Grabsch Wins Vuelta Time Trial; Devolder Takes Overall Lead
Bert Grabsch (T-Mobile) has won Stage 8 of the Vuelta. The German time trial champion powered over the slightly downhill, 52.2-km time trial from Carinena to Zaragoza to win in 57:05. Laszlo Bodrogi (Credit Agricole) finished second at 0:34, and Stijn Devolder (Discovery Channel) took third at 0:48. Devolder has taken the overall lead from Vladimir Efimkin (Caisse d'Epargne).
Magnus Backstedt (Liquigas) set the early standard with a 58:42. Not long after Backstedt finished, Bodrogi took the lead with a 57:39. Grabsch, however, crossed the finish line three minutes after Bodrogi to take the stage lead. The German led at every time check on his way to victory.
Aside from Grabsch, the day's two biggest winners were Devolder and Denis Menchov (Rabobank). Belgian road race champion Devolder showed that he can deliver the goods in the race of truth. The Discovery Channel man overtook Menchov in the second half of the race to post a 57:53 and take the race lead. Menchov overtook his two-minute man, Carlos Sastre (CSC), who started the day in third overall at 1:06. The Russian took 2:45 out of the Spaniard.
The day's two biggest losers were Sastre and Cadel Evans (Predictor). Sastre finished 25th at 4:03 to drop to seventh overall at 3:15. Evans, who is usually a strong time trialist, did not have his best form today. The Australian began the day in seventh at 1:28, but finished 11th at 2:20. He rose to fourth overall at 1:54, but Evans is now 1:24 behind Menchov. The Predictor man, however, is still in the hunt.
In the overall, Devolder leads Menchov by 0:30 and Efimkin by 1:28. Stage 9 will take the riders into the Pyrenees for the first of two stages that should shake up the standings. The 167-km ride from Huesca to Cerler will take the riders over two Category 2 and one Category 3 ascents before the finishing climb. Who will win? Menchov? Evans? Sastre? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!