Prudhomme told AFP.

    “But under no circumstances will we accept a cyclist who refuses to abide by these rules which are stricter and of a different nature than previously,”
    he added.

  • 01:48 PM: At 15km

    the peloton is keeping tabs on break-away attempts.

  • 01:53 PM: Still now gaps

    the pace has been high enough to negate break-away attempts. The Euskaltel team is taking charge at the front of the field, intent on protecting Egoi Martinez’s hold on the leader’s jersey.

    We do have a small dig. There are four riders off the front – Yaroslav Popovych (Silence Lotto), Vasili Kiryienka (Tinkoff), Jose Carrasco (Andalucia-Caja Sur ES) and Jose Luis Arrieta (Ag2r). They have a small advantage and are currently being chased by Gustavo Cesar Veloso(Xacobeo Galicia ES) and Patrice Halgand (Credit Agricole).

  • 02:01 PM: Euskaltel

    has chased down the break, but the pace has put the hurt on the field.

    There has been a big split in the peloton, with a group of 26 – containing all of the race favorites – now 15 seconds ahead of the rest of the field. We should expect that gap to close, though.

  • 02:03 PM: All together

    We were actually wrong about all of the favorites being in that lead group.

    The Astana team was caught in the second group, so the entire team massed at the front of the chase and quickly closed the gap. An easy transition stage it might be, but it still requires teams and riders to be attentive.

    Just as the gap closed John Gadret (Ag2r) took a dig, but he was quickly pulled back.

  • 02:10 PM: Man

    it’s been a quick start. The peloton started at 12:21 and they’ve already covered 34km.

  • 02:12 PM: Reader comment

    Reader Ted C. writes in to say

    Enough already! Re: Lance Armstrong; let’s not turn this into some type of a circus and/or try to emulate the Brett Favre soap opera. Armstrong may be returning to the sport and plans on competing in the 2009 TDF! OK, GREAT! End of story, besides the 2009 TDF is a long way from now.
    Who’s Brett Favre? What team does he ride for?

  • 02:17 PM: Another dig

    Serafin Martinez (Xacobeo Galicia) has moved ahead of the field. He’s 40 seconds ahead of the peloton and is being chased by Andriy Grivko (Milram) and Jose Lopez Gil (Andalucia-Caja Sur).

    Okay… they’ve joined up and now we have three escapees.

    At 39km, the trio has 55 seconds. None of the men poses a GC threat, so the serious chasing duties will fall to those teams hoping to score a stage win. Will that include the Euskaltel team? Les wait and see.

  • 02:19 PM: At 40km

    the trio has built up a good gap.

    A fresh time check gives the three escapees and advantage of 2:05.

  • 02:22 PM: The men in the break

    Serafin Martinez (Xacobeo Galicia), who began the day in 109th place at 56:17
    Andriy Grivko (Milram), 51st at 26:59
    Jose Lopez Gil (Andalucia-Caja Sur), 149th at 1:121:53

  • 02:32 PM: At 49km

    the gap is up to 4:05.

    The opening hour covered a brisk 43.6km.

  • 02:34 PM: At 51km

    the gap is up to 5:04.

  • 02:41 PM: Euskaltel

    has the “chase” duties, but the Basque team seems content to let these boys go. At 55km, the gap is up to 7:00.

  • 02:44 PM: A quick fix

    Lopez Gil has had a quick wheel change. He’s working his way back up to the other two in the break.

    And he’s back.

  • 02:55 PM: Rolling, rolling, rolling

    our leaders are now 8:00 ahead of the peloton. We can expect a serious chase effort if the sprinters’ teams get hungry.

  • 02:58 PM: Okay…

    let’s correct that last time check. We read that one off of the chalk board, but it looks like the gap has actually dropped by a few seconds. Our escapees are at 63.5km and have an advantage of 6:50. Euskaltel is at the front of the peloton.

  • 03:03 PM: Sad news from Burgos

    word from the town of today’s finish is that Gregorio “Tito” Moreno, organizer of the Vuelta a Burgos, has died.

