By Graham Jones
and Barry Boyce

CyclingRevealed Historian


Images © Unipublic


Also read:

La Vuelta: A Colorful & Caliente History

Vuelta a Espana Champions Living and Dead

Vuelta Travelogue - Quintessential Spain

Stage 13, September 9th, Burgos to Santuario de la Bien Aparecida (Ampuero), 193 km

Picos de Europa

From Burgos we experience another very different Spain as the race heads north into the Cantabria region. In this area the limestone massif rises close to the Atlantic coast with harsh and exposed peaks with deep and calm valleys. The finest parts of the range are protected by the Picos de Europa National Park. For tourists and cyclists the weather can be a challenge. Half the year it either snows or rains; mist can linger for weeks.

Stage 13 enters the region through flat Cantabrian valleys then halfway takes in the Category 1 climb Puerto de la Sia before a very challenging stage finish.

The big question at the start today concerned Roberto Heras. How would 15 stitches in his left knee affect his effort? Liberty Seguros' Vuelta hopes hung in the balance.

Roberto Heras' bandaged left knee ( Image © Unipublic )

The race rolled out of Burgos through a 6.5 km neutral zone. The first attack came at 2 km but an attentive peloton refused to allow an escape. An average speed of 80 km/h slowed after a large crash took down contender Francesco Mancebo. The most seriously injured was Davitamon-Lotto's Tom Steel, who abandoned the race and was taken to the hospital.

Large crash at 22 km, an uncontious Tom Steel- (seated left) abandoned ( Image © Unipublic )

Shortly after the crash a 32 rider group broke away and opened a 1'50” lead at the 90 km mark on the stage. A broken down lorry on the Alto de la Sia caused race officials to alter the stage route. The race now headed for the Puerto de los Tornos (a category 2 climb) before returning to the original route in Arredondo. The detour meant that the stage was shortened by 3 km.

After 101 km of racing (92 km to go) the breakaway was shattered with only 3 riders remained at the head of the race. Steadily the 3 riders extended their gap to 2'30”. A very nervous peloton was chasing hard and closing. Phonak's Oscar Pereiro rode across to the breakaway, but the peloton was only 35 seconds behind. Through the first 12 stages numerous groups have tried to gain a stage win, but no breakaways have succeeded.

Four more riders jumped across to the breakaway as the finishing climb started. Today the flying peloton could not catch the escape and the 8 riders hit the Santuario de la Bien Aparecida in the lead.

For the breakaway group the race started at 4 km to go when Oscar Pereiro attacked and gained 25 meters. Under the 2 km banner Columbian Mauricio Ardila caught Pereiro with Samuel Sanchez chasing hard. Ardila held Pereiro's wheel as Sanchez joined the duo under the 1 km to go banner. The Columbian seemed the strongest and jumped past Pereiro.

Confusion reigned at the finish when Ardila sprinted towards the KoM banner 100 meters from the actual finish line. Ardila raised his arms in victory… BUT he was wrong. Oscar Pereiro also mis-judged the finish and slowed his effort. An opportunistic Samuel Sanchez took full advantage and floated across the REAL finish line for the stage win.

An opportunistic Sanchez claims victory ( Image © Unipublic )

Race leader Denis Menchov finished in a small group with Roberto Heras 49 seconds behind. The race now heads for one of the key stages of this year's Vuelta. The stage starts in La Penilla and finishes atop the famous climb of the Lagos de Covadonga .




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