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Liquigas surprises faves at Vuelta opener

  • By VeloNews.com
  • Published Aug. 30, 2008
  • Updated Sep. 2, 2008 at 2:04 PM EST
Liquigas was a study in coordinated effort.

Photo: Graham Watson

The 63rd Vuelta a España is supposed to be a showdown between Alberto Contador and Carlos Sastre, but it was Filippo Pozzato of Liquigas who wanted to remind everyone that there are more than two teams in the season’s final grand tour.

Liquigas worked in perfect cohesion over a short, but technical 7.7km course in the shadow of the Alhambra to win the opening team time trial, with Pozzato surging across the line first to take the Vuelta’s first leader’s jersey.

Euskaltel-Euskadi finished a surprise second at eight seconds behind the surprise winner, while it seemed the big guns didn’t want to take unnecessary risks on the tight and narrow course.

Sastre’s CSC-Saxo Bank mustered fifth at 11 seconds off the pace and Contador’s Astana crew was eighth at 14 seconds slower.

Pozzato becomes the first race leader of the ’08 Vuelta.

Photo: Graham Watson

“It was a nice victory for the whole team, particularly since I am leaving at the end of the season. They were nice enough to let me have it,” said Pozzato, who is heading to the new Russian outfit, Katusha, next year. “Bennati did a great job in the final half of the course. We were a little behind in the split, but we really poured it on in the second half of the course. We’re all ecstatic to win.”

It’s the first time for Pozzato to lead a major tour and he hopes to hang on to the jersey as long as he can.

“Maybe I can do something tomorrow into Jaén. It’s a bumpy stage with a hilltop finish, ideal for my characterstics,” Pozzato said. “Obviously, the big objective is the worlds, that’s why I am here at the Vuelta.”

Liquigas, which won the opening team time trial at the 2007 Giro d’Italia, will work to protect Pozzato’s eight-second lead going into Sunday’s first road stage, but it won’t be easy.

Euskaltel-Euskadi posted the fastest intermediate time

Photo: Graham Watson

Unlike this year’s Tour, the Vuelta includes time bonuses. There will be eight, six and four second bonuses at intermediate sprints and 20, 12 and eight seconds at the finish line.

Liqui-gases it to win
Good-sized crowds turned out on a warm summer evening in Granada for the kick-start of the 63rd Vuelta.

The last time the Vuelta revved up with a team time trial was in Malaga in 2006, when Team CSC won and Sastre took his first leader’s jersey of his career.

Now the defending Tour de France champion was under the spotlight in what’s being hyped as a duel with 2007 Tour champion and compatriot Contador.

From the looks of the opening shots in the intense, 7.7km course, the next three weeks should be exciting enough.

Despite being pan-cake flat, the course was far from easy.

Narrow roads and tight corners made for a technical course. And since it was held on city streets through the heart of downtown Granada, roads were covered with plenty of dust and oil to make it quite treacherous.

Tinkoff Credit Systems set an early fast time.

Photo: Graham Watson

Tinkoff Credit Systems set an early fast time, but Liquigas revealed its one of the most consistent team time trial units out there by setting a fastest time of 8:21.3 that stood challenge after challenge.

Astana brought out its heavy artillery, with Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Kloden lining up alongside Contador, but the team didn’t want to take unnecessary risks.

The team started strong, shed all but the final five with two kilometers to go and just didn’t have the kick to knock down Liquigas, stopping the clock with Contador leading the way across the line at 14 seconds off the pace.

“The differences are minimal and you can’t put too much importance into it. We all went for it, but didn’t want to take unnecessary risks in the corners. The most important thing wasn’t to fall,” Contador said. “It was a great way to start the Vuelta. We gave our all and that’s what we wanted to do. The first sensations are good.”

Astana brought out its heavy artillery, but rode with caution.

Photo: Graham Watson

Last on the course was CSC-Saxo Bank, with Sastre wearing the No. 1 race bib in lieu of the absent Denis Menchov (Rabobank), who skipped the defense of his Vuelta crown after racing the Giro d’Italia, Tour and Olympic Games.

Riding with just Volodmir Gustov returning from Sastre’s Tour-winning squad, CSC-Saxo Bank brought fresh legs to the test. Perhaps riding a little prudently to avoid a crash, they were six seconds off the best time at the midway point.

