Stage 13 – September 14: Hellнn – Torre-Pacheco, 176.4km
In the beginning, it was flat. And flat was good. And in the beginning, three brave souls said “we do not like you, peloton, and we choose to leave your confines to seek out our own fortunes ahead.” These three combatants were Jeremy Roy (FdJ), Tom Stamsnijder (Gerolsteiner) and Andreas Klier (T-Mobile). They made their decree a mere 20km into the race, and quickly jetted out to almost a ten minute lead.
Mush I say, MUSH!
Behind, the group slogged through an increasing heavy rain, plodding an even tempo with a few notes to mention: Petacchi flatted and his whole team went to get him. A few minor crashes here and there peppered the field and il dottore’s car had a fairly busy day. The rain had caused a minor split in the peloton by km 85.
Aw yeah, there’s a slight chance of showers today…
With just 40km to go, a mass pile up occurred, a combination of rain, speed, hail, and 100 dudes on bikes. Recipe for disaster everytime! It seemed as though nearly everyone went down, and as the regrouping was afoot, riders were grimacing or showing each other their battle wounds.
Your choice: flat, or…
With 25km to go, fresh bandages applied to everyone, the teams in the peloton passed around the work of catching up the break, and started to chip away at the trio’s time advantage. Caisse D’Epargne did the hard yards for a bit and caused a minor split, but all the favorites for GC had made it in to the group of just over 20 that was now working to cut the deficit to those hearty souls up front. Ahead in the break, there were no crashes, no nothing, really, just three guys killing themselves taking turns trying to make their efforts pay off.
Somewhere up front, as the finish line loomed, your Stamsnijder flatted, and, after having it switched, raced to catch back up to Klier and Roy. Upon rejoining, Stamsnidjer gave a go and broke hard, but Klier closed up the gap immediately and took off on his own. Stamsnidjer, after looking at Roy, made the junction up to the German, and this caused the FdJ rider to suffer a bit and disappear. The estimable young Jeremy Roy had departed. Roadside bar? Comely lass? “Screw you guys, I’m going home?” The cameras seemed to miss that bit, and for the finale, we had just the Francais des Jeux rider and the T-Mobile rider duking it out. German teams to the podium, please, regardless of your continuing sponsorship in 08, thank you.
At around 400m to go, young Stamsnidjer jumped like a scalded hoola-hoop from what appeared to be an inability to contain his enthusiasm for a stage win. But alas, 400 meteres is a long, looong way to pedal one’s guts out, and the road-wisened Klier calmly dug in and closed the gap, using the youngsters’ wheel for a quick moment before blasting by for his own glory. A well-played finale Andreas! Roy crossing the line half a minute later.
Another cool day in Gold for Denis.
Behind, the group had whittled the lead down to inside five minutes, and fastman Danielle Benatti took the bunch sprint for fourth, with big Maggy Backstedt right in the thick of it again.
News From Saunier Duval-Prodir
• Piepoliґs wife leaves Intensive Care Unit
Good news from Monaco: Sonia, Leonardo Piepoliґs wife, has left the Intensive Care Unit where she had been hospitalised after giving birth to her first child with Leo, Yannis. Her ill health had forced our rider to pull out of the Vuelta, but fortunately sheґs getting better and Piepoli feels relieved. Heґs now staying with his son, whom he met this morning.
• Rubйn Lobato: ”Today there were so many crashes. The rain made the road slippery. In a bend we touched the brake and I went down with De la Fuente. Fortunately, it was only the fall itself, as nothing serious happened to us. We all escaped the mass crash occurring later on. It was impressive. Theyґd said it would be a transition stage, but itґs been one of the toughest days. It was so rainy that we couldnґt see with our glasses and all, we couldnґt eat either. We tried to be part of the breakaway, but it was impossible. With Piepoli out, this is as good as it gets: seeking to escape, working for Marchanteґs victory in Abantos, as heґs bound to be in the lead. Personally, Iґm trying to help the team; Iґll try to break away in Monachil, which is a stage that can suit me. We havenґt been brilliant in this Vuelta, but it hasnґt been awful either: one stage win, four or five days on the podium, and
1 Andreas Klier (Ger) T-Mobile 4.01.52 (43.8 km/h)
2 Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Gerolsteiner 0.01
3 Jйrйmy Roy (Fra) Franзaise Des Jeux 0.24
4 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Lampre-Fondital 4.03
5 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Milram
6 Angelo Furlan (Ita) Crйdit Agricole
7 Roy Sentjens (Bel) Predictor-Lotto
8 Magnus Backstedt (Swe) Liquigas
9 Alexandre Usov (Blr) Ag2r Prйvoyance
10 Erik Zabel (Ger) Milram
General classification after stage 13
1 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank
2 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) Caisse d’Epargne
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor-Lotto
4 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC
5 Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Karpin-Galicia
6 Samuel Sбnchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
7 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d’Epargne
8 Manuel Beltrбn (Spa) Liquigas
9 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Discovery Channel
10 Carlos Barredo (Spa) Quick.Step – Innergetic