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Vuelta a Espana

Valverde loses big time, while Bettini wins his second Vuelta stage in a rainy uphill finish.

Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) jumped with 300 meters to go on a rising finish into rainy Suances to fend off an attacking Alberto Contador on Thursday to win for a second time in the 63rd Vuelta a España. Bettini, who won on a similar finish into Toledo in stage 6, fended off compatriot Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) in a wild and wet stage into northern Spain that saw Alejandro Valverde’s podium chances fade when he lost more than three minutes.

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By Andrew Hood

Vuelta '08, stage 12: Bettini made a quiet victory salute.

Vuelta ’08, stage 12: Bettini made a quiet victory salute.

Photo: Agence France Presse

Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) jumped with 300 meters to go on a rising finish into rainy Suances to fend off an attacking Alberto Contador on Thursday to win for a second time in the 63rd Vuelta a España.

Bettini, who won on a similar finish into Toledo in stage 6, fended off compatriot Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) in a wild and wet stage into northern Spain that saw Alejandro Valverde’s podium chances fade when he lost more than three minutes.

“I saw that the stage was ideal for me. Toledo and this one were perfect. It was even harder for the rain and cold, but in the finale, I had good legs,” Bettini said. “This victory gives me more confidence for Varese. I will try to win a third world championship in Italy, that would be something historic.”

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) saw his podium hopes vanish.

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne) saw his podium hopes vanish.

Photo: Graham Watson

Valverde lost contact with the main pack on the treacherous descent off the day’s final second-category climb with 60km to go and could never regain contact despite nearly the entire Caisse d’Epargne team chasing.

The Spanish national champion lost more than three minutes and fell from fourth at 1:00 back to 11th at 4:19 back in a stage where the team was hoping he could win and gain time bonuses.

“A rider like him shouldn’t have been so far back. It was the last dangerous downhill and he should have been at the front,” lamented sport director Eusebio Unzue. “It’s a lot of time to lose when we should have been fighting for the stage victory today.”

Egoi Martínez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) retained the leader’s jersey at 11 seconds ahead of Levi Leipheimer (Astana), but Contador’s final-kilometer surge broke up the front pack and the 2007 Tour winner gained back three seconds but it could have been even more.

The remaining riders enjoy the second of two rest days Friday before tackling the fearsome Angliru on Saturday.

Wild ride

The 12th stage started in sunny Burgos in front of the spectacular Gothic cathedral, but nasty clouds were already building in the Cantabrian mountains along Spain’s lush northern coast.

Many riders wore black ribbons on their sleeves in honor of Tino Moreno, organizer of the Vuelta a Burgos who died yesterday from cancer.

The break du jour: Sébastien Hinault (Crédit Agricole), Sandy Casar (FDJeux) and Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas).

Photo: Graham Watson

The hilly, leg-breaker stage served up ideal terrain for breakaways and after a flurry of early attempts, three extracted themselves. In the day’s move were stage 8 winner Sébastien Hinault (Crédit Agricole), Sandy Casar (FDJeux) and Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas).

Pushed along by a brisk tailwind, the gap grew to 3:50 at 50km. Rain started the fall as the trio neared the first of two second-category climbs with the Portillo de la Lunada. The peloton was keen to keep it close and the trio’s gap fell under three minutes with 80km to go.

Valverde cut

Things started to go sideways for Valverde on the descent off the narrow, twisting Alto del Caracol with 60km to go. The Spanish national champion was caught at the back of the peloton and the group split on the snaking descent.

Astana and Euskaltel-Euskadi poured on the gas once they realized Valverde was 50 seconds off the back once the pack hit the base of the downhill.

Valverde chased with the help of Philippe Gilbert (FDJeux) and Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis), but gave up the fight when the gap grew to two minutes.

Under pressure from the chasing peloton, the breakaway dissolved with 35km to go.

Bettini rockets

Quick Step did a great job setting up Bettini, with Matteo Tossato drilling the pace in the final kilometer.

A weary Bettini keeps his hands on the bars in the finale.

A weary Bettini keeps his hands on the bars in the finale.

Photo: Graham Watson

Hometown favorite Oscar Freire (Rabobank) was dropped on the final climb to the finish and the three-time world champion will not start Saturday’s stage.

