Zabel Wins Stage 7 of Vuelta
Erik Zabel (Milram) has won Stage 7 of the Vuelta. The German veteran took a crash-marred bunch sprint to win the rolling, 176.3-km ride from Calahorra to Zaragoza in 3:52:05. Allan Davis (Discovery Channel) finished second, and Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) took third. Vladimir Efimkin (Caisse d'Epargne) remains the overall leader.
The racing began early. At three km, Raul Garcia de Mateo (Relax) and Jesus Rosendo (Andalucia Caja Sur) escaped. The pair led by 9:17 at 55 km. Behind, the sprinters' teams, particularly Milram and Lampre, began to chase. At 103 km, the trio's advantage was 6:50.
Despite a big crash at 145 km that forced Bert Roesems (Predictor) to abandon, the peloton closed in on the break. With seven km left, the escape ended.
Milram took over at the front. Lampre, Quick Step, and T-Mobile moved up to challenge. With two km left, another big pileup took Alessandro Petacchi (Milram) out of the sprint, which Allan Davis (Discovery Channel) began down the center of the road. Zabel, however, passed the Australian on the left to win.
In the overall, Efimkin leads Denis Menchov (Rabobank) and Carlos Sastre (CSC) by 1:06. He will not lead the race after Stage 8. Efimkin is not a time trialist, and Cadel Evans (Predictor), who is seventh at 1:28, is the best time trialist in the top 10 on GC. Who will win the stage? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!