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Old 29.09.2003, 09:01   #1
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Default закончилась Vuelta a Espana 2003, последний гранд-тур сезона

статья с www.eurosport.com. прошу прощения за copy/paste, крайне лень переводить, а результат интересный

Heras triumphs in Madrid

Spanish rider Roberto Heras won the Vuelta a Espana for the second time in his career on Sunday when he retained his 28-second lead after finishing safely amongst the main pack in the final stage in Madrid.

Isidro Nozal of the ONCE-Eroski team finished second overall and Kelme rider Alejandro Valverde completed the all-Spanish podium.

Alessandro Petacchi from the Fassa Bortolo team won the 21st stage, a 145.8-km run around Madrid, after breaking clear of the pack in the final sprint for the line.

It was the Italian's fifth stage victory of the race to add to the four he won this year in the Tour de France and his six victories in the Giro d'Italia.

Heras's triumph in the Vuelta means that his US Postal team have won two of the three major tours on this year's racing calendar.

The American-based outfit did not compete in the Giro d'Italia, but team leader Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France for the fifth year in succession in July.

It is the first time that a team have won two major tours since 1993 when Miguel Indurain triumphed for Banesto in both the Giro and the Tour de France.

Heras, who was over five minutes down on race leader Isidro Nozal following last Saturday's stage to Valdepenas, produced a succession of brilliant performances in the mountains in the final week to overhaul his rival.

He pulled back 73 seconds in last Sunday's ascent of the Sierra de la Pandera, made up further time in the Sierra Nevada and in the mountains north of Madrid during the week but still went into Saturday's penultimate stage one minute 55 seconds behind Nozal.

EXPLOSIVE CLIMBING

The 29-year-old produced a superlative exhibition of explosive climbing to eat into Nozal's lead on the tough lower slopes of the 11.2-km mountain time trial to Alto de Abantos and then gradually upped the pace as his rival started to stall.

Heras, whose performance also earned him victory in the stage, maintained his concentration right through to the finish as he finished the ascent some two minutes 23 seconds faster than Nozal.

The specialist climber has proved beyond doubt that he is the most consistent rider in his home tour.

To add to his overall victories in 2003 and 2000, Heras also claimed second place in last year's race, fourth in 2001 and third in 1999.

For Nozal, the unsung hero of this year's Vuelta, the final week proved to be a tough lesson in the harsh realities of top class cycling.

Accustomed to the role of team domestique, the 25-year-old was thrust into the limelight after two high-class, but unexpected, victories in the time trials in Albacete and Zaragoza.

LEADERSHIP BURDEN

Not only did he have to shoulder the burden of leadership from the fourth day of the three-week race, but also the hopes of the ONCE team, who are set to end their involvement with cycling at the end of the season.

Beginning the race with the predicted victory in the opening team trial Spain's leading cycling outfit looked set to go out on a high.

But as Heras upped the pressure in the final week, ONCE's dreams turned into a nightmare.

Team director Manolo Saiz was expelled from the race after insulting a television cameraman during Friday's 19th stage and Heras overhauled Nozal the following day.

To make matters worse, team leader Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano was knocked off the podium by Valverde and the outfit lost first place in the team prize to Ibanesto.com.

German sprint specialist Erik Zabel won the points prize, Colombia's Felix Cardenas took the King of the Mountains award and Valverde won the combined prize.
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