Events

Vuelta: Heras moves up, Hunter takes stage

The winds of change blew through the 56th Vuelta a España and it was the U.S. Postal Service team at the center of the storm. With 35 km to go in the 159-km 17th stage, U.S. Postal Service attacked hard and split the group in the windy flats from Murcia to Albacete across Spain’s barren meseta. Juan Miguel Mercado (ibanesto.com), who started the day third, and David Plaza (Festina), who started fifth overall, were among the casualties. Postal kept driving and finished 1 minute, 12 seconds ahead the second group. Lampre’s Robert Hunter bounded out of the lead group to take his second

By Andrew Hood

Heras and the gang join the big move

Heras and the gang join the big move

Photo: Graham Watson

The winds of change blew through the 56th Vuelta a España and it was the U.S. Postal Service team at the center of the storm.

With 35 km to go in the 159-km 17th stage, U.S. Postal Service attacked hard and split the group in the windy flats from Murcia to Albacete across Spain’s barren meseta.

Juan Miguel Mercado (ibanesto.com), who started the day third, and David Plaza (Festina), who started fifth overall, were among the casualties. Postal kept driving and finished 1 minute, 12 seconds ahead the second group.

Hunter takes the win

Hunter takes the win

Photo: Graham Watson

Lampre’s Robert Hunter bounded out of the lead group to take his second career Vuelta stage and the second stage win for his Lampre team this year.

Race leader Oscar Sevilla (Kelme) and second-place Angel Casero (Festina) finished safely in the lead group, but defending champion Roberto Heras bounces ahead of Mercado into third at 2:20 back.

“We had to try something. All the team worked very hard and it was a phenomenal day for us,” Heras said. “I never lost my morale in this Vuelta. It’s difficult when you’re not 100 percent, but now I am better form and feel good for the final weekend. I think it will be difficult to try to win the race. I will be content with third.”

U.S. Postal’s Levi Leipheimer was another benefactor. He moves ahead of Plaza into fifth place overall at 3:55 back and is just 36 seconds behind fourth-place Mercado.

With 20 kilometers to go, the first group of about 50 riders had a 30-second gap on the second group. Several riders were left unaware. Second-place Casero was stranded without any Festina teammates in the lead group.

“We saw how all the U.S. Postal riders were grouping at the front and we had to watch them,” said Sevilla, who lives near Albacete and had hundreds of family and friends cheering him on. “These stages are difficult but my team is protecting me to get me to the final important stages.”

More riders lost contact with the second group, including Alex Zülle (Coast), Jose Maria Jimenez (ibanesto.com) and Gilberto Simoni (Lampre).

U.S. Postal kept the pressure up and expanded the gap to 47 seconds with 14 kilometers to go. Ibanesto.com was forced to do all the work in the second group as many of the riders were tired and uninterested in working hard.

The lead group came into the finish and Hunter was fastest to the line, edging Telekom’s Danilo Honda by a half-bike length. Domo’s Robbie McEwen finished third. The second group finished at 1:12 back. The Zülle group finished more than 5 minutes back.

“We weren’t in a good position when U.S. Postal attacked. We tried to get back but it was very windy and I lost some time but Saturday is a big mountain stage, so I can try to regain the time,” said Mercado, who fell to fourth at 3:19 back. “It was going to be hard to get the podium anyway, now it will be more difficult. But the team has done well and I won a stage, so I won’t lose any sleep”

The peloton faces two more transition stages before the final showdown in Madrid this weekend. Saturday’s climbing stage at Altos de Abantos will shake things up, but the race will likely come down to the final 38-km time trial Sunday in Madrid.

The 21-stage, 1,851-mile 56th Vuelta a España continues Thursday with another short flat stage, 154 km (95 miles) from Albacete to Cuenca. Wind will once again be a danger.

