Road

Three weeks to Madrid; Vuelta kicks off Saturday

The last major stage-race of the 2002 season kicks off Saturday in typicalSpanish fashion with fiesta, paella, pretty podium girls and bicycles alllined up and ready to go. Final destination: Madrid.The 57th Vuelta a España promises to be one of the most hotlycontested races of the year, perhaps topping the 2002 Giro d’Italia inthe nail-biter category. A bevy of stars come loaded to the 21-stage, 3128-kmSpanish tour looking for redemption, salvation, confirmation or simplyresults to snag a contract for next year.Only three Americans are scheduled to start – four if you count GuidoTrenti of

By Andrew Hood

The last major stage-race of the 2002 season kicks off Saturday in typicalSpanish fashion with fiesta, paella, pretty podium girls and bicycles alllined up and ready to go. Final destination: Madrid.The 57th Vuelta a España promises to be one of the most hotlycontested races of the year, perhaps topping the 2002 Giro d’Italia inthe nail-biter category. A bevy of stars come loaded to the 21-stage, 3128-kmSpanish tour looking for redemption, salvation, confirmation or simplyresults to snag a contract for next year.Only three Americans are scheduled to start – four if you count GuidoTrenti of Acqua & Sapone – but the Vuelta could come down to a shoot-outbetween the Italian and Spanish riders. Watch for a duel between ONCE’sJoseba Beloki, defending champion Angel Casero, U.S. Postal Service’s RobertoHeras and Kelme’s Oscar Sevilla vs. Saeco’s Gilberto Simoni and Fassa Bortolo’sFrancesco Casagrande.Taking outsider status are Juan Miguel Garate and Pavel Tonkov, bothof Lampre, Juan Miguel Mercado and Franesco Mancebo, both of iBanesto.com,Cofidis’ David Millar, 2002 Giro winner Paolo Savoldelli and Kelme’s SantiagoBotero.With three time trials and four summit finishes, this Vuelta will bewon or lost in the mountains. The infamous climb to the Angliru summitin northern Spain on stage 15 could be the clincher. If the race remainstight, organizers have concluded the Vuelta once again with a final-daytime trial that could decide everything.The Vuelta continues to push the boundaries, at least when it comesto convention. It nixed a plan to have a tournament-type playoff featuring36 teams in the first week. Instead, it invited 23 teams, meaning the pelotonwill be chock-full with 207 riders in the opening week.“Choosing 23 teams makes a lot of sponsors happy, but I believe thata peloton with more than 170 riders invites a lot of risk,” said iBanesto.com’ssport director Eusebio Unzue. “It just amplifies the dangers and crashes.During the first week, the racers will be very nervous and very stressed.”>> Cipo amping for worlds
Mario Cipollini isn’t done yet. The irrepressible Italian capo willstart the Vuelta on Saturday, his first race back since the end of theGiro d’Italia and his surprise announcement in July he was retiring. Thecycling world has been 97 days without the Lion King. It has to wait nolonger.“The tifosi really showed me their love and a man is free to make adecision and free to change his mind,” Cipollini said during a press conferenceFriday. “I don’t want to talk about the past. What happened is over. Iam here and I am here to prepare for the world championships, my passionfor the rest of the year.”Cipollini dodged questions on whether or not he would race next year.Instead, he talked about the world championships in October.“I will not race the entire Vuelta. I am here to build my maximum forthe world championships,” Cipo said, adding he will race at the Giro dellaProvincia di Lucca (Oct. 1-4) and Paris-Tours on Oct. 6 leading into theworlds.“I am not worried that I have not raced in a long time. I’ve gone morethan 40 days without racing and come back to won. I will test my form hereat the Vuelta,” said Cipollini, alluding to a showdown against nemesisErik Zabel. “I’ve been training well. I have a good base. I feel confidentI will arrive at the worlds in top form.”With Cipollini in the fold, the Vuelta will have a better sprintingfield than at the Tour, which snubbed Cipo’s Acqua & Sapone team. Othertop sprinters in the mix will be world No. 1 Zabel, Fassa Bortolo’s AlessandroPetacchi, Domo’s Jeroen Blijlevens, Index-Alexia Ivan Quaranta and worldchampion Oscar Freire.Posties ready to deliver
