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11:53 AM: Good day and welcome
To VeloNews.com’s Live Coverage of the 17th stage of the 2008 Vuelta a Espana, a generally flat race from Zamora to Valladolid.
Today’s stage is a short 148.2 kilometers with no ranked climbs and only a few rolling portions that vary between the 630 meters at the start and 800 meters at its highest. The shorter distance should liven up the racing a little bit in what’s another day well suited for the sprinters. The route is exposed and there could be some wind today, however more than a couple of hours before the official start (estimated to be at around 2:15 p.m.) there is only a slight 7mph breeze.
Today’s weather at the start is quite pleasant, with only a few morning clouds, which are clearing up as we speak. It’s expected to be pleasantly warm and dry. Today’s high temperature will reach around of 82°F (27°C). There is a 0% chance of precipitation. Conditions at the finish are about the same, with the wind slightly higher at 11mph.
11:57 AM: Drop us a line
If you have a comment, question or complaint, feel free to hit the Contact our editors link below our Live Update Window.
We’ll read all of your emails, answer as many as we can and even post a few during today’s coverage.
Riders should be coming by for sign-in in about an hour. It’s still quite early, so it will be a while before much happens in Zamora.
01:27 PM: Signing in
Team buses have arrived at the start village and riders signing in and milling about the start. The peloton will roll off and begin riding through the 7.5-kilometer neutral zone at around 1:50. The official start at kilometer-zero at around 2:14 p.m.
01:50 PM: Reader question
Charles J writes to ask:
Appreciate the excellent coverage so far. Is there a magic formula for reeling in a break away? In other words how much distance can be made up over time? It seems like almost every chase is successful catching the break away with just enough time to position for a sprint. This seems to be very calculated and predictable.There isn’t necessarily a magic formula, since it varies according to conditions and terrain, but the general rule is that the peloton can comfortably make up a minute over the course of 10 kilometers. Of course, we’ve seen that happen much more quickly when the peloton has allowed a break to linger for too long. Predictable as it is, there are days when the breaks actually succeed, which is one reason they keep trying.
01:52 PM: In the neutral zone
the peloton is riding through the streets of Zamora. The start should come up at around 2:14 or 2:15.
01:57 PM: Chavanel
The Cofidis man who has ridden aggressively in the Vuelta and in July’s Tour, has pulled out of the race. We’re guessing that he’s eying the world’s road race on September 28.
02:03 PM: Reader question
Reader Adam writes to ask
Good Morning Live Update Guy,There really isn’t much of a chance to make up time on any stage other than the final time trial. Of the three, Leipheimer is the best time trialist, although Saturday’s stage involves a Category 1 climb and Contador is probably the best climber of the three – indeed, some say in the world right now. Because of the opening flat portion, Leipheimer could conceivably make up time, but more than a minute? We have our doubts… but as we say, we’re not good at prognostication. There are many kilometers remaining in the Vuelta and everyone says correctly that it ain’t over ’til it’s over.
With only five stages left (counting today), which stage gives Sastre (Or Levi) the best chance to gain time on Contador before the final time trial? And how do their individual time trial skills compare?
02:10 PM: Nearing the start
the day appears to be starting right on schedule and the peloton is about five minutes away from the formal start.
02:16 PM: And there they go
the white flag has dropped. Let’s hope the pace is a bit higher than that we saw in yesterday’s stage.
Bouygues Telecom’s Dimitri Champion hit the gas just 500 meters from the start. So we do have some action out there.
02:20 PM: Verbrugghe
Rik Verbrugghe, of Cofidis, announced Wednesday he will retire after next month’s Tour of Lombardy.
Verbrugghe, who is not here at the Vuelta, is 34 and says he has never really recovered from the 2006 crash in the Tour when he broke his leg. (It’s one of those ugly crashes the TV guys on Versus insist on using in the promo, intersperced with shots of bull-riding and Ultimate Fighting beatings.)