“I couldn’t have won even if I didn’t get dropped. Bettini was strongest today,” Freire said, who lives in nearby Torrelavega. “I will not continue in the Vuelta. I will train here at home instead to prepare for the worlds. I leave this Vuelta in optimum condition. I won a stage and I am strong in time for Varese.”

Contador shot away with 1km to go to fracture the main pack. Carlos Sastre (CSC-Saxo Bank) and Leipheimer struggled to match his pace, but Contador could only gain three seconds on the short climb.

Bettini drove home the victory ahead of Rebellin with Damiano Cunego and Alessandro Ballan (both Lampre) finishing third and fourth, respectively, to make it an all-Italian sweep of the top four.

Contador came through fifth, with Leipheimer, Sastre and Martínez coming through with a group of eight riders at four seconds down.

63rd Vuelta a España

Stage 12, Burgos to Suances, 186.4km

Winner: Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) won for the second time in this Vuelta

Leader:Egoi Martínez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) retained his 11-second lead to Levi Leipheimer (Astana)

Points: Greg Van Avermaet (Silence-Lotto) kept his lead

KoM: David Moncoutie (Cofidis) maintained the jersey

Combined: Alberto Contador (Astana) still holds jersey

Team: Astana moved into the lead after Caisse d’Epargne struggled

Saturday’s stage

The peloton takes Friday off and the 63rd Vuelta will kick back into gear Saturday for the decisive and much-anticipated return of the Angliru climb.

Without a doubt, the 209km “queen stage” from San Vicente de la Barquera to the Angliru summit will prove decisive in crowning the overall winner.

All eyes will be on Contador, but 2008 Tour winner Carlos Sastre and budding climbers Igor Antón (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Robert Gesink (Rabobank) will be fighting for the honors as well.

The Angliru was featured introduced in 1999 and immediately became legendary within Spanish cycling. With ramps as steep as 24 percent, the final charge up Angliru is so steep that riders cannot stand out of the saddle for risk of their wheels slipping.

The climb was featured in the 2000 and 2002 Vueltas, with Jose Maria Jiménez, Gilberto Simoni and Roberto Heras taking victories.

Rain and fog are in the forecast, so it has all the makings of a classic – if terrible – day.

Photo Gallery


Stage Results: | (GC Results)