  • 03:14 PM: O’Grady

    No, not VeloNews’ resident cranky old man, but the tough guy on CSC. Stuart O’Grady has signed a two-year contract extension with the team that will ride under the Saxo Bank name next year.

  • 03:15 PM: Chechu

    Chechu Rubiera – one of the original ‘three amigos’ – was asked about the return of his old team captain to the pro peloton. Rubiera said Armstrong, “has a lot to lose and not a lot to gain by risking a comeback, but if he does it, it will be to win. For sure Lance can be among the favorites again.”

  • 03:17 PM: Speaking of the old Disco crew

    Racing leader Egoi Martinez has some good memories of Burgos. He won a stage here in 2006 in a lone breakaway coming over the mountains from the north.

  • 03:21 PM: Well, it’s starting

    the Euskaltel team’s chase efforts weren’t quite up to what the sprinters’ teams were hoping for. Rabobank and Lampre have moved riders up to lend a hand and the gap is now down to 5:15.

  • 03:23 PM: Remember who they are?

    The three men in today’s break are
    Serafin Martinez (Xacobeo Galicia), who began the day in 109th place at 56:17
    Andriy Grivko (Milram), 51st at 26:59
    Jose Lopez Gil (Andalucia-Caja Sur), 149th at 1:121:53

  • 03:29 PM: At 83km

    the gap is now holding between 5:15 and 5:30. The recent jump in the peloton’s pace has eased off again and it looks like the Rabobank and Lampre contributions were merely meant to keep things at reasonable levels. With another 95km to go, there’s plenty of time to pull these guys back in and no reason to make the catch too early.

  • 03:38 PM: It’s warming up

    the temperature is now approaching 80 (f). The three escapees have managed to up their lead to 5:55 again. They are now at the 91km mark.

  • 03:46 PM: Reader comment

    Christopher M. writes in to say:

    How rare it was to find a measly blurb covering Christian Vande Velde’s heroic tour ride this past July in the local and national press, but now I need to prepare myself for the onslaught of cycling coverage by the likes of People, US Weekly, and the multitude of grocery store tabloids, all desperate to detail seven-time Tour de France winner – and recent playboy – Lance Armstrong’s comeback.

    Although the return of the patron will surely make exciting television and is destined to dominate cycling’s headlines, let’s hope that VeloNews continues to feature the peloton’s other racers. And, if we are longing to see which celebrity is riding with Johan in the team car, we can turn to the checkout lines to help answer that question.

    We’ll do our best Christopher. We do have to admit that the Lance story has caught our interest as well. Our colleague Neal Rogers did a fine job snagging that story and beating Vanity Fair to the punch.

    We’re mixed on the whole media question, though. Of course, it’s terrific that the mainstream media is following the sport, but we do wish their collective interest transcended Lance Armstrong and all of the doping scandals that pop up during the Tour.

  • 03:47 PM: At 96km

    the gap is now 5:45.

  • 03:53 PM: 100km

    and the gap is now 5:30.

    It looks like the peloton is happy to leave these three off the front for a bit. With 78km to go, we can expect the chase pace to increase in about 20 or 30 kilometers.

  • 03:57 PM: Reader comment

    Connie writes in to say

    At least the mainstream media did recognize who broke the story. I was somewhat surprised to see in the CNN article online that they gave credit to VeloNews a “well respected” cycling magazine for breaking the story. Congratulations!
    We would happily wallow in the glory if we had anything to do with it. Your Live Update Guy played the role of a grumpy old editor who wanted “more confirmation!” on the story. Had it been up to LUG – and his even grumpier colleague – we’d still be sitting on that scoop. Credit goes to Mr. Rogers and to the other editors who outvoted us on that one.

  • 04:05 PM: At 110 km

    the gap is down to 5:15.

  • 04:10 PM: The gap is down to 4:45

    the three leaders are losing a bit of their advantage. The chase is far from frantic and we have to attribute some of that decline to the fact that these fellas are beginning to fade up front.

  • 04:12 PM: The Rabos and Lampre . . .

    . . . are running the show.

  • 04:16 PM: The gap . . .

