Vuelta 19: Victory for Zaballa

With a big weekend to decide the overall winner to come, today's stage was always likely to be decid

With a big weekend to decide the overall winner to come, today's stage was always likely to be decid
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Tino Zaballa gave Saunier Duval their second stage win at this year's Vuelta when he crossed the line alone after more than 100 kilometres out on his own on a lumpy day to Collado Villalba. The 26-year-old Spaniard from Santander went away from a 20-man break just before the first sprint of the day at 34 kilometres and judged his effort perfectly, finishing more than a minute ahead of a persistent but tardy pursuit by a 15-strong group. Saunier team boss Fernandez Matxin had been promised a stage win before the end of the race by team leader Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero as some compensation for Perdi's decision to accept a big money move to Phonak next season. But San Sebastian Classic winner Perdiguero did not complete the stage after being involved in a crash late on that also saw Ruben Plaza and Danilo Di Luca abandon. Instead it was the little heralded Zaballa who followed up Leonardo Piepoli's success at the Alto de Aitana at the end of the first week. What was basically a transitional stage between yesterday's ride through the Sierra de Gredo and tomorrow's potential race-deciding summit finish at the Puerto de Navacerrada was run off at almost 40 kilometres an hour despite six climbs. Roberto Heras and the rest of the main contenders all finished in a group six minutes behind Zaballa. Paco Mancebo once again tried to gain the two seconds' advantage on Alejandro Valverde that would move him into third place with an eyeballs-out effort in the sprint for 17th, but all to no avail. That confrontation and many others could be settled tomorrow in the mountains north of Madrid, not least the battle for the gold jersey which now seems to lie between Heras and Santiago Perez. Four first-category climbs lie in wait, with Sunday's 28km time trial in Madrid just beyond them offering yet another unpredictable final day at the Vuelta. Stage 19, Avila-Collado Villalba 1 Constantino Zaballa (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir 142km in 3.33.32 (39.90kph) 2 Ruslan Ivanov (Mol) Alessio-Bianchi 1.23 3 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Saeco 4 Jos Luis Arrieta (Spa) Illes Balears 5 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Saeco 6 Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Lampre 7 Felix Cardenas (Col) Cafs Baqu 8 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola 9 Benoit Joachim (Lux) US Postal 10 Dario Cioni (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 11 Roberto Laiseka (Spa) Euskaltel 12 David Plaza (Spa) Cafs Baqu 13 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Saunier Duval 14 Marcos Serrano (Spa) Liberty Seguros 15 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) CV-Kelme 16 David Latasa (Spa) CV-Kelme 1.31 17 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel 6.25 18 Santiago Perez (Spa) Phonak 19 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros 20 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears Overall standings 1 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros 72.13.01 2 Santiago Perez (Spa) Phonak 1.13 3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) CV-Kelme 2.15 4 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears 2.16 5 Isidro Nozal (Spa) Liberty Seguros 6.08 6 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) CV-Kelme 6.16 7 Carlos Sastre (Spa) CSC 7.56 8 Angel Gomez (Spa) Costa de Almeria 10.21 9 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola 12.21 10 Luis Perez (Spa) Cofidis 12.25 11 David Blanco (Spa) CV-Kelme 14.13 12 Marcos Serrano (Spa) Liberty Seguros 14.59 13 Francisco Lara (Spa) Costa de Almeria 20.07 14 David Plaza (Spa) Cafs Baqu 26.27 15 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel 26.38 16 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Saeco 27.56 17 Jorge Ferrio (Spa) Costa de Almeria 28.29 18 Luis Pasamontes (Spa) Relax-Bodysol 30.50 19 Unai Osa (Spa) Illes Balears 36.15 20 Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Phonak 33.45 Points 1 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile 152 2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) CV-Kelme 136 3 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros 118 Mountains 1 Felix Cardenas (Col) Cafs Baqu 167 2 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros 107 3 Santiago Perez (Spa) Phonak 102
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