Events

Zaballa solos to win; Heras zeroes in on overall

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) remains on track to win his third Vuelta title in five years with just two days remaining in the 59th Vuelta a España. Heras and the other favorites decided to save their energy for the exciting two-day finale and played the role of kingmakers. The main bunch only watched as such riders as Damiano Cunego (Saeco) and Stefano Garzelli (Vini Caldirola) peeled away early in the stage to fight for leftovers. It was Constantino Zaballa (Saunier Duval) who fought the hardest and won a well-deserved solo victory, holding off pursuers on the final run into Collado

By Andrew Hood

Zaballa's effort pays off

Zaballa’s effort pays off

Photo: AFP

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) remains on track to win his third Vuelta title in five years with just two days remaining in the 59th Vuelta a España.

Heras and the other favorites decided to save their energy for the exciting two-day finale and played the role of kingmakers. The main bunch only watched as such riders as Damiano Cunego (Saeco) and Stefano Garzelli (Vini Caldirola) peeled away early in the stage to fight for leftovers.

It was Constantino Zaballa (Saunier Duval) who fought the hardest and won a well-deserved solo victory, holding off pursuers on the final run into Collado Villalba to deliver his team’s second victory of the Vuelta.

In last year’s Vuelta, Zaballa celebrated too early and lost a stage. This year, he hammered home the solo victory to make sure no one was there to spoil the moment.

Carlos Garcia Quesada (Valenciana-Kelme) profited from the situation to work himself into the break and nearly jumped into the top 5 overall as a result. He was the best placed rider in the break at 8th at 11:18 back and Liberty Seguros and Team CSC put up the chase too late. Garcia Quesada jumped ahead of Carlos Sastre (CSC) into sixth place and fell just eight seconds short of skipping ahead of Isidro Nozal (Liberty Seguros).

Heras and the rest of the key players finished a safe 6:25 back

Heras and the rest of the key players finished a safe 6:25 back

Photo: AFP

A day for a break
With the big guns holding their ammo for this weekend’s battle, Friday’s 142km rollercoaster across the mountains north of Madrid provided fertile ground for head-bangers.

There was no rest for the weary and the attacks started in earnest early on. Some big names were anxious to leave their mark on the Vuelta and marked the stage as their last chance.

A large group finally extracted themselves that included some big names: Stefano Garzelli (Vini Caldirola), Luis Pasamontes (Relax Bodysol), Damiano Cunego and Eddy Mazzoleni (Saeco), Constantino Zaballa and Joaquin Rodriguez (Saunier Duval), Benoit Joachim (U.S. Postal Service), Marcos Serrano (Liberty Seguros), David Plaza, Ivan Parra and Felix Cardenas (Cafes Baque), Carlos Garcia Quesada – the best placed at 8th at 11:18 back — David Latasa and Francisco Cabello (Valenciana-Kelme), Juan Manuel Garate (Lampre), Haimar Zubeldia and Roberto Laiseka (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Dario David Cioni (Fassa Bortolo) and Ruslan Ivanov (Alessio-Bianchi).

With some big guns in the group, the peloton wasn’t going to let them get too far away. Saunier Duval’s Zaballa was looking to get some good quality TV time for his sponsor and went on a solo flier and opened up a gap on the break.

Zaballa hit the steep Alto de Abantos climb nursing a two-minute lead on the Cunego group, while Liberty Seguros was keeping it close at six minutes. It was up the Cat. 1 Alto de Abantos that Roberto Heras won the 2003 Vuelta in that epic uphill time trial against Isidro Nozal, who completely cracked under the pressure.

Last year’s time trial didn’t go up entire climb last year, just the lower 12km with ramps as steep as 17 percent. Friday’s course climbed up the entire 15.6km to the summit through wonderfully forested pines reminiscent of Colorado.

