Good morning and welcome to VeloNews.com’s live coverage of the 14th stageof the 2002 Vuelta a España.
Today’s 190km stage from Santander to Gijón follows the spectacularrugged northern coast along the Atlantic Ocean with three point sprints andtwo, Category 3 climbs in the closing 50 km.
We can expect another sprinters’ battle, though today’s finish is a bit moretechnical than most. The finish is straight in downtown Gijón, a bustlingport city, but features three hard left turns in the closing two kilometers.
This is this year’s first stage in the Principality of Asturias. The secondedition of the Vuelta saw Gijón debut as a stage finish, with victorygoing on that occasion to Mariano Cañardo. Delio Rodriguez markedan era by winning a total of five stage finishes in the city. Last year’svictory went to German sprinter Erik Zabel.
3:30 p.m. — We have two riders –OscarLaguna – Relax, [64th on GC at 54:28] and Serguei Smetanine – Jazztel – [87that 1:18:47] — off the front of the field with an advantage of 9:33 at km130.
3:38 p.m. — Laguna and Smetanine are working well together and are heading toward the first of the day’s two Cat. 3 climbs.
3:41 p.m. — Just a note that U.S. Postal’s Steffen Kjaergaard haswithdrawn from the race. The two leaders are 48km from the finish and their advantage is down to 8:48.
3:47 p.m. — The two men off the front are 8:30 ahead of the pelotonas they begin the slopes of the climb. Of course the climb is nuthin comparedto what they will be riding tomorrow. U.S. Postal’s mechanic Geoff Brownwas already busy yesterday getting ready for tomorrow’s assault on Angliru.Brown and his team of wrenches will have a busy night ahead of them Saturdayto ready the team’s Trek bikes for the climb. Roberto Heras’ second bikealready has what the team will ride for Angliru; three front chain rings53 X 39 X 30 to go with 25 X 12 in the back.
Be sure to check in tomorrow when Jonathan Vaughters will join us for ourLive updates during this brutal stage.
3:54 p.m. — The two leaders have just crested the day’s first climbwith a lead over the field of just around 7:35. They have just 41km to go.
By the way, we’ll take advantage of Jonathan Vaughters’ presence on ourLive Update team tomorrow and open things up to questions. Go ahead and
4:00 p.m. — Our last time check — as the peloton crested the climb — gives the two leaders an advantage of 7:00.
4:08 p.m. — The two men off the front are just 32km from the finishand still 6:26 ahead of the field.
4:12 p.m. — There has been a crash involving 30 to 40 riders. Wewill try to update you. The speeds were quite high. There are a few riders being transported to the hospital, though none of the injuries appear to be life-threatening. Lampre’s Garate looks like he will have to withdraw from the race.
4:18 p.m. — Garate is a tough one. He’s back on his bike and riding,albeit slooooowly.
Ahead, the two men in the front are beginning to fight out for the stage win. They have less than 25km remaining and are on the second climb of the day.
4:21 p.m. — Jazztel’s Smetanine has 24km to go and is off on hisown, 24 seconds ahead of Laguna. He is now 4:55 ahead of the field.
4:24 p.m. — The peloton has crossed over the El Gobernador, the second Cat. 3 climb of the day, 4:59 behind Smetanine.
4:31 p.m. — Smetanine is 15km from the finish and he remains 4:28ahead of the field. Laguna is a minute behind the lone leader.
4:35 p.m. — Smetanine is now 11km from the finish. He is holdinghis lead. Behind, the survivors of the crash are trying to come back to thefield. Several riders were caught off the back by the crash. Among those chasing back on are Postal’s Victor Hugo Pena and Christian Vande Velde.
4:41 p.m. — Smetanine is now 8.5km from the finish and is 3:50 aheadof the field.
4:44 p.m. — Smetanine is 6km from the finish. He is holding enoughof a gap to ensure that this Jazztel rider is going to take the stage win.
4:48 p.m. — Smetanine is now coming up on 2km to go. He is holdingon to a 3:15 lead.
4:49 p.m. — 1km to go, and the Russian has this last 1000 metersto relish this stage win.
4:51 p.m. — He wins.
Now, let’s see if Laguna has managed to fend off the peloton.
4:54 p.m. — Laguna takes second at 1:56 and coming up will be a fieldsprint for third.
Zabel and Petacchi fight out the field sprint and while Zabel beats the manfrom Fassa, they are both beaten to the line by Alessio’s Angelo Furlan.
5:00 p.m. — The men caught out by the crash are straggling in now. Thereare quite a few big names among them, though none of the top ten on GC werecaught by the crash.
Check back soon for results, a stage report from Andrew Hood and, as always,Graham Watson’s photos.
Again, be sure to check in with us tomorrow for Live Updates on stage 15.Joining us will be Credit Agricole’s Jonathan Vaughters who knows the difficulty of the Angliru first hand. If you want to