1. Paolo Bettini (ITA) in 4:42:44
2. Davide Rebellin (ITA) at 1
3. Damiano Cunego (ITA) at 1
4. Alessandro Ballan (ITA) at 1
5. Alberto Contador (ESP) at 1
6. Egoi MartÍnez (ESP) at 4
7. Oliver Zaugg (SUI) at 4
8. Carlos Sastre (ESP) at 4
9. Levi Leipheimer (USA) at 4
10. Igor Anton (ESP) at 4
11. Joaquín RodrÍguez Oliver (ESP) at 4
12. Ezequiel Mosquera (ESP) at 4
13. Robert Gesink (NED) at 4
14. Matti Breschel (DEN) at 10
15. Martin Velits (SVK) at 12
16. John Gadret (FRA) at 12
17. David GarcÍa Dapena (ESP) at 14
18. Larrea Koldo Fdez De (ESP) at 16
19. Óscar Freire (ESP) at 16
20. Leonardo Duque (COL) at 21
21. Gustavo CÉsar Veloso (ESP) at 21
22. Mauricio Ardila (COL) at 23
23. Marzio Bruseghin (ITA) at 27
24. Cyril Lemoine (FRA) at 27
25. David Moncoutie (FRA) at 27
26. Gabriel Rasch (NOR) at 29
27. Yaroslav Popovych (UKR) at 29
28. Sébastien Hinault (FRA) at 35
29. Olivier Bonnaire (FRA) at 37
30. Andreas KlÖden (GER) at 37
31. Erik Zabel (GER) at 37
32. Eduard Vorganov (RUS) at 37
33. Heinrich Haussler (GER) at 37
34. Sandy Casar (FRA) at 37
35. Karsten Kroon (NED) at 43
36. Rubén PÉrez Moreno (ESP) at 53
37. Maarten Tjallingii (NED) at 53
38. Mikel Astarloza (ESP) at 53
39. Juan Antonio Flecha (ESP) at 1:04
40. Matteo Tosatto (ITA) at 1:04
41. Claudio Corioni (ITA) at 1:05
42. Tom Stamsnijder (NED) at 1:05
43. Manuel Quinziato (ITA) at 1:18
44. Juan Manuel Garate (ESP) at 1:18
45. Grischa Niermann (GER) at 1:18
46. José Luis Rubiera (ESP) at 1:18
47. Alan PÉrez (ESP) at 1:18
48. Paolo Tiralongo (ITA) at 1:45
49. Tomas Vaitkus (LTU) at 1:55
50. Andrea Tonti (ITA) at 1:55
51. Juan José Haedo (ARG) at 2:24
52. J.antoni Carrasco RamÍrez (ESP) at 2:29
53. Benjamín Noval (ESP) at 2:37
54. Sylvain Chavanel (FRA) at 3:13
55. Jurgen Van Goolen (BEL) at 3:13
56. Nikita Eskov (RUS) at 3:18
57. Nicolas Roche (IRL) at 3:23
58. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) at 3:23
59. Javier Moreno BazÁn (ESP) at 3:23
60. Alexandr Kolobnev (RUS) at 3:23
61. Sergio Paulinho (POR) at 3:23
62. Daniel Moreno FernÁndez (ESP) at 3:23
63. Iñigo Landaluze (ESP) at 3:23
64. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) at 3:26
65. Dominique Cornu (BEL) at 3:26
66. Kevin De Weert (BEL) at 3:26
67. Rinaldo Nocentini (ITA) at 3:30
68. Roy Sentjens (BEL) at 3:30
69. Yannick Talabardon (FRA) at 3:32
70. Hubert Dupont (FRA) at 3:32
71. Enrico Franzoi (ITA) at 3:33
72. José Luis Carrasco GÁmiz (ESP) at 3:39
73. Marc De Maar (NED) at 3:40
74. Evgeni Petrov (RUS) at 3:43
75. Iban Mayoz (ESP) at 3:43
76. Andriy Grivko (UKR) at 3:45
77. Michael Blaudzun (DEN) at 3:45
78. Alessandro Vanotti (ITA) at 3:49
79. Gorazd Stangelj (SLO) at 3:49
80. Philippe Gilbert (BEL) at 3:49
81. Mikhail Ignatiev (RUS) at 4:01
82. Pavel Brutt (RUS) at 4:01
83. Filippo Pozzato (ITA) at 4:07
84. Pedro Horrillo (ESP) at 4:07
85. Dmitry Kozontchuk (RUS) at 4:07
86. Volodymir Gustov (UKR) at 4:12
87. Sebastian Lang (GER) at 4:15
88. Alberto Losada (ESP) at 4:16
89. Luis Pasamontes (ESP) at 4:16
90. Imanol Erviti (ESP) at 4:16
91. Matthieu Ladagnous (FRA) at 4:16
92. Marco Marzano (ITA) at 4:23
93. Carlos CastaÑo (ESP) at 4:39
94. Stefan Schumacher (GER) at 4:46
95. David Herrero (ESP) at 4:46
96. Sebastian Schwager (GER) at 4:46
97. José Ruiz SÁnchez (ESP) at 5:03
98. Bingen FernÁndez (ESP) at 5:13
99. Jeremy Hunt (GBR) at 5:15
100. Xabier Zandio (ESP) at 5:56
101. Francis Mourey (FRA) at 6:46
102. Assan Bazayev (KAZ) at 6:50
103. Davide Vigano (ITA) at 6:50
104. Vincent Jerome (FRA) at 6:50
105. Arnaud Labbe (FRA) at 6:50
106. Sébastien Minard (FRA) at 6:50
107. Ivan Velasco (ESP) at 6:59
108. David Arroyo (ESP) at 7:05
109. Oscar Gatto (ITA) at 7:54
110. Manuel Ortega (ESP) at 8:28
111. Wouter Weylandt (BEL) at 8:41
112. Pieter Jacobs (BEL) at 8:41
113. Mathias Frank (SUI) at 8:42
114. Dmitriy Muravyev (KAZ) at 14:05
115. Renaud Dion (FRA) at 15:12
116. Amets Txurruka (ESP) at 16:18
117. Theo Eltink (NED) at 16:18
118. Serafín MartÍnez Acevedo (ESP) at 16:18
119. J. Vicente GarcÍa Acosta (ESP) at 16:18
120. Bart Dockx (BEL) at 16:18
121. Ivan Santaromita (ITA) at 16:18

GC Results: | (Stage Results)