Zaballa held his lead as the Cunego group wilted to about 10 riders and the main bunch came chugging over the summit some 8:40 arrears. Zaballa put up the good fight over the Cat. 3 climbs at Robledondo and the Alto San Lorenzo de El Escorial. From there it was a relatively flat run into the finish.

“I doubted that I would be able to make it because I was out alone for so long, but this is a victory I’ve been looking for since my first year as a pro,” said Zaballa, who was stung by a bee or wasp on course. “It’s a victory I’ve taken thanks to determination and grit. I helped form a break two days ago, but then an upset stomach meant it was impossible for me to stay with the rest.”

Exciting finale
With just two stages left, time is running out for anyone hoping to stop Heras from winning a record-tying third Vuelta title. It’s a mark that’s somewhat surprising considering that four men have one the Tour de France five times (and one has won six) and five is the all-time record for the Giro d’Italia.

The 178km 20th stage from Alcobendas to the summit finish atop the Puerto de Navacerrada features five climbs, including the final hump up Navacerrada up the “difficult” side of the pass that divides Madrid from the northern provinces.

“We know we have to try to attack and get more time on Roberto,” said Phonak’s sport director Alvaro Pino. “It’s going to be complicated, but Santi is feeling strong so he’s ready to give it a try.”

Pérez is clearly stronger than Heras right now in the climbs. He finished second to Heras at Calar Alto to reinvigorate his chances for the final podium and then won back to back stages at Granada and Sierra Nevada. Up La Covatilla on Wednesday, Pérez dropped Heras to gain back some valuable time.

Liberty Seguros’ strategy, of course, will be to limit the losses to Pérez and Valverde, with the ideal outcome of even extending the lead going into Sunday’s 30km final time trial.

The largely flat course starts in Madrid’s Casa de Campo park and traces much of the route through the streets of Madrid that will be featured in the 2005 road world championships.

Heras won’t be facing a major rival of the likes of Aitor Gonzalez, a far superior time trialist who won the Vuelta in the final-day clash in 2002. While Valverde is the strongest time trialist of the leading four, it’s only on a marginal level.

In the Vuelta’s only flat time trial – the 40km race won by Tyler Hamilton in stage 8 – Valverde could only wrestle eight seconds out of Heras, who finished a strong 15th at 1:37 slower. Pérez finished 53rd at 3:29 back — a difference that could come back to haunt him.

