Billed as the final day for anyone who mattered to make a move, the mountainous 135 route softened the riders up with 5 categorized climbs before delivering the day’s final brute – 15km to the summit of Alto de Abantos – with slopes of 17-20% on the lower parts.
Sammy Sanchez capitalized off of an impressive team effort by Euskaltel today to take his second stage victory of this year’s Vuelta. The effort springboarded him further up GC and oh so close to a coveted podium spot.
Yeah, it was a toughie today. That last of the hard day’s of this year’s Vuelta.
Fitting of the final big day of the 2007 GC races, the leaders arrived en mass at the bottom of the climb, not far behind the day’s early break, which was summarily chewed and spat like olive pits at a tapas bar some 3km before the top.
Leaving from Avila, all of the GC boys knew this was their final mountain chance…
Rabobank was once again at the head of affairs.
It was Sanchez himself who punched the first cow, setting off from the main group with purpose, with Menchov and Sastre giving spirited chase. The speed proved too much for 2nd place man Cadel Evans, who rode within himself to limit losses, but eventually conceded his gc spot to Sastre.
Daniel Moreno was brilliant today – netting second.
Denis Menchov gets a hand shake from Tour de France winner, Alberto Contador.
Up front it came down to Sanchez, Relax’s Daniel Moreno, Menchov and Sastre motoring to the summit together. Sanchez’s handy sprint served him well, beating Moreno and the rest to the line. He was of course thrilled to win such a tough stage of his home tour, and move up to 4th on gc, only 9 seconds back of Cadel.
Sammy Sanchez was a happy stage winner – that’s two stages and he’s suddenly very much in the hunt for a podium spot.
With only tomorrow’s flat 20km TT left to offer the slightest hope of gc changes, it’s unlikely we’ll see any. And barring catastrophe, Denis Menchov will ride into Madrid on Sunday as the rightful winner of his very own Vuelta – not a badway to finish the yer and show the world you weren’t just kidding with that second (/first) place from two years ago.
Stage 19 Results
1. Samuel Sбnchez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 3:37:01
2. Daniel Moreno (Sp), Relax GAM, Same Time
3. Denis Menchov (Rus), Rabobank, 0:03
4. Carlos Sastre (Sp), CSC, 0:03
5. Igor Antуn (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 0:14
6. Sylvester Szmyd (Pol), Lampre, 0:29
7. Stйphane Goubert (F), Ag2r Prevoyance, 0:41
8. Manuel Beltrбn (Sp), Liquigas, 0:49
9. Ezequiel Mosquera (Sp), Karpin Galicia, 0:51
10. David Lуpez (Sp), Caisse d’Epargne, 0:59
11. Maxime Monfort (B), Cofidis, 1:20
12. Oliver Zaugg (Swi), Gerolsteiner, 1:20
13. Vladimir Efimkin (Rus), Caisse d’Epargne, 1:23
14. Carlos Barredo (Sp), Quick Step-Innergetic, 1:23
15. Cadel Evans (Aus), Predictor-Lotto, 1:25
GC With Only Really The 20k Flat TT Remaining
1. Denis Menchov (Rus), Rabobank, 77:59:17
2. Carlos Sastre (Sp), CSC, 3:02
3. Cadel Evans (Aus), Predictor-Lotto, 3:49
4. Samuel Sбnchez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 3:58
5. Ezequiel Mosquera (Sp), Karpin Galicia, 5:23
6. Vladimir Efimkin (Rus), Caisse d’Epargne, 5:47
7. Vladimir Karpets (Rus), Caisse d’Epargne, 7:55
8. Igor Antуn (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 7:58
9. Manuel Beltrбn (Sp), Liquigas, 8:27
10. Carlos Barredo (Sp), Quick Step-Innergetic, 10:08