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07/09/12 - 12:18
Peñafiel - La Lastrilla
Vuelta a España • Stage19

Peñafiel - La Lastrilla

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Besides Gilbert, the big winner today is Alejandro Valverde: he took six bonus seconds at the second intermediate sprint, eight for second place, plus finished two seconds clear of Alberto Contador, to cut the deficit to 1:35 on GC.


1. Philippe Gilbert, 2. Alejandro Valverde, 3. Daniel Moreno, 4. Joaquim Rodriguez, 5. Gianni Meersman.


Gilbert is going for a long one and Swift cannot hold on to his wheel... the Belgian takes the win, with Valverde closing in for second.


Roche attacks under the red kite! Now Degenkolb is riding in pursuit... but Gilbert is just behind with Meersman in his wheel. And Swift.


We also have a Sky rider and a Rabobank rider, as BMC try and shut it down through Ballan. It's Breschel, Flecha, Degenkolb and Roche...


Around five riders are coming across onto the wheel of Garcia, who waitrs for them under the 2km-to-go banner. Roche is here - and Degenkolb.


The riders swing into the centre of Segovia and past the aquaduct. It's Egoitz Garcia, not Buffaz, for Cofidis.


It looks like Buffaz. He has a small gap, with a cluster of riders in pursuit.


Matteo Montaguti of Ag2R-La Mondiale is on the front of the leading group. There are only 70-odd riders here as Cofidis go on the attack!


Mauro Santambrogio (BMC) has either crashed or needs mechanical help.


The riders have passed through Segovia and are now running along the impressive castle that towers above the town. The gap between the two main groups is now 10 seconds.


It's a real fight for positioning on the front. The red jersey, Alberto Contador, is in this leading peloton, but keeping out of trouble.


It looks like Allan Davis of GreenEdge and Gianni Meersman of Lotto were caught out in that split and are fighting back on.


Erviti and Castroviejo are back on the front for Movistar. This is a very fast pace.


That attack was for the green jersey points and bonus seconds at the second intermediate sprint. Rodriguez's move was marked by Valverde, who takes it ahead of Purito and Robert Gesink. It's back together on the front, although the second peloton is 20 seconds back.


Rabobank have forced a break - and Joaquim Rodriguez is in it!


Big splits in the peloton as Ag2R-La Mondiale come to the front. They have Lloyd Mondory and Rinaldo Nocentini who may fancy today's finish.


Imanol Erviti leads the peloton onto an uphill drag, with yet more hairpins. Movistar are very present here - they clearly fancy something today. Numerous riders are slipping off the back now.


The peloton is onto a wonderful downhill stretch of road that features around eight tight hairpin bends. It's a superb sight from above - very much like a snake - and it's going to string out the pack somewhat.


Eurosport commentator Sean Kelly fancies an Italian double today: "Bennati is the one big sprinter who can get over this kind of terrain. Today's stage really suits him."


Movistar are on the front now and today's finish is one that could suit Valverde. There some small sleeping policemen on the road, but the peloton gets over without any tumbles.


Rabobank, Saxo, Sky and Andalucia are all on the front. Rabobank are still without a win in the race and this one could favour Matti Breschel or Dennis van Winden.


At the moment the road is wide and safe - but towards the end today it's up and down, narrow, and includes some cobbles sections. It should be a brilliant finale to what has been otherwise entirely forgettable.


The pace is much quicker now - and although their men have been caught, Andalucia and Caja Rural have men on the front of the peloton. There's a big in-fight between the two Spanish pro continental outfits.


Galtos waves at the passing TV cameraman as Toribio looks over his shoulder... and that's it, they are caught with just over 28km to go. Although they refuse to sit up and stay on the front of the pack.


The two Spanish leaders shake hands and put in one last futile dig as the peloton closes in. The gap is less than 10 seconds and, following a wide roundabout that splits the peloton in two -Aitor Galtos puts in an attack in a bid to stay out a bit longer than Jose Vincente Toribio.


Toribio and Galtos have 38 seconds left from a gap that peaked out at 10:17 after they broke clear inside the opening kilometre. It's a matter of time before they are reeled in.


We're down to less than a minute for the two leaders. Doi of Argos still leads the peloton in his Japanese national champion's jersey. The escapees are now on an uphill drag of duel carriageway.


The peloton rides through a cobbled town as the gap comes down to 1:12. Saxo Bank and RadioShaclk combine on the front. The pace is certainly starting to increase.


The drizzle has become heavy rain now as the riders start to grimace. After 18 stages, we have the first proper rain of the Vuelta. But it looks like the leaders are already out of it - they ride along in sun and the road is drying. 1:30 back, the peloton was getting well and truly doused, but are now back out and in the sun too. A nice refreshing shower.


We have some more drizzle - even though the sun still appears to be out. A reminder of the leaders: Aitor Galdos (Caja Rural) and Jose Vincente Toribio (Andalucia). They have 1:35 on the pack, which is fronted by RadioShack and Lotto.


