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Thursday’s EuroFile: Manzano takes Catalunya stage, Heras holds lead; Saeco checks out Tour climbs

Jesus Maria Manzano (Kelme) won the fourth stage of the Tour of Catalunya, a 157km race from Andorra to Llivia on Thursday. Rene Hasselbacher (Gerolsteiner) crossed second, followed by Matthias Kessler (Telekom) in third. U.S. Postal’s Roberto Heras finished 13th to retain the overall lead ahead of Jose Pecharroman (Paternita-Costa Almeria) and Santiago Blanco (Colchon Relax-Fuenlabrada). Heras’s teammate George Hincapie cracked the top 10 on today’s stage, crossing in sixth. Results:1. Jesus Maria Manzano (Sp) Kelme, 4:17:552. Rene Hasselbacher (A), Gerolsteiner, at 0:123. Matthias Kessler

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By VeloNews wire services

Jesus Maria Manzano (Kelme) won the fourth stage of the Tour of Catalunya, a 157km race from Andorra to Llivia on Thursday. Rene Hasselbacher (Gerolsteiner) crossed second, followed by Matthias Kessler (Telekom) in third.

U.S. Postal’s Roberto Heras finished 13th to retain the overall lead ahead of Jose Pecharroman (Paternita-Costa Almeria) and Santiago Blanco (Colchon Relax-Fuenlabrada). Heras’s teammate George Hincapie cracked the top 10 on today’s stage, crossing in sixth.

Results:
1. Jesus Maria Manzano (Sp) Kelme, 4:17:55
2. Rene Hasselbacher (A), Gerolsteiner, at 0:12
3. Matthias Kessler (G), Telekom, same time
4. Inaki Isasi (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, s.t.
5. David de La Fuente (Sp), Vini Caldirola, s.t.
6. George Hincapie (USA), U.S> Postal, s.t.
7. Jose Luis Arrieta (Sp), iBanesto.com, s.t.
8. Xabier Zandio (Sp),iBanesto.com, s.t.
9. Unai Osa (Sp),iBanesto.com, s.t.
10. Santiago Blanco (Sp), Colchon Relax-Fuenlabrada, s.t.

Overall:
1. Heras (Sp), U.S. Postal, 14:58:38
2. Jose A. Pecharroman (Sp), Paternita-Costa Almeria, at 0:09
3. Blanco, at 1:58
4. Koldo Gil (Sp), ONCE-Eroski, at 2:10
5. Benjamin Noval (Sp) , Colchon Relax-Fuenlabrada, at 2:27
6. Ivan Basso (I), Fassa Bortolo, at 2:44
7. Guido Trentin (I), Cofidis, at 2:54
8. Rafael Casero (Sp), Paternita-Costa Almeria, at 2:55
9. Juan Antonio Flecha (Sp), iBanesto.com, at 3:15
10. Daniel Atienza (Sp), Cofidis, at 3:34.

Simoni, Saeco test-drive the Tour
Giro winner Gilberto Simoni and some of his Saeco teammates have been taking a look at a few of the crucial stages in this year’s Tour de France, according to team spokesmen.

First on the menu on Wednesday was stage seven, to Morzine, with teammates Danilo Di Luca, Fabio Sacchi and Igor Pugaci, backed up by directeur sportif Giuseppe Martinelli, mechanic Giuseppe Archetti and soigneur Massimiliano Napolitano.

Simoni rode the last 120km of the stage and then rode an extra 40km with Sacchi to complete the day’s training. They paid particular attention to the final climb, the Col de la Ramaz.

“A really tough climb, which I didn’t know and so was vital to see,” Martinelli said.

On Thursday, Simoni and his teammates rode the last 110km of the L’Alpe d’Huez stage, climbing the Telegraphe, the Galibier and L’Alpe d’Huez. Before heading back to Italy Simoni and Martinelli also studied the final part of the Col de Lautaret, which is part of the ninth stage to Gap, and rode the Izoard before a quick trip to see the last two short climbs.

“It was an excellent trip,” Simoni said. “I felt good and was pedaling well. We did the climbs and descents without worrying about the speed, the most important thing was to study the key points of the stages and memorize them.”

Simoni has no doubts about which is the hardest alpine stage: “The stage to Morzine is hard but is only a warm-up for the following day to L’Alpe d’Huez. That’s the most difficult stage of all, and it’s where I think there will be big time gaps.”