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Vuelta a Espana

2008 Vuelta a España: Live Updates – Stage 13

01:01 PM: Good day and welcometo VeloNews.com's Live Coverage of the 13th stage of the 2008 Vuelta a Espana, a 209.5-kilometer race from San Vicente de la Barquera to the top of the Alto de L´Angliru. This is a stage that everyone has either been waiting for or dreading. We suspect that the majority of the remaining 154 riders in the Vuelta fall into that latter category.

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  • 01:01 PM: Good day and welcome

    to VeloNews.com’s Live Coverage of the 13th stage of the 2008 Vuelta a Espana, a 209.5-kilometer race from San Vicente de la Barquera to the top of the Alto de L´Angliru.

    This is a stage that everyone has either been waiting for or dreading. We suspect that the majority of the remaining 154 riders in the Vuelta fall into that latter category.

    Today’s stage officially began at 11:40 this morning. There were several attacks from the start, but only one rider – Christophe Kern of Credit Agricole – has been allowed to get any distance. He’s now at the 57km mark with a lead of 5:45 on the peloton.

    Two riders – Maarten Tjallingii (Silence Lotto) and Matej Jurco (Milram) are chasing, but Kern still has a hefty advantage. They trail him by 3:40.

    Kern crested the Cat. 3 Alto de Ortigueiro, the day’s first climb. There are four more climbs remaining. They just get tougher.

    We have already had one rider who reconsidered his plans for the day. Frank Mathias (Gerolsteiner) has withdrawn from the race. He, by the way, will be moving to Saxo Bank for next year, as his current team is folding at the end of the seson.

  • 01:10 PM: Today’s route

    It starts out with relatively moderate terrain for the first 108km, with only the Cat. 3 Alto de Ortigueiro at km 46.

    But at 108.2km the peloton reaches the Cat. 1 Puerto de Arnicio. It rises from 300 meters to the 910-meter summit at 116.7km. The, at km 148.2, the Cat.1 Alto de la Colladona, which starts at an altitude of 390 meters and summits at 154.8km at an altitude of 850m.

    The fun continues with the Cat. 1 Alto del Cordal, which starts at the 182.6km mark at 290 meters. It summits at 188.2km at 780 meters.

    Then comes the good part. The peloton begins the beyond category Alto de L´Angliru at 196.5km (320 meters). The route shoots up to 1560 meters at the finish at 209.5km. It’s just 12.2km in length and climb rises 1248 meters.

    The opening five kilometers aren’t terribly excessive, with an average grade of 7 percent, hardly anything that will cause the pros lose sleep. There’s even a false-flat at 5.5km that gives a short respite.

    It’s the second half of the climb where the Angliru earns its reputation.

    At 6.5km, the road narrows and hits its first serious ramp of 21 percent. From there, the average grade never falls before 12 percent to the summit.

    The steepest part of the climb is the so-called Cueña les Cabres with about 2km to go. At 23.5 percent, it’s not a switchback but more like straight run up a wall. There’s another 21 percent ramp in the final kilometer before the summit.

  • 01:13 PM: Kern thinks the better of going it alone

    He pulled over to wait for his two pursuers and has now joined up with Maarten Tjallingii and Matej Jurco. Smart move, we say.

  • 01:17 PM: At 64km

    the three leaders are working together and trying to re-extend their lead. The are now working their way through the relatively flat section between the Cat. 3 Alto de Ortigueiro and the Cat. 1 Puerto de Arnicio. This is the best place to put some time into the field. The chase won’t be too frantic. Neither man poses much of a GC threat and there is plenty of time to pull these fellas back. We’d not wager on their chances of holding off the leaders all the way to the top of the Alto de L´Angliru.

  • 01:40 PM: At 81km

    the three leaders have an advantage of 6:40.

    The mood in the peloton is quite relaxed – or sullen – with the Euskaltel team setting tempo at the front. The team is working to protect the position of race leader Egoi Martinez, who doesn’t appear likely to keep the jersey after today. His has been the longest run in the jersey for the Vuelta so far this year.

  • 01:59 PM: At 97km

    the peloton is now being led by the Astana team. The men in the break are now nine minutes up the road, down from a maximum gap of 10.

