Heras Wins Stage 12 of Vuelta, Leads Overall
Defending champion Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) has won Stage 12 of the Vuelta a Espana.
Defending champion Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) has won Stage 12 of the Vuelta a Espana. Heras soloed home to win the mountainous, 145-km ride from Almeria to Observatorio Astronomico de Calar Alto, in 4:19:30. Santiago Perez (Phonak) finished second at 0:34, and Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears-Banesto) took third at 0:53. Heras has taken the overall lead from Floyd Landis (U.S. Postal Service).
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The stage began with the usual escape attempts. At 39 km, 28 riders got clear at the base of the Category 1 Alto de Velefique. Francisco Jose Lara (Paternina) got away from the others and led by 4:00 after the first ascent of the Observatorio Astronomico de Calar Alto. At the base of the second and final ascent, Lara led the Liberty Seguros-paced peloton by about three and a half minutes.
Liberty Seguros set a blistering pace. With 11 km, Landis dropped back and would eventually concede 3:06. Valverde attacked, but Isidro Nozal (Liberty Seguros) took his wheel. Nozal dropped back, and Heras took the lead. The defending champion attacked. Valverde dropped back immediately, and Mancebo and Perez yielded later. Heras overtook Lara and rode alone to the finish.
In the overall, Heras leads Mancebo by 0:35 and Valverde by 0:49. Stage 13 will be a stage for the flatlanders. The flattish, 172.4-km run from El Elido to Malaga should end in a bunch sprint. Who will take it? Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo)? Erik Zabel (T-Mobile)? Stuart O?Grady (Cofidis)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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