“I went through a dark period back then, a difficult reassessment. And even though I returned to the top level, after this incident I started to think of ending my career,” he said.
Verbrugghe also fell in last month’s San Sebastian Classic, breaking his collarbone.
02:26 PM: There is an intermediate sprint at 26km
Currently Alberto Contador leads the points contest with 110 points. He leads Tom Boonen and Greg van Avermaet by 10 points and Valverde is fourth at 99 points. It’s still a tight contest and we doubt that Contador will keep that jersey all the way to Madrid, considering that stage winners can earn 25 points at the finish.
02:28 PM: Champion
has company. He’s been joined by Jose Martinez (Andalucia-Caja Sur), but the two do not have a huge gap yet.
02:34 PM: Back in the fold
the two escapees have been pulled back and then Rabobank’s Pedro Horrillo jumped out of the field.
Meanwhile, Sebastien Joly (Francaise des Jeux) has pulled out of the race.
02:35 PM: Tour to Spain?
Next year’s Tour de France is set for a two-stage incursion to Barcelona, according to the Catalan city’s Mayor Jordi Hereu on Tuesday.
“This is important for the city, but also for the Tour, for cycling and sport in general,” said Hereu.
The city’s top sports coordinator, Pere Alcober, said Barcelona would host a stage finish on July 8 and the start of a stage on July 9.
Dates for next year’s race, which is scheduled to start in the principality of Monaco, have yet to be confirmed by race organizers.
02:38 PM: Better than yesterday
the peloton has already covered 18 kilometers, meaning that they have covered more ground in the opening 25 minutes than they did in the entire first hour of yesterday’s stage.
02:41 PM: There are now two
Andalucía’s Jose Ruiz has bridged to Horrillo. They have about 1:45 on the main field.
Neither poses a GC risk, as Horrillo began the day in 122nd place, at 2:12:07 and Ruiz is in 68th at 1:14:51. The peloton would have to go even slower than it did yesterday before either man caused concern among the GC men.
02:49 PM: Our two leaders
have established a nice little gap. At 24km, they are now 3:00 ahead of the peloton.
02:56 PM: At 32km
the gap has grown to 5:45. It’s a nice little lead, but we’re betting the leash isn’t going to be so long as to prevent these two from being yanked back into the field when the finish line approaches.
03:04 PM: Reader question
Jennifer R writes to ask:
Thank you for the personal response to my note. It makes me wonder, how many of these do you get every day? Do you have “regulars” who write in?We get a lot of emails every day – during the Tour, upwards of a few hundred during Live Coverage – and we really do try to read all of them when time permits. Our numbers suggest that only a small percentage of “viewers” write in, so it’s not a big time problem.
As for “regulars,” we do have some folks who write in quite often. Some have become good friends. The Live Update Guy even had a member of the staff at the Vatican burning a candle for him during his Federal Tax Law final last spring(it helped, too!) and some – like Major Jason Bryan – have even become regular contributors. You might recall Major Bryan’s diaries from Iraq. If not, use our search engine and key in the words “sustaining sanity” if you want a good read.
We enjoy your notes, so keep ’em coming.
03:07 PM: At 44km
the gap has grown to 7:15.
03:12 PM: Reader suggestion
Allen S. writes to offer
Next year the Tour should not only bring back the TTT, they should make it the final stage! Send that to ASO for me.We are pretty certain that the Tour will include a team time trial next year. Some teams – Garmin for one – are even betting on it to the point that they are looking for good time trialists to fill out their rosters. As for it being the final stage, we doubt it, but it would be interesting. We still think the 1989 Tour’s finish – with the individual TT into Paris – was still the greatest finish in recent memory.
03:21 PM: At 48km
the gap has grown to 8:30. The Astana team is setting a very moderate tempo at the front. With no reason to pour it on, it will fall to the sprinters’ teams to give chase, if they want this stage.
03:27 PM: Much quicker today
the first hour covered 46.5km … about 31km more than yesterday. Let’s hope it’s a while before we see another snoozer like that again. Man…
03:29 PM: Euskaltel
The men in orange are moving to the front of the peloton and lifting up the pace a bit. The Silence-Lotto team, too, is lending a hand.