    We have to expect Astana to ramp it up even on the three Cat. 1 climbs on the way to the Angliru. If that’s the strategy, we’re bound to see a battle of attrition, with only a small core of favorites fighting it out on the slopes of that last killer climb.

  • 02:03 PM: Up ahead

    the road will soon tilt upwards:

    At 108.2km the course reaches the Cat. 1 Puerto de Arnicio. It rises from 300 meters to the 910-meter summit at 116.7km.

  • 02:15 PM: On the Puerto de Arnicio

    the leaders are working their way up the Puerto de Arnicio, with a 10 minute lead on the peloton. It will be interesting to see what the pace is as the peloton begins to climb. The first victims will certainly be the fast-twitchers in the crowd and we should hear calls of “grupetto!” pretty early.

  • 02:18 PM: The weather

    has been spotty for much of the day.

    We had cloudy skies early in the day, that cleared up, with the sun making a welcomed appearance for a while. The clouds are rolling back in, but there is still no rain. That is also the case at the finish atop the Angliru. Do recall that the last time the Vuelta hit the slopes of this feared climb – in 2002 – conditions were awful. Hopefully, there won’t be a repeat of that.

  • 02:21 PM: Drop us a line

    If you havea question or a comment, don’t forget that you can reach our editors by hitting the “Contact our editors” link below the Live Update Window.

  • 02:30 PM: The Puerto de Arnicio

    is a long one at 12.5km. It averages 6.5%, so it’s just a warm-up for the killer climb at the finish.

  • 02:32 PM: The men in the break

    Maaten Tjallingii (Silence-Lotto) began the day in 52nd place, 32:00 out of the lead.
    Matej Jurco (Milram), began the day in 111th place, 1:09:41 out of first place.
    Christophe Kern (Credit Agricole) started the day in 113th place at 1:10:35

  • 02:34 PM: Tjallingii, Jurco and Kern

    are working their way up the climb and their lead has dropped to 9:45, indicating that the peloton isn’t chasing furiously, but probably more that the leaders are beginning to fade just a bit.

  • 02:42 PM: Near the top

    the leaders are nearing the top of the Category 1 Puerto de Arnicio. They appear to have lost a bit of their advantage, now leading by about 9:00.

  • 02:46 PM: 8:00

    as the leading three hit the summit of the Puerto de Arnicio, their lead has been trimmed to eight minutes.

  • 02:48 PM: Up next

    is the Alto de la Colladona, a Category 1 climb that begins at the 147-kilometer mark and summits at 154.8.

  • 02:50 PM: Watching the descents

    do recall that while the climbs are the most significant factor in today’s stage, the descents are always something to watch.

    Valverde, for example, lost significant time on Thursday after being gapped on the way off a climb.

  • 02:58 PM: Reader question

    Adam B writes to ask:

    Thanks for the great coverage of the Vuelta, I’d love to be seeing this on TV back here in the states but you all do a nice job in lieu of pictures and I won’t even comment on the horrid commentators that I had to suffer thru during Le Tour on Vs.

    If, and that’s a big if, Sastre or Contador win the Vuelta, where does that put them in the annals of great cycling seasons.

    Thanks for the coverage and just hearing about that final climb today makes my legs burn.
    Adam B

    Well, if Contador wins, he would become one of only five riders to have won all three grand tours. He would also become the one to have done so in the shortest period of time, winning last year’s Tour, this year’s Giro and the Vuelta.

    Thus far, only four riders have won all three of cycling’s major three-week tours and Contador could become the rider to achieve all three victories within the shortest amount of time, if he can pull off a win in this Vuelta.

    Jacques Anquetil was the first to complete cycling’s grand tour sweep, with five Tours, two Giros and one Vuelta between 1957-1964.

    Felice Gimondi became the second, winning one Tour, three Giros and one Vuelta from 1965-1976.

    Eddy Merckx, who holds the record with the most grand tour victories at 11, won five Tours, five Giros and one Vuelta from 1969-1974.

    Bernard Hinault currently holds the record for claiming all three within the shortest time frame, winning the first of five Tours in 1978, his first of two Vueltas in 1978 and one of three Giros in 1980, within a period of 26 months.

