Vuelta a España • Stage18

Valladolid - Salamanca
Vuelta a España - 16 September 2010

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Overall standings: 1. NIBALI, Vincenzo (Liquigas - Doimo) 74h 47' 06"; 2. MOSQUERA MIGUEZ, Ezequiel (Xacobeo - Galicia) +38"; 3. VELITS, Peter (HTC - Columbia) + 1' 59"; 4. SCHLECK, Fränk (Saxo Bank) + 3' 43"; 5. TONDO VOLPINI, Xavier (Cervélo Test Team) + 3' 48"; 6. DANIELSON, Tom (Garmin - Transitions)+ 3' 58"; 7. SASTRE CANDIL, Carlos (Cervélo Test Team) + 4' 16"; 8. SANCHEZ GIL, Luis Leon (Caisse d'Epargne) + 5' 42"


Stage 18 result: 1. Mark Cavendish; 2. JJ Haedo; 3. Manuel Cardoso; 4. Tyler Farrar; 5. Samuel Dumoulin


Goss goes first and leads out Cavendish. Haedo follows Cavendish. Cavendish goes with Farrar nowhere and just nips out Haedo. Great win for the Manx Missile


Barredo leads the group through the first roundabout. And Matt Goss with Mark Cavendish are three and four from the front.


Cavendish sits on the left of the peloton towards the front. But he's not on the wheel of anyone HTC. He needs to sort this and quick.


Now it'll get interesting. We'll have at least three roundabouts to get through before the finish. That might cause some problems. The bunch is packed together but the main contenders all sit near the front as the sprinters begin to make themselves known. Quick Step hit the front.


The peloton are chugging along at 55kph now. Liquigas are keeping race leader Vincenzo Nibali well out of trouble at the front.


Gilbert looks round and gives up. Pity. HTC take over once with Liquigas taking it up.


Gilbert now has his pedal rate locked in. He knows that he if can get out of sight the peloton may lose track of him. Meanwhile the peloton whizzes through.


The front three are still away with Gilbert just off the main bunch too. The peloton is winding its way through Salamanca.


Philippe Gilbert jumps off the front. The former leader of the race doesn't look back. He simply puts his head down and goes for it.


As HTC motor along Goss sits in front of Mark Cavendish with Tyler Farrar tucked up in his wheel.


It's a tiny trio then keeping the peloton honest with HTC putting the hammer down at the front with Lampre nicely placed too.


The final countdown then to what could be a mass sprint. But we have a small gap to our breakaway of just three riders now - TORIBIO ALCOLEA Jose, KAISEN Olivier and BENITEZ ROMAN Jose Alberto. Brave stuff.


HTC and Garmin are back on the front again. There isn't a great deal of organisation but the pace is cranking up. The gap is 42s as we enter Salamanca.


Once we get into Salamanca the riders will do a circuit of the town before reaching the finish. It should be breathtakingly fast. Assuming the weather stays fair as it is at the moment. The gap to the leaders is 55s.


The breakaway is now just waiting for the peloton to pick them up. The lead sits at 1m. Not long now.


The breakaway of ESTRADA RUIZ Juan Javier, TORIBIO ALCOLEA Jose Vicente, PICHOT Alexandre, URTASUN PEREZ Pablo, BENITEZ ROMAN Jose Alberto, PIETROPOLLI Daniele, KAISEN Olivier and ROELS Dominik look resigned to their escape not quite having the legs. The gap continues to fall to 1m 19s.


All the teams you imagine are beginning to get themselves to the front. Quick Step now join Liquigas, HTC, Garmin and Caisse d'Epargne. All the while the gap to the eight leaders is 1m 55s.


The eight riders out front now have a time gap of 1m 39s. You fancy that isn't enough to stay away. Mark Cavendish pops up near the front of the main bunch as his HTC's colleagues take over.


Movement at the front of the pack as Caisse d'Epargne hit the front and cause a sudden injection of pace.


Pierre Cazaux rejoins the rear of the peloton after his fall at the feeding station.


Garmin, HTC and Liqugas maintain the pace at the front. The breakaway have 1m 48s on the peloton but you would imagine that will start to come down in the next 10km or so.


Garmin and HTC continue to lay down the pace at the front. The gap sits at just over 2m.


