Vuelta: Simoni wins; For Sevilla, it all comes down to final TT

After 20 stages and more than 1,800 miles of racing, the 56th Vuelta a España will be decided in Sunday’s final 23.5-mile individual time trial. Saturday’s final climbing stage, the 112-mile 20th stage featuring two category-one climbs up Alto de Abantos high in the mountains north of Madrid, failed to rattle race leader Oscar Sevilla (Kelme), who retained his 25-second lead over Festina’s Angel Casero. Giro d’Italia champion Gilberto Simoni (Lampre) sprinted ahead of Jose Maria Jimenez on the final switchback to win while U.S. Postal’s Jose Luis Rubiera crossed the line third

By Andrew Hood

Photo: Graham Watson

After 20 stages and more than 1,800 miles of racing, the 56th Vuelta a España will be decided in Sunday’s final 23.5-mile individual time trial.

Saturday’s final climbing stage, the 112-mile 20th stage featuring two category-one climbs up Alto de Abantos high in the mountains north of Madrid, failed to rattle race leader Oscar Sevilla (Kelme), who retained his 25-second lead over Festina’s Angel Casero.

Giro d’Italia champion Gilberto Simoni (Lampre) sprinted ahead of Jose Maria Jimenez on the final switchback to win while U.S. Postal’s Jose Luis Rubiera crossed the line third at 15 seconds back to remain in seventh overall.

It all comes down to these two

It all comes down to these two

Photo: Graham Watson

“This is a wonderful victory for me because I really wanted to win. I didn’t come to the Vuelta in the best form to try for victory but I really wanted to win a stage,” said Simoni, a winner of the fearsome Angliru stage last year.

Defending Vuelta champion Roberto Heras (U.S. Postal) tried to attack on the final climb to Abantos but didn’t have the legs. Heras finished seventh in the stage and remains in third place overall at 2:20 back.

U.S. Postal’s Levi Leipheimer rode with the top climbers all the way to the top and finished eighth to retain his fifth place overall at 3:55 back. None of the top seven riders lost time, so Leipheimer, a strong time trialist, looks likely to pass fourth-place Juan Miguel Mercado ( just 26 seconds ahead and even has outside shot of surpassing teammate Heras to finish on the podium.

U.S. Postal Service enters Sunday finale without a stage victory but with three riders in the top-10. The Posties also remain in the top three in the overall team standings.

“Things didn’t work out like we hoped today. We wanted the victory for Roberto, but it was a complicated stage,” Rubiera said. “The team had a wonderful finish today and we are motivated for Sunday to finish on the podium.”

The penultimate stage of the 2001 Vuelta started with Sevilla hoping to open up more of a gap on Casero going into Sunday’s finale. Sevilla, nicknamed “El Nino,” was celebrating his 25th birthday, but couldn’t drop Casero despite attacking hard in the final three kilometers.

“I tried to attack but it was impossible. Casero was too strong,” said Sevilla, who crossed the line fifth and retained the leader’s jersey for the 10th day. “It’s true I’ve lost a little bit of my punch in the mountains but I am a stronger time trialist than I was before. Angel is known as better in time trials but tomorrow I will suffer like never before and try to win the overall.”

Casero’s Festina team controlled the stage from the beginning. David Plaza worked hard up the final climb to control Kelme and Casero was strong enough to answer when Sevilla attacked on the final steep climb to the finish.

“Today was a key stage. I didn’t want to lose time today and it gives me a lot of faith for Sunday. The streets of Madrid will be crowded with fans and it will be an exciting finish,” said Casero, second overall last year to Heras. “I don’t want to win this Vuelta because Sevilla might have problems. The strongest man will win tomorrow and that’s important.”

Heading into the first of two climbs up the category-one Alto de Abantos at 132 kilometers, the peloton split on the first steep ramps heading past El Escorial, the grand palace built by King Filipe in the 1600s. The lead group of climbers whittled down to about 35 in the first section of the 14-km climb to the summit at Abantos.

ONCE’s Mikel Zarrabeitia charged off the front, dropped some pursuers and finished alone over the top, some 1:25 ahead of the lead group. Riders passed a sign painted on the road, “Bienvenidos a Infierno,” Welcome to Hell, as the climb hit a steep 18-percent graded section.

U.S. Postal’s Rubiera accelerated and dropped more riders. Only about 15 remained in the lead. All the favorites were there, including Sevilla, who had only one Kelme rider to help him. Casero had four other Festina teammates while Heras had the support of Leipheimer and Rubiera.

Going into the category-three Alto de Robledondo, Zarrabeitia held a 1:30 gap over the lead group. The group accelerated on the descent and caught Zarrabeitia coming into the final assault on Abantos.

Simoni attacked on a steep, 17-percent graded section at 11 kilometers from the summit. Following were Jimenez and Milaneza’s Klaus Moller. Heras bridged off the front of the lead group and the four opened up an 11-second gap.

Festina continued to drive hard and only Simoni and Jimenez could maintain the tempo. Heras tried to bridge once again but Sevilla accelerated with Casero on his wheel.

Simoni and Jimenez were clear coming into the final switchbacks to the summit and the Italian shot past Jimenez on the final turn to seal the victory.

Sunday’s final time trial winds through the streets of downtown Madrid with a lot of dangerous curves. It’s a technical course that favors Casero.

“We are not celebrating victory yet,” said Festina’s director Juan Fernandez. “Today was a climb that favored Sevilla and it was a decisive stage because tomorrow favors Angel. Statistics show in a time trial like tomorrow that Angel will win. I believe we can get back the time and Angel has the mentality of a winner.”

While Casero and Sevilla will fight for final victory, Cofidis’ David Millar hopes to win yet another stage. The 24-year-old Brit rode tempo Saturday to save his strength.

Leipheimer, who’s finished second, third and fifth in the Vuelta’s first three time trials, could secure the stage-win he’s striving for to cap what’s been an amazing debut in his first three-week stage race.

Photo Gallery


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


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