Photo Gallery

Results

Results – Stage 19
1. Constantino Zaballa (Sp), Saunier Duval, 3:33:32

2. Ruslan Ivanov (MDA), Alessio-Bianchi, 1:23

3. Damiano Cunego (I), Saeco, 1:23

4. José Luis Arrieta (Sp), Illes Balears-Banesto, 1:23

5. Eddy Mazzoleni (I), Saeco, 1:23

6. Juan Manuel Garate (Sp), Lampre, 1:23

7. Felix Cardenas (Col), Cafes Baque, 1:23

8. Stefano Garzelli (I), Vini Caldirola, 1:23

9. Benoit Joachim (Lux), U.S. Postal Service, 1:23

10. Dario David Cioni (I), Fassa Bortolo, 1:23

11. Roberto Laiseka (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 1:23

12. David Plaza (Sp), Cafes Baque, 1:23

13. Joaquin Rodriguez (Sp), Saunier Duval, 1:23

14. Marcos Serrano (Sp), Liberty Seguros, 1:23

15. Carlos Garcia Quesada (Sp), Kelme – Costa Blanca, 1:23

16. David Latasa (Sp), Kelme – Costa Blanca, 1:31

17. Samuel Sanchez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 6:25

18. Santiago Perez (Sp), Phonak, 6:25

19. Roberto Heras (Sp), Liberty Seguros, 6:25

20. Francisco Mancebo (Sp), Illes Balears-Banesto, 6:25

21. Daniele Righi (I), Lampre, 6:25

22. Marco Velo (I), Fassa Bortolo, 6:25

23. Alejandro Valverde (Sp), Kelme – Costa Blanca, 6:25

24. Thorwald Veneberg (Nl), Rabobank, 6:25

25. Carlos Sastre (Sp), CSC, 6:25

26. Isidro Nozal (Sp), Liberty Seguros, 6:25

27. Jurgen Van Goolen (B), Quick Step-Davitamon, 6:25

28. Angel Gomez (Sp), Paternina – Costa De Almeria, 6:25

29. Manuel Beltran (Sp), U.S. Postal Service, 6:25

30. Bram Tankink (Nl), Quick Step-Davitamon, 6:25

31. Luis Pasamontes (Sp), Relax Bodysol, 6:25

32. Jorge Ferrio (Sp), Paternina – Costa De Almeria, 6:25

33. José Gutierrez (Sp), Phonak, 6:25

34. Luis Perez (Sp), Cofidis, 6:25

35. Dariusz Baranowski (Pol), Liberty Seguros, 6:25

36. Vladimir Miholjevic (CRO), Alessio-Bianchi, 6:25

37. Unai Osa (Sp), Illes Balears-Banesto, 6:25

38. Erik Zabel (G), T-Mobile, 6:25

39. Bert Grabsch (G), Phonak, 6:25

40. Tadej Valjavec (SLO), Phonak, 6:25

41. Mikel Pradera (Sp), Illes Balears-Banesto, 6:25

42. J.antonio Pecharroman (Sp), Quick Step-Davitamon, 6:25

43. David Herrero (Sp), Paternina – Costa De Almeria, 6:25

44. Oscar Sevilla (Sp), Phonak, 6:25

45. David Blanco (Sp), Kelme – Costa Blanca, 6:25

46. Francisco José Lara (Sp), Paternina – Costa De Almeria, 6:25

47. Frank Schleck (Lux), CSC, 6:25

48. Iñigo Chaurreau (Sp), Ag2R Prevoyance, 6:25

49. Cadel Evans (Aus), T-Mobile, 6:25

50. José Julia (Sp), Kelme – Costa Blanca, 6:25

51. Rafael Casero (Sp), Saunier Duval, 6:25

52. David CaÑada (Sp), Saunier Duval, 6:25

53. Pablo Lastras (Sp), Illes Balears-Banesto, 6:25

54. Jose Luis Rebollo (Sp), Relax Bodysol, 6:25

55. Josep Jufre (Sp), Relax Bodysol, 6:25

56. José Miguel Elias (Sp), Relax Bodysol, 6:25

57. Roberto Sgambelluri (I), Vini Caldirola, 6:25

58. Pedro Horrillo (Sp), Quick Step-Davitamon, 6:25

59. Peter Luttenberger (A), CSC, 6:25

60. Antonio Cruz (USA), U.S. Postal Service, 6:25

61. Kevin De Weert (B), Rabobank, 6:25

62. Joaquin Lopez (Sp), Paternina – Costa De Almeria, 6:25

63. Hernan Buenahora (Col), Cafes Baque, 6:25

64. Xavier Florencio (Sp), Relax Bodysol, 6:25

65. Daniel Atienza (Sp), Cofidis, 6:25

66. Joan Horrach (Sp), Illes Balears-Banesto, 6:25

67. Cedric Vasseur (F), Cofidis, 6:25

68. Klaus MÖller (Dk), Alessio-Bianchi, 6:25

69. Patrick Calcagni (Swi), Vini Caldirola, 6:25

70. Stephan Schreck (G), T-Mobile, 6:25

71. Bingen Fernandez (Sp), Cofidis, 6:25

72. Victor Hugo PeÑa (Col), U.S. Postal Service, 6:25

73. Joost Posthuma (Nl), Rabobank, 6:25

74. Johan Van Summeren (B), Relax Bodysol, 6:25

75. Francisco Garcia (Sp), Cafes Baque, 6:25

76. Aitor Perez (Sp), Cafes Baque, 6:25

77. Haimar Zubeldia (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 6:25

78. Leonardo Piepoli (I), Saunier Duval, 6:38

79. Maarten Den Bakker (Nl), Rabobank, 6:40

80. Mauro Gerosa (I), Vini Caldirola, 6:40

81. Jan Hruska (Cz), Liberty Seguros, 6:45

82. Ivan Parra (Col), Cafes Baque, 6:45

83. Sylvester Szymyd (Pol), Saeco, 6:45

84. Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Sp), Kelme – Costa Blanca, 6:45