The gap is back down to the 7:00 range and it’s a sure sign that the two men up front are not going to make it to the finish by themselves.
03:39 PM: Major Bryan
Reader Karen writes in to say:
I have been wondering about Major Bryan. I thought we were going to still get some updates from him after his tour in Iraq. Although, I’m sure he has other more important members of his family to be with rather than updating us. So please give him my best, I really enjoyed his updates from Iraq. Also, great job with the live updates. ThanksWe’ll pass on your good wishes. We do still keep in touch with him. He’s back in the United States and even has the domestic version of hazardous duty – namely a Pentagon liaison to Congress. He’s still riding (on a much nicer bike) these days and enjoying life in D.C.
03:49 PM: At 65km
the gap is now down to the 6:30 range. They’ll leave these two out for a while and then ramp it up over the final 40km. At least that’s what we’re predictin’
Up front, one of our leaders has suffered a pinchazo … a flat. He’s fixed and back to work.
03:59 PM: Plans to leave
Both Bettini and Boonen are pulling out of the Vuelta after today’s stage, so you can count on either one of those two going for the win today. Wouldn’t it be fun to see them BOTH go for it?
04:00 PM: At 73km
the gap has been trimmed to 6:20.
04:04 PM: Boonen is a happy man
Here’s what Tornado Tom had to say about his Quick Step team: “The team did an incredible job. I don’t think there’s anything to add to the images everyone saw on TV. The entire team was fully concentrated. The beginning of the stage was hard. The team took the reins right away and controlled the race. The last kilometres were a work of art. In the final part there were lots of roundabouts and curves that kept the group in single file. The last kilometre wasn’t easy but we kept up our speed so we wouldn’t get caught. When I started the sprint I knew I was going to win. Everything was too perfect for anything to go wrong.”
04:09 PM: The road today
The main worry on the long road to Valladolid is the wind. And it is windy out there today, with brisk NW winds. Bruyneel is a fan of busting up the peloton into echelons, but things seem pretty much under control. So why bother?
04:10 PM: Rumor watch
Yesterday it was Cervelo denying rumors about Sammy Sanchez. Today it’s CSC-Saxo Bank, saying it’s not interested in signing Thomas Dekker. Where might the troubled Dutchman land? The safe money says Katusha.
04:11 PM: At 78km
the lead is now down to 5:15. Snip, snip, snip…
04:17 PM: Reader question
Eric J writes in to ask:
As wonderful as this sport is, it can’t be all-bike-racing-all-the-time for riders and reporters and other people at the Vuelta. What do people do in their spare time? Books? Movies? Any examples?Well, that’s true. Of course, riders lead a much more cloistered lifestyle than the rest. The Vuelta is famous for its late-night parties, frequented by reporters, staff and some team personnel. The riders? A lot of video games and such. Michael Barry – not here this year – is known as a voracious reader.
Some members of the press corp – especially old cranky ones like … uhhh LUG? – don’t party much. We’re halfway through Philip Roth’s “Indignation,” and happy to say there isn’t a bike even mentioned yet.
Horrillo – one of the riders in the breakaway – is considered somewhat of an intellectual in the Spanish peloton. He studied philosophy in university and pens a popular column in El Pais, Spain’s top daily. To pedal or not to pedal? Looks like the peloton is riding a little faster today than yesterday’s snoozer.
04:18 PM: Stefan
Schumacher is still in the race, floating at the back of the bunch today. It’s hard to imagine that he’ll be arriving in Madrid. Last year’s bronze medalist will be looking to prep for the worlds in Varese.
04:18 PM: Euskaltel
Euskaltel has been leading the chase – must be that Koldo Fernandez is feeling better.
