Good morning. Welcome to VeloNews.com’s live coverage of the 166.1km 11th stage of the 2002 Vuelta a España.
After yesterday’s transfer, the Vuelta is moving to the Madrid mountain range. This stage will offer a lot of character. Halfway through today’s stage, the peloton passes through the city of Madrid is one of the cities halfway through the race and the followers will be able to see the riders full of energy and enthusiasm along these mountains.
This could be a complicated stage as the first kilometers will cover the road that crosses the Manzanares nature reserve and therefore Hoyo de Manzanares, first key point in this stage. We then hit the climbs of El Escorial, Alto de los Leones and the Category 1 clilms that highlight the stage: the Alto de los Leones and the final haul up Navacerrada.
The experience tells us that getting to Navacerrada in advance, could almost guarantee a win. Collado Villalba has been a starting point of Vuelta a España several times (1988, 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1992), but these streets have welcomed the race as well. In 1996, Sean Kelly was the winner and the following year the victory was achieved by the Colombian rider, Pacho Rodriguez.
3:30 p.m. — The big news of the day is that Telekom’s AlexandreVinokourov — once challenging for the overall win of the Vuelta — did notstart today’s 11th stage in Alcobendas, still suffering from the fever thatlay behind his poor performance in Monday’s time trial.
3:36 p.m. — We are now 105km into today’s stage. One rider MiguelAngel Martin Perdiguero (Acqua e Sapone) hasa one-minute lead over four chasers and the fragments of a breakaway that crested the Cat. 1 climb. That chase group includes three top riders from Euskaltel. The peloton is chasing hard, driven by ONCE, Kelme and Postal.
3:44 p.m. — Perdiguero has a small advantage over the chasers andthe remnants of the peloton. Because of strong crosswinds, the main fieldhas really fractured into echelons. Nonetheless, Perdiguero’s advantage isshrinking.
3:48 p.m. — The gap is now less than 20 seconds over the chasersand another minute on the field. It looks like there will be a significant– and very elite — group hitting the slopes of the Navacerrada.
3:54 p.m. — Perdiguero has been reeled in and the peloton is nowmoving up on the leaders. We have 49kim remaining.
3:57 p.m. –– The course has turned, shifting the crosswinds into a headwind. ONCE is now driving the pace at the front of the peloton. The gap is disappearing.
The lead group has broken apart. One of the men, Danilo Di Luca (Saeco), has now tried to venture out on his own.
4:07 p.m. — The peloton has reeled in all but three members of thebreakaway. Di Luca continues on the attack with Mikel Artetxe (Sp), Euskaltel and Antonio Flecha (Sp), iBanesto.co . Now from the peloton, a group including Igor Gonzales de Galdeano (ONCE) has jumped from the front.
4:15 p.m. — DiLuca, Artetxe and Flecha are about 35 seconds aheadof a shrunken chase group as the the race enters the lower slopes of theNavacerrada. The peloton is closing in on the chase group.
4:19 p.m. — DiLuca and Flecha have left Artetxe behind. DiLuca issetting a strong pace. The peloton has caught up to the chase group and isclosing in on Artetxe. His teammate Iker Flores has now jumped off the main field.
4:21 p.m. – DiLuca is now off on his own and is continuing up the climbat a strong pace.
4:23 p.m. — Flores has now closed in on Flecha. DiLuca is about 30seconds ahead.
4:27 p.m. — U.S. Postal’s Rubiera has moved to the front of the field, with Heras on his wheel. The Kelme team is reacting. The acceleration has broken the field apart. Iban Mayo (Euskaltel) and Gilberto Simoni have countered.
4:29 p.m. — Now with Heras driving the pace, Mayo and Simono have beenbrought back in…. but he is now the only Postie up front. Rubiera has disappeared off the back of the group. DiLuca is just 24 seconds ahead.
4:34 p.m. — The “peloton” — actually an elite cadre of 13 riders — is closing in on DiLuca. An attacking Mayo has caught and passed DiLuca.
Behind them, Gilberto Simoni has jumped off the group. Heras follows. NowSevilla is forced to the front to protect his hold on the overall lead. Weare now over the top of the climb and have less than 25km to go.
4:39 p.m. — The lead group has re-formed on the descent and Sevillais up there holding on to his lead. Among those up front are Heras, Sevilla,DiLuca, Gonzales (Kelme), Simoni, Galdeano…
4:41 p.m. — With 18km remaining, most of it downhill, DiLuca is tryingto move out of the group, pulling out all the stops on the descent, whichis characterized by wide roads and sweeping turns.
4:45 p.m. — We are now 15km from the finish. The group has re-formedas the grade has eased off. The lead group is now composed of about 20 riders.The pace is high as riders are trying to escape from the group.
4:53 p.m. — We are now six kilometers from the finish. The attacks arecontinuing, but no one is managing to hold a significant gap.
4:55 p.m. –– Three riders, Klaus Mohler, Lastras (who won stage 9)and Zebeldia, are off the front with 3.5km to go. They have just 8 secondson the field
4:58 p.m. — The three men off the front are just 3 seconds aheadwith 2km to go
5:00 p.m. — With a kilometer and a half to go, Zubeldia attacks.The Euskaltel man gets a nice gap and Kelme’s Mohler gives chase. He hasLastras on his wheel.
Zubeldia continues off on his own as he rounds the final turn. The fieldis chasing hard… but it seems the chase came too late.
Zubeldia begins to tire and Lastras catches him 50 meters from the line.Pablo Lastras of iBanesto.com gets his second stage win of the Vuelta!