    If Contador can win the Vuelta to go along with his 2007 Tour victory and this year’s Giro, he’d complete the treble in just 14 months.

    Contador could also match another record if he pulls the Giro-Vuelta double, a feat that’s only been matched by Merckx (1973) and Giovanni Battaglin (1981).

    If Sastre wins he will become the 19th rider in history to win two different grand tours and will hold the distinction in doing so in just two months. The last rider to do that was Marco Pantani who won both the 1998 Giro d’Italia and the 1998 Tour de France.

  • 03:05 PM: The peloton

    is working its way down the back side of the Puerto de Arnicio.

    The gap is trimmed to 7:45. The Astana team is firing on all cylinders and we can expect the team to keep the pace reasonably high all the way up to the Angliru.

  • 03:13 PM: Lampre is helping

    Does the team hope to deliver Damiano Cunego to the base of the climb for a stage win? The former Giro winner is in no position to challenge on GC, but he does show occasional flashes of brilliance and could be a contender to win what is quickly becoming one of the most legendary climbs in professional cycling.

  • 03:14 PM: At 140km

    The three leaders are 7:30 ahead of the main field.

  • 03:24 PM: Rain?

    We’re seeing spots of rain, but there is nothing heavy. Hopefully, it won’t pick up. Think of a climb with ramps that reach 23 percent. Then add rain as heavy as the last time the Vuelta took on the Angliru.

  • 03:28 PM: On the Alto de la Colladona

    It’s another Category 1 ascent. It’s short (5.5km), but has stretches that bump up beyond eight percent.

  • 03:31 PM: It’s cool

    the temperature is hovering around 60 degrees Fahrenheit – that’s 16 degrees Celsius (or 289.15 degrees kelvin for you physicists in the crowd). With clouds moving in and little sprinkles of rain it’s still tolerable. Let’s hope it stays that way

  • 03:39 PM: The leaders

    are approaching the summit of the Alto de la Colladona. Their advantage is down to 7:30.

  • 03:42 PM: With Astana

    pushing the pace, the leaders’ advantage is now down to 6:15.

  • 03:52 PM: Reader question

    Reader Doug C. writes in to ask:

    Hello LUG,
    I have thoroughly enjoyed your coverage of the tour. It is always a pleasure to read the updates and stay up with the progress of the race.

    I had a question that I’m sure you get asked often, but in the year or so that I’ve followed the live updates I don’t believe I’ve ever seen answered.

    When riders get in breakaways how do they communicate their intents to one another? Is there some type of universal understanding that crosses language barriers that each one understands that I’ll give you the stage win if you help me? Is there some type of understanding that you get the KOM if we work together? Do they agree we’ll split the prize money for the Sprint is we work together to stay ahead of the peloton?

    Thanks for any insight you can shed on this question.
    Doug
    Well Doug, it really depends. First off, all of the riders in a break have a common interest and even if a single word isn’t uttered between them, they all know what the job at hand is. Of course, riders are also part of a team and their cooperation – or lack of it – will be dictated by the team director who is sending advice via radio. Finally, the language barriers are not as big of an obstacle as you might think. Most riders speak more than one language, the fall backs being English and French. You might recall Johan Bruyneel, for example, who speaks something like six languages. We imagine he had little difficulty expressing his feelings in a break, eh?

  • 03:53 PM: At 161km

    the leaders are now just 5:30 ahead of the field as both are now coming off the back side of the Colladona.

  • 04:04 PM: Man

    the Astana boys are ramping it up. By the time the break reached the bottom of the Colladona, their lead had dropped to 4:40. Now, at 171km, the gap is 4:25.

  • 04:11 PM: Up a bit

    out on the flats the three escapees have bumped their gap to five minutes.

  • 04:16 PM: The Sun

    is out.

  • 04:21 PM: With 35km to go

    the gap is still at five minutes… and those are not easy kilometers folks.

  • 04:23 PM: Our three leaders

    are on the penultimate climb, the Category 1 Alto de Cordal. It’s a toughy. The final 3km of the climb are steep – some of the switchbacks are straight up. Descent is hairy, very narrow over rough roads.