Last year, the U.S. Postal Service came home with a surprise third-placefinish in Levi Leipheimer, who became the first-ever American to finishon the Vuelta podium. The planned repeat by 2000 Vuelta champion RobertoHeras was derailed when the Spaniard spent much of last August recoveringfrom his crash in the 2001 Tour de France. Leipheimer, meanwhile, rodesteady and overtook Heras to move into third on the Vuelta’s final-daytime trial in Madrid.Leipheimer left Postal last year to join Rabobank, where he finishedan impressive eighth-place overall in his Tour debut this year. This year,Heras enjoyed a strong Tour and looks to have the form to make a run forfinal victory.“I was sick at the end of the Tour, but I am OK now. I am not the favorite,but one of many. There is not a clear favorite like Armstrong,” Heras said.“The turning point of this Vuelta will be Angliru, perhaps the time trialin Cordoba.”Joining Heras will be Jose Luis Rubiera and Victor Hugo Pena, both freshoff helping Lance Armstrong win his fourth consecutive Tour de France.Sport director Johan Bruyneel said both Heras and Rubiera will have freedomto ride.“Both will have the chance to act, the rest depends on how things developin the stages,” Bruyneel said. “The Vuelta will be decided in the mountains.”Christian Vande Velde, Matthew White, Steffen Kjaergaard, Tony Cruz,David Zabriskie and Michael Barry round out the solid Postal formation.If the Posties can get Heras or Rubiera on top to Madrid, it would bea rare double win in grand tours by the same team with two different riders,something that hasn’t happened since the glory days in the early 1980swith the French teams.Team time trial opens 57th Vuelta
There’s no opening prologue to start the Vuelta, instead, a team timetrial. Entire teams race against the clock and the time is taken off thefifth man across the tape. Riders beyond the fifth man get their respectivetime.The 24.6-km course is dead flat, straight out and back with no technicalchallenges. The only curve-ball could be winds, which can blow hard offSpain’s Mediterranean Coast.ONCE won big in the team time trial at the Tour and goes in as the heavyfavorite to put one of their riders into the first maillot amarillo. Therelatively short distance will only help the other teams limit their lossesagainst ONCE’s big motor.Here’s the start order:
1. Relax-Fuenlabrada; 15:18
2. Jazztel-Costa Almeria, 15:22
3. Big Mag-Auber 93, 15:26
4. Milaneza-MSS, 15:30
5. Euskaltel-Euskadi, 15:34
6. Index-Alexia, 15:38
7. AG2R Prevoyance, 15:42
8. Saeco-Longoni Sport, 15:46
9. Phonak, 15:50
10. Tacconi Sport, 15:54
11. Acqua & Sapone, 15:58
12. Alessio, 16:02
13. Domo-Farm Frites, 16:06
14. Kelme-Costa Blanca, 16:10
15. Lampre-Daikin, 16:14
16. Telekom, 16:18
17. Cofidis, 16:22
18. U.S. Postal Service, 16:26
19. ONCE-Eroski, 16:30
20. Fassa Bortolo, 16:34
21. Mapei-Quick Step, 16:38
22. iBanesto.com, 16:42
23. Coast, 16:462002 Vuelta start listTEAM COAST
1. CASERO MORENO Angel Luis (Sp)
2. BECKE Daniel (G)
3. BELTRAN MARTINEZ Manuel (Sp)
4. ESCARTIN COTI Fernando (Sp)
5. GARMENDIA ARBILLA Aitor (Sp)
6. GUIDI Fabrizio (I)
7. HERNANDEZ BERTRAN Jaime Javier (Sp)
8. PEREZ RODRIGUEZ Luis (Sp)
9. PLAZA ROMERO David (Sp)ACQUA&SAPONE – CANTINA TOLLO
11. GONZALEZ CAPILLA Santos (Sp)
12. BENNATI Daniele (I)
13. CIPOLLINI Mario (I)
14. DERGANC Martin (Slo)
15. LOBATO ELVIRA Ruben (Sp)
16. LOMBARDI Giovanni (I)
17. MARTIN PERDIGUERO Miguel Angel (Sp)
18. SCIREA Mario (I)
19. TRENTI Guido (I)Ag2R PREVOYANCE
21. ASTARLOZA Mikel (Sp)
22. AUS Lauri EST
23. BERGES Stéphane (F)
24. BOTCHAROV Alexandre (Rus)
25. CHAURREAU BERNARDEZ Inigo (Sp)
26. INAUDI Nicolas (F)
27. LODER Thierry (F)
28. ORIOL Christophe (F)
29. PORTAL Nicolas (F)ALESSIO
31. CAUCCHIOLI Pietro (I)
32. BROGNARA Andrea (I)
33. FERRARA Raffaele (I)
34. FURLAN Angelo (I)
35. MIHOLJEVIC Vladimir CRO
36.
