Vuelta Stage 13-17

One advantage of not having to go to work today and having a TiVo is I got to catch up on a lot of stages from the Vuelta a Espana (unfortunately my TiVo lost stage 12, but the rest were plenty).

Stage 17:
After a disappointing Tour, Millar finally grabbed the stage victory that he's been seeking. He made a well-timed attack
- Millar grabs stage 17 at Vuelta
- Stage 17 Minute-by-Minute (velonews)
- Stage 17 Route Profile

Stage 16:
Cardenas' cherry picking tactics finally paid off, and he has the King of the Mountain jersey clinched as a reward, and a couple more enemies. This time he let Kelme's Sevilla and Valverde do the work for him and attacked in the final kilometer, surging past Mercado at the very end.

Heras and US Postal attack multiple times, but ONCE was able to close each gap with steady tempo work. Heras didn't escape until the final 5km, which didn't give him much road to put a whole lot of time on Nozal (Heras gained 53" on the race leader). He did, however, close the gap to second place Gonzalez de Galdeano, and is now six seconds away from a second place podium finish. Landis and Beltran did a good deal of work for Heras, as Hincapie went home to get ready for the World Championships.
- Cardenas grabs Vuelta win at Sierra Nevada
- Stage 16 Minute-by-Minute (velonews)
- Stage 16 Route Profile

Stage 15:
Today was supposed to be Heras' big day if he wanted to win the Vuelta. Having won the same stage last year by a minute and a half, hopes were up that he would put big time on Nozal. Instead, despite excellent, persistent attacks, Heras was only able to shake Nozal with 4km to go, and only gained 1'11" overall.

The mountain-top finish went to Valverde in a surprise finish. With teammate Sevilla helping him close in, Valverde was able to grab the race victory with less than half a kilometer to go, surprising both Cardenas and Heras who were leading the final attack up La Pandera. Cardenas is certainly becoming the hated man on the tour, as he continues to try and cherry pick a win. He sat on Heras' wheel and refused to do tempo work, despite Heras telling Cardenas that he wasn't interested in the win. If only Cardenas had put in a little bit of effort Valverde most likely wouldn't caught them in the final bend.

The other interesting news of the day was that Zabel was able to grab the points lead back from Petacchi. This will hopefully remain an interesting see-saw battle between the two sprinters.
- Nozal hangs on as Valverde steals a stage
- Stage 15 Minute-by-Minute (velonews)
- Stage 15 Route Profile

Stage 14:
Petacchi helped himself to another Vuelta victory, now bringing his total up to four. After falling back in the sprint to the finish, Hincapie and Lombardi sprinted ahead to try and grab the stage, but Petacchi surged back and took the exciting sprint. In other news, reigning champ Aitor Gonzalez took the easy route to Madrid and dropped out after 90km.
- Vuelta: Another milestone for Petacchi
- Stage 14 Minute-by-Minute (velonews)
- Stage 14 Route Profile

Stage 13:
David Millar had his thunder stolen by Nozal once again, as the rider in the golden jersey turned in his second time trial victory and most likely has sealed up his overall victory with his strong (and surprising) display. Heras had a good day for himself as well, as the climber lost little time overall.
- Nozal takes command at the Vuelta
- Stage 13 Minute-by-Minute (velonews)
- Stage 13 Route Profile

Stage 12:
Petacchi continues to have a fun Vuelta and great year overall, as he brings his Vuelta total to a hat trick. He also grabbed the points jersey from Zabel, as the two continue to trade the jersey back and forth.

US Postal had a great day, as they were able to set a high tempo and fracture the peloton on the open flats with high crosswinds. Fassa Bartolo was caught off guard, and Frigo and Aitor Gonzalez both got hit hard. Both will be hard pressed to have good overall finishes now.
- Petacchi gets No. 3; Postal takes advantage of the wind
- Stage 12 Minute-by-Minute (velonews)
- Stage 12 Route Profile

related articles: Vuelta a Espana 2003
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