The peloton now passes through the feeding station. And there's a crash! FDJ's Pierre Cazaux is down. That looked nasty. But he looks to get up and back in stride.


The lead is up to 2m 5s as Garmin lead the charge at the front. A Farrar vs Cavendish sprint beckons but you never know. This Vuelta has been capable of throwing up all kinds of suprises.


Exactly halfway and the breakaway is now 1m 45s up the road. Jorge Montenegro and David Lopez have both picked up punctures.


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The main contenders are safely tucked away in the peloton and, finally, I assume that by "ranking" you mean


"I dont know how about you lads, I know nothing from­ this comments though..what is happening except the­ rain? who are the 8 leaders, what is the ranking­ then, where are the top few riders at the moment?" says a rather gloomy mihalik8. Well, let's tackle this one by one - the breakaway consists of ESTRADA RUIZ Juan Javier, TORIBIO ALCOLEA Jose Vicente, PICHOT Alexandre, URTASUN PEREZ Pablo, BENITEZ ROMAN Jose Alberto, PIETROPOLLI Daniele, KAISEN Olivier and ROELS Dominik.


The lead to the breakaway is now just 1m 37s and the rain has relented once more.


The rain is back and so is the gap to the eight leaders. It's down to 1m 54 whereas the temperature is down to 22C.


Sorry hotkitty6662004. I wrongly assumed you were talking about time bonuses. Not points bonuses. According to the rule Article 12 points area awarded in each of the 21 stages. This would appear to include both time trials. There...clear as mud! Anyone else?!!


The break has an advantage of 2m 5s which is starting to become pretty steady but with nothing but flat-ish road for the next 90km this is the perfect time to put the kettle on and get ready for live coverage in 30 minutes or so.


The breakaway are through the second sprint. Results: 1. KAISEN Olivier; 2. TORIBIO ALCOLEA Jose Vicente; 3. ROELS Dominik. In other news the rain has stopped for the moment.


The second and final intermediate sprint is coming up.


"Can someone explain why cav did not get 25 points on­ stage 1 the Team Time trial, as far as the Vuelta rules­ state it seems that Points are given for all the 21­ stages" says hotkitty6662004 - I can explain. Under Article 10, no time bonuses were awarded for either the team time trial or the individual time trial yesterday. The remaining stages all have bonuses attached to them.


The weather hasn't got any better and a storm cloud appears to be following the peloton.


What did I say about the conditions? The first drops of rain begin to fall from the sky. This could get interesting.


With that first sprint the breakway begins to come down a touch. It's now at 2m 5s.


That's the first sprint out of the way. Results: 1. ROELS Dominik; 2. PICHOT Alexandre; 3. KAISEN Olivier


Will W has piped up with: "dont make me laugh eurosport hushovd is no competition­ to cavendish!" - You may not think he's a match but he could certainly take points away from Cav in a bunch sprint.


The break is just shy of the first sprint with a lead of 2m 14s.


Only 8km covered and the breakaway already have a cushion of 50s


Gutted for Gricha Niermann. He tried to make the breakaway group but was swallowed back up by the peloton.


Boom! That didn't take long. Eight riders jump away. They are: ESTRADA RUIZ Juan Javier, TORIBIO ALCOLEA Jose Vicente, PICHOT Alexandre, URTASUN PEREZ Pablo, BENITEZ ROMAN Jose Alberto, PIETROPOLLI Daniele, KAISEN Olivier and ROELS Dominik.


No climbs of any note today. It really is one for the sprinters. There are two intermeditae sprints after 21km and 39km.


And the real racing proper gets underway.


More late withdrawl news is that Garmin's David Zabriskie has also quit.


The start is underway with the usual stroll through the neutral zone. The temperature sits at 25C and the rain overnight has now cleared.


News from the start is that Theo Bos and sprinter Thor Hushovd have withdrawn. Pity for Hushovd but more good news for Mark Cavendish as that's one less sprinter to compete for points. The Manx Missile still leads the points competition.


Former leader Joaquin Rodriguez and current red jersey wearer Vincenzo Nibali just had a quick chat at the start. It should all come down to Saturday's mountain stage. But today's conditions could play a part.


Hello and welcome to live commentary of stage 18 of an intrguing Vuelta 2010.