37. PIERI Dario (I)
38. VINALE Alberto (I)
39. ZANETTI Mauro (I)BIGMAT Auber 93
41. GARCIA CASAS Felix M. (Sp)
42. AUGER Guillaume (F)
43. HEULOT Stéphane (F)
44. HUNT Jeremy (GB)
45. JAN Xavier (F)
46. KINTANA ZARATE Aitor (Sp)
47. SAUGRAIN Cyril (F)
48. SIVAKOV Alexei (Rus)
49. TALABARDON Sébastien (F)COFIDIS, le credit par telephone
51. MILLAR David (GB)
52. ATIENZA URENDEZ Daniel (Sp)
53. CUESTA LOPEZ DE CASTRO Iñigo (Sp)
54. CLAIN Médéric (F)
55. FERNANDEZ BUSTINZA Bingen (Sp)
56. LELLI Massimiliano (I)
57. SASSONE Robert (F)
58. FOFONOV Dmitriy (Kaz)
59. TRENTIN Guido (I)DOMO – FARM FRITES
61. BLIJLEVENS Jeroen (Nl)
62. BRUYLANDTS Dave (B)
63. DE WOLF Steve (B)
64. HOSTE Leif (B)
65. KASHECHKIN Andrey (Kaz)
66. KLEYNEN Steven (B)
67. MOERENHOUT Koos (Nl)
68. TANKINK Bram (Nl)
69. VAN GOOLEN Jurgen (B)EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI
71. ARTETXE GEZURAGA Mikel (Sp)
72. ETXEBARRIA ALKORTA David (Sp)
73. FLORES GALARZA Iker (Sp)
74. GERRIKAGOITIA ARRIEN Gorka (Sp)
75. LAISEKA JAIO Roberto (Sp)
76. LOPEZ DE MUNAIN RUIZ DE GAUNA Alberto (Sp)
77. MARTINEZ TRINIDAD José Alberto (Sp)
78. MAYO DIEZ Iban (Sp)
79. ZUBELDIA AGIRRE Haimar (Sp)FASSA BORTOLO
81. CASAGRANDE Francesco (I)
82. BALDATO Fabio (I)
83. LODA Nicola (I)
84. PETACCHI Alessandro (I)
85. STANGELJ Gorazd (Slo)
86. TIRALONGO Paolo (I)
87. VALJAVEC Tadej (Slo)
88. VELO Marco (I)
89. ZANETTE Denis (I)ibanesto.com
91. MERCADO MARTIN Juan Miguel (Sp)
92. BLANCO GIL Santiago (Sp)
93. FLECHA GIANNONI Juan Antonio (Sp)
94. GARCIA ACOSTA José Vicente (Sp)
95. GUTIERREZ PALACIOS José Ivan (Sp)
96. LASTRAS GARCIA Pablo (Sp)
97. MANCEBO PEREZ Francisco (Sp)
98. ODRIOZOLA MUGARZA Jon (Sp)
99. OSA EIZAGUIRRE Aitor (Sp)INDEX – ALEXIA
101. SAVOLDELLI Paolo (I)
102. ANDRIOTTO Dario (I)
103. DI GRANDE Giuseppe (I)
104. GUERRA Alessandro (I)
105. MAGNANI Marco (I)
106. GALLI Daniele (I)
107. QUARANTA Ivan (I)
108. SERINA Corrado (I)
109. REISS Andris LATJAZZTEL – COSTA DE ALMERIA
111. CASERO MORENO Rafael (Sp)
112. GADEO FERNANDEZ Dario (Sp)
113. FERRIO LUQUE Jorge (Sp)
114. GARRIDO José Antonio (Sp)
115. GUILLAMON RUIZ Juan Carlos (Sp)
116. SMETANINE Serguei (Rus)
117. PECHARROMAN FABIAN José Antonio (Sp)
118. TORRENT TARRES Carlos (Sp)
119. VALDEZ PRIETO Ricardo (Sp)KELME – COSTA BLANCA
121. SEVILLA RIBERA Oscar (Sp)
122. BOTERO ECHEVERRY Santiago COL
123. DE LOS ANGELES SEGUI Juan José (Sp)
124. GARCIA QUESADA Carlos (Sp)
125. GONZALEZ JIMENEZ Aitor (Sp)
126. GUTIERREZ CATALUNA José Enrique (Sp)
127. MANZANO RUANO Jesus Maria (Sp)
128. TAULER Antonio (Sp)
129. VALVERDE BELMONTE Alejandro (Sp)LAMPRE – DAIKIN
131. GARATE Juan Manuel (Sp)
132. BERTOLETTI Simone (I)
133.