Sastre’s crew rode stronger on the second part of the course, stopping the clock in fifth at three seconds faster than archrival Astana.

“The course was very technical and to be honest, my team rode really well. I am leaving content because the test has been good,” Sastre said, before adding that the fans’ support was impressive. “If the fans have been with us in the bad moments, and now that we’re winning everywhere, it’s logical that they feel connected with us. For me, it’s an immense pleasure to see and feel the love of the public.”

Sastre’s CSC-Saxo Bank mustered fifth at 11 seconds

Photo: Graham Watson

Euskaltel-Euskadi posted the fastest intermediate time, but it was Liquigas who poured it on in the final 4.2km of the course that proved decisive to victory.

While all the attention was on the CSC-Astana showdown, other favorites did their best to stay within range.

One of those was Euskaltel-Euskadi climber Igor Anton, who skipped the Tour de France to focus entirely on the Vuelta. The team rode well enough to keep Anton in shot of the top challengers.

“Maybe it’s not bad for me that everyone is looking at the others,” said Anton, who won a stage in the 2006 Vuelta. “I’m not sure I am on that level yet, but I hope to be in contention for the podium. That would be a good goal in my professional progression. And to win a mountain stage, the Angliru, of course!”

Records up for grabs
The 63rd Vuelta begins with the anticipation that Contador could become just the fifth rider in history to complete the grand tour “triple crown,” to win the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España.

Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Felice Gimondi and Bernard Hinault have all accomplished the grand tour record.

Without Menchov, Rabobank may face a tough time this year.

Photo: Graham Watson

He would become the first Spanish rider to complete the grand tour sweep if he pulls it off. Pedro Delgado and Luis Ocaña both won the Tour and the Vuelta, but never the Giro, while Miguel Indurain won the Tour five times and the Giro twice, but only managed to finish second in the Vuelta.

For Sastre, he could become the first Spanish rider to win the Tour and Vuelta in the same year. Anquetil first did it in 1963 while Hinault pulled it off in 1978.

Sunday’s stage
The 63rd Vuelta continues Sunday with its first road stage with the 167.3km second stage from Granada to Jaén.

The hilly route features only one rated climb – the Cat. 3 Alto de Las Encebras – but it’s enough to crown the first King of the Mountains jersey in the 2008 Vuelta.

The course ends with two laps on a 25km circuit that includes two steep, but unrated climbs that could bust up the peloton and derail the sprinter’s best hopes of a mass arrival.

A climbing finish into the historic district of Jaén should provide for an exciting charge to the line in conditions ideally suited for Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne).

Results, stage 1
1. Liquigas, 8:21
2. Euskaltel-Euskadi, 0:08
3. Caisse d’Epargne, 0:09
4. Quick Step, 0:10
5. CSC-Saxo Bank, 0:11
6. Tinkoff Credit Systems, 0:12
7. Rabobank, 0:13
8. Astana, 0:14
9. Team Milram, 0:15
10. Gerolsteiner, 0:18
11. Lampre, 0:19
12. Silence-Lotto, 0:20
13. Cofidis,
14. AG2R La Mondiale,
15. Xacobeo-Galicia, 0:21
16. Credit Agricole, 0:23
17. Francaise des Jeux, 0:27
18. Bouygues Telecom, 0:28
19. Andalucía-Cajasur, 0:32




Overall standings
1. Filippo Pozzato (ITA), Liquigas in 8:21
2. Valerio Agnoli (ITA), Liquigas , same time
3. Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Liquigas, s.t.
4. Daniele Bennati (ITA), Liquigas, s.t.
5. Alessandro Vanotti (ITA), Liquigas, s.t.
6. Enrico Franzoi (ITA), Liquigas, s.t.
7. Gorazd Stangelj (SLO), Liquigas, at 0:08
8. Igor Anton (ESP), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0:08
9. Larrea, Koldo Fdez De (ESP), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0:08
10. Mikel Astarloza (ESP), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0:08
Full Results

