Plaza flies to record TT win

Ruben Plaza sets a record speed for a major tour time trial to win the penultimate stage of the Vuel

Ruben Plaza sets a record speed for a major tour time trial to win the penultimate stage of the Vuel

PIC BY LAVUELTA.COM

Ruben Plaza entered the major tour record books when he won this afternoon's 38.9km Vuelta time trial at a record speed for a major tour. Although prologues have been run off at slighter faster speeds than Plaza managed over the flat course between Guadalajara and Alcala de Henares, the Comunitat Valenciana's average speed of 56.22kph was the quickest ever recorded for a longer time trial in one of the three major tours.

All the riders benefited from significant wind assistance, with the later starters seeming to benefit more than most. Just 10 seconds covered the top five finishers, who were all placed in the top six overall going into today's penultimate stage of the race. That meant there were no significant changes at all high up on the leaderboard on the last really significant day of racing and effectively means that Roberto Heras has retained his Vuelta title and will tomorrow become the first rider ever to win the race four times.

Heras, who admits he's no great shakes as a time triallist compared to the specialists, finished just tenths of a second behind Plaza and four seconds ahead of Carlos Sastre, with second overall Denis Menchov another couple of seconds down. That result should confirm Menchov and Sastre as first-time podium finishers in a major tour when the race finishes in Madrid tomorrow.

Discovery Channel's Tom Danielson also had a good day, his ninth place moving him up to eighth overall on his major tour debut. This suggests there should be more and better to come from the procycling columnist.

Stage 20, Guadalajara-Alcala de Henares time trial

1 Ruben Plaza (Spa) Comunitat Valenciana 38.9km in 41.31 (56.22kph)
2 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros
3 Carlos Sastre (Spa) CSC 0.04
4 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 0.06
5 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears 0.10
6 Victor Hugo Pe¤a (Col) Phonak 0.23
7 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Discovery Channel 0.30
8 Oscar Pereiro (Spa) Phonak 0.33
9 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel 0.48
10 Christian Vande Velde (USA) CSC 1.07

Overall

1 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Wrth 78.48.10
2 Menchov 4.36
3 Sastre 4.54
4 Mancebo 5.58
5 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) Comunitat Valenciana 8.06
6 Plaza 11.36
7 Oscar Sevilla (Spa) T-Mobile 13.22
8 Danielson 16.38
9 Mauricio Ardila (Col) Davitamon-Lotto 18.19
10 Juan Miguel Mercado (Spa) Quick Step 18.31

- Rabobank's Pieter Weening took his second big victory of this season when he won today's hardest stage of the Tour of Poland. The young Rabobank rider who outsprinted Andreas Kloeden by millimetres to win a stage of the Tour de France in July, pushed Luca Paolini out of the overall lead when he came home four seconds ahead of Fassa's Kim Kirchen, with Weening's compatriot and team-mate Thomas Dekker third, just ahead of ProTour leader Danilo Di Luca. The race finishes tomorrow with another hilly stage, but over just 61km, where Weening could well wrap up the biggest stage race win of his career.

Stage 6, Piechowice-Karpacz

1 Pieter Weening (Hol) Rabobank 153km in4.16.37
2 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Fassa Bortolo 0.04
3 Thomas Dekker (Hol) Rabobank 0.25
4 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi 0.27
5 Thomas Lovkvist (Swe) Francaise des Jeux 0.31
6 Michael Boogerd (Hol) Rabobank
7 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis 1.32
8 Jos Luis Rubiera (Spa) Discovery Channel 1.46
9 Jan Hruska (Cze) Liberty Seguros
10 Gorazd Stangelj (Slo) Lampre-Caffita 1.55

Overall

1 Pieter Weening (Hol) Rabobank 30.01.35
2 Kirchen 0.04
3 Dekker 0.25
4 Di Luca 0.33
5 Lovkvist 0.37
6 Boogerd
7 Chavanel 1.31
8 Hruska 1.56
9 Rubiera
10 Stangelj 2.05

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