    . . . is back up to five minutes and change. There’s no real rush to suck these guys back in. Meanwhile, Grivko takes advantage of the lull in the action to collect some refreshments from the team car.

  • 04:17 PM: 36km to go

    Remember our three amigos off the front?

    Serafin Martinez (Xacobeo Galicia), who began the day in 109th place at 56:17
    Andriy Grivko (Milram), 51st at 26:59
    Jose Lopez Gil (Andalucia-Caja Sur), 149th at 1:121:53

  • 04:19 PM: Meanwhile, back at the sprint . . .

    . . . Lopez Gil takes the honors, followed by Martinez and Grivko.

  • 04:21 PM: If at first you don’t succeed . . .

    Andalucia-CajaSur would love to see Lopez Gil cross the line first today. The second-division Spanish team burned a lot of matches in the first week when the race started in Andalucia, but they’re right back at it today. Looks like in vain yet again.

  • 04:21 PM: No place for headbangers

    These roads into Burgos are long, flat and wide open – not good hunting terrain for headbangers.

  • 04:23 PM: One champ on another

    Olympic gold medalist Samuel Sanchez just spoke to the media. He’s off to the Tour of Poland before the worlds and the Giro di Lombardia. Of Armstrong’s impending return, he said: “I think it’s only great for cycling. Everyone is speaking about cycling again with the news that Armstrong is coming back. Whether he can return to the highest levels is unknown, but if anyone can do it, Armstrong could.”

  • 04:26 PM: 58km to go

    Lampre, Rabobank and Euskaltel-Euskadi are at the front, lining the chase out.

  • 04:29 PM: 4:53 the gap

    Hear those dogs barking?

  • 04:33 PM: More on LA

    Another gent with some small experience has chimed in on the Armstrong story. Bernard Hinault, a former five-time winner of the Tour, told Agence France Presse that we should know more about how serious the American is after he tackles the 2009 Paris-Nice.

    “Jeannie Longo is still there at almost 50 years of age, while Lance Armstrong still has all that time ahead of him,” said Hinault. “Am I surprised by his return? Yes, because he called it a day, and no, because he will be neither the first nor last to attempt a comeback of this type.”

  • 04:34 PM: 49km to race . . .

    . . . and the gap is hovering around 4:30.

  • 04:36 PM: Speedometer check

    The average after three hours of racing is 40.80 km/h. That’s 25.3 mph for you Yanks.

  • 04:40 PM: The chase is on for real

    And that margin is dwindling, down to just over four minutes now.

  • 04:42 PM: 45km to race

    Man, this is pretty country. We’d trade a healthy organ to be on a saddle instead of at the keyboard.

  • 04:46 PM: Euskaltel

    Euskaltel is helping out a bit at the front, too, pulling a little to defend the leader’s jersey — it’s the first grand tour leader’s jersey in the team’s history.

    Rabobank has some legs up there, for Freire – and Lampre for Napolitano

  • 04:48 PM: Gap 3:10

    At about 40k to go, the lead is coming down. The riders are sweeping through some pretty turns that almost look banked. Ah, to be riding …

  • 04:50 PM: And over in England

    Edvald Boasson Hagen has just won the fourth stage of the British tour.

    The break is hitting the slopes of the cat. 3 climb. Liquigas is coming to the front of the chase.

  • 04:54 PM: 38k to go

    partly cloudy at the finish, we hear. A sweet day in Spain.

  • 04:57 PM: that gap

    2:55 with 36k to go.

    Our three ment are working hard on the climb. There are some accelerations at the front of the peloton, also

  • 04:59 PM: The finish

    whether it’s this three man break or the full peloton duking it out, we don’t know.

    But our VEAL-O NEWS European Correspondent Andrew Hood is at the finish and he says it’s far from technical:

    “It’s dead straight and flat in the final 5km. There are a string of traffic circles and other road furniture. The main danger point is a sweeping right-hander with about 500m to go, then it’s a straight shot the line. Slightly rising and wind could be a factor, but otherwise not complicated.”