Photo Gallery

Results

Results, stage 1 TTT |
Individual overall standings |


1. Liquigas, 8:21
2. Euskaltel-Euskadi, 0:08
3. Caisse d’Epargne, 0:09
4. Quick Step, 0:10
5. CSC-Saxo Bank, 0:11
6. Tinkoff Credit Systems, 0:12
7. Rabobank, 0:13
8. Astana, 0:14
9. Team Milram, 0:15
10. Gerolsteiner, 0:18
11. Lampre, 0:19
12. Silence-Lotto, 0:20
13. Cofidis,
14. AG2R La Mondiale,
15. Xacobeo-Galicia, 0:21
16. Credit Agricole, 0:23
17. Francaise des Jeux, 0:27
18. Bouygues Telecom, 0:28
19. Andalucía-Cajasur, 0:32




Individual overall standings|
( TTT Results)

1. Filippo Pozzato (ITA), Liquigas in 8:21
2. Valerio Agnoli (ITA), Liquigas , same time
3. Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Liquigas, s.t.
4. Daniele Bennati (ITA), Liquigas, s.t.
5. Alessandro Vanotti (ITA), Liquigas, s.t.
6. Enrico Franzoi (ITA), Liquigas, s.t.
7. Gorazd Stangelj (SLO), Liquigas, at 0:08
8. Igor Anton (ESP), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0:08
9. Larrea, Koldo Fdez De (ESP), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0:08
10. Mikel Astarloza (ESP), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0:08
11. Iñigo Landaluze (ESP), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0:08
12. Egoi MartÍnez (ESP), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0:08
13. Amets Txurruka (ESP), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0:08
14. Rubén PÉrez Moreno (ESP), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0:08
15. Alejandro Valverde (ESP), Caisse d’Epargne, at 0:09
16. Luis Pasamontes (ESP), Caisse d’Epargne, at 0:09
17. Imanol Erviti (ESP), Caisse d’Epargne, at 0:09
18. Daniel Moreno Fernández (ESP), Caisse d’Epargne, at 0:09
19. J. Vicente GarcÍa Acosta (ESP), Caisse d’Epargne, at 0:09
20. Joaquín RodrÍguez Oliver (ESP), Caisse d’Epargne, at 0:09
21. David Arroyo (ESP), Caisse d’Epargne, at 0:09
22. Alberto Losada (ESP), Caisse d’Epargne, at 0:09
23. Xabier Zandio (ESP), Caisse d’Epargne, at 0:09
24. Tom Boonen (BEL), Quick Step, at 0:10
25. Paolo Bettini (ITA), Quick Step, at 0:10
26. Manuel Garate, Juan (ESP), Quick Step, at 0:10
27. Andrea Tonti (ITA), Quick Step, at 0:10
28. Carlos Barredo (ESP), Quick Step, at 0:10
29. Matti Breschel (DEN), CSC, at 0:11
30. Volodymir Gustov (UKR), CSC, at 0:11
31. Alexandr Kolobnev (RUS), CSC, at 0:11
32. Karsten Kroon (NED), CSC, at 0:11
33. Jurgen Van Goolen (BEL), CSC, at 0:11
34. Iñigo Cuesta (ESP), CSC, at 0:11
35. Carlos Sastre (ESP), CSC, at 0:11
36. Emanuele Bindi (ITA), Lampre, at 0:11
37. Mauro Santambrogio (ITA), Lampre, at 0:11
38. Ricardo Serrano (ESP), Tinkoff, at 0:12
39. Vasili Kiryienka (BLR), Tinkoff, at 0:12
40. Nikita Eskov (RUS), Tinkoff, at 0:12
41. Mikhail Ignatiev (RUS), Tinkoff, at 0:12
42. Nikolay Trusov (RUS), Tinkoff, at 0:12
43. Fernando Pedraza, Walter (COL), Tinkoff, at 0:12
44. Ivan Rovny (RUS), Tinkoff, at 0:12
45. Evgeni Petrov (RUS), Tinkoff, at 0:12
46. Pedro Horrillo (ESP), Rabobank, at 0:13
47. Antonio Flecha, Juan (ESP), Rabobank, at 0:13
48. Marc De Maar (NED), Rabobank, at 0:13
49. Mauricio Ardila (COL), Rabobank, at 0:13