    So far the weather is holding up – the Angliru summit is hidden in clouds, but it’s not raining … for now.

    The gap is down to 4:40 again.

  • 04:23 PM: Remember that last climb folks.

    Most riders have opted for a 36×28, though some, like CSC and Euskaltel, are riding 34×28. There’s a reason for that.

  • 04:25 PM: Alberto says

    Andrew Hood spoke with Alberto Contador this morning. The race favorite says “I’ve been looking forward to these stages. The situation plays in my favor. I’m ahead of most of my rivals so at the very worst, I won’t lose time. I hope the legs respond.”

  • 04:26 PM: The peloton

    is on the climb. The gap is now 4:21.

  • 04:28 PM: Pop!

    There are a large number of riders popping off the back of the peloton. The gold jersey group is now down to about 25 or 30 riders.

  • 04:29 PM: ’09 contract news

    Frank Hoj has signed a contract with Saxo Bank for 2009… and the big buzz at the Vuelta is that Samuel Sanchez is poised to leave Euskaltel. He has offers from Katyusha and Cervelo. Euskaltel brass said they’ll let him go – if someone pays out his contract exit clause.

  • 04:32 PM: Up front

    Thomas Vaitkus (Astana) is helping Euskaltel set the tempo up front in the peloton.

    In the break, Kern has moved away from the others in the break. The time for cooperation in that group is over, given that the remaining kilometers are either up or down… mostly up.

  • 04:35 PM: Popo go bye bye

    Yaroslav Popovych has been dropped by the yellow jersey group, now led by the Astana team.

    That group has been trimmed to just around 20 0r 25 now.

    Up front Kern is on a tough part of the climb, with ramps reaching 10 and 11 percent.

  • 04:37 PM: Valverde is in there

    Despite losing three minutes the other day, he’s holding on.

    Remarkably, Paolo Bettini is hanging at the back of the peloton – he says he’ll stay in the race until Valladolid on Wednesday if the weather stays nice.

  • 04:37 PM: Oooomph!

    Those 11% ramps putting the hurt on the pack right now.

  • 04:38 PM: The Little Prince

    Damiano Cunego is still in the mix, riding with the gold jersey group.

  • 04:39 PM: Kern!

    Makes it to the top of the climb. Nice.

  • 04:42 PM: 2:02

    The peloton hits the summit 2:02 behind Mr. Kern. He may get some company, soon. We don’t know where his former companions are.

  • 04:42 PM: No rest for the wicked

    This is a tricky descent – no time for recovery or eating. Too many curves and rough roads.

  • 04:43 PM: With 20km remaining

    the speed on the descent is high. We all know what’s ahead, so they may want to enjoy the break.

  • 04:44 PM: Oh that final climb

    Folks, we’re coming up on the final climb soon.

    At 12.2km in length, the climb rises 1,248 m (4,090 ft) with an average grade of 10.3 percent.

    The opening five kilometers aren’t terribly excessive, with an average grade of 7 percent, hardly anything that will cause the pros lose sleep. There’s even a false-flat at 5.5km that gives a short respite.

    It’s the second half of the climb where the Angliru earns its reputation.

    At 6.5km, the road narrows and hits its first serious ramp of 21 percent. From there, the average grade never falls before 12 percent to the summit.

    The steepest part of the climb is the so-called Cueña les Cabres with about 2km to go. At 23.5 percent, it’s not a switchback but more like straight run up a wall. There’s another 21 percent ramp in the final kilometer before the summit.

  • 04:47 PM: Fast

    and, so far, safe. The Astana boys are leading the charge off the climb. The moto drivers are freaking, since it’s their job to try and stay out in front of a fast moving pack of expert descenders on bicycles.

    Kern is now just 2.5km fromt he base of the climb.

  • 04:49 PM: Crash!

    A couple of Euskaltel riders overcooked a turn… oh my! It’s Igor Anton. He’s holding his arm. Collarbone?

  • 04:50 PM: Kern is heading to the bast of the climb.

    He’s on the lower – easy part – portion of the Angliru. He’s going on the easy part for the next 6km.

  • 04:51 PM: The peloton

    Is now on the Angliru. The gap is now down to 1:39.