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Results

1. HUNTER, Robert (SA), LAM, 3:18:46;
2. HONDO, Danilo (G), TEL s.t.;
3. McEWEN, Robbie (Aus), DFF s.t.;
4. FOFONOV, Dmitri (Kz), COF s.t.;
5. VICIOSO, Angel (Sp), KEL s.t.;
6. FLORES, Igor (Sp), EUS s.t.;
7. MORENI, Cristian (I), MER s.t.;
8. ANGUITA, Eleuterio (Sp), CDA s.t.;
9. GERRIKAGOITIA, Gorka (Sp), EUS s.t.;
10. HORRILLO, Pedro (Sp), MAP s.t.;
11. MCRAE, Chann (USA), USP s.t.;
12. MÖLLER, Klaus (Dk), MIL s.t.;
13. BOVEN, Jan (Nl), RAB s.t.;
14. LEIPHEIMER, Levi (USA), USP s.t.;
15. MARTINEZ, Alberto (Sp), EUS s.t.;
16. PECHARROMAN, J.Antonio (Sp), CDA s.t.;
17. RUBIERA, José Luis (Sp), USP s.t.;
18. OSA, Aitor (Sp), BAN s.t.;
19. JOACHIM, Benoit (Lx), USP s.t.;
20. FERNANDEZ, Victoriano (Sp), MIL s.t.;
21. BOTERO, Santiago (Col), KEL s.t.;
22. LAGUNA, Oscar (Sp), REL s.t.;
23. CASERO, Angel (Sp), FES s.t.;
24. SEVILLA, Oscar (Sp), KEL s.t.;
25. GARATE, Juan Manuel (Sp), LAM s.t.;
26. SMETANINE, SergueiRUS CDA s.t.;
27. HERAS, Roberto (Sp), USP s.t.;
28. VIRENQUE, Richard (F), DFF s.t.;
29. ESCARTIN, Fernando (Sp), COA s.t.;
30. MAYO. Iban (Sp), EUS s.t.;
31. CUESTA, Iñigo (Sp), COF s.t.;
32. BRUYLANDTS, Dave (B), DFF s.t.;
33. CABELLO, Francisco (Sp), KEL s.t.;
34. TAULER, Antonio (Sp), KEL s.t.;
35. VIDAL, José Angel (Sp), KEL s.t.;
36. CARDENAS, Rafael (Col), KEL s.t.;
37. KLEYNEN, Steven (B), DFF s.t.;
38. CRUZ, Antonio (USA), USP at 0:10.

