Vuelta Travelogue - Quintessential Spain
Stage 11, September 5th,
Andorra to Cerler, 186.6 km
No Rest for the Weary
For the riders of the 2005 Vuelta, there will be no rest day in Andorra . Stage 11 leaves this modern Mecca of skiing to race 186.6 km through the Pyrenees to the ski station at Aramon Cerler. For many, Cerler will bring back sad memories of the great Spanish climber José María Jiménez who was a stage winner here in 1998. Look for these elite riders to flex their muscles on this second mountain top finish. The next day is a well deserved rest day.
Another tough mountaintop finish could prove to be pivotal in this year's Vuelta. With 1000 meters of climbing in the last 30 km we should see the climbers try to flex their muscles. The next day is the first rest day, so watch for fireworks on the way to Aramon Cerler.
The race organizers were forced to change the route of today's stage after dangerous rock slide on the category 2 Coll de Bretui , the scheduled second climb of the day. The stage was extended by 6 kilometers (to 192.6 km).
The race rolled out of the Pac Central de Andorra and through customs under a warm Spanish sun.
The race leaving Andorra ( Image © Unipublic )
The first successful breakaway of the stage formed after only 6 km. The breakaway rode steadily to a 4 minute gap but the started to close on the climb of the Coll de la Creu de Perves. A heavy rain made the descent of the category 2 climb treacherous and the chase slowed.
The chase slows on the very wet descent of the Coll de la Creu de Perves ( Image © Unipublic )
The leaders began to tire as the final climb to the ski staion at Cerler approached. The time gap was falling rapidly as the breakaway lost riders. Three kilometers into the climb the road steepened and the remaining 9 rider breakaway was brought back by the strong chase of Rabobank, Liberty Seguros and Euskaltel. Some of the riders had been away for 180 km.
There were now 12 km to the finish and attacks were coming in rapid succession. Numbers the lead group were quickly dwindling. Liberty 's Michele Scarponi accelerated with teammate Roberto Heras on his wheel as the contenders scrambled to hold-on to the small group.
Lead group on the final climb,
Euskaltel's Roberto Laiseka (L) is poised for an attack ( Image © Unipublic )
Twelve riders remain under the 9 km to go banner when Roberto Laiseka launch the first attack. Quickly Scarponi and Carlos Sastre closed the gap. Laiseka attacked again 3 km from the finish and opens a small gap. The leaders marked each other with Laiseka slowly pulling away. The course turned downhill for the final kilometer and gave Laiseka an excellent chance to stay away.
Heras tried repeatedly to drop Menchov but the Russian was having a good day and match Heras' pace easily. Laiseka cruised into the final kilometer and would not be caught. He crossed the finish line 15 seconds ahead of second placed Carlos Sastre to claim the stage win. Denis Menchov held the Golden Jersey for another day.
Stage winner Roberto Laiseka ( Image © Unipublic )
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