Fabian Cancellara gets back into the lead in the Vuelta after the critical stage 6 TT.
Relive the stage 4 crash where 80% of the field went down in the wet conditions.
Hornman is my name for the superfan who runs along the peloton with a giant flag and huge antlers attached to a football helmet. He has been a busy guy at the Grand Tours running along side the peloton with his flag and holding the torch for a Lance Armstrong return which is now happening.
During the Vuelta Juan Antonio Flecha decided to interact with the fan and steal his flag. Perhaps Flecha was annoyed at John McCains perplexing stance on meeting Spanish President Zapatero. Or maybe he was getting annoyed at the guy with a giant flag running by the peloton everyday. Or maybe Flecha wanted to be a superfan for Lance Armstrong now that he is returning to the peloton. Either way it is an unusual highlight. Thanks to pezcyclingnews.com for the link.
Look out Lance, Astana has a multiple Grand Tour winner on the roster. Alberto Contador became one of five people to ever win all three Grand Tours. Contador won the Giro and Vuelta this year after missing out on defending his Tour de France title in July due to some odd reasoning by the A.S.O. Contador’s win was a sealed in the previous weekend with the fearsome stage finish at the steepest climb of the L’Angrilu. Contador blasted away most of the major contenders including a tiring Carlos Sastre who was mentally tired from a Tour de France win and a long season. The toughest competition came from Astana teammate Levi Leipheimer who lit up the penultimate stage TT with a win, and chopped down Contadors lead.
Paolo Bettini found his winning ways ahead of Phillipe Gilbert, Alejandro valverde and Oscar Friere in a tough sprint during the Vuelta’s Stage 6 into Toledo. The final kilometers included an attack by the unlucky Damiano Cunego who suffered through crashes two days ago that left him a few minutes behind in GC. Bettini’s win comes after a few unsuccessful attempts in the past few stages. His attacks were to make up for being bogged down by team tactics during the Olympic Games where he had to defend the breakaway that contained teammate and Silver medalist Davide Rebellin.
Meanwhile, Sylvain Chavanal took over the Golden Fleece of leadership with the help of time bonuses. Astana did not seem as interested in contesting the sprints to keep the lead in the GC since they have long term ambitions with Alberto Contador or even Leipheimer.
The battle of multiple stage winning Spaniards got a twist as Levi Leipheimer took over the Vuelta lead after a brilliant time trial performance in the Vuelta’s fifth stage. Alberto Contador is sitting down in fourth place, while Alejandro Valverde is in third.
A move to new Russian team Katusha next season did not get in the way of Filippo Pozzato’s teams on the Liquigas cycling team as they help propel him to the first Golden Jersey of the Vuelta. Perhaps the power of the new mustache helped get the win, but the margin as seen below was more than a hair. The Liquigas team worked well over a short 7.7km course throught he streets of Granada Spain. The city course was technical with several turns and slick spots. Teams with GC contenders such as CSC- Saxobank and Astana placed within 3 seconds of each other. That is a good start for Carlos Sastre and Alberto Contador who look to be the main protagonist for the Golden Jersey.
Team Milram is in a groove at the Vuelta. They have the big train rolling along and some of the pesky train breaking sprinters such as Oscar Friere are gone. So that just leaves new Italian Sprinting Alpha Male Daniele Bennati to contend with. His Lampre team is good, but not Milram good. That is why Alessandro Petacchi is on his second win in a row. The stage 12 gives Petacchi 19 stage victories in the Tour of Spain for his career. Impressive number, but way behind
Today’s stage finish was the perfect setup for Petacchi with a long straightaway that could allow him to reach top speeds. According to Velonews speeds reached up to 59kph and many non sprinter types joined in the action making for some interesting results. The final was still the top two sprinters left in the Vuelta in Petacchi and Bennati. Tomorrow looks like another sprint stage but Petacchi is shy about asking his team to chase down the breaks as it did today. Maybe after a few kilometers they might change their minds.
Oh, AleJet. Your afterburners have not roared in a while. Not since the ban from the Tour de France for Sabutimol has AleJet been able to show the rest of the peloton the backside of his shorts. Not until today. After being involved in a doping issue that combined with Zabel’s EPO admission sent the Milram team in a tailspin, Petacchi is racing and winning stages in Grand Tours. Early on in the Vuelta Petacchi was only a spectator with a good seat. Lampre Sprinter Daniele Bennati was coming into his own with two stage wins in the Tour and one the the early stages of the Vuelta in front of Petacchi himself.
Now it looks like Petacchi is getting back the form with a big win in a Grand Tour. This could help ease some of the pain of the doping issues faced during the summer.
Ahh, the Vuelta is sometimes the place of redemption. A cyclist having a bad year can go to the last Grand Tour and make a season positive. Denis Menchov is trying to help Rabobank forget about Micheal Rasmussen and Roberto Heras. Menchov looks like he is bulding a healthy lead in the Vuelta and could win it and savor his podium unlike a few years ago when he received the Amarillo jersey after Heras lost it due to doping.
Now, the best part of cycling is also back. Carlos Sastre is not too happy with the cozy situation between Denis Menchov and little Italian climber leonardo Piepoli. The two used to be teammates on the Banesto team. It seems like they are still wearing the same jersey by the way they worked together in the tough mountain stage. Carlos Sastre is PO’d and is speaking out.
Sastre even pulled a “Lance” type move by acting as if he was in trouble to see what Piepoli and Menchov would do.
“I played a little theater today to see if what I was thinking was true,” Sastre continued. “Piepoli straight away attacked the group. That proves that alliances are at work here.”
Piepoli, who finished seventh in the eight-up sprint won by Menchov, calmly denied he was blatantly working for Menchov.
“The comments by Sastre are overblown and came at the heat of the moment after finishing the stage,” Piepoli said. “All I did was ride my own race. I was the only rider who attacked up until 4km from the finish.”
Piepoli’s tactics could be mistaken as working for Menchov. However, look at Piepoli’s riding style and his performance at the Giro. The man wins climbing stages because he is a climber. He won the stage and the only way he could do it was to keep a high pace and keep everyone from attacking. It seems that Piepoli’s tactics meshed well with Menchov’s but that is simply fortunate for Menchov. Piepoli is always at the front going for stage wins, what else would he do?
Cycling is getting fun again, it is refreshing to talk about team tactics and polemics rather than lost sponsorships and positive dope tests.