85. Mikel Artetxe (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 6:45

86. Eladio Jimenez (Sp), Kelme – Costa Blanca, 6:56

87. Rene Andrle (Cz), Liberty Seguros, 7:02

88. Guennadi Mikhailov (Rus), U.S. Postal Service, 7:05

89. Pieter Weening (Nl), Rabobank, 7:07

90. Volodymir Gustov (Ukr), Fassa Bortolo, 7:07

91. Giampaolo Caruso (I), Liberty Seguros, 7:11

92. Dario Andriotto (I), Vini Caldirola, 7:18

93. Alessandro Cortinovis (I), Lampre, 7:37

94. Manuel Quinziato (I), Lampre, 7:39

95. Guido Trenti (USA), Fassa Bortolo, 7:40

96. Guido Trentin (I), Cofidis, 7:40

97. Jörg Jaksche (G), CSC, 7:53

98. Igor Glez. Galdeano (Sp), Liberty Seguros, 7:55

99. Julián Sanchez (Sp), Fassa Bortolo, 8:09

100. Koldo Gil (Sp), Liberty Seguros, 8:45

101. Vladimir Gusev (Rus), CSC, 12:00

102. Marius Sabaliauskas (Lit), Saeco, 12:02

103. Kevin Hulsmans (B), Quick Step-Davitamon, 12:02

104. José Garrido (Sp), Quick Step-Davitamon, 12:02

105. Iñaki Isasi (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 12:02

106. José Garcia Acosta (Sp), Illes Balears-Banesto, 16:12

107. Antonio Colom (Sp), Illes Balears-Banesto, 16:12

108. Matthew White (Aus), Cofidis, 16:12

109. Heberth Gutierrez (Col), Cafes Baque, 16:39

110. Paolo Fornaciari (I), Saeco, 16:39

111. Mariano Piccoli (I), Lampre, 16:39

112. Alessandro Spezialetti (I), Saeco, 16:39

113. Frank Hoj (Dk), CSC, 16:39

114. Aitor Silloniz (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 16:39

115. Marco Milesi (I), Vini Caldirola, 16:39

116. Juan Fuentes (Sp), Saeco, 16:39

117. Manuel Calvente (Sp), CSC, 16:39

118. Francisco Cabello (Sp), Kelme – Costa Blanca, 16:39

119. Alberto Lopez De Munain (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 16:39

120. David Fernandez (Sp), Paternina – Costa De Almeria, 41:11

Overall
1. Roberto Heras (Sp), Liberty Seguros, 72:13:01

2. Santiago Perez (Sp), Phonak, 1:13

3. Alejandro Valverde (Sp), Kelme – Costa Blanca, 2:15

4. Francisco Mancebo (Sp), Illes Balears-Banesto, 2:16

5. Isidro Nozal (Sp), Liberty Seguros, 6:08

6. Carlos Garcia Quesada (Sp), Kelme – Costa Blanca, 6:16

7. Carlos Sastre (Sp), CSC, 7:56

8. Angel Gomez (Sp), Paternina – Costa De Almeria, 10:21

9. Stefano Garzelli (I), Vini Caldirola, 12:21