50. Óscar Freire (ESP), Rabobank, at 0:13
51. Robert Gesink (NED), Rabobank, at 0:13
52. Grischa Niermann (GER), Rabobank, at 0:13
53. Dmitry Kozontchuk (RUS), Rabobank, at 0:13
54. Theo Eltink (NED), Rabobank, at 0:13
55. Alberto Contador (ESP), Astana, at 0:14
56. Andreas KlÖden (GER), Astana, at 0:14
57. Luis Rubiera, José (ESP), Astana, at 0:14
58. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Astana, at 0:14
59. Sergio Paulinho (POR), Astana, at 0:14
60. Erik Zabel (GER), Milram, at 0:15
61. Matej Jurco (SVK), Milram, at 0:15
62. Andriy Grivko (UKR), Milram, at 0:15
63. Sebastian Schwager (GER), Milram, at 0:15
64. Christian Kux (GER), Milram, at 0:15
65. Martin Velits (SVK), Milram, at 0:15
66. Volodymyr Diudia (UKR), Milram, at 0:18
67. Stephan Schreck (GER), Gerolsteiner, at 0:18
68. Davide Rebellin (ITA), Gerolsteiner, at 0:18
69. Tom Stamsnijder (NED), Gerolsteiner, at 0:18
70. Oliver Zaugg (SUI), Gerolsteiner, at 0:18
71. Sebastian Lang (GER), Gerolsteiner, at 0:18
72. Stefan Schumacher (GER), Gerolsteiner, at 0:18
73. Oscar Gatto (ITA), Gerolsteiner, at 0:18
74. Heinrich Haussler (GER), Gerolsteiner, at 0:18
75. Mathias Frank (SUI), Gerolsteiner, at 0:18
76. Paolo Tiralongo (ITA), Lampre, at 0:19
77. Danilo Napolitano (ITA), Lampre, at 0:19
78. Alessandro Ballan (ITA), Lampre, at 0:19
79. Damiano Cunego (ITA), Lampre, at 0:19
80. Marco Marzano (ITA), Lampre, at 0:19
81. Marzio Bruseghin (ITA), Lampre, at 0:19
82. Matteo Tosatto (ITA), Quick Step, at 0:19
83. Leonardo Duque (COL), Cofidis, at 0:20
84. Bingen Fernández (ESP), Cofidis, at 0:20
85. Sébastien Minard (FRA), Cofidis, at 0:20
86. Nick Nuyens (BEL), Cofidis, at 0:20
87. Maryan Hary (FRA), Cofidis, at 0:20
88. Sylvain Chavanel (FRA), Cofidis, at 0:20
89. Kevin De Weert (BEL), Cofidis, at 0:20
90. David Moncoutie (FRA), Cofidis, at 0:20
91. Alexandre Usov (BLR), Ag2r La Mondiale, at 0:20
92. Lloyd Mondory (FRA), Ag2r La Mondiale, at 0:20
93. Rinaldo Nocentini (ITA), Ag2r La Mondiale, at 0:20
94. Luis Arrieta, José (ESP), Ag2r La Mondiale, at 0:20
95. Julien Loubet (FRA), Ag2r La Mondiale, at 0:20
96. Hubert Dupont (FRA), Ag2r La Mondiale, at 0:20
97. John Gadret (FRA), Ag2r La Mondiale, at 0:20
98. Dominique Cornu (BEL), Silence-Lotto, at 0:20
99. Maarten Tjallingii (NED), Silence-Lotto, at 0:20
100. Yaroslav Popovych (UKR), Silence-Lotto, at 0:20
101. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Silence-Lotto, at 0:20
102. Matthew Lloyd (AUS), Silence-Lotto, at 0:20
103. David GarcÍa Dapena (ESP), Karpin Galicia, at 0:21
104. David Herrero (ESP), Karpin Galicia, at 0:21
105. Iban Mayoz (ESP), Karpin Galicia, at 0:21
106. Gustavo DomÍnguez Lemos (ESP), Karpin Galicia, at 0:21
107. Gustavo CÉsar Veloso (ESP), Karpin Galicia, at 0:21
108. Eduard Vorganov (RUS), Karpin Galicia, at 0:21
109. Cyril Lemoine (FRA), Credit Agricole, at 0:23
110. Marc Marino, Jean (FRA), Credit Agricole, at 0:23
111. Christophe Kern (FRA), Credit Agricole, at 0:23
112. Sébastien Hinault (FRA), Credit Agricole, at 0:23
113. Nicolas Roche (IRL), Credit Agricole, at 0:23
114. Patrice Halgand (FRA), Credit Agricole, at 0:23
