Stage 16 Report
Quick Step won Stage 16 of the Vuelta a Espana in a bunch sprint into the Castilian city of Zamora. It proved to be a very fast finish to the slowest stage of the Vuelta so far with the big Belgian besting former team-mate (Liquigas) and (Gerolsteiner) in the dash for the line.of
The stage began with the immediate ascent of the 1st category Alto del Acebo, with the sedentary peloton taking over an hour to reach the top, climbing at the cycletourist rate of 15kph. Seemingly fed up with the low speed Jesus Rosendo Prado of Andalucia-Cajasur jumped clear on the descent, followed by Walter Pedraza Morales of Tinkoff Credit Systems. The breakaway pair worked together into the cross and headwinds building a maximum lead of 8.38 at 53km before the sprinters teams ? specifically Quick Step and World Champion Paolo Bettini ? decided that enough was enough and began to peg them back.
20km later Bettini was stung by a wasp, but got treatment form the race doctor as the Silence-Lotto and Milram teams added their power to the chase. In the following 100km, the peloton allowed the breakaway duo to dangle out front, gradually decreasing the advantage but avoiding actually catching them so as to avoid further attacks. The catch happened with just 7km remaining as Liquigas, Quick Step and Euskaltel-Euskadi began to manoeuvre their fast men to the front.
At 4km to go the almost inevitable attack went in from Rabobank classic specialist, but the peloton had no intention of allowing this and he was caught almost immediately. All that remained was to wind up the sprint, and Bettini was once again on hand to do the job for Boonen, and the Tornado duly obliged with his second stage of this Vuelta.
Gold jersey(Astana) enjoyed an easy day in the peloton showing no obvious effects of the minor spill he suffered yesterday.