10. Luis Perez (Sp), Cofidis, 12:25

11. Manuel Beltran (Sp), U.S. Postal Service, 12:56

12. David Blanco (Sp), Kelme – Costa Blanca, 14:13

13. Marcos Serrano (Sp), Liberty Seguros, 14:59

14. Francisco José Lara (Sp), Paternina – Costa De Almeria, 20:07

15. David Plaza (Sp), Cafes Baque, 26:27

16. Samuel Sanchez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 26:38

17. Damiano Cunego (I), Saeco, 27:56

18. Jorge Ferrio (Sp), Paternina – Costa De Almeria, 28:29

19. Luis Pasamontes (Sp), Relax Bodysol, 30:50

20. Eladio Jimenez (Sp), Kelme – Costa Blanca, 32:55

21. Unai Osa (Sp), Illes Balears-Banesto, 33:31

22. Oscar Sevilla (Sp), Phonak, 33:45

23. Juan Manuel Garate (Sp), Lampre, 36:15

24. Daniel Atienza (Sp), Cofidis, 42:31

25. Joan Horrach (Sp), Illes Balears-Banesto, 42:47

26. Ivan Parra (Col), Cafes Baque, 43:35

27. Tadej Valjavec (SLO), Phonak, 43:37

28. Leonardo Piepoli (I), Saunier Duval, 45:15

29. José Luis Arrieta (Sp), Illes Balears-Banesto, 45:53

30. Manuel Calvente (Sp), CSC, 46:14

31. Hernan Buenahora (Col), Cafes Baque, 48:04

32. Felix Cardenas (Col), Cafes Baque, 48:49

33. Constantino Zaballa (Sp), Saunier Duval, 50:41

34. Dariusz Baranowski (Pol), Liberty Seguros, 52:43

35. José Gutierrez (Sp), Phonak, 59:36

36. Francisco Garcia (Sp), Cafes Baque, 1:08:29

37. Johan Van Summeren (B), Relax Bodysol, 1:08:46

38. Joaquin Rodriguez (Sp), Saunier Duval, 1:10:57

39. Cedric Vasseur (F), Cofidis, 1:11:24

40. Pablo Lastras (Sp), Illes Balears-Banesto, 1:12:02

41. José Miguel Elias (Sp), Relax Bodysol, 1:13:28

42. Iñigo Chaurreau (Sp), Ag2R Prevoyance, 1:16:05

43. Haimar Zubeldia (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 1:16:23

44. Jörg Jaksche (G), CSC, 1:17:13

45. Victor Hugo PeÑa (Col), U.S. Postal Service, 1:19:24

46. Erik Zabel (G), T-Mobile, 1:19:34

47. Dario David Cioni (I), Fassa Bortolo, 1:25:21

48. David CaÑada (Sp), Saunier Duval, 1:25:47

49. Frank Schleck (Lux), CSC, 1:28:43

50. Jose Luis Rebollo (Sp), Relax Bodysol, 1:29:36

51. Benoit Joachim (Lux), U.S. Postal Service, 1:30:59

52. J.antonio Pecharroman (Sp), Quick Step-Davitamon, 1:31:09

53. Thorwald Veneberg (Nl), Rabobank, 1:31:12

54. Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Sp), Kelme – Costa Blanca, 1:31:59

