Not even the drama of the frantic finale can deny Contador the chance to roll home, three fingers brandished at the history books as he’s officially the fastest guy to record wins in the Tour, Giro and Vuelta!
I know Lance managed seven straight Tours, but Bert goes from the final podium of the Tour de France, through the Giro and onto the Vuelta’s top step in less than 14 months! Incredible stuff.
The town of San Sebastian de los Reyes waved the riders off on their final pilgrimage into Madrid. There was nary a pimple on today’s profile, with a few pan-flat circuits around the Paseo de la Castellana to round things off.
The sprinters will be looking forward to a fast finish, but Lord knows which team will be able to keep things under control. We could have a stage 10-like surprise with someone like Hinault jumping out to the win.
Silence-Lotto will be trying to set up Greg Van Avermaet for the intermediate sprints and the dash to the line – the points jersey is still up for grabs, and Contador and Valverde are hovering just behind. David Moncoutie has the mountains jersey neatly sewn up.
Down to business: Astana lead the peloton in sedate fashion, and the photographers get plenty of snaps of Bert grinning in gold, which will appear all over Europe’s newsstands tomorrow.
Sprint one in Torrejon is taken by Van Avermaet, with team-mates Kaisen and Tjallingi acting as spoilers to make sure of the points.
Into Madrid, and Liquigas slams the door on a locals-only break from Andalucia’s Manuel Ortega and Serafin Martinez of Xacobeo-Galicia.
That sets up the green machine to launch Valerio Agnoli, who nips off with Jesus Rosendo of Andalucia and Emanuele Bindi of Lampre. Cofidis obviously fancy Leonardo Duque for the finish and keep them pegged at 30 seconds.
Bit of a panic for Van Avermaet who goes surfing on the tarmac after a tumble, but his whole team wait to tow him back up to the main field.
In the scheme of things, Bindi, Agnoli and Rosendo are out there for a long time – nearly 30kms, but the work of Cofidis, CSC-Saxo Bank and Credit Agricole close things down with 6kms left.
Astana had one last day of front end duty before the sprint finale to wrap up this year’s Vuelta.
It’s going to be the expected sprint finish … for some! Contador and the other top guys get caught up in a crash which splits the field – Zaugg, Gesink, Egoi Martinez and Mosquera come in ahead on the day.
Contador comes in 15 seconds after Breschel. Leipheimer is 15” after that. Sastre is shepherded home by his guys over 30 seconds down.
Total madness with 3171kms down and 2 to go, but the rules mean nothing changes overall. They all get the same time, even Joaquin Rodriguez who finishes battered, bruised but in sixth overall.
Avoiding the mayhem, Credit Agricole and QuickStep push through for Hinault and Weylandt; Greg Van Avermaet tries hard, but ….
… it’s a win for CSC-Saxo Bank as Matti Breschel comes steaming through to take his biggest ever win. Nice work from the Dane, who adds nicely to Carlos Sastre’s podium place.
Contador rolls over unscathed, arms aloft and rides into the record books. Rumour has it that the anticipated Lance/Bert face-off might actually see them in different teams next year! There you go … Pez has tipped you all the wink, so stay tuned to find out more in the coming days!
Thanks for following the Vuelta with Pez … there’s more to come in tomorrow’s Eurotrash. Hasta luego!
La Vuelta 2008, Stage 21 San Sebastian de los Reyes-Madrid, 102km
1 Matti Breschel (Den) CSC-Saxo Bank 2hrs 44′ 39”
2 Alexandre Usov (Blr) Ag2r
3 Davide Vigano (Ita) QuickStep
4 Koldo Fernandez (Spa) Euskaltel
5 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Silence-Lotto
6 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Lampre
7 Sebastian Lang (Ger) Gerolsteiner
8 Sebastian Hinault (Fra) Credit Agricole
9 Loyd Mondory (Fra) Ag2r
10 Xavier Florencio (Spa) Bouygues Telecom All same time
La Vuelta Final Overall
1 Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana 80.40.08
2 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana 0.46
3 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank 4.12
4 Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia 5.19
5 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 6.00
6 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 6.50
7 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank 6.55
8 David Moncoutiй (Fra) Cofidis – Le Crйdit par Tйlйphone 10.10
9 Egoi Martinez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi 10.57
10 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Lampre 11.56
11 Oliver Zaugg (Swi) Gerolsteiner 12.38
12 Daniel Moreno (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 13.35
13 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Crйdit Agricole 13.41
14 David Garcia (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia 15.59
15 Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Quick Step 17.53
16 Jurgen Van Goolen (Bel) Team CSC – Saxo Bank 20.14
17 David Arroyo (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 21.33
18 John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 22.34
19 Sandy Casar (Fra) Franзaise des Jeux 24.57
20 Andreas Klцden (Ger) Astana 25.13
1 David Moncoutiй (Fra) Cofidis 149 pts
2 Christophe Kern (Fra) Crйdit Agricole 106 pts
3 Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana 99 pts
1 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Silence-Lotto 158 pts
2 Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana 137 pts
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’ Epargne 129 pts
1 Caisse d’ Epargne
3 CSC-Saxo Bank
1 Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana 6 pts
2 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana 11 pts
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’ Epargne 16 pts