1. Egoi MartÍnez (ESP) Euskaltel-Euskadi in 45:48:33
2. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana at 11
3. Alberto Contador (ESP) Astana at 29
4. Carlos Sastre (ESP) CSC at 1:38
5. Ezequiel Mosquera (ESP) Xacobeo – Galicia at 2:10
6. Igor Anton (ESP) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 2:23
7. Robert Gesink (NED) Rabobank at 3:22
8. Davide Rebellin (ITA) Gerolsteiner at 3:40
9. Marzio Bruseghin (ITA) Lampre at 4:09
10. Joaquín RodrÍguez Oliver (ESP) Caisse d’Epargne at 4:10
11. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) Caisse d’Epargne at 4:19
12. David Moncoutie (FRA) Cofidis at 4:53
13. Daniel Moreno FernÁndez (ESP) Caisse d’Epargne at 5:51
14. Jurgen Van Goolen (BEL) CSC at 6:03
15. Oliver Zaugg (SUI) Gerolsteiner at 6:22
16. Sylvain Chavanel (FRA) Cofidis at 7:25
17. Dominique Cornu (BEL) Silence-Lotto at 8:39
18. Andreas KlÖden (GER) Astana at 10:17
19. Mauricio Ardila (COL) Rabobank at 10:20
20. David Arroyo (ESP) Caisse d’Epargne at 11:36
21. José Luis Rubiera (ESP) Astana at 12:08
22. Alberto Losada (ESP) Caisse d’Epargne at 12:14
23. Nicolas Roche (IRL) Credit Agricole at 12:37
24. Rinaldo Nocentini (ITA) Ag2r La Mondiale at 12:50
25. John Gadret (FRA) Ag2r La Mondiale at 14:05
26. Javier Moreno BazÁn (ESP) Andalucia-Cajasur at 14:43
27. Sandy Casar (FRA) Francaise des Jeux at 15:28
28. Gustavo CÉsar Veloso (ESP) Xacobeo – Galicia at 15:36
29. David GarcÍa Dapena (ESP) Xacobeo – Galicia at 16:33
30. Juan Manuel Garate (ESP) Quick Step at 16:52
31. Alessandro Ballan (ITA) Lampre at 17:29
32. Damiano Cunego (ITA) Lampre at 19:17
33. Paolo Bettini (ITA) Quick Step at 20:47
34. Nikita Eskov (RUS) Tinkoff at 20:48
35. Marco Marzano (ITA) Lampre at 23:50
36. Luis Pasamontes (ESP) Caisse d’Epargne at 24:06
37. Sergio Paulinho (POR) Astana at 24:53
38. Carlos CastaÑo (ESP) Xacobeo – Galicia at 24:59
39. Roy Sentjens (BEL) Silence-Lotto at 26:02
40. Yannick Talabardon (FRA) Credit Agricole at 26:09
41. Volodymir Gustov (UKR) CSC at 27:06
42. Iban Mayoz (ESP) Xacobeo – Galicia at 27:26
43. Yaroslav Popovych (UKR) Silence-Lotto at 27:51
44. Evgeni Petrov (RUS) Tinkoff at 29:16
45. Mikel Astarloza (ESP) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 29:28
46. Hubert Dupont (FRA) Ag2r La Mondiale at 30:18
47. J.antonio Carrasco RamÍrez (ESP) Andalucia-Cajasur at 30:20
48. Andriy Grivko (UKR) Milram at 30:36
49. Grischa Niermann (GER) Rabobank at 30:43
50. Maarten Tjallingii (NED) Silence-Lotto at 32:00
51. Óscar Freire (ESP) Rabobank at 32:39
52. Eduard Vorganov (RUS) Xacobeo – Galicia at 32:56
53. Alexandr Kolobnev (RUS) CSC at 33:11
54. Paolo Tiralongo (ITA) Lampre at 35:33
55. Dmitry Kozontchuk (RUS) Rabobank at 36:14
56. David Herrero (ESP) Xacobeo – Galicia at 36:25
57. Rubén PÉrez Moreno (ESP) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 37:42
58. Amets Txurruka (ESP) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 38:39
59. José Luis Carrasco GÁmiz (ESP) Andalucia-Cajasur at 39:51
60. Marc De Maar (NED) Rabobank at 40:05
61. Matti Breschel (DEN) CSC at 40:20