The pace is so slow today. It's going to be a very late finish - well after 5pm UK time, probably around half five. So an hour or so. The gap is still 1:45 for the two leaders.


Argos-Shimano's Japanese pocket-rocket Yukihiro Doi on the front of the peloton. Team Sky's Ian Stannard is on the back.


Cows. Loads of them. In fact, black Spanish bullocks - running alongside the peloton. The gap is 1:45 or the two leaders. Three Lampre riders are towards the back of the pack - have they been the most disappointing team in this year's Vuelta? Probably.


We spoke to Lotto Belisol's Adam Hansen this morning about how his third Grand Tour of the season is going: "So far, so good. Can't complain. It's been a hard Vuelta- probably the hardest Grand Tour I have ever done. I've always wanted to do three Grand Tours in one year. I asked after the Tour de France and the team thought I was joking. But I kept on pushing and here I am. I'd like to do it again next year - even if sometimes I wish I was at home, on the couch, drinking coffee."


French veteran David Moncoutie, as is his wont, rides right at the back of the peloton on his own. If he's not there on the flat stages he's out in front (preferrably on his own) in the hilly ones. We're going to miss the Codifis climber, who retires on Sunday in Madrid.


The two leaders have gone over that peak and are now freewheeling down a long and straight downhill that runs right along to the horizon. The landscape here is the antithesis of what we saw in Galicia and northern Spain: instead of breathtaking peaks and rugged coastline we have parched plains, rocks and the odd bedraggled bush. The gap is under two minutes now.


ATTACK: At last, we havbe some action as four riders ping off the front of the peloton on an uphill drag. It's Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis), Alessandro Ballan (BMC), Lars Boom (Rabobank) and one other. But it sparks some movement from the peloton, which stretches out and reels them in.


While the start of today's stage was fairly flat, it's now very rolling. In fact, the road is hardly flat between here and the finish, with uphills and downhills as well as multiple bends. These are narrow roads too, with gritty edges - the kind of surface and terrain that really saps the energy.


The pace was so fast yesterday and the day before, we, the viewers, could only enjoy around 50km of action because of the timing of the host broadcast. There's no such problem today - we have almost too much of this stage to get through before the end! Thankfully, there are a couple of rams in a church yard by the side of the road who are butting each other and having a fight. That's about as interesting as it gets today. The gap is 2:42.


This is not the first time we have seen a two-man breakaway involving the blue and green of Andalucia and Caja Rural: stage 10 from Ponteareas to Sanxenxo featured Javier Aramendia (Caja Rural) and Adrian Palomares (Andalucia). Today, the gap is down to three minutes.


Red jersey Alberto Contador is chatting to Mauro da Dalto from Liquigas in the peloton. They have had a very poor race, Liquigas. RadioShack are currently on the front as the gap comes down to 4:10. Lotto Belisol are there too.


The peloton pass through the feeding zone trailing the two escapees by 4:51.


Saxo Bank and Katusha are riding alongside each other in the peloton. They will do battle big time tomorrow, along with Movistar, as the race's Big Three decide the final podium positions. With such a brutal parcours on the agenda, it's not a given that Contador has won this race.


It had to come at some point: the first drops of rain on the 2012 Vuelta a Espana are falling. Although it's hardly a shower - just a light sprinkling.


CRASH: Cheng Li, the first Chinese rider to take part in a Grand Tour, hits the deck. But the Argos-Shimano rider is back in the saddle without any problems.


Eurosport spoke to the polka dot jersey Simon Clarke this morning about the hilarious 'Hey, call me, maybe' GreenEdge video that is doing the rounds. "Yeah, it's the Aussie spirit, we always like to have fun even when we're performing for results. We've been really impressed with the feed-back from the video."


Both the temperature and the gap are down: 26 degrees and 5:45 for the two leaders.


The gap is six minutes for Jose Vincente Toribio (Andalucia) and Aitor Galdos (Caja Rural).


The average speed for the second hour of racing was 36.3km/h which is remarkably low for such a flat stage. Yesterday we were in the high 40s, with an overall average of 47km/h over what was the longest stage in the race. The riders clearly have tomorrow's gruelling stage to Bola del Mundo on their mind, with its five peaks (one Cat.2, three Cat.1 and the brutal HC final ascent).


The two leaders pass through the town of Santa Maria le Real de Nieva with a gap of 6:47 over the peloton. The crowds are out in their droves today. It's also 32 degrees now.


Christian Guiberteau, the directeur sportif of Argos Shimano, was disappointed his main man couldn't make it five yesterday and doesn't have too many hopes for today's stage. "Nothign worked the way we wanted in yesterday's sprint but before we had a 100% success rate so we can't complain," he told Vuelta official site. "John Degenkolb is still in great form but I think today's finale is too hard for him," he added.


Yesterday's winner Daniele Bennati is not sure if he'll get a chance to repeat his performance today: "I'm good at complicated finales but I don't know if there will be a sprint today because there are not many teams who can control a break." Well, they're not doing too badly out there at the moment: the lead is 6:10 after peaking at 10:17.