04:24 PM: Reader question
Jimmy W writes to ask
With the return of Lance, what is the feeling among the media on his legacy and how it may be affected? I am also curious as to who is going to ride for him and would the tour allow a special team just for their event? Thanks Jimmy
Well, the media is mixed, just like the rest of you out there. Some are excited and enthused at the prospect, while others are wondering how the Tour’s press tent will be next year, crowded again with reporters who don’t know a derailleur from their … well. The stories will be interesting no doubt, but one colleague from another U.S. magazine told us that the return reminded her of “a bad relationship I’d rather forget, coming back to haunt me.”
That latter comment is due in part to the often volitile relationship Armstrong had with some reporters. He says he’s changed and we look forward to the greater access he’s promised. As for those other questions, he’s scheduled a press conference on the 24th in New York. We’ll have our own Steve Frothingham there to see what Armstrong’s plans are for ’09. Stay tuned.
04:26 PM: Rumor watch Part II
Hi L.U.G.We have heard that he will be riding for a domestic team next year. We asked him and he said he’s not ready to make a formal announcement.
Since it is rumor time do you have any regarding Floyd Landis joining a team for 2009?
04:32 PM: With 49km
remaining, the gap is at 4:40.
Contador is floating near the front of the pack. His left knee still has a small bandage on it from his spill in stage 15
04:39 PM: Reader observation
Dan B. writes to predict:
Good morning live update guy….Man, you’re probably right, Dan. Lately we’ve seen Rebellin have that slightly bowed head position so common to the second place finisher. He’s had good years before, but he’s been just missing out lately.
With the worlds fast approaching I wanted to throw out my predictions for comment. I have NO idea who will win but I am nearly certain that 2nd place will be Davide Rebellin.
04:39 PM: Paolo
Even though he’s pulling out today, Bettini says he’s feeling good: “I’m strong as I was in 2005. Even though that year I was 13th in the race, due to circumstances on the day, I felt so strong that day. I have similar sensations now.”
04:40 PM: The loop
The pack is rolling through Valladolid ahead of a 40km circuit that brings the pack back into the city for the sprint.
04:44 PM: Through the S/F line
The breakaway has come through the start finish line – one lap to go. They did not sprint for the line, just continued to work together.
04:50 PM: Gap 4:11
The pack has come through the start/finish line also. the gap is just over 4 minutes with 40k to go. What did the Live Update Guy say earlier about the old one-minute-per-10k rule of thumb?
04:55 PM: Euskaltel hammering
33km to go and the chase is on. Besides Euskaltel, Silence Lotto is at the front.
04:57 PM: Gerdemann
Columbia’s Linus Gerdemann could miss the worlds, the German wires are reporting. He’s been complaining of a stiff neck since the third stage of the Tour of Germany and has gone to the warmer climes in Mallorca to try to prepare for Varese.
04:58 PM: at 32km, 3:17
The chase is heated up, and the rule of thumb indicates the break will be caught just in time.
05:00 PM: A reminder
Our two breakaway riders and their GC positions:
67. José Ruiz SÁnchez (ESP) Andalucia-Cajasur at 1:14:51
121. Pedro Horrillo (ESP) Rabobank at 2:12:07
05:03 PM: 30k to go
Another field sprint seems likely. Maybe Mr. Zabel will get a shot, if he doesn’t take any detours in the final kilometers today.
05:06 PM: Working, working
Our lead pair is struggling, but still holding on. The gap is 2:13.
05:10 PM: 23k to go
The pair are out in the countryside, which is looking a bit … burnt – the Vuelta musta looked a lot different back when it was held in the spring.
The gap is now 2:07
05:13 PM: Under two minutes
With less than 20k to go, the gap is 1:55.
05:18 PM: Wamba Wamba
Chase is definitely ramping up and the peloton is rolling through some narrow streets in a town called Wamba.
The gap is 1:29. Euskaltel leading the chase, still.
05:21 PM: Astana
Astana has moved to the front in a cross wind section. A few riders are blowing out the back –
05:21 PM: Wow
Astana is putting the hammer down with about 14k to go, they have split the lead group in half. Silence Lotto helping
05:22 PM: Zabel off
Zabel missed the split – so did Boonen, and Moncoutie. They are chasing hard to get back in touch for the sprint ..
