Team Astana Dominates La Vuelta a Castilla y Leon
Valverde wins final stage; Leipheimer wins overall; Contador second.
Will 2009 be the season of Levi Leipheimer (Team Astana)? Leipheimer has started in two stage races this year and has won them both. Leipheimer received his final burgundy jersey in Valladolid as the overall winner of the 24th Vuelta a Castilla y León. Enjoying a successful week of racing, his team controlled the race from start to finish in a powerful display of determination and teamwork. Teammate Alberto Contador finished second overall and captured the Spanish rider classification. For Levi Leipheimer (35), this is his eleventh overall victory in a stage race as a professional rider.
"I am very grateful to Alberto and my other teammates,” commented Leipheimer on the final podium. "On the first day of the race, Alberto told me that this race suited me better than him and that he would help me. He was right. The long time trial and the not so steep mountaintop finishes favored me. The way Alberto pulled on the climb to Laguna de los Peces was impressive. The other teammates had to work too all day long. Everybody raced against Team Astana."
"Team Rabobank, Garmin and Caisse d'Epargne made it very difficult for us,” said Team Director Sean Yates. "And then there were all the Spanish teams. It is a big race for all the Spanish teams. They don't have so many opportunities to race in the same races as Contador and to be on TV. They don't want to miss a move. They are all chasing each other. We like to see a harmless breakaway happen but it never happens with the time gaps being so small.”
"We were all very disappointed when we lost Lance Armstrong on the first day of the race. We hope he can share a part of this victory and hope to see him back soon at the races," Yates concluded.
"For me it was an honor and a pleasure to work for Levi,” said Contador. “Levi has worked so much for me in the past. I am also satisfied about my condition. I was afraid I would not be fully recuperated from Paris-Nice, but that was not the case. I am in good shape."
Alberto Contador will now take ten days rest and will then start on April 6th in the Tour of the Basque Country. Levi Leipheimer will focus on his next two objectives, the 2009 Giro d'Italia and the 2009 Tour de France.
Alejandro Valverde (Team Caisse d'Epargne) won the last stage of the five day race.
“This is the victory of all the team Caisse d’Epargne”, Alejandro Valverde commented in Valladolid, Spain. “We worked a lot during the entire stage. First to control the breakaway and later to make so that the stage finishes with a sprint. I thought that my teammate would pass me in the last meters, but Urtasun was coming back very fast. There was no time for thinking or having doubts, so that I went on till the finishing line and won my second stage win in this 24th edition of the Vuelta a Castilla y León. This