OVERALL

1. SEVILLA, Oscar (Sp), KEL 58:23:44;
2. CASERO, Angel (Sp), at 0:25;
3. HERAS, Roberto (Sp), USP at 2:20;
4. MERCADO, Juan Miguel (Sp), BAN at 3:19;
5. LEIPHEIMER, Levi(USA), USP at 3:55;
6. PLAZA, David (Sp), FES at 4:44;
7. RUBIERA, José Luis (Sp), USP at 4:59;
8. OSA, Aitor (Sp), BAN at 5:47;
9. MAYO. Iban (Sp), EUS at 6:59;
10. ESCARTIN, Fernando (Sp), COA at 7:18;
11. MÖLLER, Klaus (Dk), MIL at 7:27;
12. LAISEKA, Roberto (Sp), EUS at 9:13;
13. CUESTA, Iñigo (Sp), COF at 10:06;
14. BLANCO, Santiago (Sp), BAN at 10:34;
15. BELTRAN, Manuel (Sp), MAP at 13:49;
16. GARCIA CASAS, Félix (Sp), FES at 16:21;
17. PEREZ, Luis (Sp), FES at 16:50;
18. GOMEZ GOZALO, José Javier (Sp), KEL at 18:17;
19. KONECNY, TomasCZE DFF at 18:37;
20. JIMENEZ, Jose María (Sp), BAN at 19:31;
21. BOTERO, Santiago (Col), KEL at 19:37;
22. PELLIZOTTI, Franco (I), ALS at 24:23;
23. CONTI, Roberto (I), CTA at 28:14;
24. CAÑADA, David (Sp), MAP at 28:40;
25. OSA, Unai (Sp), BAN at 29:43;
26. VIRENQUE, Richard (F), DFF at 34:29;
27. MARTINEZ, Alberto (Sp), EUS at 35:12;
28. FIGUERAS, Giuliano (I), PAN at 37:05;
29. SASTRE, Carlos (Sp), ONC at 37:16;
30. ZBERG, Beat (Swi), RAB at 37:59;
31. LAVARINHAS, Rui (Por), MIL at 39:17;
32. ZARRABEITIA, Mikel (Sp), ONC at 41:41;
33. REBOLLO, Jose Luis (Sp), FES at 42:15;
34. FERNANDEZ, Victoriano (Sp), MIL at 44:35;
35. DE PAOLI, Daniele (I), MER at 48:10;
36. MILLAR, DavidGBR COF at 48:27;
37. LAGUNA, Oscar (Sp), REL at 48:29;
38. ANGUITA, Eleuterio (Sp), CDA at 49:06;
39. LELLI, Massimiliano (I), COF at 50:48;
40. SIMONI, Gilberto (I), LAM at 50:52;
41. ATIENZA, Daniel (Sp), COF at 51:23;
42. GARATE, Juan Manuel (Sp), LAM at 52:45;
43. BRUYLANDTS, Dave (B), DFF at 53:37;
44. BARANOWSKI, Dariusz (Pol), BAN at 54:29;
45. CIONI, Dario David (I), MAP at 55:01;
46. SILVA, Joao (Por), MIL at 56:08;
47. ELLI, Alberto (I), TEL at 58:03;
48. VERHEYEN, Geert (B), RAB at 58:37;
49. VICARIO, Juan Carlos (Sp), FES at 58:38;
50. FERNANDEZ, Bingen (Sp), EUS at 59:00;
51. ZUBELDIA, Haimar (Sp), EUS at 59:01;
52. FOFONOV, Dmitri (Kz), COF at 59:43;
53. ETXEBARRIA, David (Sp), EUS at 1:01:36;
54. CLAVERO, Daniel (Sp), MER at 1:02:25;
55. CODOL, Massimo (I), LAM at 1:05:37;
56. PECHARROMAN, J.Antonio (Sp), CDA at 1:08:06;
57. KLEYNEN, Steven (B), DFF at 1:10:18;
58. GIUNTI, Massimo (I), CTA at 1:10:20;
59. TAULER, Antonio (Sp), KEL at 1:12:37;
60. ALDAG, Rolf (G), TEL at 1:13:27;
61. SGAMBELLURI, Roberto (I), TEL at 1:14:43;
62. PUGACI, Igor (MDA), SAE at 1:14:50;
63. VICIOSO, Angel (Sp), KEL at 1:15:03;
64. MORENI, Cristian (I), MER at 1:16:00;
65. SIMEONI, Filippo (I), CTA at 1:16:07;
66. FARAZJIN, Peter (B), COF at 1:16:34;
67. PRONK, Matthe (Nl), RAB at 1:17:27;
68. DIAZ JUSTO, Rafael (Sp), ONC at 1:18:26;
69. TRENTIN, Guido (I), COF at 1:19:13;
70. SHEFER, AlexanderKZA ALS at 1:21:05;
71. VAZQUEZ, J.Manuel (Sp), REL at 1:22:16;
72. FLECHA, J.Antonio (Sp), REL at 1:23:39;
73. GONZALEZ, Santos (Sp), ONC at 1:25:37;
74. FLORES, Igor (Sp), EUS at 1:27:53;