115. Jeremy Hunt (GBR), Credit Agricole, at 0:23
116. Yannick Talabardon (FRA), Credit Agricole, at 0:23
117. Fabio Sabatini (ITA), Milram, at 0:23
118. Serafín MartÍnez Acevedo (ESP), Karpin Galicia, at 0:24
119. Carlos CastaÑo (ESP), Karpin Galicia, at 0:24
120. Ezequiel Mosquera (ESP), Karpin Galicia, at 0:24
121. Pavel Brutt (RUS), Tinkoff, at 0:25
122. Massimiliano Mori (ITA), Lampre, at 0:26
123. Rémy Di Gregorio (FRA), Francaise des Jeux, at 0:27
124. Mickael Delage (FRA), Francaise des Jeux, at 0:27
125. Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Francaise des Jeux, at 0:27
126. Sébastien Joly (FRA), Francaise des Jeux, at 0:27
127. Sandy Casar (FRA), Francaise des Jeux, at 0:27
128. Gianni Meersman (BEL), Francaise des Jeux, at 0:27
129. Matthieu Ladagnous (FRA), Francaise des Jeux, at 0:27
130. Vincent Jerome (FRA), Bouygues Telecom, at 0:28
131. Anthony Geslin (FRA), Bouygues Telecom, at 0:28
132. Xavier Florencio (ESP), Bouygues Telecom, at 0:28
133. Dimitri Champion (FRA), Bouygues Telecom, at 0:28
134. Alexandre Pichot (FRA), Bouygues Telecom, at 0:28
135. Stef Clement (NED), Bouygues Telecom, at 0:28
136. Arnaud Labbe (FRA), Bouygues Telecom, at 0:28
137. Alan PÉrez (ESP), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0:30
138. Benjamín Noval (ESP), Astana, at 0:31
139. Assan Bazayev (KAZ), Astana, at 0:31
140. Olivier Bonnaire (FRA), Bouygues Telecom, at 0:31
141. Ivan Santaromita (ITA), Liquigas, at 0:33
142. Claudio Corioni (ITA), Liquigas, at 0:33
143. Fco. José Martinez PÉrez (ESP), Andalucia-Cajasur, at 0:35
144. José Ruiz Sánchez (ESP), Andalucia-Cajasur, at 0:35
145. Manuel Ortega (ESP), Andalucia-Cajasur, at 0:35
146. Juan Javier Estrada Ruiz (ESP), Andalucia-Cajasur, at 0:35
147. José Luis Carrasco Gámiz (ESP), Andalucia-Cajasur, at 0:35
148. Renaud Dion (FRA), Ag2r La Mondiale, at 0:41
149. Aurélien Clerc (SUI), Bouygues Telecom, at 0:42
150. Michael Blaudzun (DEN), CSC, at 0:46
151. José Haedo, Juan (ARG), CSC, at 0:46
152. Artur Gajek (GER), Milram, at 0:46
153. Dmitriy Muravyev (KAZ), Astana, at 0:47
154. Davide Vigano (ITA), Quick Step, at 0:49
155. Jesús Rosendo Prado (ESP), Andalucia-Cajasur, at 0:54
156. J. Antonio LÓpez Gil (ESP), Andalucia-Cajasur, at 0:54
157. Ivan Velasco (ESP), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0:55
158. Stéphane Poulhies (FRA), Ag2r La Mondiale, at 0:55
159. Olivier Kaisen (BEL), Silence-Lotto, at 0:58
160. Pieter Jacobs (BEL), Silence-Lotto, at 1:00
161. Tomas Vaitkus (LTU), Astana, at 1:10
162. Kevin Van Impe (BEL), Quick Step, at 1:12
163. Wouter Weylandt (BEL), Quick Step, at 1:12
164. Gabriel Rasch (NOR), Credit Agricole, at 1:16
165. Francis Mourey (FRA), Francaise des Jeux, at 1:21
166. Jelle Vanendert (BEL), Francaise des Jeux, at 1:21
167. Javier Moreno Bazán (ESP), Andalucia-Cajasur, at 1:22
168. J.antoni Carrasco RamÍrez (ESP), Andalucia-Cajasur, at 1:22
169. Roy Sentjens (BEL), Silence-Lotto, at 1:29
170. Bart Dockx (BEL), Silence-Lotto, at 1:29

FILED UNDER: Race Report / Race Results / Road / Vuelta a España TAGS:

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