62. Erik Zabel (GER) Milram at 41:18
63. Karsten Kroon (NED) CSC at 41:35
64. Benjamín Noval (ESP) Astana at 41:43
65. Leonardo Duque (COL) Cofidis at 42:09
66. Xabier Zandio (ESP) Caisse d’Epargne at 42:36
67. Sébastien Hinault (FRA) Credit Agricole at 42:36
68. Andrea Tonti (ITA) Quick Step at 43:06
69. Iñigo Landaluze (ESP) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 43:16
70. Martin Velits (SVK) Milram at 44:34
71. Kevin De Weert (BEL) Cofidis at 44:38
72. Juan Antonio Flecha (ESP) Rabobank at 46:33
73. Olivier Bonnaire (FRA) Bouygues Telecom at 48:26
74. Gabriel Rasch (NOR) Credit Agricole at 48:32
75. Ivan Velasco (ESP) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 48:39
76. Matteo Tosatto (ITA) Quick Step at 48:47
77. Alan PÉrez (ESP) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 49:36
78. Philippe Gilbert (BEL) Francaise des Jeux at 49:58
79. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) Silence-Lotto at 50:19
80. Michael Blaudzun (DEN) CSC at 51:10
81. Vincent Jerome (FRA) Bouygues Telecom at 51:17
82. Heinrich Haussler (GER) Gerolsteiner at 51:21
83. Tom Stamsnijder (NED) Gerolsteiner at 51:28
84. Theo Eltink (NED) Rabobank at 52:14
85. José Ruiz SÁnchez (ESP) Andalucia-Cajasur at 54:27
86. Filippo Pozzato (ITA) Liquigas at 54:38
87. Francis Mourey (FRA) Francaise des Jeux at 56:51
88. Alessandro Vanotti (ITA) Liquigas at 57:07
89. Pieter Jacobs (BEL) Silence-Lotto at 57:11
90. Larrea Koldo Fdez De (ESP) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 57:38
91. Manuel Ortega (ESP) Andalucia-Cajasur at 57:58
92. Matthieu Ladagnous (FRA) Francaise des Jeux at 59:15
93. Davide Vigano (ITA) Quick Step at 1:00:10
94. Stefan Schumacher (GER) Gerolsteiner at 1:00:38
95. Manuel Quinziato (ITA) Liquigas at 1:02:50
96. Sébastien Minard (FRA) Cofidis at 1:06:13
97. Tomas Vaitkus (LTU) Astana at 1:06:23
98. Imanol Erviti (ESP) Caisse d’Epargne at 1:07:36
99. Bingen FernÁndez (ESP) Cofidis at 1:08:13
100. Claudio Corioni (ITA) Liquigas at 1:08:52
101. Sebastian Lang (GER) Gerolsteiner at 1:09:39
102. Serafín MartÍnez Acevedo (ESP) Xacobeo – Galicia at 1:14:03
103. Arnaud Labbe (FRA) Bouygues Telecom at 1:16:26
104. Cyril Lemoine (FRA) Credit Agricole at 1:18:06
105. Renaud Dion (FRA) Ag2r La Mondiale at 1:18:14
106. Pavel Brutt (RUS) Tinkoff at 1:20:11
107. Enrico Franzoi (ITA) Liquigas at 1:20:11
108. Jeremy Hunt (GBR) Credit Agricole at 1:21:29
109. Mathias Frank (SUI) Gerolsteiner at 1:21:57
110. Sebastian Schwager (GER) Milram at 1:21:58
111. Pedro Horrillo (ESP) Rabobank at 1:22:16
112. Mikhail Ignatiev (RUS) Tinkoff at 1:23:09
113. Gorazd Stangelj (SLO) Liquigas at 1:23:58
114. Wouter Weylandt (BEL) Quick Step at 1:28:39
115. Bart Dockx (BEL) Silence-Lotto at 1:29:06
116. J. Vicente GarcÍa Acosta (ESP) Caisse d’Epargne at 1:29:49
117. Juan José Haedo (ARG) CSC at 1:32:30
118. Assan Bazayev (KAZ) Astana at 1:37:30
119. Ivan Santaromita (ITA) Liquigas at 1:45:22
120. Oscar Gatto (ITA) Gerolsteiner at 1:46:12
121. Dmitriy Muravyev (KAZ) Astana at 1:54:52