Bettini Wins Stage 2 of Vuelta; Hushovd Takes Overall Lead
Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) has won Stage 2 of the Vuelta a Espana.
Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) has won Stage 2 of the Vuelta a Espana. The Olympic road race champion took a bunch sprint from Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) and Luca Paolini (Liquigas) to win the rolling, 167-km run from Malaga to Cordoba in 4:19:31. Hushovd has taken the maillot oro from Carlos Sastre (CSC). <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>
The racing began early. After Raul Garcia De Mateo Rubio (Relax) was reeled in at three km, his teammate Mario De Sarraga countered. David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval) joined De Sarraga but rejoined the peloton because of mechanical problems.
De Sarraga?s lead ballooned to 6:50 at 20 km, 10:00 at 29 km, and 13:05 at 65 km. Milram and Davitamon began to chase, and the Spaniard?s lead fell to 10:19 at 78 km, 8:24 at 96 km, and 7:07 at 109 km. The peloton took an additional minute and a quarter off of the escapee?s lead in the next six km, and at 131 km, 3:03 separated bunch and break. De Sarraga?s time was nearly up.
With 34 km remaining, Benoit Joachim (Discovery Channel) and Thierry Marichal (Cofidis) bridged up to De Sarraga. They dropped the Spaniard, but the pair never led the peloton by more than 0:50. With 13 km left, the bunch reeled them in.
In the final km, Credit Agricole, Davitamon, and Milram battled for position. Fred Rodriguez led Davitamon captain Robbie McEwen into the final 400 m, but the Australian lacked the legs to win. In the final 50 m, Bettini, Hushovd, and Paolini passed him.
In the overall, Hushovd leads Bettini by 0:02 and Stuart O?Grady (CSC) by 0:07. Stage 2, a flat 219-km run from Cordoba to Almendralejo, should produce a finish like today?s. The stage has two Category 3 ascents, and both of those are in the first 30 km. Who will win the bunch sprint? Hushovd? McEwen? Check in at http://www.roadcycling.com/ and find out!