Piepoli Wins Stage 9 of Vuelta
Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval) has won Stage 9 of the Vuelta a Espana.
Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval) has won Stage 9 of the Vuelta a Espana. Piepoli rode away from defending champion Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) in the last 400 m to win the mountainous, 162-km ride from Xativa to Alto de Aitana in 4:29:36. Heras finished second at 0:04, and Heras?s teammate Isidro Nozal took third at 0:10. Floyd Landis (U.S. Postal Service) remains the overall leader.
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From the start, the racing was aggressive. A series of attacks occurred before 14 men escaped at 50 km. Thirteen km later, three men?Felix Cardenas (Cafes Baque), Pablo Lastras (Illes Balears), and Tadej Valjavec (Phonak) dropped their companions on the Category 2 Alto de Torremanzanas. The trio forged a two-minute lead on their erstwhile companions and a five-minute lead on the peloton.
On the Torremanzanas, Joseba Beloki (Saunier Duval) slid out of the back. So did Tyler Hamilton (Phonak). Hamilton?s teammate Oscar Sevilla paced him over the climb, but just before the Category 3 Puerto Benifallim, the man from Marblehead waved Sevilla ahead. Phonak directeur sportif Alvaro Pino ordered Valjavec to drop back to help Sevilla. Hamilton would finish the stage 10:52 behind Piepoli.
David Blanco (Comunidad Valenciana) attacked and reeled in much of the original break. U.S. Postal Service led the chase. As the peloton approached the climb to the finish, Liberty Seguros joined the American squad. At the base of the climb, the bunch was 4:40 behind Cardenas and Lastras and 2:58 behind Blanco.
Liberty Seguros took over at the front. The Spanish team?s pacemaking created a slaughter. Rider after rider slid out of the back. With five km left, the chase group was down to Heras, Nozal, Landis, Piepoli, Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears), and Jorge Ferrio Luque (Paternina).
Landis and Mancebo were dropped, and Heras and Nozal accelerated. With two km left, Heras lunged into the lead, and only Piepoli could follow. Heras did all of the work, as Piepoli, who was seeking a stage win, was husbanding his energy for the home stretch. With 400 km left, the Italian made his move, and Heras had no answer.
In the overall, Landis leads teammate Manuel Beltran by 0:33 and Mancebo by 0:38. Stage 10 will provide the potential for more fireworks. The 174.8-km ride from Alcoi to Xorret de Cati will feature three Category 3 climbs, one Category 2 ascent, and one Category 1 climb before the descent to the finish. Who will prevail? Heras? Mancebo? Piepoli? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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