75. JAKSCHE, Jörg (G), ONC at 1:28:03;
76. JEKER, Fabian (Swi), MIL at 1:29:06;
77. OLANO, Abraham (Sp), ONC at 1:29:22;
78. CABELLO, Francisco (Sp), KEL at 1:30:06;
79. EDO, Angel (Sp), MIL at 1:30:29;
80. POSPYEYEV, KyryloUKR CTA at 1:37:26;
81. GOLBANO, Carlos (Sp), CDA at 1:37:47;
82. ODRIOZOLA, Jon (Sp), BAN at 1:38:24;
83. ENGELS, Addy (Nl), RAB at 1:38:52;
84. HORRILLO, Pedro (Sp), MAP at 1:39:13;
85. LUDEWIG, Jorg (G), SAE at 1:40:22;
86. GARCIA CALVO, Cesar (Sp), REL at 1:41:17;
87. AEBERSOLD, Niki (Swi), COA at 1:42:26;
88. HUNDERTMARK, Kai (G), TEL at 1:44:02;
89. ZABEL, Erik (G), TEL at 1:45:37;
90. PEREZ CUAPIO, J.AlbertoMEX PAN at 1:47:22;
91. PEÑA, Victor Hugo (Col), USP at 1:47:26;
92. JOACHIM, Benoit (Lx), USP at 1:48:35;
93. CARDENAS, Rafael (Col), KEL at 1:49:03;
94. HERNANDEZ, Jaime (Sp), FES at 1:49:53;
95. SCHRECK, Stephan (G), TEL at 1:50:17;
96. HONDO, Danilo (G), TEL at 1:50:23;
97. VENEBERG, Thorwald (Nl), RAB at 1:50:32;
98. BOVEN, Jan (Nl), RAB at 1:52:57;
99. CAPITAN, Jorge (Sp), REL at 1:54:12;
100. (G), RIKAGOITIA, Gorka (Sp), EUS at 1:55:01;
101. TRENTI, Guido (USA), CTA at 1:55:03;
102. GIANETTI, Mauro (Swi), COA at 1:56:19;
103. DUMA, VladimirUKR PAN at 1:58:56;
104. MCRAE, Chann (USA), USP at 1:59:04;
105. LOTZ, Marc (Nl), RAB at 1:59:18;
106. ZUELLE, Alex (Swi), COA at 2:03:48;
107. GUILLAMON, Juan (Sp), CDA at 2:04:01;
108. CRUZ, Antonio (USA), USP at 2:04:05;
109. LAMOUR, Claude (F), COF at 2:04:22;
110. HUSER, Rolf (Swi), COA at 2:04:31;
111. PAOLINI, Luca (I), MAP at 2:05:00;
112. RATTI, Eddy (I), MAP at 2:05:30;
113. O´NEILL, Nathan (Aus), PAN at 2:07:03;
114. SCHAFFRATH, Jan (G), TEL at 2:07:57;
115. CRETSKENS, Wilfried (B), DFF at 2:09:39;
116. VIDAL, José Angel (Sp), KEL at 2:09:47;
117. TORRENT, Carlos (Sp), CDA at 2:10:42;
118. DEAN, Julian (NZ), USP at 2:11:59;
119. MAURI, Melchor (Sp), MIL at 2:13:13;
120. KLIER, Andreas (G), TEL at 2:13:18;
121. PICCOLI, Mariano (I), LAM at 2:13:40;
122. DOMINGUEZ, Juan Carlos (Sp), BAN at 2:13:50;
123. HUNTER, Robert (SA), LAM at 2:14:10;
124. SMETANINE, SergueiRUS CDA at 2:14:35;
125. CASERO, Rafael (Sp), FES at 2:15:38;
126. FERNANDEZ, David (Sp), REL at 2:16:35;
127. ORTENZI, Gian Mario (I), MER at 2:18:38;
128. LOPEZ DE MUNAIN, Alberto (Sp), EUS at 2:19:36;
129. GARCIA ACOSTA, José (Sp), BAN at 2:20:52;
130. PINOTTI, Marco (I), LAM at 2:20:58;
131. HOJ, Frank (Dk), COA at 2:21:08;
132. SCHWEDA, Raphael (G), COA at 2:21:21;
133. CARNEIRO, Carlos (Por), MIL at 2:22:08;
134. VINALE, Alberto (I), ALS at 2:23:54;
135. DIAZ LOBATO, Pedro (Sp), CDA at 2:23:57;
136. COMMESSO, Salvatore (I), SAE at 2:24:36;
137. CASAGRANDA, Stefano (I), ALS at 2:25:02;
138. KROON, Karsten (Nl), RAB at 2:27:39;
139. SENIUSHKIN, YauheniBLR PAN at 2:29:24;
140. NITSCHE, Torsten (G), SAE at 2:31:06;
141. TEUTENBERG, Sven (G), FES at 2:32:35;
142. TONTI, Andrea (I), CTA at 2:36:23;
143. BERTOLETTI, Simone (I), LAM at 2:37:39;
144. NIETO, Germán (Sp), REL at 2:40:52;
145. McEWEN, Robbie (Aus), DFF at 2:42:53;