55. Koldo Gil (Sp), Liberty Seguros, 1:33:50

56. David Latasa (Sp), Kelme – Costa Blanca, 1:35:33

57. Roberto Laiseka (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 1:36:55

58. Joaquin Lopez (Sp), Paternina – Costa De Almeria, 1:37:00

59. Stephan Schreck (G), T-Mobile, 1:38:44

60. Guennadi Mikhailov (Rus), U.S. Postal Service, 1:40:40

61. Cadel Evans (Aus), T-Mobile, 1:40:46

62. Jurgen Van Goolen (B), Quick Step-Davitamon, 1:40:52

63. Sylvester Szymyd (Pol), Saeco, 1:42:24

64. Josep Jufre (Sp), Relax Bodysol, 1:43:12

65. Pieter Weening (Nl), Rabobank, 1:43:19

66. Patrick Calcagni (Swi), Vini Caldirola, 1:46:33

67. Bram Tankink (Nl), Quick Step-Davitamon, 1:50:06

68. Giampaolo Caruso (I), Liberty Seguros, 1:50:16

69. Bingen Fernandez (Sp), Cofidis, 1:51:46

70. Eddy Mazzoleni (I), Saeco, 1:51:50

71. Kevin De Weert (B), Rabobank, 1:53:01

72. Aitor Perez (Sp), Cafes Baque, 1:58:57

73. Antonio Cruz (USA), U.S. Postal Service, 1:59:24

74. David Herrero (Sp), Paternina – Costa De Almeria, 2:00:10

75. Roberto Sgambelluri (I), Vini Caldirola, 2:00:35

76. Klaus MÖller (Dk), Alessio-Bianchi, 2:01:41

77. Guido Trentin (I), Cofidis, 2:05:19

78. Rafael Casero (Sp), Saunier Duval, 2:06:32

79. Vladimir Miholjevic (CRO), Alessio-Bianchi, 2:08:23

80. Alessandro Cortinovis (I), Lampre, 2:12:41

81. Peter Luttenberger (A), CSC, 2:16:07

82. Ruslan Ivanov (MDA), Alessio-Bianchi, 2:16:55

83. Iñaki Isasi (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 2:22:48

84. Juan Fuentes (Sp), Saeco, 2:23:08

85. Marius Sabaliauskas (Lit), Saeco, 2:23:23

86. Pedro Horrillo (Sp), Quick Step-Davitamon, 2:23:42

87. Alberto Lopez De Munain (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 2:24:10

88. Xavier Florencio (Sp), Relax Bodysol, 2:24:31

89. Mikel Pradera (Sp), Illes Balears-Banesto, 2:25:39

90. Bert Grabsch (G), Phonak, 2:35:02

91. Maarten Den Bakker (Nl), Rabobank, 2:37:32

92. José Garrido (Sp), Quick Step-Davitamon, 2:42:42

93. Joost Posthuma (Nl), Rabobank, 2:43:15

94. Antonio Colom (Sp), Illes Balears-Banesto, 2:45:45

95. Jan Hruska (Cz), Liberty Seguros, 2:46:23

96. José Julia (Sp), Kelme – Costa Blanca, 2:46:27

97. Igor Glez. Galdeano (Sp), Liberty Seguros, 2:48:02

98. Mauro Gerosa (I), Vini Caldirola, 2:49:53

99. Volodymir Gustov (Ukr), Fassa Bortolo, 2:50:22

100. Vladimir Gusev (Rus), CSC, 2:51:05

101. Manuel Quinziato (I), Lampre, 2:52:05

102. José Garcia Acosta (Sp), Illes Balears-Banesto, 2:55:37

103. Kevin Hulsmans (B), Quick Step-Davitamon, 2:57:08

104. Francisco Cabello (Sp), Kelme – Costa Blanca, 2:58:05

105. Mikel Artetxe (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 2:59:52

106. Dario Andriotto (I), Vini Caldirola, 3:02:02

107. Marco Milesi (I), Vini Caldirola, 3:04:07

108. Rene Andrle (Cz), Liberty Seguros, 3:09:49

109. Julián Sanchez (Sp), Fassa Bortolo, 3:13:25

110. Heberth Gutierrez (Col), Cafes Baque, 3:15:36

111. Daniele Righi (I), Lampre, 3:20:17

112. Frank Hoj (Dk), CSC, 3:22:12

113. Guido Trenti (USA), Fassa Bortolo, 3:25:24

114. Mariano Piccoli (I), Lampre, 3:26:56

115. Alessandro Spezialetti (I), Saeco, 3:26:58

116. Marco Velo (I), Fassa Bortolo, 3:27:07

117. Paolo Fornaciari (I), Saeco, 3:39:31

118. Aitor Silloniz (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 3:45:04

119. Matthew White (Aus), Cofidis, 3:48:35