  • 05:01 PM: Lopez Gil

    Lopez has been gapped by the other two at the top of the Valmada climb

  • 05:02 PM: Over the top

    And Martinez and Grivko are sitting up and waiting for Lopez Gil

  • 05:03 PM: Tres Amigos

    They are:

    Serafin Martinez (Xacobeo Galicia), who began the day in 109th place at 56:17
    Andriy Grivko (Milram), 51st at 26:59
    Jose Lopez Gil (Andalucia-Caja Sur), 149th at 1:121:53

    Moncoutie has come over the top of the climb to get the fourth place KOM points. We are trying to get a summit time gap …

  • 05:07 PM: Still pretty country

    This is REALLY making us want to pedal a bike. What a day.

    The gap is down to 2:33, but the three are looking solid. Lopez has caught on and has thanked his mates for waiting for him by contributing some good pulls.

  • 05:12 PM: Gap holding steady

    The gap is about 2:30 with 24k to go. Yes, it has come down a bit, but the pack is certainly not charging up on ’em.

  • 05:15 PM: Lampre

    Lampre is really driving the chase, hoping to set up their man Napolitano for a sprint. Rabobank is near the front, too, largely in a supervisory role, which we can appreciate.

  • 05:20 PM: Caisse d’Epargne

    With 20k to go, the gap is two minutes … it could be close whether they are caught. Caisse d’Epargne is moving some forces to the front.

  • 05:22 PM: The chasers

    Getting a bit more animated. The gap now 1:49

  • 05:28 PM: Could be close

    The gap is now 1:15 @ 12.5k to go

    The speed is about 63kmh in the main pack – it’s hard to hold that off! Lampre is setting the pace for Napoltano. Quick Step’s Bettini is also throwing in some work for Boonen’s benefit.

  • 05:30 PM: some narrower roads now.

    the break is at about 11k to go with a bit over a minute. The pace is wicked in the pack …

  • 05:31 PM: down down

    45 seconds at 9k to go

  • 05:31 PM: FdJ driving at the front

    The pack is really flying, the chase hitting the 10k mark

  • 05:32 PM: Bettini and Ballan at the front

    Cooperation is a beautiful thing, int’ it? Two stage winners in this tour, hammering at the front for the benefit of their respective teammates

  • 05:34 PM: whoa

    the three are almost in sight, 17 seconds at 8k to go

    looks like another mass field sprint today

  • 05:35 PM: 7k to go

    And the three have conceded; they are sitting up and waiting

  • 05:36 PM: Let the attacks begin

    We have two riders off the front, bridging up to (and past) our day’s break .. trying to get an ID on this pair.

  • 05:37 PM: reeled in

    pack is together except a Tinkoff rider with a small gap.

  • 05:39 PM: Milram

    Milram was not contributing to the chase because they had a rider in the break. Now they are coming to the front with hopes of setting up Mr. Zabel. 4k to go.

  • 05:40 PM: Bettini again

    The world champ is hammering at the front. Flecha also taking a pull

  • 05:41 PM: Bettini pulls off

    Flecha on the front, hoping to set up Freire, with 2k to go

  • 05:41 PM: 1.5k to go

    And Quick Step is controlling the front for Boonen

  • 05:42 PM: 1k

    Still Quick Step

  • 05:42 PM: Freire coming on

    Boonen goes

    Freire gets it!

  • 05:44 PM: Oscar Freire

    The three-time world champ gets the win ahead of Boonen and Haedo

  • 05:45 PM: Rabobank rewarded

    They really did a lot of work today, and played off the Quick Step train nicely in the last 3k.

  • 05:46 PM: The GC picture

    unchanged. Thankfully we had no crashes in the final few ks, and all the leaders and favorites are accounted for …

  • 05:51 PM: Ok then

    everyone is accounted for and there are no changes at the top of the GC. Egoi Martinez will enjoy another day in the gold jersey and Leipheimer and Contador remain second and third, Valverde in fourth as we head to the big mountains this weekend.

    Check back to very soon for a full report for Andrew Hood, pics by Graham Watson, and full results. We might even report more on the developing Lance Armstrong situation …