Vuelta 18: Fourth win for CV-Kelme

Another high-action stage ends with Javier Pascual Rodriguez giving CV-Kelme their fourth win and Ro

Another high-action stage ends with Javier Pascual Rodriguez giving CV-Kelme their fourth win and Ro
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE The Comunitat Valenciana-Kelme team equalled Alessandro Petacchi's total of wins in this year's Vuelta when veteran Javier Pascual Rodriguez outsprinted Ivan Parra to win today's stage into the beautiful walled city of Avila. The pair, who were team-mates until Parra hooked up with Cafs Baqu recently, got clear of eight other riders on the final categorised climb of the stage, with 30 kilometres remaining. Apart from a brief attack by the Colombian Parra with seven kilometres left, they stuck together almost right to the line, with the 32-year-old Spaniard happy to lead the way to the line and wait for his former team-mate to attack. With not much more than 50 metres left, Parra stood on the pedals to begin a very belated charge for the line, but never got close to matching his rival, who followed team-mates Alejandro Valverde, Eladio Jimenez and Jos Cayetano Julia as a stage winner. CV-Kelme leader Valverde had a much better day on the run through the Sierra de Gredo to Avila than he did yesterday on the climb to the Covatilla. Lying in third place just a second ahead of Paco Mancebo, Valverde withstood a series of attacks by the Illes Balears rider on the Navalmoral climb, from which the race dropped into Avila. Riding on his home roads and with a lot of very vocal support, Mancebo attacked in a dashing way he's rarely shown in a major tour before. Liberty Seguros struggled to rein him in, but countered his three offensives. Just as Mancebo was caught that third time, second-placed Santi Perez tested out Liberty again with a blistering attack that only race leader Roberto Heras and Valverde could follow. Perez pushed all the way to the summit trying to break Heras and gain more time on Valverde, but could not shake either of them. Behind, Mancebo suddenly found himself chasing to stay in contact with the podium places, and he eventually got back up to the gold jersey group on the descent into Avila. At the finish, Valverde scored a few psychological points by leading in the gold jersey group but overall the race is unchanged. Tomorrow's stage is very lumpy again, taking in six categorised climbs in 142 kilometres to Collado Villalba. Perez and Mancebo are sure to be looking for opportunities again, but may have to wait for Saturday's summit finish on the Navacerrada to really put Heras and Valverde under pressure again. There were several notable absentees at the finish today. Alexandre Vinokourov, Aitor Gonzalez and Michael Barry all missed the start, while Floyd Landis did not make it to the finish. Stage 18, Bejar-Avila 1 Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Spa) Comunitat Valenciana-Kelme 196.6km in 5.02.59 (38.93kph) 2 Ivan Parra (Col) Cafs Baqu 3 Juan Horrach (Spa) Illes Balears 0.19 4 Hernan Buenahora (Col) Cafs Baqu 5 Patrick Calcagni (Swi) Vini Caldirola 0.24 6 Cdric Vasseur (Fra) Cofidis 0.35 7 Bram Tankink (Hol) Quick Step 0.37 8 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) CV-Kelme 1.24 9 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears 10 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola 11 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros 12 Santiago Perez (Spa) Phonak 13 Luis Perez (Spa) Cofidis 14 Carlos Sastre (Spa) CSC 15 David Blanco (Spa) CV-Kelme 1.28 16 Marcos Serrano (Spa) Liberty Seguros 1.32 17 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) CV-Kelme 1.33 18 David Plaza (Spa) Cafs Baqu 1.37 19 Jorge Ferrio (Spa) Costa de Almeria 20 Angel Gomez (Spa) Costa de Almeria Overall standings 1 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros 68.33.04 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 Sastre (Spa) CSC 7.56 7 Angel Gomez (Spa) Costa de Almeria 10.21 8 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) CV-Kelme 11.18 9 Luis Perez (Spa) Cofidis 12.25 10 Manuel Beltran (Spa) US Postal 12.56 11 David Blanco (Spa) CV-Kelme 14.13 12 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola 17.23 13 Marcos Serrano (Spa) Liberty Seguros 20.01 14 Francisco Lara (Spa) Costa de Almeria 20.07 15 Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Spa) Saunier Duval 22.50 16 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel 26.38 17 Jorge Ferrio (Spa) Costa de Almeria 28.29 18 Luis Pasamontes (Spa) Relax-Bodysol 30.50 19 David Plaza (Spa) Cafs Baqu 31.29 20 Eladio Jimenez (Spa) CV-Kelme 32.24 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 132 2 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros 107 3 Santiago Perez (Spa) Phonak 102
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