Heras hangs on for third Vuelta

Roberto Heras wins his third Vuelta title despite his closest rival, Santiago Perez, taking the fina

Roberto Heras wins his third Vuelta title despite his closest rival, Santiago Perez, taking the fina
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Roberto Heras became the first rider in history to win the Vuelta with three different teams when he took fourth place in today's closing Madrid time trial, which was won by Heras' closest rival, Santiago Perez. Faster than Heras at all of the intermediate checks, Perez rode the time trial of his life to take a second stage win in the race, but ended up 30 seconds shy of overall victory. Unlike previous finishing circuits in Madrid, today's time trial course showed the Spanish capital's undulating aspect. Starting in the Casa del Campo park below the royal palace, it climbed into the city centre and traced some of the course that will be used for next year's world championships. Needing to take back more than a second each kilometre on Heras, Phonak's Perez gave it all he had but never threatened to dislodge the Liberty Seguros team leader, who has previously won this race for Kelme and US Postal. Intriguingly, climbers got the better of the time trial specialists on this rolling course, with Paco Mancebo taking second place and consequently assuring himself of third place overall. Carlos Sastre was third on the day, just ahead of Heras. Of the time trial specialists, Postal's Victor Hugo Pe¤a was the best placed, although he was a distant 36 seconds down on Perez in seventh. Alejandro Valverde's faltering finish to the Vuelta continued when he could only manage 14th when sixth place would have earned him the points title at Erik Zabel's expense. Colombia's Felix Cardenas was a clear winner of the mountains title for the second year in succession. Stage 21, Madrid time trial 1 Santiago Perez (Spa) Phonak 28.2km in 35.05 (48.23kph) 2 Paco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears 0.07 3 Carlos Sastre (Spa) CSC 0.08 4 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros 0.13 5 David Blanco (Spa) CV-Kelme 0.18 6 Bert Grabsch (Ger) Phonak 0.34 7 Victor Hugo Pe¤a (Col) US Postal 0.36 8 Luis Perez (Spa) Cofidis 0.52 9 Vladimir Goussev (Rus) CSC 0.55 10 Jorg Jaksche (Ger) CSC 0.58 11 Joost Posthuma (Hol) Rabobank 1.09 12 Angel Gomez (Spa) Costa de Almeria 1.10 13 Jos Enrique Gutierrez (Spa) Phonak 1.12 14 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) CV-Kelme 1.17 15 Marcos Serrano (Spa) Liberty Seguros 1.20 16 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) CV-Kelme 1.24 17 Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Spa) CV-Kelme 18 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Saeco 1.27 19 Isidro Nozal (Spa) Liberty Seguros 1.29 20 Cadel Evans (Aus) T-Mobile 1.44 Final overall standings 1 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros 77.42.46 2 Santiago Perez (Spa) Phonak 0.30 3 Paco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears 2.13 4 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) CV-Kelme 3.30 5 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) CV-Kelme 7.44 6 Carlos Sastre (Spa) CSC 8.11 7 Isidro Nozal (Spa) Liberty Seguros 8.32 8 Angel Gomez (Spa) Costa de Almeria 13.08 9 Luis Perez (Spa) Cofidis 13.24 10 David Blanco (Spa) CV-Kelme 15.15 11 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola 16.33 12 Marcos Serrano (Spa) Liberty Seguros 17.14 13 Manuel Beltran (Spa) US Postal 17.43 14 Francisco Lara (Spa) Costa de Almeria 24.16 15 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel 29.23 16 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Saeco 29.51 17 Jorge Ferrio (Spa) Costa de Almeria 30.49 18 David Plaza (Spa) Cafs Baqu 31.24 19 Eladio Jimenez (Spa) CV-Kelme 34.35 20 Luis Pasamontes (Spa) Relax-Bodysol 37.49 Points 1 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile 152 2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) CV-Kelme 144 3 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros 142 Mountains 1 Felix Cardenas (Col) Cafs Baqu 167 2 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros 111 3 Santiago Perez (Spa) Phonak 110
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