    No word on the condition of Anton.

  • 04:51 PM: Astana leads the pack

    Andreas “super domestique” Kloden working at the front.

  • 04:52 PM: Word

    Anton is out. He broke his collarbone.

  • 04:53 PM: Valverde’s teammate

    David Aroyo has popped off the back.

  • 04:55 PM: Pop

    There goes the man in the gold jersey. Egoi Martinez was not expected to keep the jersey today, and that is turning out to be the case. Egoi Martinez is trailing off the back – Levi Leipheimer is the virtual ledaer

  • 04:56 PM: The Leipheimer/Contador

    group is now down to about 15 riders… maybe 20. Tjallingii, Jurco were just caught – Kern is still up the road.

    Martinez is on his own, facing the long, lonely slog.

  • 04:57 PM: The cricket

    is still in the mix. How cool is that?

  • 04:58 PM: Kloden’s work is done

    He’s been driving at the front. Now with 10km to go, he fades off and now Chechu is setting tempo, followed by Leipheimer and then Contador. Sastre is there, of course, too.

  • 04:59 PM: Kern’s time in the limelight

    is just about over. He’s 15 seconds ahead of the Astana-led chase group.

    Bettini is finally slipping off the back of the group, but still holding tempo… with a bit of a gap. Good on ‘im, we say.

  • 04:59 PM: Mr. Kern

    has company.

  • 05:01 PM: Buh’ bye

    The Astanas just cruise by the fading Credit Agricole man. He got plenty of TV time today, which can’t hurt for a guy in the hunt for a job, since his team is folding at the end of the year. A long break is even better than posting a resume on Monster.com, eh?

  • 05:03 PM: The incredible shrinking peloton.

    The elite group of leaders is shrinking, but the big players are still in there. We see Sastre, Gesink, Valverde…

    One missing name, though, is that Egoi Martinez. The man in the jersey is now 1:03 off the back. Leipheimer is now the virtual leader of the Vuelta, but he says he’s here to help Contador. We’ll see how that shakes out in the next few kilometers.

  • 05:04 PM: With 8km to go

    the really tough part kicks in about 2km. Right now the peloton is on an easy stretch, which averages only 5.5%

  • 05:05 PM: The crowds

    Are beginning to build as the riders head toward the tough part of the climb.

  • 05:06 PM: Chechu

    has faded. Now, the pace is being set by Levi Leipheimer, working for his team leader. They’re weaving on that flat section just ahead of the first nasty 21% section and Leipheimer’s causing some pain

  • 05:07 PM: The Astan Juggernaut

    has taken its first major, major casualty. Sastre, Gesink getting dropped,

  • 05:08 PM: Valverde

    is still holding his own, as the riders try to cover this painful stretch of 21 percent grade.

  • 05:10 PM: OW!

    Valverde attacks! Contador sticks to his wheel. He may be three minutes down, but he wants a stage win and a podium spot.

    Leipheimer has been dropped.

  • 05:12 PM: Just three

    Only Contador and Rodriguez is staying with Valverde. Leipheimer and Sastre are dangling about 10secs back. Contador is playing patient hand with 5.5km to go

  • 05:13 PM: Sastre is hanging with Leipheimer

    at 10 seconds with 5.5km to go.

    Gesink, Zaugg, Mosquera and Dani Moreno are another 20sec back.

  • 05:14 PM: With five kilometers to go

    Sastre is riding steadily… and now Contador hits the gas!

  • 05:14 PM: Contador’s attack

    comes on the Llagos section – 14.5% ramps … Rodriguez, Valverde fighting to hang on.

  • 05:16 PM: Oh lord

    We thought we were rid of the dummy with the antlers on the football helment. Apparently he’s as hard to get rid of as termites.

  • 05:17 PM: Contador continues to

    set a strong tempo at the front, but the two Caisse d’Epargne men are holding on. Sastre is riding with Leipheimer on his wheel. They are at 17 seconds.

  • 05:19 PM: With four km to go

    Contador, Rodriguez and Valverde are at the front of the race.

    Maybe some deal making with Valverde and Contador? Valverde wins stage – helps AC on pace?