Our two leaders - Spainish pair Aitor Galdos (Caja Rural) and Jose Vincente Toribio (Andalucia) - now have 6:20 over the peloton. The escapees broke clear inside the opening kilometre of today's stage.


CRASH: Kristof Vandewalle (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) hits the deck but is back on his bike without much ado.


The race leader Alberto Contador was cautious ahead of today's stage. "It seems like an easy stage," the red jersey said this morning. "But I'll have to pay close attention to the final hilly part of the stage because it's a bit complicated. I would like to save some energy ahead of tomorrow because Bola del Mundo will be the queen stage of the Vuelta and I have not won yet."


Joaquim Rodriguez may have lost the Vuelta on Wednesday but the Spaniard remains upbeat and stoic about what happened en route to Fuente De. "Losing is part of the sport and sportsmanship in cycling is very strong. I'm happy to be a part of such an historic race," Purito said. The gap is down to 6:52 for the two escapees.


The average speed for the first hour of racing today was 39.2km/h. That's a whole 10km/h less than the fast pace yesterday. As expected, the teams on the front of the peloton have combined to reduce the deficit to nine minutes.


Although there is a long way to go, none of the teams of the main contenders will want this break to get too far ahead. Lotto have high hopes for Gianni Meersman, RadioShack will hope the uphill finish won't be too much for Daniele Bennati, while Argos Shimano eye a fifth win for John Degenkolb. The likes of Philippe Gilbert (BMC) and, perhaps, Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) will be motivated today too.


The gap is up to 10:17 for the two escapees as Lotto Belisol join RadioShack-Nissan and Argos-Shimano on the front of the peloton to control the tempo.


Jose Vincente Toribio, a stage winner on the Vuelta a Portugal in 2011, is riding his third Vuelta. The Andalucia rider is 26 years old.


Let's take a closer look at the escapees. Aitor Galdos is a 32-year-old Spaniard who joined Caja Rural in 2011 after four years at Euskaltel. Galdos is a former youth cyclo-cross champion and in 2006 he won a stage in the Tour of Denmark and the Tour de Wallonie. He's a solid sprinter and picked up the sprint classification at the Vuelta a Burgos this year, although his debut Vuelta a Espana has been disrupted with stomach problems.


The leaders are passing through the town of Cuellar as Jose Vincente Toribio needs a spot of mechanical assistance from his Andalucia team car. The duo now have a lead of 7:27 over the peloton, which is content to roll along at a civilised pace.


The lead is growing fast for these two men, who both ride for second tier Spanish Pro Continental teams. 6:18 is the latest advantage.


The gap is up to 4:20 for the two leaders. The script has been written: these two will get up to around eight minutes, then be tugged back with 35km remaining. There will then be a showpiece finale on the uphill finish, which teams will try and control, but which ultimately will end up mano-a-mano.


Aitor Galdos takes the sprint ahead of Jose Vincente Toribio, with Dennis van Winden of Rabobank mopping things up from the peloton, just over three minutes back. No change in the green jersey standings.


Yesterday, both intermediate sprints came inside the last 40km of the 204.5km stage but today the first intermediate sprint is coming right up after just 9km or riding.


A reminder of the other jerseys: Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) is in green and also leads the combined competition, although Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) wears the white jersey by default. Australian Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEdge) still holds on to the polka dot jersey - he has just five points over Thomas de Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) and two points over Rodriguez in the mountains classification.


The leading duo already have 1:30 over the peloton. Neither of these riders is a threat on GC, with Toribio the beat placed in 118th, more than two and a half hours in arrears.


There's an instant attack from Spainish pair Aitor Galdos (Caja Rural) and Jose Vincente Toribio (Andalucia).


They're off! Under sunny blue skies and in a temperature of 29 degrees Celsius, the peloton passes by the flag and the stage is underway.


The remaining 177 riders are currently in neutral zone ahead of today's start. Just one overnight withdrawal to report: Spaniard Jesus Rosendo of Andalucia. Colombian Nairo Quintana, who hurt his chest, knee and wrist yesterday in that fall with saw Linus Gerdemann (RadioShack) withdraw from the race, was a doubt. But the Movistar rider took to the start.


There was no change in the general classification, where Spain's Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff) leads Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) by one minute and 52 seconds and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) by 2:28 with three stages remaining.


Yesterday, Veteran Italian Daniele Bennati pipped Britain's Ben Swift in a bunch sprint to take stage 18 of the Vuelta in Valladolid. Bennati used all his experience to draw level with Team Sky's Swift in the final straight of the 204.5km stage from Aguilar de Campoo and throw his bike over the line with an all-important lunge to take his first win of the season - and the sixth Vuelta stage win of his career.


Welcome to live coverage of stage 19 of the Vuelta a Espana, a 183.4km ride from Penafiel with a slight uphill finish at La Lastrilla.