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Racing News - Friday September 21st

Stage 18:
Luis Perez Rodriguez goes out with a bang, closing out his 13 year career with a stage win in his home country. 

4 riders dropped out before the start of Thursday's, the most notable of which was World Chamion Paolo Bettini.

24 riders tried to make an early escape today, but were captured by the peloton at 40km. Soon after, another group of 19 riders broke away. Even that group splintered, and we ended up with a group of 12, consisting of chasers and breakers at the 56km mark. Some of the notable names in the break were Menchov, Sastre, Evans, Sanchez and Mosquera. Chasing closely behind (38 seconds back at 76km) was a 10 man group containing Efimkin and others. 

At 93km, the second group was caught be the peloton, while the leaders extended their advantage to 2 minutes and 45 seconds. The leaders cooperated well over the final climb and kept their lead. With 13km to go, Rodriguez put the hammer down and quickly pulled out to a 26 second lead. He managed to keep ahead all the way to the finish, coming in 40 seconds ahead of the chasers (Evans, Pellizotti, Sanchez, Menchov, Mosquera, Goubert, Sastre, Monfort & Karpets).

Once again, no big change in the G.C. Evans moves into second place, but Menchov still has a healthy lead of almost 2 and a half minutes.

Belgian Stijn Devolder dropped out before today's stage.

Samuel Sanchez takes today's stage, with Menchov and Sastre only seconds back. Sanchez is now in 4th overall, but is only 9 seconds away from a place on the podium. At this point, it will take a crash or sickness to knock Menchov off the top of the hill. 

Other News:
  • Oscar Pereiro has officially named the winner of the 2006 Tour de France.
  •  There are rumblings that Landis may not appeal his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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Vuelta Stage 7 plus Other News

Raul Garcia de Mateo and Jesus Rosendo broke away from the peloton only 3 km from the start of today's stage, eventually building up a nine minute lead. Their breakaway was aided by a big crash in the peloton with about 30km to go, but they still ended up being caught about 7 km from the finish. 
The sprinter's teams worked to move their riders to the front, but another crash within 2km of the finish blocked many of the contendors from previous days, such as Pettachi, Bennati and Freire. Allan Davis, Eric Zabel and Paulo Bettini were lucky enough to be ahead of the pack in a bunch sprint and fought for the stage amongst themselves. Allan Davis looked to have it wrapped up, but Zabel came around on the left in the final seconds to take the stage. Davis took second and Bettini was in third. There was almost no change in the G.C. today, with Vladimir Efimkin still on top. 
See the full story at
Other news: Alejandro Valverde is expected to sue the UCI for the false pu…