134. KADLEC Milan (Cz)
135. VERSTREPEN Johan (B)
136. PICCOLI Mariano (I)
137. SPRUCH Zbigniew (Pol)
138. SVORADA Jan (Cz)
139. TONKOV Pavel (Rus)MAPEI – QUICK STEP
141. FREIRE GOMEZ Oscar (Sp)
142. AGGIANO Elio (I)
143. BRAMATI Davide (I)
144. CANADA GRACIA David (Sp)
145. CIONI Dario David (I)
146. HORRILLO MUNOZ Pedro (Sp)
147. NOE’ Andrea (I)
148. RATTI Eddy (I)
149. WEGELIUS Charles (GB)MILANEZA – MSS
151. MOLLER Claus Michael (Dk)
152. EDO ALSINA Angel (Sp)
153. FERNANDEZ Victoriano (Sp)
154. HORRACH RIPPOLL Joan (Sp)
155. JEKER Fabian (Swi)
156. LAVARINHAS Rui (P)
157. MAURI PRAT Melchior (Sp)
158. SILVA Joao (P)
159. SOUSA BARBOSA Rui Miguel (P)ONCE – EROSKI
161. BELOKI DORRONSORO Joseba (Sp)
162. GONZALEZ DE GALDEANO ARANZABAL Igor (Sp)
163. AZEVEDO José (P)
164. DIAZ JUSTO Rafael (Sp)
165. HRUSKA Jan (Cz)
166. JAKSCHE Jörg (G)
167. PRADERA RODRIGUEZ Mikel (Sp)
168. SERRANO RODRIGUEZ Marcos Antonio (Sp)
169. ZARRABEITIA URANGA Mikel (Sp)PHONAK HEARING SYSTEMS
171. CAMENZIND Oscar (Swi)
172. BAYARRI ESTEVE Gonzalo (Sp)
173. BERGMANN Reto (Swi)
174. DOMINGUEZ DOMINGUEZ Juan Carlos (Sp)
175. GRABSCH Bert (G)
176. PEREIRO SIO Oscar (Sp)
177. SALMON Benoît (F)
178. SCHNIDER Daniel (Swi)
179. TEUTENBERG Sven (G)RELAX – FUENLABRADA
181. BURGOS ROJO Nacor (Sp)
182. COLOM MAS Antonio (Sp)
183. GARRIDO MAYORGA Martin (Arg)
184. LAGUNA GARCIA Oscar (Sp)
185. MAESTRE RODRIGUEZ Jose Manuel (Sp)
186. NIETO FERNANDEZ German (Sp)
187. NOVAL GONZALEZ Benjamin (Sp)
188. REBOLLO AGUADO José Luis (Sp)
189. VAZQUEZ PALOMO José Manuel (Sp)SAECO MACCHINE PER CAFFÉ-LONGONI SPORT
191. SIMONI Gilberto (I)
192. ASTARLOA Igor (Sp)
193. BERTAGNOLI Leonardo (I)
194. DI LUCA Danilo (I)
195. FUENTES ANGULLO Juan (Sp)
196. GALLETTI Alessio (I)
197. GLOMSER Gerrit (A)
198. SACCHI Fabio (I)
199. SPEZIALETTI Alessandro (I)TACCONI SPORT
201. LUTTENBERGER Peter (A)
202. BALDUCCI Gabriele (I)
203. BOSSONI Paolo (I)
204. CALCAGNI Patrick (Swi)
205. FERRARI Diego (I)
206. HAUPTMAN Andrej (Slo)
207. KLEMENCIC Zoran (Slo)
208. SZMYD Sylvester (Pol)
209. ZUCCONI Pietro (Swi)TEAM TELEKOM
211. ZABEL Erik (G)
212. ALDAG Rolf (G)
213. BARTKO Robert (G)
214. KESSLER Matthias (G)
215. KLIER Andreas (G)
216. KLÖDEN Andreas (G)
217. SCHAFFRATH Jan (G)
218. VINOKOUROV Alexandre (Kaz)
219. YAKOVLEV Serguei (Kaz)U.S. POSTAL SERVICE
221. HERAS HERNANDEZ Roberto (Sp)
222. RUBIERA VIGIL José Luis (Sp)
223. BARRY Michael (Can)
224. ZABRISKIE David (USA)
225. CRUZ Antonio (USA)
226. KJAERGAARD Steffen (N)
227. PENA GRISALES Victor Hugo COL
228. VANDEVELDE Christian (USA)
229. WHITE Matthew (Aus)