    Well, er um – maybe not – AC attacks!

  • 05:19 PM: Contador

    just waits for the steep parts. He’s attacking on another 20 percent grade. OWIE!

  • 05:21 PM: There goes Graham Watson

    He has just passed the leaders like they’re standing still!

    Of course, our photographer is riding on the back of a motorbike.

  • 05:22 PM: Contador!

    Is off on his own. His most serious competitor – Carlos Sastre – is now at 40 seconds.

  • 05:22 PM: Sastre

    is now trailing by 53 seconds. 1:25 for Gesink, Zaugg, Mosquera.

    The crowds are huge. Dangerous – they’re not pushing him, but they’re not giving AC much room to ride

  • 05:24 PM: 23.5%

    Contador is on the really tough part of the climb. He’s zig-zagging on the climb.

  • 05:25 PM: Sastre

    is plowing ahead, but he’s losing time. He’s now more than a minute back. The crowds are HUGE!

  • 05:26 PM: Valverde is weaving

    He’s trying to keep pace, but he’s struggling. The crowds are making it harder to establish a rhythm.

  • 05:27 PM: Contador

    is now on a lighter grade…. only 18 percent now. He’s flying now. He’s 2km from the finish. The crowds are thinning out… but still acting like dummies.

  • 05:28 PM: Leipheimer

    has attacked and dropped Sastre.

    It will be Astana 1-2 on the podium.

  • 05:29 PM: Leipheimer

    is now chasing Valverde and Rodriguez. Contador is 40 seconds ahead of those two.

  • 05:30 PM: Steep ramp

    Contador is on another 21-percent stretch.

  • 05:31 PM: The fans

    are out of control here. The police are trying to keep them in line, but not succeeding.

    Contador is on the easy part, one kilometer from the finish.

  • 05:32 PM: Valverde

    Too bad for Valverde, losing 3:30 on Thursday, he blew the podium that day. Levi is chasing his own chances. 45sec for Valverde at -1km

  • 05:33 PM: Leipheimer

    is closing in. He’s 15 seconds behind Valverde.

    Contador is now on the downhill stretch to the finish. He’s in the big ring now.

  • 05:34 PM: Contador wins!

    Covering 209.5km in 5:52:34.

  • 05:34 PM: Valverde

    comes in at 42 seconds.

  • 05:35 PM: Leipheimer

    comes in after Rodriguez. The American comes in at 1:05, so Contador is the new leader of the Vuelta.

    Sastre comes in at 1:30.

  • 05:37 PM: Cunego

    Finishes at 2:43. Not a bad ride for the little prince.

  • 05:39 PM: Wowie

    The Angliru has lived up to expectations … and so has Alberto Contador.

    Riders are going to be streaming in for the next few … hours? Days?

  • 05:44 PM: Well

    thank you for tuning in. Andrew Hood is putting the finishing touches on his stage report. We’ll be getting results soon. For now, here are the top eight:
    1. Alberto Contador (ESP) Astana in 5:52:35
    2. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) Caisse d’Epargne at 42
    3. Joaquín RodrÍguez Oliver (ESP) Caisse d’Epargne at 58
    4. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana at 1:05
    5. Carlos Sastre (ESP) CSC at 1:32
    6. Robert Gesatk (NED) Rabobank at 1:56
    7. Ezequiel Mosquera (ESP) Xacobeo – Galicia at 2:18
    8. Oliver Zaugg (SUI) Gerolsteiner at 2:28

  • 05:46 PM: Overall standings

    1. Alberto Contador (ESP) Astana in 51:41:17
    2. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana at 1:07
    3. Carlos Sastre (ESP) CSC at 3:01
    4. Ezequiel Mosquera (ESP) Xacobeo – Galicia at 4:19
    5. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) Caisse d’Epargne at 4:40
    6. Joaquín RodrÍguez Oliver (ESP) Caisse d’Epargne at 4:51
    7. Robert Gesink (NED) Rabobank at 5:09
    8. Oliver Zaugg (SUI) Gerolsteiner at 8:41

  • 05:47 PM: Thanks and that’s a wrap

    Be sure to tune in tomorrow. It’s gonna be another tough day out there.