05:25 PM: 37 seconds
The two breakawy riders are at 37 seconds. The riders caught off the back are about 15 seconds behind the Astana/Silence Lotto group.
Meanwhile Popovych is attacking off the front.
05:27 PM: 10k to go for the leaders
The gap between the Boonen/Zabel group and the Astana group is just 8 seconds
05:28 PM: Ahh, caught
The Boonen group has latched on with 9k to go
05:29 PM: Nuyens
Nick Nuyons of Cofidis was the welder who pulled the group back, on behalf of teammate Moncoutie, who is in 9th on GC and can’t afford to lose any time if he wants to stay in the top 10 to Madrid.
05:30 PM: Shoot
Zabel has flatted, he is not likely to catch back on at this point.
05:31 PM: FAst fast
We are on a very fast downhill, riders are tucking. 7k to go
05:33 PM: 75kmh
The pack is flying, we don’t think Zabel will be catching. The breakaway pair is about to be caught.
05:34 PM: Caisse d’Epargne
A Caisse d’Epargne rider is off the front.
05:35 PM: The attacker
It’s Imanol Erviti, he has a small gap and Euskaltel is chasing.
05:35 PM: Zabel!
Zabel caught on at 3k to go
05:36 PM: 1k
Boonen is NOT near the front.
05:36 PM: Liquigas
Liquigas us at the front, we are all together with 1k to go
05:37 PM: Weylandt
Quick Step’s OTHER sprinter: Wouter Weylandt win in Valladolid! Breschel is second. What a fast sprint.
05:38 PM: 65kmh
TV is saying the sprint was 65kmh. CSC’s Matti Breschel was second. Boonen did not contest it.
05:41 PM: Everyone here?
Looks like it. We’ll get you top ten in a second. It looks like all the GC favs are here, despite Astana’s big crosswind attack with 15k to go, so there will be no changes to the top of the board.
05:42 PM: Provisional top ten
1 145 WEYLANDT, Wouter BEL QST 3:18:48
2 7 BRESCHEL, Matti DEN CSC s.t.
3 19 USOV, Alexandre BLR ALM s.t.
4 83 FDEZ DE LARREA, Koldo ESP EUS s.t.
5 108 HAUSSLER, Heinrich GER GST s.t.
6 169 VAN AVERMAET, Greg BEL SIL s.t.
7 103 GATTO, Oscar ITA GST s.t.
8 HINAULT, Sébastien FRA C.A s.t.
9 128 SANTAMBROGIO, Mauro ITA LAM s.t.
10 133 CORIONI, Claudio ITA LIQ s.t.
05:44 PM: Provisional top ten – GC
1 31 CONTADOR, Alberto ESP AST 69:53:52
2 33 LEIPHEIMER, Levi USA AST @ 1:17
3 1 SASTRE, Carlos ESP CSC @ 3:41
4 111 MOSQUERA, Ezequiel ESP XAG @ 4:35
5 155 GESINK, Robert NED RAB @ 5:49
6 51 VALVERDE, Alejandro ESP GCE @ 6:00
7 58 RODRÍGUEZ OLIVER, Joaquín ESP GCE @ 6:11
8 85 MARTÍNEZ, Egoi ESP EUS @ 8:56
9 66 MONCOUTIE, David FRA COF @ 9:32
10 109 ZAUGG, Oliver SUI GST @ 10:01
05:46 PM: Ok, then
That’s all from here. Check in with VeloNews.com very soon for a complete report, results and photos. And tune in here tomorrow for stage 18, which will take the cyclists 167 kilometers from the capital of Castilla-Leon to the Madrid-area town of Las Rozas.
The stage includes one third category climb, going up the easy slope of Los Leones to the summit nearly 40 kilometers from the finish line. It’s a perfect stage for another mass sprint finish.